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March 2007 

This year, International Women’s Day was marked by the attack, arrest and detention of women's rights defenders in front of Tehran's Revolutionary Court. On Sunday March 4th, thirty three women were arrested following a peaceful demonstration. Thirty of them were released within a few days, but three women— Shadi Sadr, Mahbubeh Abbasgholizadeh, and Jila Baniyaghoub— were held for over two weeks in ward 209 of Evin Prison (run by the Ministry of Intelligence of the Islamic Republic of Iran, designated primarily for political prisoners). The reason for their detention was drafting a statement that called for the gathering.

On Sunday March 4, 2007, women’s right defenders gathered in front of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran to protest the court proceedings of Nooshin Amhadi Khorasani, Parvin Ardalan, Shahla Entesari, Susan Tahmasebi, and Fariba Davoodi Mohajer—five prominent members of Iranian women's organizations who were arrested in pervious peaceful gatherings. As indicated by the women’s right activists and their legal teams the charges are in violation of the article 27 of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Iran, which guarantees the citizens’ right to assemble peacefully. In violation of such right, the security police forces attacked the women’s legal and peaceful gathering and arrested thirty-three protestors.

On March 5, fifty family members and friends of detainees gathered in front of the main entrance of Evin prison to protest the illegal arrests of their loved ones and to demand their immediate release. Consequently, prison authorities declared that Evin prison does not have the authority to release the detainees, as they are kept in ward 209, which is monitored and supervised by the Ministry of Intelligence.

In the following days, two groups of women were released from prison. This morning, at around 2:00 am, another group of fifteen women were released. It seems the reason for keeping the three women in detention is that they have accepted full responsibility for drafting the call for the gathering that took place on March 4.

Many international human rights and women organizations and prominent figures including Iranian political and social activists, lawyers, writers, journalists, and academics denounced the arrest of the women’s rights advocates demanding their immediate and unconditional release, including Louise Arbor, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Irene Khan, Amnesty International General Secretary, Human Rights Watch, Human Rights First, Women Living Under Muslim Laws, Women’s Initiative for Gender Justice and the Observatory.

The Campaign to Free Women Rights Defenders in Iran

This campaign was launched immediately after the arrest of women activists by a group of transnational activists. For more information about the campaign and the complete list of supporters, please visit the site: www.meydaan.com

Contacts For Updated and Detailed Information:

The Free Women’s Rights Defenders in Iran Campaign coordinators are ready to provide detailed information about the status of women detainees. The coordinators are willing to put reporters and news agencies in touch with the families and lawyers of the women in custody. The campaign coordinators can be contacted by phone or email. Soheila Vahdati, soheilavahdati@gmail.com Sanam Dolatshahi, sanamdi@gmail.com

See also the campaign’s petition, in the sidebar under Alerts.