Iran: Women’s movement activist begins 3 year prison sentence
The news of Alieh’s arrest came as a shock for all of us. According to 27th Amendment of the Iranian Constitution, peaceful gatherings are deemed lawful; Alieh’s only crime was participating in a peaceful gathering. The rash and impetuous sentencing of Alieh to three years imprisonment for this 'crime' is a direct violation of her civil rights.
The unexpected sentencing of Alieh signals the first step towards an increased repression of the women’s movement by government authorities. This comes at a time when various groups involved in the women’s movement have been issuing complaints to the Iranian judiciary concerning the violent and unlawful police treatment they had been experiencing for the last few months. Although there have been several complaints, there has not been a single case in which the Judiciary has taken our complaints seriously and acted to protect our civil rights by bringing the offenders to justice or charging the harassers with a crime.
All of this is occurring as we get closer to International Women’s Day on March 8th. This has forced us to come to the conclusion that law enforcement officers purposefully and unfairly chose to take the most innocent colleagues and comrades in order to pressure and undermine our movement. But we wish to remind them that the infatigable activists of this movement have worked for years, and we will continue to work relentlessly in a lawful and peaceful manner. We, too, expect the authorities to stay within the confines of the law. Otherwise, if the authorities choose to continue their unlawful and unthoughtful acts, the women’s movement will surely react. We will not remain silent. We will use all tools at our disposal to object to these civil rights abuses.
We, the many different groups making up the Iranian women’s movement, unequivocally and entirely condemn the arrest of the Alieh and ask that everyone involved, especially the Head of the Judiciary, act as quickly as possible to reverse this decision, free Alieh, and return her to her normal life.
The statement has been issued by the following groups:
* Association of Iranian Women
* Feminist School
* Women’s Field
* Women’s Committee of Tahkim Vahdad ( Solidarity ) Organization
* Repertoire Committee of Human Rights
* Human Rights Committee of Iranian Scholars Organization
* Women’s Commission of Tahkim Vahdat ( Solidarity ) Office Iranian Researchers’ Association
* Pars Women’s Association
* Rah Avard Association
* Farasoo Association ( Tabriz )
* Campaign of Italy
* Fasl-e Sabz ( Green Season ) Site
* Avaye Zan Journal
* Independent Society of Iranian Women in Austria
* Hastia Andish Association
* One Million Signature Campaign in Dusseldorf , Germany
The effort to collect signatures of active civil groups, women’s movement and human rights groups continues. Please add the name of your group in support of this statement to free Aliyeh Eghdomdust, by sending it to the following email address: email@example.com
This is the first sentence of a women's rights activist involved in the Haft-e Tir Protest whose sentence has been executed, as opposed to suspended sentence, and as such is a particularly grave development in the ongoing persecution of human rights' defenders.
Her attorneys appealed the lower court’s sentence. Nasim Ghovani, one of the attorneys who represent Eghdamdoust, told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that neither Eghdamdoust nor any of her attorneys had been informed of the result of the appeal.
“I received a call from Alieh in Foman at 2pm on 31 January. She told me that agents from the Implementation of Sentences Department came to take her to Tehran to begin serving her prison term,” Ghovani said. She and no other attorney for Eghdamdoust later found that the appeals court had upheld her three-year sentence for “acting against national security” about one year ago.
Ghanavi said, “If we had been informed before, we could have applied for legal possibilities, including Article 18 of the amendment to the Penal Code to prevent the implementation of the sentence. We don’t know why we haven’t been informed.”
Jila Baniyaghoub, a journalist who was also arrested in June 2006 at Haft Tir Square, reported on her website that during her trial, Eghdamdoust was asked by the judge why she participated in the protest. She responded by saying, “You should participate as well. Why didn’t you defend your daughters and wife’s rights by attending the legal peaceful gathering?”
The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran calls the Iranian Judiciary to investigate and prosecute the officials who unlawfully withheld information about Eghdamdoust’s appeal from her attorneys. The Authorities should immediately release Eghdamdoust and end persecution and prosecution of peaceful women’s rights activists.
“The authorities should protect the rights of women’s rights activists under Iranian and international law, not imprison them,” Ghaemi said.
For the latest human rights developments in Iran visit the Campaign’s website at www.iranhumanrights.org
For more information:
Hadi Ghaemi, in New York: +1 917-669-5996
Aaron Rhodes, in Vienna: +43 676-635-6612