Ms. Bahareh Hedayat – Lawyer, Detained in Evin Prison, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

Re: Ms. Bahareh Hedayat – Lawyer, Detained in Evin Prison, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

To: His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei

From: Tina Parbhakar, LRWC

Date: 2007-05-31

LRWC has received information that Ms. Bahareh Hedayat has been condemned to a suspended sentence of 2 years’ imprisonment by the Revolutionary Court for “acting against national security by participating in an illegal gathering.” We had written to you in March regarding the detention of Ms. Shadi Sadr, and a week later heard that she and Ms. Mahboubeh Abasgholizadeh were released on bail after paying 250,000 and 200,000 USD, respectively, for the bail.

According to Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh, Ms. Hedyat’s lawyer, there have been 121 cases of women being arrested, interrogated or sentenced in the past 2 years and the government has raised over one million Euros by releasing prisoners on high bails. The most recent such case was Ms. Zeynab Payqambarzadeh. LRWC will continue to monitor the conditions and status of Ms. Hedayat, among other women, and again discourages the Iranian government officials’ clamp-down on women’s peaceful activities to achieve equality and subsequent extortion of victims and their families.

This is our first time writing to you with regards to Ms. Hedayat, who was recently appointed as the head of Daftare Tahkim Vahdat’s human rights centre and women’s commission. This is Iran’s oldest and largest student group, which was formed after a decree by His Excellency Ayatollah Khomeini and of which His Excellency President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been a member. Granted that factions of this group may seek radical change and may be associated with the United States administration, but many nonetheless continue to be loyal Iranians at heart and seek simply to create processes where citizens can be involved in the decisions made on their behalf without feeling threatened or fearing bodily harm or injury. Rather than approaching Daftare Tahkim as the Minister of Intelligence has, as an organization pursuing the goal of “softly overthrowing” the current government or according to the general view that students are not critics of power but trouble-makers, one should open one’s arms to and utilize the energy of this generation of young people to improve the governing mechanisms and create a more peaceful, more secure and stronger Iran. Ms. Hedayat should not be imprisoned for her associations and this type of action will only polarize the political climate, fostering a culture of cynicism and mistrust, which is in nobody’s interest.

We know that on March 4, 2007, 30 women were arrested while peacefully gathering in the front of the Tehran Revolutionary Court to mark International Women’s Day and some were subsequently released on high bails. They were also protesting the fact that six women were prosecuted in connection with their participation in a peaceful assembly in June 2006 and with their involvement in the “One million signatures” campaign. This campaign helps effectively connect women of all educational and economic backgrounds for a common purpose, through use of multiple avenues from door-to-door to internet communication. Rooted not only in lessons learned from women’s struggles world-wide, but also in the history of experiences of mothers and grandmothers in Iran, the purpose of the campaign is to change and reform laws that discriminate against women and reduce them to second-class citizens.

Let us be clear, your government’s actions towards Ms. Hedayat for her involvement in students’ and women’s issues are against both international and Iranian law. Ms. Hedayat’s treatment is in contravention of Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Section 1, which states, “Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. No one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedure as are established by law.” The arrest is also in contravention of the Iranian Constitution, Article 21 whereby the government must “create a favourable environment for the growth of women’s personalities and rights, both material and intellectual.” Also Article 26, which states, “The formation of parties…or professional associations…is permitted…” and “no one may be prevented from participating…” as well as Article 27, which states, “Public gatherings and marches may be freely held, provided arms are not carried and that they are not detrimental to the fundamental principles of Islam,” are being contravened. Meanwhile, according to Article 156, there should be effort from the Judiciary to take suitable measures to prevent the occurrence of crime such as extortion.

Lawyers’ Rights Watch of Canada joins with Ms. Hedayat’s family and other international groups to demand that she receive an immediate and unconditional release. We urge you to provide a response, as would be respectfully expected from your office.

Write to LRWC by mail, e-mail or fax to advise of us of the actions taken by your government to ensure that Ms. Hedayat is in all circumstances physically and psychologically safe, is subject to a fair and impartial trial and not harassed for her affiliations. Furthermore, we again want you to provide details of how you will ensure a respect for international human rights standards and instruments ratified by Iran. We will continue writing to you on behalf of Ms. Hedayat and other courageous Iranian women if we do not hear from you within two weeks of the date of this letter.