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“It’s amazing how this government is afraid of feminist activists” — 50 More Peaceful Women Protesters Arrested, Brutalized in Iran; US Denies Visas to Iranian Women’s Delegation to U.N.

Above is a photo taken during the June 12 demonstrations of Iranian women in which 40 women and 30 men were arrested.  Some are still in prison; many were beaten and injured.  The women and men who were arrested were scheduled to be tried for their part in the demonstrations this week. 

But today, an estimated 50 additional women activists have once again been arrested and brutalized during a peaceful demonstration before the Revolutionary Court in Tehran.   Below are photos of some of the arrested women, taken by Iranian photographer,  Arash Ashoorinia, who also shot the photo at the top.   Ashoorinia’s photos were assembled by the blogger Kangamir.   

zanestan-image.jpeg

 According to Lady Sun: 

Now all my friends are arrested.  Shadi, Asieh, Parastoo, Nasrin… I can’t help crying.  50 of the women’s rights movement activits were arrested in front of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran.  The security police forces attacked a peaceful gathering of women’s rights activists that had taken place at 8:30 a.m. in front of the Revolutionary Court in  Tehran in objection to the recent governmental oppressions and the summoning of some of these activists.  The police forces who used violence to scatter the crowd arrested at least 21 of the protestors. 

According to Iranian blogger Feminine, “The police officers hit Nahid Jafari’s head to the police van and as a result of such violent actions, her teeth broke and the officers are currently refusing to take her to the emergency room.”

According to Arash Ashoorinia of Kosoof  back in June:

The sit-in on 12th June 2006 had been widely advertised online and was a peaceful plea to the Iranian government to change its unequal gender laws. The principle demands were as follows:

•   Abolition of polygamy

•   The right of divorce by women

•   Joint custody of children for mothers and fathers

•   Equal rights in family law

•   Increasing the minimum legal age for girls to 18 (currently it is 15)

•   Equal rights for women as witnesses in courts of law

Three arrested Iranian woman journalists

Today’s arrests follow an incident of several days ago in which three Iranian woman journalists, pictured above,  were also arrested.   According to Herland:

Tala’t Taghinia, Mansoureh Shojaie, and Farnaz Seify, women’s rights activists, journalists, and members of the Women’s Cultural Center, were arrested at Imam Khomeini Airport in Tehran, while trying to exit the country to attend a journalism training in New Delhi India. After their arrest, security forces escorted the three activists to their homes, where their personal affects, such as their books, computers and computer cases, were searched and seized. After a search of their homes, these three activists were transferred to Evin Prison, 209th Ward.

Talat, Mansoureh and Farnaz were among the organizers of the June 12 demonstrations.  They are also part of the One-Million Signatures Campaign.

According to Lady Sun:

Farnaaz also runs an active feminist blog in Persian.  …It’s amazing how this government is afraid of feminist activists.  Evin prison is where high profile political prisoners are being kept…Shirin Ebadi, Leila Alikarami and Nasrin Sotoudeh have accepted to be their attorneys.  …They are released on bail. 

In another blow to Iranian’s women’s rights, the United States has refused to grant visas for members of the all-women Iranian delegation which was to attend the 51st conference of the UN Commission on Status of Women in New York.  According to Family Affairs Director Zohreh Tayebzadeh Nouri, a group of nine women, including three reporters, three students,  and three researchers had applied for the Visa with the U.S. consulate in Switzerland but their applications were turned down.

I can’t find any statement issued by the United States so far about why the women’s visa applications were rejected.   What’s going on here?  We have Iran violently suppressing women’s peaceful protests in Tehran, and we have the United States making it impossible for the Iranian women’s delegation to be present at the meeting of the United Nations in New York.   Does this have to do with the fact that when the UN convenes,  the UN Security Counsel expects to have a draft resolution on additional sanctions in Iran?  When will the women be heard, and by whom?

