Change for Equality: Twelve women’s rights activists were arrested today on March 26, 2009, on Sohrevardi Avenue in Tehran, while meeting up to go for New Years visits of families of imprisoned social and political activists. Ten of those arrested are members of the One Million Signatures Campaign. The Campaign members arrested are: Delaram Ali, Leila Nazari, Khadijeh Moghaddam, Farkhondeh Ehtesabian, Mahboubeh Karami, Baharah Behravan, Ali Abdi, Amir Rashidi, Mohammad Shourab, and Arash Nasiri Eghbali. Also Soraya Yousefi and Shahla Forouzanfar were also arrested.
According to reports from family members of those arrested, these women’s rights activists were first transferred to Niloofar Police Station, then some were taken to Galoobandak Police Station, and later all were transferred to Evin Prison. Currently all these women’s rights activists are being detained at Evin prison’s general ward for female inmates.
According to reports from family members who were present outside the police stations and who had a few minutes to talk to those arrested, these women’s rights activists are facing two charges, including: disruption of public opinion and disruption of public order. Additionally a bail order for a third party guarantee by a government employee has been issued for these women’s rights activists in the amount of 50 million Tomans (roughly $50,000). It should be noted that while a third party guarantee bail amount is a lighter bail amount than bail orders which require the posting of a bail amount, stipulating that the guarantee must be provided by a government employee makes it difficult to post bail and as such the detention of these activists may be extended unnecessarily.
One women’s rights activist at the scene of the arrest explained that: “we had set up a time to meet on Sohrevardi Avenue so that we could go to visit some of the families of imprisoned social and political activists on the occasion of the New Year. When we arrived at our meeting place, we were faced with police and plain-clothes security officers who were taking pictures and video taping us and taking note of the license plate numbers of our vehicles. We started out toward our destination before the others, but on our way to the home of one imprisoned social activist our friends contacted us by phone to report that they were being arrested by security officials.”
It is customary that on the occasion of the Iranian New Year, which coincides with the first day of Spring, friends and family members visit one another. Women’s rights activists have long made it a habit to visit the families of imprisoned social and political activists as a demonstration of solidarity and support for those imprisoned and for their families.