Slovak Republic: Action needed to protest treaty between Slovak Republic and Holy See

WLUML has received a call for action to support those in the Slovak Republic to defend the separation of church and state and women's rights.
Source: 
Catholics For A Free Choice
Action needed: 
Please email your name, title, organization and country, by February 28 to lbernstein@catholicsforchoice.org

We encourage the leaders of your organizations to sign to this letter. Organizations will be listed for identification purposes only.

The letter will be sent to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Justice of the Slovak Republic to urge them to reconsider this dangerous and unconstitutional Treaty. Copies of the letter will also be sent to Members of the Slovak Republic's Parliament. Text of the letter is pasted below.

Please do not hesitate to contact CFFC for more information and analysis of the Treaty. Also for more information, you can contact Olga Pietruchova of Prochoice Slovakia at olgal@prochoice.sk

We hope we can count on your support and solidarity.

Best regards,

Serra Sippel
Director, International Program
Catholics for a Free Choice

Iraq: Urgent call for solidarity for kidnapped feminist journalist Guiliana Sgrena

WLUML has received an urgent appeal for solidarity and pressure to be placed on the Italian government to secure the safe release of Italian feminist-pacifist journalist Guiliana Sgrena, kidnapped in Iraq.
Source: 
Women in Black
Action needed: 
To sign on their call, please e-mail Luisa Morgantini: lmorgantini@europarl.eu.int

and Women in Black: womeninblack@listas.nodo50.org

Please hold vigils in solidarity on Friday 11th February and raise international pressure for her release by informing the local press of your solidarity actions and sending a copy of this campaign call to the Italian Embassy in your country.

In Solidarity,
WLUML
international coordination office

UPDATE - Algeria: Justice given to women in Hassi Messaoud

We have received news that on 3 January 2005, thanks to a large national and international mobilization of women's organisations, justice was done.

Algeria: Justice for women in Hassi Messaoud

We have received a request for IMMEDIATE pressure to be applied on the Algerian Government to ensure justice in a case that comes up for hearing on 28 December 2004. The trial is to take place in Biskra.
Action needed: 
Please write polite but insistent letters to the following people (see below) to ensure that there is no further delay and that justice is ensured for the women of Hassi Messaoud, who have become a symbol of Algerian women's struggles to survive. The Algerian state must acknowledge these crimes committed against women, ensure that due reparations are made, and protect women's right to work and to freedom of movement without fear, both of which were under attack in Hassi Messaoud.
Addresses: 
Please send your letters to:

Please copy your letters to the journalists mentioned below and wherever possible to your local media to ensure the issue is as widely publicised as possible.

Ministre de la justice, Belaiz Tayeb
8 place Bir Hakeim,
El Biar,
Alger
Algeria
fax: +213 21 92 17 01
tel: +213 21 92 41 83
e-mail: info@mjustice.dz

President Bouteflika
e-mail: President@el-mouradia.dz

Assemblée Populaire Nationale (National Assembly)
e-mail: info@apn-dz.org

Salima Tlemcani (journaliste)
e-mail: stlemcani@elwatan.com

UPDATE: Iran: Call for the unconditional release of Mahboobeh Abbasgholizadeh

WLUML is extremely relieved to learn of Dr. Abbasgholizadeh’s release, on bail, on 1st December 2004.

Iran: Call for the unconditional release of Mahboobeh Abbasgholizadeh

WLUML is deeply concerned about the arrest of Ms. Mahboobeh Abbasgholizadeh on November 1, 2004 on the orders of Tehran's General Prosecutor, Saeid Mortazavi (who ordered the arrest of the Canadian woman journalist who died in prison).
Action needed: 
Please sign the on-line petition http://www.petitiononline.com/mahboube/petition.html joining the initiative of Iranian activists.

In order to reinforce the concern of women activists, we request you to also write your own letter to the Iranian authorities calling for Mahboobeh’s unconditional release, based on the letter below. The relevant addresses are given below.

It is not always easy to send faxes and emails to Iran and we therefore urgently request that you also courier your letters to the Iranian embassy in your country (see http://www.mfa.gov.ir/other-sites/missions/english/mission-english.html for a country listing.

