The Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition (WHRD IC) stands in solidarity with Abdulhadi Al Khawaja and women human rights defenders in Bahrain as they demand democracy, government accountability and an end to the torture and detention of those demanding political change. Al Khawaja is a long opposition and human rights activist who has defended human rights of women for many years. He is in prison serving a life sentence imposed by a military court because of his peaceful anti-government protests and has been on a hunger strike for the past two and a half months.
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.
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.
We live in historic times. People in the Arab world are rising up against political dictatorship and corruption; they demand reforms and are organizing for freedom, human dignity and social justice. Women have been shouldering the responsibilities in all uprisings and their movement is an integral part of the democratic forces for social and economic justice. But they are systematically excluded from the decision making processes that shape the future of their countries. What democracies are then being prepared and negotiated?
Habitat International Coalition (HIC), the global movement specialized in human settlements since 1976, comprises some 450 members in 80 countries, in the North and South. They include NGOs, community-based organizations, social movements, academic and research centers, professional associations and like-minded individuals dedicated to the struggle against deprivation of well-being and for realizing the human right to adequate housing for all.
The Women's Forum Against Fundamentalism in Iran (WFAFI) is committed to promoting a greater awareness of the challenges women face living under fundamentalist regimes such as that of Iran. Their tasks range from raising public awareness, conducting research projects and initiating outreach programs -- to policy discussions and analysis. We firmly believe that the political presence, participation and leadership of women are instrumental to achieving social, political and economic equality. Their headquarters are in Boston, Massachusetts.