Saturday, June 21, 2008

Defend Iranian Women’s Rights Activists

The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran reports Iranian women’s rights movement is facing unprecedented obstacles and threats as it carries out its work. A particular target of Iranian authorities has been activists involved in the One Million Signatures Campaign, which aims to revise discriminatory laws against women.
The Iranian government has routinely detained and prosecuted One Million Signatures campaigners. As of mid-2008, more than 40 members of the Campaign had been detained and prosecuted.

Women's rights defenders have been arrested and criminally charged with “endangering national security, inciting of public opinion, propaganda against the state, participation in an illegal gathering, disturbing public order and publication of false information." Many campaigners have been held in Tehran's notorious Evin Prison and given suspended sentences of whipping (lashes) and six months to three years imprisonment.

Sign the Million Signatures petition: Support Iranian women in their effort to reform laws and achieve equal status within the Iranian legal system.
Send a letter to the government of Iran: Tell the Iranian authorities that campaigning for women’s rights is not a threat to national security. Tell them to release immediately and unconditionally all those currently detained in connection with peaceful organizing, to drop charges and to stop harassing women’s rights activists.
Please send letters to:
Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrudi Head of the Judiciary Ministry of Justice Park-e Shahr Tehran, Islamic Republic of IranEmail:

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Fax: +98 21 879-6671Fax: + 98 21 3390-4986 Salutation: Your ExcellencyAnd send copies to:
Golam-Ali Haddad-AdelLeader of the Iranian Parliament Majles-e 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
His Excellency Dr. Mahmoud AhmadiNejadThe Presidency Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran Fax: +98 21 649 5880 E-mail:

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Salutation: Dear Sir
Head of the Committee of Human Rights in the JudiciaryHis Excellency Mohammad Javad Larijani c/o Office of the Deputy for International Affairs Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Justice Building, Panzdah-Khordad (Ark) Square, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran Fax : + 98 21 5 537 8827
Dr. M. Javad Zarif Ambassador to the United Nations Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations 622 Third Ave. New York, NY 10017 United States Email:

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Fax: +1-212-867-7086 Salutation: Your Excellency
Please note that it is not always easy to send fax and email to Iran, therefore we urge you to also courier your letters to the Iranian embassy in your country (see the listing of an Iranian embassy in your country here).
Sample Letter:

Your Excellency,
I/we write to express my/our deep concern at the news of the revolutionary court in Tehran sentencing numerous women to harsh sentences. Four women's rights activists, Nasrin Afzali, Nahid Jafari, Zeinab Peighambar-zadeh, and Minou Mortazi, have been given suspended sentences of whipping (10 lashes) and six months imprisonment. They have been given this harsh sentence for having been part of a small group of people who gathered outside the Revolutionary Court in March 2007 to register their objections to the trial of five other women activists earlier charged for taking part in a peaceful demonstration in 2006 to demand the removal of laws discriminating against women.
Subsequently, Parvin Ardalan has also been given a suspended sentence of 10 lashes and 2 years imprisonment and on May 1st 2008 the 13th Branch of the Revolutionary Court sentenced Rezvan Moghadam to a 6 months prison term and 10 lashes, suspended for 2 years.
We are alarmed at the new trend of handing down sentences of whipping for women activists which seems a deliberate attempt to humiliate since the sentence places them in the same category as criminals and those carrying out vandalism. Women activists have been sentenced for "acting against national security, disrupting public order, and refusing to follow police orders."
It is a matter of grave concern that although the Iranian constitution grants the freedom of peaceful demonstration, police forces often use violent means to disrupt peaceful assemblies and arrest women demonstrators who are subsequently handed down harsh sentences. We are worried that through such treatment of their citizens and women activists, the Iranian authorities are attempting to ensure that women remain silent and give up their basic democratic rights as citizens of Iran.
We call upon Your Excellency, as the Head of the Iranian Judiciary, to take appropriate steps that would enable the authorities to withdraw these cases and to ensure that citizens are enabled to exercise the right to express their opinions as provided for under the constitution.
Yours Sincerely,
[Your name]

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