Increasing number of women activists detained in Iran
Growing number of women activists detained in Iran
In recent months, there has been a growing number of detentions of female social activists in Iran.
Laili Khatami, a child and women’s rights activist from Kermanshah, Iran, was arrested and charged with espionage on December 17. A report from the Campaign for the Defense of Political and Civilian Prisoners says that her lawyer Fariborz Shahraki who tried to follow up her detention has also been arrested and allegedly tortured during the interrogation.
Leili Khatami’s sister said that Laili was arrested by security forces on November 19 in Zahedan while doing humanitarian relief work in deprived areas. She had planned to stay in Zahedan for a week and arrested on the last day of her trip. She visited children around the country doing educational programs and storytelling sessions. Laili often travelled to villages located in provinces such as Kermanshah, Sistan, Baluchestan and Mazandaran, where children experience particular hardship. Laili had also worked with children affected by the earthquake that happened in Kermanshah in November of 2017, living in a tent and providing support to the children in the area.
Mounes Khatami, her sister, confirmed that Laili was taken to Tehran where she remains in custody on spying charges. "My sister always worked alone without any affiliation with any place, her only intention was to bring a small hope to those children in deprived areas. She didn't do any political activities.”
Laili has been in contact with her father and her sister twice and still not allowed to have a lawyer. No official authority has yet provided information on where she has been prisoned.
The accusation of espionage in Iran refers not only to individuals who are engaged in the transmission of information in key positions, it includes Iranian citizens and activists that highlight the lack of most basic needs and rights of Iranian people that the government fails to provide it. Iranian users on social media noted that Laili is still in detention. They remarked that the charge of "espionage" is a n excessive charge for someone who was helping children. "Be her voice," one person tweeted.
Another Iranian women and gender equality rights activist named Maryam Azad, who is 31 years old, and a fine arts degree graduate from Shiraz, was arrested October 3. She was allegedly arrested while she was traveling to Turkey at Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport (IKIA) in Tehran. A close friend of Maryam Azad said she was arrested by security forces after she crossed the boarding gate the source said that Maryam was ill and she was under treatment.
Najmeh Vahedi and Hoda Amid are two other activists reportedly arrested. They had organized house workshops for informing girls and women about the terms of marriage contracts. They were arrested in September and charged with attempts to “annihilate the foundation of the family.” In November they were temporarily released on bail pending a court decision.
Reports on the inspection of houses of other women's rights activists in Iran have also been published in social media. In a post on December 14, Hadi Ghaemi, Executive Director of the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) called on the international community to remain focused on unlawful detentions in Iran. Ghaemi went on to say, “failing to do so will give Iran’s judiciary and security establishment, including the Revolutionary Guards, a green light to continue imprisoning citizens for their peaceful actions while trampling on the rights to counsel and a fair trial.”