SAMPLE LETTER

Your Excellency,

We write to express our deep concern at the arrest of Khanum Mahboobeh Abbasgholizadeh on November 1st 2004 from Tehran, apparently on the orders of the Prosecutor of Tehran. We are distressed by the fact that Ms. Abbasgholizadeh has been detained for a week now without any formal charges being framed, and that Ms. Abbasgholizadeh has not been allowed to exercise her right to legal counsel. We are equally dismayed that not even her family, including her two daughters, has been allowed to meet Ms. Abbasgholizadeh and that no information has been given to the family about where she is being detained.

Ms. Abbasgholizadeh, who has worked for many years as a journalist, is currently the editor of Farzaneh Journal, and the Director of the NGO Training Centre. As the first journal of women’s studies in Iran, Farzaneh has helped make visible the progress made by Iranian women and the vibrancy of intellectual debate within Iran. As Director of the NGO Training Centre, Ms. Abbasgholizdeh is contributing to the development of civil society in Iran, an essential component of all modern societies.

We are indeed astonished that a woman such as Ms. Abbasgholizadeh, who has served her country, has devoted her life to the improvement of women's lives and has come to be known as one of the most respected representatives of Iranian women in the international community, should be treated in this way.

Ms. Abbasgholizadeh’s arrest follows a wave of other arrests of web-log writers and closure of on-line journals. We are extremely worried that her arrest marks the start of a campaign against women’s NGOs and civil society organizations in Iran.

Given the current international environment, it is important that the Iranian government ensures that those who have been contributing positively by providing a more rational perspective on Iran to the international community, such as journalists, academics and civil society groups, are encouraged to continue to play their positive and constructive role for the further development of their country.

We call upon you to ensure the safety and security of Ms. Abbasgholizdeh and her immediate and unconditional release.

Yours sincerely
Addresses: 
Please send letters to:

President:
His Excellency Hojjatoleslam Sayed Mohammad Khatami
The Presidency
Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax: +98 21 649 5880
E-mail: khatami@president.ir
(Salutation: Your Excellency)

Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran:
His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei
c/o The Presidency
Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax: +98 21 650203 (this is via the Interior Ministry, ask for fax to be forwarded)
Email: info@wilayah.net
(Salutation: Your Excellency)

Minister of Foreign Affairs
His Excellency Kamal Kharazi
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: matbuat@mfa.gov.ir

Head of the Judiciary
His Excellency Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi
Ministry of Justice, Park-e Shahr, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: irjpr@iranjudiciary.org (mark 'Please forward to HE Ayatollah Shahroudi')
(Salutation: Your Excellency)

Nasser Qavami, Head Judicial & Legal Affairs Committee:
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)

Uzbekistan: Authoritarian measures against women's NGOs

Sweeping and stringent measures introduced recently by Uzbekistan’s authoritarian government threaten, among other basic rights, the existence of the country’s independent progressive women’s non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
Action needed: 
Please send letters to the Uzbekistan authorities and highlight concern regarding:

- The measures which will, in effect, make the work of an independent progressive women’s movement impossible in Uzbekistan;

- The likely negative impact this will have on the development of Uzbekistan society in general;

- The apparent specific targeting of progressive women’s NGOs only because they have fearlessly and honestly highlighted the problems facing Uzbekistan society;

- The likelihood that suppression of progressive civil society will leave a vacuum that will be filled by the extreme Right groups (Muslims and Catholics are equally active) gaining strength in the unstable Central Asian region.

Please demand the withdrawal of the 25 May 2004 Decree on the re-registration of women’s NGOs under the Committee of Women of Uzbekistan. While the NGO sector requires regulation and while money laundering is indeed a concern, these must not be used as an excuse just to silence political opposition and those who seek to reveal the realities of women’s poor status in the country.

Uzbekistan ratified the 1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 1996. Under Article 7(c), state parties are required to ensure that women have the right to participate in non-governmental organisations and associations.
Addresses: 
Please send your letters to:

President Islam Abduganievich Karimov
Office of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan
Rezidentsia prezidenta/The Presidential Palace
Fax: +998 71 139 5404/139 5325
Email: presidents_office@press-service.uz

Rashidjon Hamidovich Kodirov
Prosecutor General of the Republic of Uzbekistan
ul. Yahyo Gulomov 66, Tashkent, Republic of Uzbekistan
Fax: + 998 71 133 3917/ 133 7368
Email: prokuratura@lawyer.com