Call for Action:

What we can do for now:

Sign the petition

Spread the word:

Write a letter to Seyed Mahmoud Shahroudi, Head of Judiciary, Mr. Golam-Ali Haddad-Adel, leader of the Iranian Parliament, and Mr. Mahmoud Ahmandinejad, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran.  Ask the Iranian authorities to uphold the law and refer to article 27 of the Iranian constitution, “Public gatherings and marches may be freely held, provided arms are not carried and that they are not deterimental to the fundamental principles of Islam.  Ask for immediate and unconditional release of all the women’s rights defenders.

Send to Head of the Judiciary:
His Excellency Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi
Ministry of Justice, Park-e Shahr Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
E-mail: irjpr@iranjudiciary.org (mark “Please forward to HE Ayatollah Shahroudi”)
(Salutation:  Your Excellency)

President:  His Excellency Dr. Mahmound AhmadiNejad
The Presidency
Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection, Tehran,
Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax +98 21 649 5880
E-mail:  dr-ahmadinejad@president.ir
(Salutation:  Dear Sir)

Golam-Ali Haddad-Adel, the leader of the Iranian Parliament
Majlese Shura-ye Eslami
Imam Khomeini Avenue,
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax:  +98 21 646 1746
(occasionally difficult to reach, please be patient.)
(Salutation:  Dear Sir)

It is not always easy to send faxes and e-mail to Iran  and we urge you to also courier your letters to the Iranian embassy in your country.  (See listing here.)

Link to Azadeh Pourzand’s blog, and another link

Pass it on, women, pass it on.

In solidarity with the women of Iran,

Heart

Discussion

16 thoughts on ““It’s amazing how this government is afraid of feminist activists” — 50 More Peaceful Women Protesters Arrested, Brutalized in Iran; US Denies Visas to Iranian Women’s Delegation to U.N.

  1. Hi,
    Just a quick note. I did not assemble those pictures. Any way, thanks for your help to spread the news. Take care.

    Posted by kamangir | March 5, 2007, 12:32 am
  2. Sorry, I should have used my new address.🙂

    Posted by Kamangir | March 5, 2007, 12:33 am
  3. Thanks for the clarification, Kamangir. Arash Ashoorinia is a spectacular photo journalist, isn’t she?

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | March 5, 2007, 12:45 am
  4. He certainly is.

    Posted by Kamangir | March 5, 2007, 1:29 am
  5. Thanks so much for these updates! My heart and all my solidarity is with these women. They are unbelievably brave.

    I spent two wonderful years in a Moslem country (Turkey) which does not make me an expert, but I do get very annoyed with Westerners who demonize Islam in general and specifically in regards to women’s rights because they almost never know what they are talking about and their agenda is generally “Look at how wonderful we white/Western men are in comparison!” which is bullshit.

    Nevertheless, totalitarian religious regimes like Iran’s are a special kind of disaster for women, and the danger these women face is terrifying. Imagine if the Christian religious right ran the United States! You’d be in jail, Heart, and so would I.

    Posted by roamaround | March 5, 2007, 1:49 am
  6. Actually, we’d probably be dead, since some Dominionist Christians are now advocating execution for “adulterers” and “homosexuals.”

    Posted by Amy's Brain Today | March 5, 2007, 1:55 am
  7. Yes, Amy, you’re right. My nephew astutely noted a few years ago when he was just 15, “Aunty, if you had lived a few hundred years ago, you’d have been burned as a witch.” He said it in sympathy, not in spite. I have hope for him.

    Posted by roamaround | March 5, 2007, 2:57 am
  8. Great post.

    Posted by profacero | March 5, 2007, 5:57 am
  9. About the UN Commission for the Status of Women: you might be inetersted in this blog, who’s covering it (it’s written by Journalist Solana Larsen and a Pinar Illkaran, a Turkish women’s right activist who takes part in the formal and informal debates).

    http://www.statusofwomen.wordpress.com

    It’s amazing how few journalists are covering the UN meeting, apparently only 10 journalists asked for a media accredidation (!!). According to my colleague Solana, there are a lot of anti-abortion and pro-life groups present as well. Which makes my stomach turn a bit.

    Posted by statusofwomen | March 5, 2007, 11:49 am
  10. Hey, thanks, profacero! Status of Women, welcome and thanks for the link! How bizarre is it that only 10 journalists have applied for accreditation!

