UPDATE: Philippines: Demand a fair trial in the Subic rape case

Following strong protests from women's and left-wing groups, a US marine has been sentenced to 40 years in prison for raping a local woman in the Philippines last year. About 100 protesters were outside the courthouse for the verdict.

Europe: Action for Women Human Rights Defenders

Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs) is a term referring to women who individually or with others, act to promote and protect everyone’s human rights and any individual working specifically to promote women’s rights.
Source: 
WHRD
Action needed: 
In April 2006, the EU carried out a review of the implementation of the Guidelines and in its conclusions the Council called for “particular attention to the situation of women human rights defenders”. It provided a set of 41 concrete recommendations, two of which specifically pertain to WHRDs.

In order to advance upon these initial important recommendations and ensure their effective implementation, ten women’s rights and human rights non-governmental organisations have endorse a set of Recommendations for Gender-Specific Implementation of the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders.

We urge you to also endorse this document and lobby representatives of EU embassies, consulates and European Commission delegations in your respective countries to respond to the campaign calls on the WHRD website: http://www.defendingwomen-defendingrights.org/nov29_WHRDsday.php

Iran: 'Stop Stoning Forever' Campaign

WLUML supports, and urges you to support, this campaign with the objective of changing the Islamic Penal Code of Iran so that stoning will never again be issued as a sentence or practiced as a punishment.
Source: 
meydaan.com
Action needed: 
The current campaign activity is to collect signatures for a petition to the Head of Judiciary, Ayatollah Shahroudi.

Petition to Eradicate the Law of Stoning

Read the petition and sign on at: http://www.meydaan.com/English/petition.aspx?cid=46&pid=9

Philippines: Demand a fair trial in the Subic rape case

The Asia-Japan Women's Resource Center (AJWRC) has launched an international petition campaign for justice for Filipino rape victim by US military forces, since it is one of most serious human rights concerns in East Asia. They request our cooperation in responding to and disseminating this information widely.
Source: 
Shirkat Gah
Action needed: 
We call for international support to demand a fair trial and to end the impunity of violence against women by the US military forces. Please go to the petition site and give your signature NOW.

http://www.petitiononline.com/subic/petition.html

UPDATE: Iraq: Campaign to affirm Personal Status Law and remove Article 41 from the constitution

We have received the following information from Iraqi friends who have initiated a campaign now that the constitutional committee has been formed. Their demands will be sent to the committee, to urge them to affirm the Personal Status Law and to remove Article 41 from the Iraqi constitution.
Source: 
Women in Leadership Institute
Action needed: 
Send your messages of support to the Women in Leadership Institute wliiraq@yahoo.com

Pakistan: Demand action after incident of sexual violence at the Islamic Learning Department of Karachi University

Human Rights advocates are shocked over the attempted rape of a female law student by staff of the Islamic Learning Department of Karachi University on 28 July 2006. They urge you to write to the Pakistani authorities to demand action for the arrest of the perpetrators and the filing of a criminal case.
Source: 
Shirkat Gah
Action needed: 
Please write to the persons listed below and demand that they take action for the arrest of the perpetrators and the filing of a criminal case at the police station so that a police investigation can begin. Please also urge the university authorities to complete its inquiry as early as possible and to provide full protection to victim and her family.

Sample letter

Dear…..

We, human rights activists, are extremely disturbed to learn about the rape attempt on a student at Karachi University by four men involving three staff members of the Islamic Learning Department and one student of the Physics Department on 28th July 2006. It is far more shocking that more than a month has passed and the authorities of the University have still not reported the case to the police. Karachi University authorities and the Vice Chancellor are taking too long to investigate the incident.

Although the perpetrators have only been suspended, they are still allowed to visit the University campus daily and have pressurized students to stop protesting the incident. They are also allegedly supported by some officials belonging the Pakistan Rangers. The callousness exhibited by the University authorities and the threat of scare tactics has left the victim and her family with no other option but to take refuge in an anonymous location.

We have been informed that the four alleged perpetrators reportedly confessed to their crime in writing before the inquiry committee set up by the University’s authorities to investigate the case. This fact was confirmed by key University authorities before a finding team sent by an NGO. The fact finding team has also discovered that the two main perpetrators of this incident, had been caught once before for a similar incident at Sheikh Zaid Islamic University which is located within the premises of the Karachi University. However, the alleged influence of the Rangers led to incident being hushed up and after a disciplinary action they were transferred to the Islamic Learning Department of Karachi University.

The lack of interest by the authorities in resolving the issue and taking preventive measures has raised serious concerns. Moreover the Vice Chancellor’s failure to notify the police of the incident only helps perpetrators escape from liability and encourages similar abuses and violence to take place within the University premises.

