Monday, June 12, 2006

Women Activists Summoned to Court

Maryam Dastgir, Rooz Online:
While Iranian women activists continued their preparations for their June 12th rally to call for ending gender discrimination, Fariba Dawoodi and 10 other women activists have been summoned by Iranian judiciary and security officials. No reports have been published about the purpose of the summons but history suggests that the measure is part of the intimidation process that security officials normally practice, with the June 12 on the minds of these officials. It should be noted that the names of the women who have been summoned have not been made publicly available. READ MORE

Last year too on the eve of a similar women’s rally on June 12th, some prominent women activists were summoned to the ministry of the interior (which is responsible for domestic security) and asked to dissuade other women from participating in the national gathering. They however disagreed and argued that peaceful marches did not require any official permits, and were thus legal in nature, and so could proceed.

The current summons comes at a time when a number of student activists too have been summoned to courts and security agencies, indicating an overall policy of intimidating and controlling protests or gatherings of any nature with political overtones.

This year’s June 12th gathering has so far gained a larger international and domestic support. One example of this is the support of 5 women Nobel Peace Prize winners who have endorsed the rally and called on women of all walks to join in. Since hardliners have taken over all government and political agencies in the Iranian government, including the social and cultural ones, they interpret any public social activity by women to be pressure on the government.