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | March 5, 2007, 1:49 pm
  11. Hi Heart,

    Sorry, jessica again (I posted the StatusofWomen comment).

    It’s really weird indeed. The Commission for the Status of Women (it’s the 51st one) were a major success in the past. It must be that either people see the UN was an institution too boring to follow, with an overly complex process to explain in the press.

    Or maybe people think feminism and women’s rights are better promoted elsewhere (but that’s a ridiculous statement – the UN provides a legal frame, which few institutions can do).

    It’s really sad that openDemocracy.net is one of the only publications to write about it, but hey at least Solana and Pinar in NYC are doing a great job at it!

    Love your blog – read it religiously everyday🙂

    Posted by Jess | March 5, 2007, 2:36 pm
  12. IRAN: JAILED WOMEN’S RIGHTS ACTIVISTS ON HUNGER STRIKE [www.adnki.com]

    Posted March 6th, 2007 by web_admin in Democracy in the Broader Middle East and North Africa Democracy Assistance Dialogue Program International Law Press Monitor

    http://www.adnki.com :: IRAN: JAILED WOMEN’S RIGHTS ACTIVISTS ON HUNGER STRIKE :: Tehran, 6 March (AKI) – All the women arrested on Sunday as they were staging a rally in front of a court house in Tehran are on hunger strike in the Evin jail where they are currently detained. Authorities said Tuesday that the women’s rights activists arrested are 33. Unofficial reports had suggested that the younger activists in the group would be released on Tuesday but so far none of them has been allowed to leave Tehran’s Evin prison.

    The protesters were staging a demonstration in support of five women on trial for organising a rally in June last year against laws they say discriminate against women.

    Their attorney Nasrin Sotudeh said the women, whom he says were violently beaten on their arrest, are likely to be charged with subversive activities and taking part in an illegal rally though they have not yet been formally accused of anything.

    “In the Islamic Republic, fighting for equal gender rights is considered a subversive act threatening national security,” the lawyer told Adnkronos International (AKI) on Monday.

    Meanwhile all students’ associations in Iran have been notified by university authorities that they will not be allowed to organise any rally or university meeting before 8 March on feminism or women’s rights.

    The five on trial organised a demonstration on 12 June last year which was violently broken up by the police and led to the arrest of 70 people, many of whom were reportedly innocent bystanders.

    The aim of the activists was to protest against Islamic laws on polygamy and child custody they say discriminate against women.

    When the five women defendants left the court building on Sunday they were reportedly arrested again, along with their lawyer.

    Link

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | March 6, 2007, 8:20 pm
  13. Shirin Ebadi predicted things would get worse for dissidents in Iran due to the threat of a US attack. In an editorial published in the New York Times two years ago, she said:

    http://hrw.org/english/docs/2005/02/09/iran10159.htm

    American policy toward the Middle East, and Iran in particular, is often couched in the language of promoting human rights. No one would deny the importance of that goal. But for human rights defenders in Iran, the possibility of a foreign military attack on their country represents an utter disaster for their cause.

    (snip)

    Independent organizations are essential for fostering the culture of human rights in Iran. But the threat of foreign military intervention will provide a powerful excuse for authoritarian elements to uproot these groups and put an end to their growth.

    Human rights violators will use this opportunity to silence their critics by labeling them as the enemy’s fifth column. In 1980, after Saddam Hussein invaded Iran and inflamed nationalist passions, Iranian authorities used such arguments to suppress dissidents.

    American hypocrisy doesn’t help, either. Given the longstanding willingness of the American government to overlook abuses of human rights, particularly women’s rights, by close allies in the Middle East like Saudi Arabia, it is hard not to see the Bush administration’s focus on human rights violations in Iran as a cloak for its larger strategic interests.

    Respect for human rights in any country must spring forth through the will of the people and as part of a genuine democratic process. Such respect can never be imposed by foreign military might and coercion — an approach that abounds in contradictions. Not only would a foreign invasion of Iran vitiate popular support for human rights activism, but by destroying civilian lives, institutions and infrastructure, war would also usher in chaos and instability. Respect for human rights is likely to be among the first casualties.

