Iranian Women’s Human Rights Defenders Arrested: HRF Calls for Immediate Release
NEW YORK – Two Iranian women’s rights activists, Mahboubeh Hossein Zadeh and Nahid Keshavarz, were arrested on April 2 as they were collecting signatures in support of a petition to reform Iranian laws that discriminate against women. After refusing to sign an agreement to end their activities in support of women’s rights, the women were charged with “actions against national security” and transferred to Evin prison earlier today.
“The peaceful activities of these activists constitute legitimate actions to promote the human rights of women,” stated Neil Hicks, Director of the Human Rights Defenders Program at Human Rights First. “The government should fulfill its obligations under international law to respect freedom of expression and assembly and release these women immediately and unconditionally.”
Mahboubeh Hossein Zadeh and Nahid Keshavarz are both active members of the One Million Signatures Campaign, which aims to educate women in Iran about their legal rights and promote reform of discriminatory laws. Three other members of the Campaign, Sara Imanian, Homayoun Nami and Saiedeh Amin, were also arrested but were released after spending a day in detention.
These latest arrests are only the most recent incident of harassment by the Iranian authorities directed against peaceful women’s rights activists. On March 4, Iranian police arrested and jailed 33 women demonstrating peacefully in front of the Islamic Revolutionary Court in Tehran. Following international pressure, all of the women were released, the last two on March 19, but only on payment of high bail. And in the last year, the Iranian authorities have prevented or broken up several peaceful public gatherings organized by women’s rights advocates. They have also blocked access within Iran to websites about women’s rights and calling for reform of discriminatory Iranian laws and practices.