Sayora Rashidova
Parliamentary Commissioner for Human Rights (Ombudsman)
Parliamentary Commission for Human Rights
ul. Xalqlar Do'stligi 1, Tashkent, Republic of Uzbekistan
Fax: + 998 71 139 8555
Email: office@ombudsman.gov.uz

Women's Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan
700078, 6 Mustaqilik sq., Tashkent, Republic of Uzbekistan
Fax: +998 71 139 4012
Email: comitet@rol.ru

UPDATE: Iraq: Protect Iraqi Women's Rights in Family Laws

In January 2004, WLUML urged you to join Iraqi women's efforts and take action to oppose the Iraqi Governing Council's (IGC) 'Resolution 137' dated 29 December 2003 that proposed the introduction of Sharia law in personal status matters and to cancel all laws which are incompatible with this decision. It was reported on 27th February 2004, that the IGC has cancelled resolution 137.

UPDATE: Iraq: Protect Iraqi Women's Rights in Family Laws

WLUML has received the following clarification/additional information from a British Member of Parliament.

Iraq: Protect Iraqi Women's Rights in Family Laws

WLUML strongly urges you to join Iraqi women's efforts and take action to oppose the Iraqi Governing Council's (IGC) 'Resolution 137' dated 29 December 2003 that proposes the introduction of Sharia law in personal status matters and to cancel all laws which are incompatible with this decision.
Action needed: 
Please write to the IGC, and British and American governments, demanding the following:

1. The clear and unambiguous withdrawal of 'Resolution 137'.

2. That any future change in Iraqi personal status laws is to be done by a publicly elected body, after due process, and that this elected body will include the genuine and equal participation of women

3. That any future debate around future laws in Iraq should be transparent and with democratic consultation.

Sample Letters

To the Iraqi Governing Council
Baghdad

Respected Council Members,

We are writing to express our deep concern regarding the Iraqi Governing Council's proposed 'Resolution 137', dated 29 December 2003, that seeks to introduce the implementation of Sharia and the cancellation of all laws deemed incompatible with this decision.

We fear that this decision threatens the 1959 Iraqi Law of Personal Status which has long been considered one of the most progressive family laws in the Middle East. It was achieved through the struggle of the Iraqi people for much of the past century.

The passing of the 'Resolution' by the IGC lacks transparency and was not part of any democratic or consultative process. It was done without public debate and a process of consulting experts in social and legal matters or women's organisations. We also understand that only a minority of the Council was present.

We support Iraqi women's protests against 'Resolution 137'. We strongly agree with their analysis that it will have negative effects on Iraqi society and will mean withdrawing rights that have been guaranteed to Iraqi women for many decades. Inequality in the family obstructs national development.

'Resolution 137' would mean the introduction of separate provisions and rules for each of the various sects in Iraq and will thus threaten the fabric of Iraqi civil society. The decision establishes sectarianism as an organizing principle of social and political life in Iraq and will deeply damage the cause of national integration. Moreover, it will introduce legal chaos as there are differences even within the various sects regarding interpretations of Muslim laws.

We urge you to use your authority as the head of the IGC to protect Iraqi people's rights and to oppose the passing of any proposal that ignores or diminishes women's rights. We further urge you to ensure that any change in Iraqi personal status laws will be carried out by a democratically elected body, which will include the genuine and equal participation of women, and after a proper process of national consultation.

Thank you for your attention to this important issue.

Yours sincerely...


To Mr. Paul Bremer
Chief US Administrator
Iraq

Dear Mr. Bremer,

We are writing to express our deep concern regarding the Iraqi Governing Council's proposed 'Resolution 137', dated 29 December 2003, that seeks to introduce the implementation of Sharia and the cancellation of all laws deemed incompatible with this decision.

We fear that this decision threatens the 1959 Iraqi Law of Personal Status which has long been considered one of the most progressive family laws in the Middle East. It was achieved through the struggle of the Iraqi people for much of the past century.

We support Iraqi women's protests against 'Resolution 137'. We strongly agree with their analysis that it will have negative effects on Iraqi society and will mean withdrawing rights that have been guaranteed to Iraqi women for many decades. Inequality in the family obstructs national development.

