Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Protest Iranian Government's Repression of Feminist Writers

Solmaz Igdar is a student, a child rights advocate, and regular contributor to the website of Kanoon-e Zanan-e Irani -- the Association for Iranian Women (www.irwomen.com). She was arrested on August 29, 2008, while attending a ceremony in Khavaran to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Iranian regime's mass execution of political prisoners. Security forces disrupted the ceremony and arrested some of those in attendance. Igdar's family learned of her arrest that evening when the authorities permitted her to make a brief phone, during which she informed them that she was being transferred to Evin Prison. Her family has been unable to obtain any other information or to visit her in prison.

In addition to Igdar, two other activists, Jafar Eghdami and Ali Amir-Gholi are also reportedly detained.

The ceremony at Khavaran, a cemetery situated to the South East of Tehran, was to mark the 20th anniversary of the Iranian regime's systematic execution of thousands of political prisoners. Estimates of the number executed vary, ranging from 8,000 to 30,000 prisoners. The Iranian regime has never admitted to the full scale of the execution and has tried to keep the killings secret.

In addition, four other women's rights activists who have contributed articles to women's rights websites were sentenced to six-month prison terms for "acting against national security," under Article 500 of the Islamic Penal Code. The four women are: Parvin Ardalan, Maryam Hosseinkhah, Jelveh Jahaveri, and Nahid Keshavarz. The conviction is on the basis of articles the women contributed to the websites Change for Equality (the website of the One Million Signatures Campaign) and Zanestan.

Ardalan is a well-known activist who was awarded the Olaf Palme Prize for Human Rights, but was prevented from traveling to Stockholm to receive it. Javaheri spent 32 days in Evin prison after being summoned and interrogated at the security branch of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran on December 1, 2007. She had previously been arrested in March 2007 for peacefully protesting outside the courtroom where five other women's rights defenders were on trial. Keshavarz was also among the 33 women arrested for protesting outside the courtroom, and she was also arrested on April 2, 2007 while collecting signatures on behalf of the One Million Signatures Campaign. Following that arrest she spent 13 days in prison before being released on bail. Hosseinkhah is a journalist who had been summoned for interrogation on November 18, 2007 and spent 45 days in Evin prison.