Women’s Rights Activists arrested in peaceful solidarity demonstrations in Iran

Nine women attempting to take part in a small, peaceful seminar to commemorate a day of solidarity with Iranian women were arrested in Tehran on Thursday. The women -Aida Saadat, Nahid Mirhaj, Nafiseh Azad, Nasrin Sotoodeh, Jelve Javaheri, Jila Baniyagoub, Sarah Loghmani Farideh Ghaeb and Aliyeh Matlabzadeh – were arrested and taken to a detention centre, and released later in the evening.

The seminar organized by the Campaign for Equality in honour of the anniversary of the day of solidarity of Iranian women, was due to take place in the Rahe Abrisham Gallery, but security forces prevented it from taking place by forcing the gallery owner to shut the doors. The nine women were arrested outside the gallery.

The Campaign for Equality is a network which works to end legal discrimination against women. The campaign informs women of their rights, and is aiming to collect one million signatures from the Iranian public to a petition against discriminatory laws.  

22 Khordad (usually 12 June) is identified by women’s rights activists in Iran as their national day of solidarity against laws which discriminate against women. Three years ago on this day, women’s rights activists organized a demonstration in front of Tehran University, which was unprecedented in size. The following year, a similar peaceful demonstration was broken up violently, and resulted in 70 arrests. Activists have pledged to continue activities on this date until their demands are met by the authorities.

Women in Iran face widespread discrimination under the law. They are excluded from key areas of political participation and do not have equal rights with men in marriage, divorce, child custody and inheritance.

The Iranian authorities must:

Stop the harassment of women’s rights activists and allow women to continue their peaceful activities, including future celebration of their day of solidarity unimpeded
Take concrete steps to bring laws governing the lives of women in line with human rights standards.