Women’s Rights Activists Detained for Collecting Signatures to Change Discriminatory Laws
(2 February 2009) Three members of the Iranian movement for equal rights, the One Million Signatures Campaign, were arrested on 30 January 2009, and one remains in detention charged with “acting against national security through propaganda against the state,” according to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
Nafiseh Azad, Bigard Ebrahimi and another member of the One Million Signatures Campaign for Equality were arrested in the Mountain of Tochal in the North of Tehran while they were collecting signatures to change discriminatory laws. They were taken to the detention center in Vozara on the same day, and Nafiseh Azad remains in detention.
“For almost three years, members of the One Million Signatures Campaign have been continuously arrested and prosecuted for their peaceful activities,” stated Hadi Ghaemi, spokesperson for the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said.
“To bring the charge of acting against national security for those who peacefully and lawfully collecting signatures to change discriminatory laws indicates that the authorities think national security depends on discrimination,” he added. “Such arrests only weaken Iran’s international position, and are themselves in violation of Iranian law and Iran’s international human rights obligations.”
The web site of Change for Equality reported that the three members of the One Million Signatures Campaign were interrogated at Vozara detention center on the morning of 31 January before being transferred to the Revolutionary Courts. Judge Sobhani renewed the temporary detention order for Nafiseh Azad, and Bigard Ebrahimi was released on a third party guarantee. Nafiseh Azad will face charges at the Security Branch of the Revolutionary Court on 1 February 2009 (http://www.campaignforequality.info/english/spip.php?article453 ).
However, according to Azad’s husband, her trial was not held and she remains in detention. The authorities have not provided any reasons for the trial’s delay and whether the reason was that the Judge didn’t show up or the interrogations are still continuing.
The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran calls on Iranian authorities to respect national and international human rights laws, release Nafiseh Azad immediately and unconditionally, and end persecution and prosecution of women’s rights activists.