In light of the above information, we strongly urge you to conduct a thorough investigation in this case and take legal action against the offenders. Any findings or inquiry report should be made public. We also recommend that the victim be allowed to continue her education in safety at the University.

Sincerely,
Addresses: 
Please send your letters to:

General Pervez Musharraf
President
President's Secretariat
Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 51 922 1422, 4768/ 920 1893 or 1835
E-mail: please see http://www.presidentofpakistan.gov.pk/WTPresidentMessage.aspx

Mr. Ashfaq Gondal
Principal Information Officer to President of Pakistan
President Secretariat
Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Fax: + 92 51 927 008

Mr. Muhammad Wasi Zafar
Minister of Law, Justice and Human Rights,
S Block,
Pakistan Secretariat,
Islamabad,
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 51 920 2628
E-mail: minister@molaw.gov.pk

Justice Iftikhar Choudhry
Chief Justice of Pakistan
Supreme Court building
Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Fax: + 92 51 921 3452

Justice Sabih Uddin
Chief Justice of Sindh High Court
High Court Building
Saddar
Karachi
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 21 921 3220
E-mail: info@sindhhighcourt.gov.pk

Mr. Ishrat-ul- Ibad Khan
Governor
Government of Sindh
Governor House Karachi
PAKISTAN
Tel: + 92 21 920 1201
E-mail: governor@governorsindh.gov.pk

Dr. Arbab Abdul Rahim
Chief Minister of Sindh
Chief Minister House
Karachi
PAKISTAN
Fax: + 92 21 9202000

Joint Secretary for Law, Justice and Human Rights
S Block,
Pakistan Secretariat,
Islamabad,
PAKISTAN
Tel: + 92 51 920 2819
Fax: + 92 51 920 3119

Dr. Peerzada Qasim
Vice Chancellor
University of Karachi
Tel: +92 21 9261337
Fax: +92 21 9261340
E-mail: vcku@cyber.net.pk

Ms. Yakin Erturk
Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women
Attn: Mara Steccazzini
Room 3-042
c/o OHCHR-UNOG
1211 Geneva 10
SWITZERLAND
Tel: +41 22 917 9615
Fax: +41 22 917 9006 (ATTN: SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN)

UPDATE: UN: Act now for UN reform and gender equality

The Coherence Panel met on 30-31 August 2006 to finalize, among other things, their report for the Secretary General. We have heard that many critical recommendations on the gender architecture of the UN may be included in the report. At this point, it is critical to send a bold message to the panel members about strengthening operational capacity alongside the normative functions.

Iran: Campaign to collect one million signatures demanding changes to discriminatory laws

Iranian women’s rights activists are initiating a wide campaign demanding an end to legal discrimination against women in Iranian law. The Campaign aims to collect one million signatures to demand changes to discriminatory laws against women and is a follow-up effort to the peaceful protest of the same aim, which took place on June 12, 2006 in Haft-e Tir Square in Tehran.
Addresses: 
Timeline: This campaign will be ongoing. The first phase of the Campaign will focus on the collection of one million signatures demanding changes to discriminatory laws. It is a fair assessment to claim that the first phase of the Campaign will be carried out over one to two years, after which the campaign will move into its next set of phases focused on proposing new laws.

The Demands of Campaign are not in Contradiction to Islamic Law: The demand to reform and change discriminatory laws is not in contradiction to Islamic law and is in line with Iran’s international commitments. Iran is a signatory to the UN Convention on Civil and Political Rights and as such, is required to eliminate all forms of discrimination. Based on these commitments, the government of Iran needs to take specific action in reforming laws that promote discrimination.

On the other hand, these demands are in no way contradictory to the foundations of Islam. In fact, the changes being demanded by this campaign have been a point of contention and debate among Islamic jurists and scholars for some time. Ayatollah Sanei’i and Ayatollah Bojnourdi, to name a few, have for years called for a revision and reform of laws which are discriminatory against women, and have explicitly stated that such reforms are indeed not contradictory to the basic beliefs of Islam. A million signatures supporting changes to discriminatory laws, will demonstrate to decision-makers and the public at large that a large segment of the Iranian population is in support of revising discriminatory laws against women and that these demands are not limited to a small segment of society. This campaign will also demonstrate to law makers that Iranian women are serious in their demands to change current laws.

