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Arrests Ahead and Following February Protests Target Women Activists Too

Tuesday 22 February 2011


Change for Equality:Leading up to and following the planned public protests of February in several Iranian cities the pressure on social and political activists increased once again. Women too were among those who were arrested in this latest round of crackdowns on Iranian civil society. It should be noted that protests were held on February 14th to demonstrate the solidarity of the Iranian people with the people of Tunisia and Egypt. Protests were planned on February 20 to commemorate the death of two young protesters who were killed on February 14th. Arrests of social and political activists began prior to each planned protest as well as during and following the protests. Some of the women arrested and pressured during this latest round of crackdowns include:

Fariba Ibtahaj, the Deputy Assistant to Masoumeh Ibtekar, former Vice-President to Mohammad Khatami and current member of Tehran’s city council was arrested on February 10. Ibtahaj, besides being a political activist and a member of the Participation Front a reformist political party and also a women’s rights researcher.

Zahra Eftekhari a student rights activist at Tehran University was arrested on February 12. According to the Green Voice of Freedom, Zahra is a student and political activist at Tehran University and was a member of Presidential Candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi’s Election Campaign.

Zahra Sharif another student activist from Tehran was arrested on February 12. According to the Green Voice of Freedom website, She was a student and political activist and active on the Election Campaign of Presidential Candidate Mir Hossein Mosavi.

According to reports, the daughter of Ayatollah Bayat Zanjani, Sussan Bayat Zanjani, a Masters Student at the University of Isfahan was arrested during protests on February 14 and transferred to Evin prison. There is no news on her brother Mostafa Bayat either. Ayatollah Bayat Zanjani has been an outspoken critic of the current government, and has criticized the government’s treatment of protesters after the disputed presidential elections as well as the closed political space. Hooman Fakhar Moghadam, a women’s rights activist was arrested on February 17. According to the site HARANA, Moghadam was summoned on Sunday February 13 and arrested. He had been out on bail prior to this latest arrest. According to HARANA, Moghadam was transferred to Evin prison after his arrest, and has only been able to contact his family through one short telephone call.

Fifteen Members of the group Mothers of Laleh Park (Formerly Supporters of Mourning Mothers) have been summoned for interrogation to the Ministry of Intelligence. According to the site of the Mothers of Laleh Park, these activists were summoned on the 7th of February, and each was to summoned to appear for interrogation at a different time. The site does not specify the names of those summoned, but explains that more than 100 of its members have been arrested over the past 18 months since the group’s formation. The group was formed to support mothers of children killed in the protests following the disputed presidential elections. The arrested members of the Mothers of Laleh Park have all been released on bail, but face charges in court.

However, Hakimeh Shokri, remains in prison and is not allowed visitors. Shokri was arrested in early December (Azar 14), along with some other members of the Mothers of Laleh Park, while they were commemorating the birthday of one of the Martyrs of the green movement, Amirarshad Tajmir, at Behesht Zahra Cemetery. The group was arrested as they were leaving the cemetery. Others arrested with Shokri were released the same night, but she and Neda Mostaghimi were transferred to Evin prison. They were charged with spying and acting against national security. Since then Neda Mostaghimi has been released on bail, but Shokri remains in prison and reportedly is in poor health.

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