Iran Ups Pressure on Female Activists


Since 2005, Iran’s government has cracked down on activists – particularly those who press for women’s rights and speak out against discriminatory laws. Repression only worsened in the wake of the contested 2009 presidential elections.

But courageous Iranian women continue to stand up to the government, including the women’s rights activist Sussan Tahmasebi, who received the Alison Des Forges Award for Extraordinary Activism.

Tahmasebi helped start the Million Signatures Campaign, one of the most influential and effective human rights campaigns in Iran. Its premise is simple: Members ask ordinary Iranians to sign a petition asking the government to allow equal rights in marriage, divorce, inheritance, and other areas.

Tahmasebi dedicated her award to the imprisoned human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, and other women activists sentenced to prison. Some have been jailed for taking part in peaceful demonstrations, while others spoke out against the detention of their children. Several members of the Million Signatures Campaign are also behind bars.

Sotoudeh recently ended a hunger strike, which she staged to protest being held in solitary confinement.

Imprisoned Iranian women include human rights activists, lawyers, journalists, and students. What they have in common is their pursuit of justice, despite the risk to themselves, their families, and their reputations.

Source:Human Rights Watch