Iran: Call for immediate release of Alieh Eghdamdoust

Dozens of women’s and human rights groups condemn the recent arrest and imprisonment of Iranian women’s rights activist Alieh Eghdamdoust. She will serve a sentence of three years imprisonment for participating in a lawful and peaceful demonstration in June 2006/1385 in Haft-e Tir Square in Tehran.
On Thursday, January 29th, Judicial officials from the Revolutionary Court of Tehran arrested Alieh Eghdamdoust, a 57-year old teacher, in her home in Fouman, a small city in northern Iran. The police then summoned her to Evin prison to begin her sentence.

The news of Alieh’s arrest is of critical importance to the future of the Iranian women’s rights movement. In the last two and half years since the peaceful gathering at Haft-e Tir, more than 70 women’s rights defenders have been arrested in Iran for participating in lawful and non-violent civil action. Up until now, the standard procedure for these cases has involved temporary detention, due process, and suspended sentences. But last week, Alieh became the first women’s rights defender in Iran to be taken to prison to have her sentence implemented. (Although Delaram Ali, another women’s rights activist, was ordered to serve her prison sentence several months ago, she was released shortly thereafter thanks to pressure by international women’s rights groups.) Alieh is now en route to spending three years in jail for the sole ‘crime’ of participating in a peaceful demonstration.

According to 27th Amendment of the Iranian Constitution, peaceful gatherings are deemed lawful. For the last three years, Iranian women’s rights defenders have worked relentlessly within a lawful and peaceful framework for the advancement of women’s human and civil rights, but have been met with constant harassment by the police and law enforcement. Not only are the Iranian authorities unwilling to protect these peaceful activists, they have been adding to the pressure by unlawfully interrogating and arresting activists.

As we approach International Women’s Day on March 8th, the Iranian authorities have threatened unprecedented repression of the Iranian women’s movement with the arrest and imprisonment of Alieh Eghdamdoust. There is an imminent threat that Alieh’s treatment will be carried over to the other nearly 60 women’s rights activists whose cases are currently pending in court, imprisoning these individuals and thereby effectively shutting down the Iranian women’s movement.

We urge the appropriate officials within the United Nations and the European Union as well as global civil society to add pressure to the Iranian government to honor their human rights commitments and protect the civil rights of women’s rights defenders.

WLUML Networkers