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Women's rights advocate harassed, prevented from leaving the country

(HRW/IFEX) - The following is a 28 October 2008 Human Rights Watch press release:

Iran: Attacks Escalate Against Women's Rights Activists

(New York, October 28, 2008) - The Iranian government is escalating its attacks against women activists, subjecting them to arbitrary detention, travel bans, and harassment, Human Rights Watch said today.

On October 26, 2008, security agents blocked Sussan Tahmasebi, a leader of the One Million Signatures Campaign for Equality, from boarding a plane and confiscated her passport, without charging her with any crime. At her home, they confiscated her computer and demanded that she report to court for interrogation. The government has prevented Tahmasebi from leaving the country for the past two years, but has never brought charges against her or provided a reason for her travel ban.

"Instead of seeking to silence women's rights advocates who draw attention to the urgent need for reform, the government should move to repeal Iran's discriminatory laws," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.

Human Rights Watch said the Judiciary has prosecuted more than 100 women's rights activists over the past three years and continues to detain, intimidate, and prohibit from traveling a number of other women's rights activists, particularly those involved in the One Million Signatures Campaign for Equality. The grassroots campaign aims to raise awareness of Iranian laws that sanction discrimination against women, by collecting 1 million signatures throughout the country in an effort to repeal them.

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on women's rights in Iran, please see:

"Iran: Rights Crisis Escalates," September 2008 report: http://hrw.org/backgrounder/2008/iran0908/iran0908web.pdf

"'You Can Detain Anyone for Anything': Iran's Broadening Clampdown on Independent Activism," January 2008 report: http://hrw.org/reports/2008/iran0108

"Iran: Release Women's Rights Activists Immediately," December 2007 statement: http://hrw.org/english/docs/2007/12/17/iran17561.htm

For further information on harassment and arrests of women involved in the One Million Signatures Campaign, see: http://www.ifex.org/e/content/view/full/82360

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