Thursday, June 15, 2006

Iran: Women's Rights Demonstrators Beaten and arrested

Amnesty International:
Amnesty International condemns the Iranian security forces' violent disruption of a peaceful demonstration on 12 June by women and men advocating an end to legal discrimination against women in Iran. The demonstrators had gathered in the Seventh of Tir Square in Tehran to call, among other things, for changes in the law to give a woman's testimony in court equal value to that of a man and for married women to be allowed to choose their employment and to travel freely without obtaining the prior permission of their husband.

Police, including a large unit of policewomen, reportedly moved in as soon as the demonstration began and immediately started beating the protestors with batons in order to force them to disperse. They detained scores of demonstrators; on 13 June 2006, Minister of Justice and Spokesman for the Judiciary Jamal Karimi-Rad stated that 70 people had been arrested, 42 were women and 28 men, for participating in what he alleged was an illegal demonstration. When questioned about the beatings by police, he said, "if there was any beating, it will be reviewed". Some of those detained are reported to have been released. READ MORE

Amnesty International has received the names of over 40 women and men reported to be among those arrested. Unconfirmed reports suggest that some are now being held at the Eshrat Abad detention centre in Tehran. Pictures of the demonstration, including some of police wielding batons, can be seen on a number of websites such as:, and

Amnesty International believes that those detained may be prisoners of conscience, detained solely for the peaceful exercise of their internationally recognized right to freedom of expression and association. If so, they should be released immediately and unconditionally. Amnesty International is also calling for a prompt, thorough and impartial investigation into the excessive force used against the demonstrators. Anyone found responsible for abuse should be brought to justice promptly and fairly.

The organization once again reminds the Iranian authorities of Article 12 of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. This states that "Everyone has the right to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms." The Declaration requires states to "take all necessary measures to ensure the protection… against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration."

On 9 June 2006 Amnesty International issued a statement calling for an end to discrimination against women in Iran and urging the Iranian authorities to ensure that the policing of the peaceful demonstration planned to be held on 12 June was consistent with international human rights standards (see Iran: Amnesty International calls for action to end discrimination against women, AI Index MDE 13/064/2006). Earlier this year, the organization condemned the use of violence by Iranian security forces against women who had gathered to celebrate International Women's Day on 8 March 2006 (see Iran: Amnesty International condemns violence against women demonstrators in Iran, AI Index MDE 13/024/2006).