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Two UN Special Reporters warn on the ongoing crackdown of women’s rights defenders in the Islamic Republic of Iran

Tuesday 2 December 2008, by admin

GENEVA, 27 November 2008 – “Over the past two years, women’s rights defenders have faced an increasingly difficult situation and harassment in the course of their non-violent activities in the defence of women’s rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran,†warned two UN human rights experts.

In a joint statement, Special Rapporteurs Margaret Sekaggya (situation of Human Rights Defenders) and Yakin Ertürk (Violence against Women, its causes and consequences) expressed deep concern regarding the ongoing crackdown of women’s rights defenders in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

“Women and men active in the ‘One Million Signatures Demanding Changes to Discriminatory Laws’ campaign, a grass-roots movement aimed at promoting full equality between women and men in Iranian law, have been particularly targeted,†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 “One Million Signatures Campaign†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 women’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.

“Peaceful demonstrators have been arrested, detained and persecuted with prison sentences having been imposed on many of them,†said the UN Special Rapporteurs. “The Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran continues to harass and intimidate women’s rights activists involved in the campaign and prevent them from travelling.â€

“To 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,†said the UN experts. “Until now, we have received only three responses from the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran†.

“The repression against the women’s rights defenders participating in the campaign most regrettably continues,†stressed Ms. Sekaggya and Ms. Ertürk.

For the UN Special Rapporteurs, “women’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 women’s unique contributions can flourish.â€
In their joint communiqué, the two UN experts urge the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran “to 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 women’s rights activists to freedom of association and peaceful assembly, and to freedom of opinion and expression†.

“We 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,†concluded the UN Special Rapporteurs on the situation of Human Rights Defenders and Violence against Women.

View online : UNITED NATIONS

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