(UPDATE) Women’s Rights Activists Arbitrarily Detained, Preventing New Year Visits
UPDATE: (31 March 2009) Ten of the twelve women’s rights activists detained last week as they were planning private New Year visits have been released on bail. Two of them however, Khadijeh Moghadam and Mahboubeh Karami, remain in Evin prison.
The ten activists were released after judiciary officials set bail for them in the amount of 50 million toman ($50,000) that had to be posted by a government employee as a third-party guarantee.
The authorities refused to accept bail posted by Moghadam and Karami, without explanation. Those released have to report for interrogations on Sunday, 5 April. They have been charged with “disturbing public opinion” and “disruption of public order,” and a judicial case has been initiated based on these charges.
The Campaign called on the Iranian authorities to immediately release Moghadam and Karami, noting that there is no legal justification for these detentions.
(26 March 2009) Iranian authorities should immediately release a dozen women’s rights activists detained arbitrarily in Tehran today, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said.
Security forces detained 12 members of the One Million Signatures Campaign and Mothers for Peace at a street corner as the group met to make private New Year visits to families of several prisoners of conscience. With the Persian New Year holidays underway, it is customary for families and friends to visit each other.
As of this evening, local time, all detainees have been transferred to Evin Prison. A judge named Matin Rasekh has charged them with “disturbing public opinion” and “disruption of public order.”
The arrests suggest that security and intelligence forces have been surveilling and eavesdropping on activists’ private communications. Police forces arrested the group at their meeting place, on Sohrevardi Street in Tehran, before they could embark on their private visits, the website Change for Equality reported.
“The paranoia and intolerance of the intelligence agencies have reached unbelievable proportions. There is no justification whatsoever to deny activists their rights to visit each other during New Year celebrations,” said Hadi Ghaemi, the Campaign’s spokesperson.
According to the latest information from Tehran, the names of the twelve detainees are: Delaram Ali, Khadijeh Moghadam, Leila Nazari, Farkhondeh Ehtesabian, Mahboubeh Karami, Bahara Behravan, Ali Abdi, Amir Rashidi, Mohammad Shoorab, Arash Nasiri Eghbali, Soraya Yousefi and Shahla Forouzanfar.
After the security forces detained the group at Sohrevardi Street, they were taken to Niloofar Police Station. At around 8:30 pm local time, the detainees were transferred to Evin Prison and held in section 209, which is under the control of the Intelligence Ministry.
“We are seriously concerned about the fate of detainees and the absolute lack of transparency and due process demonstrated by this case. For what crime are they being held? Is observing New Year traditions now a crime in Iran? The Iranian leaders should step forward and explain why intelligence agents are given free reign to deprive citizens of their most basic rights,” Ghaemi said.