Thursday, June 15, 2006
AMNESTY AND HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH CONDEMN ASSAULT ON WOMEN'S RIGHTS ADVOCATES IN IRAN
Following are statements from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. They speak for themselves.
Iran: Women’s rights demonstrators beaten and arrested
Amnesty International condemns the Iranian security forces' violent disruption of a peaceful demonstration on 12 June by women and men advocating an end to legal discrimination against women in Iran. The demonstrators had gathered in the Seventh of Tir Square in Tehran to call, among other things, for changes in the law to give a woman's testimony in court equal value to that of a man and for married women to be allowed to choose their employment and to travel freely without obtaining the prior permission of their husband.
Police, including a large unit of policewomen, reportedly moved in as soon as the demonstration began and immediately started beating the protestors with batons in order to force them to disperse. They detained scores of demonstrators; on 13 June 2006, Minister of Justice and Spokesman for the Judiciary Jamal Karimi-Rad stated that 70 people had been arrested, 42 were women and 28 men, for participating in what he alleged was an illegal demonstration. When questioned about the beatings by police, he said, "if there was any beating, it will be reviewed". Some of those detained are reported to have been released.
Amnesty International has received the names of over 40 women and men reported to be among those arrested. Unconfirmed reports suggest that some are now being held at the Eshrat Abad detention centre in Tehran. Pictures of the demonstration, including some of police wielding batons, can be seen on a number of websites such as: www.kosoof.com, www.advarnews.org?Gallery/1965.aspx and www.nasiriphotos.com/blog/?id=1003639.
Amnesty International believes that those detained may be prisoners of conscience, detained solely for the peaceful exercise of their internationally recognized right to freedom of expression and association. If so, they should be released immediately and unconditionally. Amnesty International is also calling for a prompt, thorough and impartial investigation into the excessive force used against the demonstrators. Anyone found responsible for abuse should be brought to justice promptly and fairly.
The organization once again reminds the Iranian authorities of Article 12 of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. This states that "Everyone has the right to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms." The Declaration requires states to "take all necessary measures to ensure the protection… against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration."
On 9 June 2006 Amnesty International issued a statement calling for an end to discrimination against women in Iran and urging the Iranian authorities to ensure that the policing of the peaceful demonstration planned to be held on 12 June was consistent with international human rights standards (see Iran: Amnesty International calls for action to end discrimination against women, AI Index MDE 13/064/2006). Earlier this year, the organization condemned the use of violence by Iranian security forces against women who had gathered to celebrate International Women's Day on 8 March 2006 (see Iran: Amnesty International condemns violence against women demonstrators in Iran, AI Index MDE 13/024/2006).
Iran: Police Assault Women's Rights Demonstrators
Source: Human Rights Watch
(New York, June 15, 2006) ? Iran must investigate the police beating of hundreds of women's rights activists during a peaceful demonstration in Tehran on Monday, Human Rights Watch said today. The organization called on the government to release those detained after the police attack on protestors.
Eyewitnesses told Human Rights Watch that police and intelligence agents lined Haft Tir Square in downtown Tehran hours before the start of the planned demonstration on June 12. As the demonstrators assembled, the security forces immediately started to beat them with batons, sprayed them with pepper gas, marked the demonstrators with color spray, and took scores into custody.
"The Iranian government has again shown its utter contempt for basic freedoms like the right to peaceful assembly," said Sarah Leah Whitson, director of Middle East and North Africa division at Human Rights Watch. "The authorities should free those arrested at once and find out who's behind the police violence."
On Tuesday, Jamal Karimirad, a spokesman for the Judiciary, confirmed that security forces arrested 70 people, 42 women and 28 men, to prevent the demonstration from taking place. He said the Judiciary is charging the detainees with "participation in an illegal assembly."
An eyewitness told Human Rights Watch that, for what is thought to be the first time, the government transported policewomen to the demonstration to arrest female demonstrators while policemen dealt with male protestors.
"Female police officers ruthlessly beat demonstrators with their batons and took many into police vans for detention," this witness said. "Bystanders were shocked at how harshly the police reacted to demonstrators."
The demonstration followed a call last week by hundreds of women's rights activists and human rights defenders to demand reforms in Iran's legal code and remove discriminatory clauses against women.
Prior to the demonstration, the Judiciary summoned and interrogated numerous women's rights activists. On Saturday night, agents of the Judiciary went to the homes of prominent activists to issue summons. Those summoned include Noushin Ahmadi Khorasani, Parvin Ardalan, Sussan Tahmasebi, Zohreh Arzani, and Fariba Davoodi Mohajer. Davoodi Mohajer was the only one who received the summons in person. On Monday, Judiciary agents at the Branch 14 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran interrogated her for 10 hours.
Also on Monday morning, security forces arrested another activist, Shahla Entessari, at her workplace in Tehran. Among those arrested at the demonstration are Ali Akbar Mousavi Khoiniha, a former member of the parliament, Jila Baniyaghoub, Delaram Ali, Samira Sadri, Bahareh Hedayat, Leila Mohseni, Bahman Ahmadi Amooi, Siamak Taheri, and Farahnaz Sharifi.
Human Rights Watch called on the government to release all detainees without delay, end its harassment and intimidation of activists, and abide by its international obligations to respect freedom of assembly, and to prevent and punish police brutality.