Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released a statement yesterday urging the release of several dozen Iranian women activists who have been imprisoned since the weekend. The women are members of a group called Mourning Mothers, which was formed after the widely publicized death of Neda Agha-Soltan last summer.
Clinton said, “The United States urges the immediate and unconditional release of the dozens of members of the Mourning Mothers group who, according to reports, were violently dispersed and arrested by Iranian security forces during a peaceful vigil in Tehran on Saturday, January 9. These women, whose children have been killed, detained, or have gone missing in post-election violence in Iran, were exercising their universal right to peaceful expression, as they do every Saturday in a park not far from where Neda Agha-Soltan was killed on June 20. They have reportedly done nothing more than peacefully express their grief and seek accountability from their government. As a woman, a mother and a person of conscience, my heart goes out to them and their families. If the Iranian government wants the respect of the international community, it must respect the rights of its people. It must govern through consent, and not coercion.”
According to the Straits Times, the women typically wear black as a sign of mourning and regularly protest in the park where they were arrested. According to the Mourning Mothers website, an unidentified witness said, “They would not allow anyone to even sit on the benches or congregate…After about 70 mothers entered the park, security forces engaged them and started chasing them, grabbing them, and forcing them into police vans. They used a lot of violence and insults in the process,” reported CNN.