    Instead, the most effective way to promote human rights in Iran is to provide moral support and international recognition to independent human rights defenders and to insist that Iran adhere to the international human rights laws and conventions that it has signed. Getting the Iranian government to abide by these international standards is the human rights movement’s highest goal; foreign military intervention in Iran is the surest way to harm us and keep that goal out of reach.

    Posted by Aletha | March 9, 2007, 5:23 am
  14. From Ebadi’s article:
    Given the longstanding willingness of the American government to overlook abuses of human rights, particularly women’s rights, by close allies in the Middle East like Saudi Arabia, it is hard not to see the Bush administration’s focus on human rights violations in Iran as a cloak for its larger strategic interests.

    Exactly. Not even “exactly” but “holy no shit fucking exactly.” Funny how it’s so transparent, and yet so many people just don’t see it. And using human rights (in general) and/or women’s rights (in particular) to justify imperialism/militarism etc is not new- which most of us know. The same bullshit went on with the French trying to stay in Algeria, using the veiling of women as a rallying point (on both sides), and the Victorian English in India, where Indian women needed to be ‘saved’ by the Civilized English. The inability for so many in the west to see the stark double standards of western governments’ (not just the US) treatment of human rights violating countries is frustrating. If women’s voices were actually heard, world wide, we would all know what goes on. Instead we (the general public) seem to get these snippets of knowledge about what’s going on for women in other countries; snippets picked out in service to some government’s agenda. Women as pawns in men’s games again. And, of course, additionally there’s usually the “Men are oppressed? Oh noooeeesss!! We must doooo something” alongside a “Well, that’s just the way that culture treats women. It’s cultural, we can’t interfere!” *grinds teeth in rage*

    This part really stood out for me too:
    Respect for human rights […] can never be imposed by foreign military might and coercion — an approach that abounds in contradictions. Not only would a foreign invasion of Iran vitiate popular support for human rights activism, but by destroying civilian lives, institutions and infrastructure, war would also usher in chaos and instability. Respect for human rights is likely to be among the first casualties.

    This is precisely what has happened in Iraq, no?

    From the original post:
    Does this (the US refusal to grant visas to Iranian women delegates) have to do with the fact that when the UN convenes, the UN Security Counsel expects to have a draft resolution on additional sanctions in Iran?

    In light of the editorial Aletha linked to, I can’t help but wonder if that is, indeed, the case. If the Iranian women were to speak, it might be obvious that invading Iran would be the worst thing for the human rights issues there. With the voice of Iranian activists silenced, the west can go on with “oh we have to invade to help out people! Think of the wiiimmiiinnnns [/whiney voice]. Of course, the UN is not equivalent to the West, but I can’t help but feel that the West has far too much influence there, particularly considering its numerical minority status (unless I’m mistaken in thinking that Western countries are in the minority of the countries that belong to the UN).

    It just keeps looking more and more inevitable that there will be another invasion by the US of a Middle Eastern country. *sigh* Of course, the US has been invading other countries routinely for all of this century (and the last too?). It’s just that usually the US government picks on small South or Central American countries that don’t have strong allies. So, no one cares. Right? Or notices?

    oh this post has been all over the map. sorry, heh

    Posted by Cinder | March 9, 2007, 7:58 pm
  15. I linked that editorial to answer the question Heart posed. FWIW Russia and China are raising objections to most of the proposed sanctions, so whatever comes out of the UN may not be close to what Bush wants. That may not matter much. Bush is probably only bothering with the UN as a formality to make it look like he gave diplomacy a chance before launching another virtually unilateral aggression. I agree an attack on Iran looks inevitable, despite moves by some Democrats to force Bush to get approval from Congress. Enough Democrats have been ranting about how Iran was a bigger threat than Iraq (including the frontrunning presidential candidates) to make me think he could get that approval. That may sound unlikely, but Israeli pressure may tip the scales.

    I agree US meddling is usually cloaked by propagandizing about humanitarian concerns. That is nothing new, but I think many people in Latin America have noticed the pattern of self-serving hypocrisy, and are rebelling by electing opponents of US policy.

    Posted by Aletha | March 10, 2007, 6:56 am

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