Implementation of the Campaign: This campaign will rely largely on face-to-face education and contact to achieve its goals. It will be implemented through the following strategies:
  1. Collection of signatures through door-to-door contact and dialogue with individual women.
  2. Collection of signatures in places and events in which women gather, and where dialogue and discussions with groups of women can be carried out. Public locations, such as parks, universities, production centers, factories, health centers, religious gatherings, sports centers, and public transportation centers (metro, buses, etc), where groups of women can be accessed, will be identified by members of the Campaign for the purpose of initiating dialogue about the law and collecting signatures in support of changes to discriminatory laws.
  3. Implementation of seminars and conferences with the intent of raising the profile of the campaign, promoting dialogue, identifying supporters and collecting signatures.
  4. Collection of signatures through the internet. The internet will be utilized to share information about the campaign, including legal educational materials, and those interested in supporting this effort can sign petitions related to the Campaign.
Volunteer Education: In order to successfully implement the Campaign a large number of volunteers will be recruited. Volunteers will receive legal education as well as information on the campaign. Several committees have been established within the campaign, including the “Education Committee” which is charged with implementing educational workshops for all volunteers. All those interested in cooperating with the campaign and collecting signatures will be provided with training on legal issues and laws; the aims and strategies of the campaign; face-to-face and door-to-door education techniques; public education and outreach techniques, etc. All volunteers interested in becoming involved in face-to-face education must participate in the workshops.

It should be noted, that volunteers don’t necessarily need to be experts in women’s legal issues. These workshops implemented by the “Education Committee” will provide an overview for the lay person with respect to legal rights of women.

UPDATE: Iran: Stay of execution for Ashraf Kalhori but your solidarity is still needed

We are glad to inform you that we have heard that Ayatollah Shahroudi has acted to stop the execution of Ashraf, the 37 year old mother of four, who was sentenced to stoning for having had extramarital sex. However, her fate is not yet clear and we urge you to continue writing to the Iranian authorities on her behalf.
Action needed: 
We urge you to continue in your efforts and write to the Iranian authorities. The original call for action, with sample letter, can be found at:
http://www.wluml.org/english/actionsfulltxt.shtml?cmd[156]=i-156-541421

Iran: Urgently appeal against the execution, by stoning, of Ashraf Kolhari

WLUML has received the following request for solidarity from an Iranian networker who is voluntarily representing Ashraf Kalhori, currently in Evin prison in Tehran and scheduled to be stoned to death as a result of having an extramarital affair, despite her earlier request for a divorce being denied.
Action needed: 
A sample letter and addresses of officials to be contacted, follow below:

Sample letter

Your Excellency,

I/we urge you to immediately cancel the execution of Ashraf Kalhori, a woman imminently sentenced to be stoned to death for adultery in the name of Islam. We are concerned that such an unacceptable and inhumane punishment is being applied to a women who herself is a victim of the justice system, as such a precedent would only confirm misunderstandings about Islam.

We know that women have the right to divorce under Islam if they are no longer happy within a marriage. The court did not approve Ashraf Kalhori’s plea for divorce which is her Islamic right, in spite of the fact that routinely women have little say in choosing their marriage partners. We find it ironic that Islam is now unjustly being used to justify her execution by stoning.

WLUML is gravely concerned that Ashraf Kalhori has been sentenced to death for adultery. In Iran, women are punished more harshly than men for having committed adultery; this however directly contravenes article 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which provides that “[a]ll persons are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to the equal protection of the law.” In a speech delivered on 21 June, 2006 President Ahmadinejad stated that “the country should be built upon the basis of justice, kindness, serving the people, progress and lofty goals.” If Ashraf Kalhori is executed then justice will not have been served.

Furthermore, as a state party to the ICCPR, Iran has made an explicit and unreserved commitment under article 6(2) that if the death sentence is imposed it is to be “only for the most serious crimes.” The UN Human Rights Committee (in the case of Toonen v Australia) has made it clear that treating adultery and fornication as criminal offences does not comply with international human rights standards. Therefore the sentence of execution by stoning imposed on Ashraf Kolhari breaches Iran’s commitments under the ICCPR.

We request that you stop her planned execution and take immediate action to remove death by stoning from the legal system.

Yours respectfully,
Addresses: 
Please send your letters to:

Leader of the Islamic Republic: His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed 'Ali Khamenei,
The Office of the Supreme Leader
Shoahada Street, Qom, Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax: + 98 251 7 774 2228 (mark "FAO the Office of His Excellency, Ayatollah al Udhma Khamenei")
Email: info@leader.ir
Salutation: Your Excellency

Head of the Judiciary: His Excellency Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi
Ministry of Justice, Park-e Shahr, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
http://www.iranjudiciary.org/contactus-feedback-fa.html
Fax: + 98 21 6 390 4886 Salutation: Your Excellency

President: His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
The Presidency, Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax: + 98 21 6 649 5880
Email: dr-ahmadinejad@president.ir / via website: www.president.ir/email

Minister of the Interior: Hojjatoleslam Mustafa Purmohammadi
Ministry of the Interior, Dr Fatemi Avenue, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: ravabetomomi@moi.gov.ir (Email often problematic)
Fax: +98 21 8 896 203 or +98 21 8 899 547 or +98 21 6 650 203
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