Amnesty: Iran Targeting Women Activists As ‘Enemies of the State’

Shiite Iran continues to criminalize women’s right’s activism, designating “peaceful” female advocates as “enemies of the state” and using its elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to crack down on them, reports human rights watchdog Amnesty International.

It notes:

The [human rights] organization’s research reveals that since January 2016 more than a dozen women’s rights activists in Tehran have been summoned for long, intensive interrogations by the Revolutionary Guards, and threatened with imprisonment on national security-related charges. Many had been involved in a campaign launched in October 2015, which advocated for increased representation of women in Iran’s February 2016 parliamentary election.

Magdalena Mughrabi, interim deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at Amnesty International, noted:

It is utterly shameful that the Iranian authorities are treating peaceful activists who seek women’s equal participation in decision-making bodies as enemies of the state. Speaking up for women’s equality is not a crime. We are calling for an immediate end to this heightened harassment and intimidation, which is yet another blow for women’s rights in Iran.

Rather than addressing Iran’s disturbing record on women’s rights the Iranian authorities have once again opted for repression, accusing women’s rights activists of collusion in western-orchestrated plots in a bid to maintain their discriminatory practices towards women.

The Shiite country is using arbitrary orders for interrogation of activists.

Many have been accused of espionage and treason — crimes that are punished by death in Iran.

Amnesty International points out:

The women summoned for interrogation were given no reason for the summonses they received, but once inside the interrogation room they were bombarded with accusations of espionage and collusion with ‘foreign-based currents seeking the overthrow of the Islamic Republic system.’ Amnesty International understands that the Revolutionary Guards subjected the women to verbal abuse, including gender-related slurs. The activists were not allowed to be accompanied by their lawyers during the interrogations, which lasted in some cases up to eight hours.

The latest target of the crackdown was identified as the prominent women’s rights magazine Zanan-e Emrooz (Today’s Women) which announced it was terminating its activities on 26 July.

“The Iranian authorities should be under no illusion that harassing women’s rights activists by carrying out interrogations and forcing them to close their publications silently will go unnoticed. They should be supporting women’s rights activists, not persecuting them,” declared Mughrabi.

Amnesty International reports:

The renewed assault on those working on women’s rights has been manifested most extremely by the arbitrary arrest and detention, since 6 June, of Dr Homa Hoodfar, a Canadian-Iranian national and prominent anthropology professor renowned for her decades of academic work on women’s issues…

Women in Iran are subject to pervasive discrimination both in law and practice, including in areas concerning marriage, divorce, child custody, freedom of movement, employment, and access to political office.


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