Iran Cracks Down on Women's Rights Activists
Somayeh Rashidi, an Iranian women's rights activist with the One Million Signatures Campaign, was targeted this morning with a search of her home and a summons to court. She told Change for Equality, that she "asked the security officials to provide me with identification, but they refused, claiming instead that [she] will find out in the future what intelligence agency they are working with. [She] also objected to the search and seizure of property belonging to [her] roommates, but the security officials did not pay any attention to [her] protests." Rashidi was also arrested in November in connection to public protests and spent two days in prison. Today's search is just the latest in a series of arrests of or attacks/threats towards Iranian women's rights activists.
The One Million Signatures Campaign, which seeks to collect one million signatures against the legal discrimination women face under Iranian law, has been particularly targeted. A number of activists associated with the campaign have been arrested and imprisoned in recent years, including American graduate student and feminist activist Esha Momeni.
Shirin Ebadi, Nobel Laureate and one of Iran's leading human rights defenders, is also being harassed and her family is being targeted. Iranian authorities not only froze her bank account, but also broke into Ebadi's safe deposit box and stole her Nobel medal, which has since been returned, according to the LA Times.
Omid Memarian, an exiled Iranian journalist, told the Daily Beast, "I talked to Shirin Ebadi just a few days ago. The authorities have summoned her husband, brother, and sister...Her organization in Iran cannot operate freely. She has been the most significant voice for human rights in Iran over the last five months. Harassing her is a very intimidating signal to others."
According to the Daily Beast, in addition to the continued harassment of women's rights activists, last month "Iranian state television ran a documentary attacking the nation's women's rights movement." Airing of the documentary preceded an announcement earlier this month from the head of Iran's state television, Ezatollah Zarghami, who declared that state-sponsored television programs will henceforth prohibit women who appear on air from using make-up. Zarghami told the newspaper Eternad that "make-up by women during television programs is illegal and against Islamic Sharia law. There should not be a single case of a woman wearing make-up during a program."
Media Resources: Feminist Daily Newswire 11/12/08, 12/4/09, 8/14/09; Change for Equality 12/14/09; Daily Beast 12/13/09; LA Times 12/11/09