Iran's 'Mourning Mothers' must be released
Amnesty International has urged the Iranian authorities to release a group of women who were beaten and arrested during a peaceful vigil in Tehran at the weekend. The 33 women, members of a group known as the 'Mourning Mothers', were seized during their weekly meeting in Laleh Park, Tehran on Saturday, according to media reports. Several of the women were beaten and 10 were taken to hospital. The 'Mourning Mothers' are women whose children have been killed, disappeared or detained in post-election violence in Iran since last June, and their supporters. All 33 women are now being held in Vozara Detention Centre, Tehran. "Women who are grieving for children killed by security personnel should be able to count on support from the state to uncover the truth about what happened and to ensure redress for them, not face arbitrary detention and beatings," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Programme. "These women should be released immediately and unconditionally and an investigation launched into their treatment." According to the Internationa Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, on Sunday, protesters gathered and chanted outside the Vozara detention centre in support of the detained women, which led to traffic nearby being blocked. Security forces reportedly attacked the crowd and violently dispersed it. Two people who were in a passing car taking pictures of the protest were arrested and taken inside the detention centre. The 'Mourning Mothers' meet in silence for an hour each Saturday near the place and time of the killing of protester Neda Agha-Soltan, whose death was shown in footage circulated around the world in July. Nine of the women are believed to suffer from illnesses, increasing the concern for their well-being. "We are seriously concerned about the health of these detained activists and hold the Iranian authorities responsible for their well-being," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui. This is not the first time that members of the group have been arrested. Up to 29 were arrested on 5 December, although all were released by 7 December.