A prisoner of conscience linked to the One Million Signatures Campaign risks serious physical assault.

PUBLIC
AI Index: MDE 13/107/2008

UA 207/08
Fear of torture or other ill-treatment
1 August 2008

IRAN

Zeynab Bayzeydi (f), women's rights activist

Women's rights activist Zeynab Bayzeydi was arrested on 9 July, after the police ordered her to present herself for interrogation at a police station in the city of Mahabad, in the western province of Kordestan. She is in danger of torture or other ill-treatment.

Zeynab Bayzeydi is a member of the Human Rights Organization of Kurdistan (HROK) and the One Million Signatures Campaign, which aims to collect a million signatures of Iranians on a petition demanding changes to laws that discriminate against women.

Her family only learned that she had been arrested some days later, when she was allowed to telephone them. She told them she had been summoned for several hours of interrogation on 5 July, after which she was told to return on 9 July. This time she was questioned for three hours and then arrested. She was held at a detention centre in Mahabad run by the Ministry of Information and Security. She was brought before a revolutionary court in Mahabad on 31 July, and charged with membership of unauthorised human rights associations, and on account of her activities in support of women's rights. She has denied all the charges. She is a prisoner of conscience who is being detained solely because of her peaceful exercise of her rights to freedom of expression and association.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

The HROK, which has over 200 members, was founded in April 2005. The authorities have never granted it official recognition as an NGO. Its founder, Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand, is serving an 11-year prison sentence for "acting against state security by establishing the Human Rights Organization of Kurdistan" and "propaganda against the system."

Iran's Kurdish population live mainly in the west and north-west of the country, in Kordestan and neighbouring provinces, bordering Kurdish areas of Turkey and Iraq. They have long suffered extensive discrimination. Kurdish human rights defenders, including community activists and journalists, risk arbitrary arrest and torture.

Parents are banned from registering their babies with certain Kurdish names, and religious minorities that are mainly or partially Kurdish are targeted by measures designed to stigmatize and isolate them. Kurds are also discriminated against in their access to employment, adequate housing and political rights, and so suffer entrenched poverty, which has further marginalized them.

For more information on human rights violations against the Kurdish minority in Iran, see: Iran: Human rights abuses against the Kurdish minority, at: http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/MDE13/088/2008/en/d140767b-5e45-11dd-a592-c739f9b70de8/mde130882008eng.pdf

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