Three women’s rights activists and journalists were arrested at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Airport en route to a journalism workshop in India and now face prosecution. Two of the three, Talat Taghinia and Mansoureh Shojai write for online journal Zanestan (which translates to “City of Women”), an Iranian web-based journal that advocates for women’s rights. The third woman, Farnaz Seify, runs a popular feminist blog, farnaaz.com.
The women were escorted from the airport to their homes, where their computers, notes, and books were seized, and were then put in prison. They were released the next day, without their belongings or passports, to face a hearing in two months. Nobel prize-winning human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi has agreed to defend the women, who she says are being charged with “acting against national security by taking part in an educational workshop,” although they never made it to the workshop.
“The arrest of these online journalists demonstrates President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s security and ideological paranoia which prompts him to ban all contact between journalists and foreign organizations and media,” said Reporters Without Borders (RSF), adding that the incident reveals “the fear that the women”s rights movement produces within the regime.” The three journalists are members of the Women’s Cultural Center, which runs a “One Million Signatures” campaign aimed at repealing Iran’s sexist laws. Recently, the campaign’s website was reportedly blocked by Iranian authorities, according to the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders.
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