Iran

This submission to the Commission on the Status of Women (the Commission) is intended to draw the Commission’s attention to the continuing pattern of human rights violations experienced by women in Iran in reprisal for their peaceful human rights or political activities on account of their ethnic origin, their faith, the peaceful exercise of their rights to freedom of expression and association, or their relationship to men who have expressed views dissenting from those considered acceptable by the Iranian authorities.

Two years after an international outcry erupted over her sentence of stoning to death, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani remains imprisoned in north-west Iran apparently still facing a stoning sentence.  Her lawyer, Javid Houtan Kiyan, arrested on account of his advocacy for her, remains held as a prisoner of conscience, and is reported to have been sentenced to a lengthy prison term.  He is believed to have been tortured during his detention.

Paris-Geneva, April 5, 2012. The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), deplores the sentencing of human rights defender Ms. Mansoureh Behkish and calls for an end to her judicial harassment.

Women Living Under Muslim Laws, the Violence is not our Culture Campaign, and Justice for Iran are pleased to announce the release of a new publication: Mapping Stoning in Muslim Contexts. This report locates where the punishment of stoning is still in practice, either through judicial (codified as law) or extrajudicial (outside the law) methods.   

While building solidarity between activists in the U.S. and Iran can be a powerful way of supporting social justice movements in Iran, progressives and leftists who want to express solidarity with Iranians are challenged by a complicated geopolitical terrain. The U.S. government shrilly decries Iran’s nuclear power program and expands a long-standing sanctions regime on the one hand, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad makes inflammatory proclamations and harshly suppresses Iranian protesters and dissidents on the other. Solidarity activists are often caught between a rock and a hard place, and many choose what they believe are the “lesser evil” politics. In the case of Iran, this has meant aligning with a repressive state leader under the guise of “anti-imperialism” and “populism,” or supporting “targeted” sanctions.

Parastoo Dokouhaki and Marzieh Rasouli, Iranian journalists and bloggers who were arrested last week, are being kept in solitary cells at Tehran’s Evin prison. Latest reports from Iran indicate that the two are held by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (Sepah) in the so-called ‘Ward AA’ (do Alef). The AA Ward of the Evin Prison is not under the jurisdiction or supervision of the Iranian Prisons Organizations, and is illegally run by the Intelligence Department of the IRGC.

Last week, agents stormed the houses of Dokouhaki and Rasouli and arrested the aforementioned, confiscating their laptops and other personal belongings. The two have been charged with “acting against national security” and “propaganda against the regime” – loosely defined charges that are repeatedly used in a range of cases. The real reasons for the arrests are, thus, not clear. So far, the journalists have been denied the right of access to attorney and no visitation with their family has been granted.

The international solidarity network Women Living Under Muslim Laws is shocked to learn that the Iranian security forces have carried out a new wave of arrests against journalists and women’s rights activists. This is a worrying development, as it shows the pressure on political activities and prisoners are mounting in Iran.

Iranian security forces have carried out a new wave of arrests of activists and journalists, accusing them of charges such as "acting against national security". Marzieh Rasouli,  blogger and  jouornalist, is one of the latest arrested on such charges. Pressure on political prisoners is mounting. It has been reported that Ms. Rasouli's personal effects, such as her laptop and mobile phone, were confiscated and when she was arrested. Security officicals said that she was taken to Evin prison.

An Iranian woman whose sentence of death by stoning for adultery provoked an international outcry could be executed by hanging instead, the country's judicial authorities have indicated.

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, a 44-year-old mother of two, was convicted of conducting an "illicit relationship outside marriage" in 2006 and has since been kept in Tabriz prison in the west of Iran.

Alieh Eghdam Doust, women’s rights activist was released from prison today on January 8, 2011 after serving a three year prison term. Alieh was sentenced to serve three years in prison after she was arrested on June 12, 2006 along with nearly 70 other protesters in Haft-e Tir Square, during a protest demanding equal rights for women. Alieh was subsequently tried in Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Courts, on charges of acting against national security and sentenced to 3 years and four months in prison and 20 lashes.

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