Two UN Special Reporters warn on the ongoing crackdown of womenâ€™s rights defenders in the Islamic Republic of Iran
Tuesday 2 December 2008, by
GENEVA, 27 November 2008 â€“ â€œOver the past two years, womenâ€™s rights defenders have faced an increasingly difficult situation and harassment in the course of their non-violent activities in the defence of womenâ€™s rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran,â€ warned two UN human rights experts.
In a joint statement, Special Rapporteurs Margaret Sekaggya (situation of Human Rights Defenders) and Yakin ErtÃ¼rk (Violence against Women, its causes and consequences) expressed deep concern regarding the ongoing crackdown of womenâ€™s rights defenders in the Islamic Republic of Iran.
â€œWomen and men active in the â€˜One Million Signatures Demanding Changes to Discriminatory Lawsâ€™ campaign, a grass-roots movement aimed at promoting full equality between women and men in Iranian law, have been particularly targeted,â€ said the UN experts.
The campaigners aim at collecting one million signatures from Iranian nationals demanding the revision and reform of current laws which discriminate against women, such as those in the civil and penal codes regulating marriage practices, divorce, criminal acts, and inheritance rights.
The â€œOne Million Signatures Campaignâ€ started with a peaceful demonstration on 12 June 2006 in Haft-e Tir Square in Tehran. The break-up of this demonstration by authorities signalled the beginning of the systematic repression of womenâ€™s rights activists.
While the group leading the campaign seeks to work within the existing system and regulations and insists it is in no way a group in direct opposition to the government; the group has met with serious repression from the authorities.
â€œPeaceful demonstrators have been arrested, detained and persecuted with prison sentences having been imposed on many of them,â€ said the UN Special Rapporteurs. â€œThe Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran continues to harass and intimidate womenâ€™s rights activists involved in the campaign and prevent them from travelling.â€
â€œTo date, 18 communications have been sent to the Iranian authorities concerning violations committed against over 70 human rights defenders involved in the campaign, and on 5 April 2007 a press release was issued on the situation,â€ said the UN experts. â€œUntil now, we have received only three responses from the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iranâ€ .
â€œThe repression against the womenâ€™s rights defenders participating in the campaign most regrettably continues,â€ stressed Ms. Sekaggya and Ms. ErtÃ¼rk.
For the UN Special Rapporteurs, â€œwomenâ€™s participation in public life to promote an equal treatment of women and men in the Islamic Republic of Iran should be encouraged as a means to build a stronger and healthier society, in which womenâ€™s unique contributions can flourish.â€
In their joint communiquÃ©, the two UN experts urge the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran â€œto abide by its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women, and respect the rights of womenâ€™s rights activists to freedom of association and peaceful assembly, and to freedom of opinion and expressionâ€ .
â€œWe also recall the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, which inter alia recognize the right of everyone, individually and in association with others, to strive for the protection and realization of human rights,â€ concluded the UN Special Rapporteurs on the situation of Human Rights Defenders and Violence against Women.
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