Women’s Rights Protest Broken Up in Tehran

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Human Rights First condemns the use of force by police to break up a peaceful demonstration of women in Tehran on June 12, 2006. Hundreds of women and men gathered in a downtown square to protest the discriminatory laws of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and to demand legislative change to ensure equal rights for women, especially in marriage and divorce, child custody, inheritance, and other areas.

Preventing demonstrators from peacefully gathering to express their views is a violation of the Iranian government’s obligations in international law as a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other human rights instruments.

Repeating the violence which has been used to quell dissent in previous years, about 100 police officers attacked the demonstrators, using pepper spray and beating them with batons. Witnesses claimed that women were dragged along the ground by their hair and savagely beaten.

In the days prior to the announced demonstration, several women human rights defenders were visited at their homes by members of the judiciary, interrogated, and threatened in an attempt to prevent them from participating in the protest. Several organizations suspected by the authorities of involvement in the protest were contacted in the days prior to June 12 and threatened with closure.

Gathering on the anniversary of a 2005 protest in which 1,000 women took part, protestors called for the laws against women to be abolished, shouting “We are women, we are human, but we don’t have any rights!”

Human Rights First reiterates its call to the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to uphold its obligation to protect citizens exercising their fundamental right to freedom of assembly and expression, and extend our support to the women of Iran in demanding immediate reform of discriminatory laws. We call for the immediate release of all those detained or arrested in connection with the rally and for an investigation into the use of force against peaceful protestors.

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