'Resolution 137' would mean the introduction of separate provisions and rules for each of the various sects in Iraq and will thus threaten the fabric of Iraqi civil society. The decision establishes sectarianism as an organizing principle of social and political life in Iraq and will deeply damage the cause of national integration. Moreover, it will introduce legal chaos as there are differences even within the various sects regarding interpretations of Muslim laws.

The passing of the 'Resolution' by the IGC lacks transparency and is not part of any democratic or consultative process. It was done without public debate and a process of consulting experts in social and legal matters or women's organisations. We also understand that only a minority of the Council was present. Iraqi women have raised their voice against this IGC 'Resolution' and demanded their full participation in a future Iraqi Government.

We draw your attention to the obligations of an occupying authority, under Article 43 of Convention IV of the 1907 Hague Conventions, to respect the laws in force in an occupied country and to restore public order and safety and respect existing laws in force.

Any change in Iraqi personal status laws must be carried out by a democratically elected body, which includes the genuine and equal participation of women, and after a proper process of national consultation.

Finally we would like to make it absolutely clear that Iraqi women can never be free unless their society is free from continuing war and occupation.

Thank you for your attention to this important issue.

Yours sincerely...


To The Rt. Hon. Jack Straw
UK Foreign Office
cc. Mr. Jeremy Greenstock & Rt. Hon. Patricia Hewitt

We are writing to express our deep concern regarding the Iraqi Governing Council's proposed 'Resolution 137', dated 29 December 2003, that seeks to introduce the implementation of Sharia and the cancellation of all laws deemed incompatible with this decision.

We fear that this decision threatens the 1959 Iraqi Law of Personal Status which has long been considered one of the most progressive family laws in the Middle East. It was achieved through the struggle of the Iraqi people for much of the past century.

We support Iraqi women's protests against 'Resolution 137'. We strongly agree with their analysis that it will have negative effects on Iraqi society and will mean withdrawing rights that have been guaranteed to Iraqi women for many decades. Inequality in the family obstructs national development.

'Resolution 137' would mean the introduction of separate provisions and rules for each of the various sects in Iraq and will thus threaten the fabric of Iraqi civil society. The decision establishes sectarianism as an organizing principle of social and political life in Iraq and will deeply damage the cause of national integration. Moreover, it will introduce legal chaos as there are differences even within the various sects regarding interpretations of Muslim laws.

The passing of the 'Resolution' by the IGC lacks transparency and is not part of any democratic or consultative process. It was done without public debate and a process of consulting experts in social and legal matters or women's organisations. We also understand that only a minority of the Council was present. Iraqi women have raised their voice against this IGC 'Resolution' and demanded their full participation in a future Iraqi Government.

We draw your attention to the obligations of an occupying authority, under Article 43 of Convention IV of the 1907 Hague Conventions, to respect the laws in force in an occupied country and to restore public order and safety and respect existing laws in force.

Any change in Iraqi personal status laws must be carried out by a democratically elected body, which includes the genuine and equal participation of women, and after a proper process of national consultation.

Finally we would like to make it absolutely clear that Iraqi women can never be free unless their society is free from continuing war and occupation.

Thank you for your attention to this important issue.

Yours sincerely...
Addresses: 
SEND YOUR LETTERS TO

Iraqi Governing Council

As no direct contact details are available for the IGC, Women for Women International which has an office in Iraq has agreed to deliver all messages to the IGC:
Women for Women International, Iraq office: momar@womenforwomen.org

US Authorities

Paul Bremer
Chief US Administrator
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
Choose 'Foreign Policy Opinions' via online form at http://contact-us.state.gov/ask_form_cat/ask_form_foreign.html

Ms. Condoleeza Rice
National Security Advisor
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Fax: +1 202 456 2461

UK Authorities

Rt. Hon. Jack Straw
The Foreign Secretary
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
King Charles Street
London SW1A 2AH
Fax: 0207 839 2417

Mr. Jeremy Greenstock
United Kingdom Special Representative for Iraq
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
King Charles Street
London SW1A 2AH
Fax: 0207 839 2417

Rt. Hon. Patricia Hewitt
Minister for Women and Equality
Women and Equality Unit
35 Great Smith Street
London, SW1P 3BQ
Email: info-womenandequalityunit@dti.gsi.gov.uk

United Nations

Kofi Annan
The United Nations Secretary-General
United Nations
New York, NY 10017
Fax: +1 212 963 4879
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