Ms. Rezvan Moghadam & Ms. Parvin Ardalan

Re: Ms. Rezvan Moghadam & Ms. Parvin Ardalan

To: His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei

From: Tina Parbhakar, LRWC/Iran Monitor

Date: 2008-05-09

LRWC has received information that Ms. Rezvan Moghadam and Ms. Parvin Ardalan, both members of the One Million Signatures Campaign (the Campaign), have been sentenced to imprisonment among other punishments.

On February 4, 2008, the Thirteenth Branch of the Revolutionary Court sentenced Ms. Moghadam to 6 months’ suspended imprisonment and 10 lashes and Ms. Ardalan to 2 years’ imprisonment as a result of their participation in a peaceful gathering in front of the Court for International Women’s Day on March 4, 2007. Specifically, Ms. Moghadam was given a sentence that is suspended for 3 years, identical to those given in recent weeks to Ms. Nahid Jafari, Ms. Nasrin Afzali, and Marzieh Mortazi for being part of the 2007 demonstration. Meanwhile, Ms. Ardalan was charged with “illegal assembly,” and “refusing to comply with police orders with the aim of disrupting national security.” On the occasion in question 33 women’s rights activists were arrested altogether. These women were protesting the trials of 6 women human rights defenders who were prosecuted for their participation in a peaceful assembly in June 2006 on charges of “propaganda against the system,” “acting against national security” and “participating in an illegal demonstration.”

We have written to you previously on the arrests of Ms. Gila Baniyaghoub, Ms. Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh and Ms. Shadi Sadr, also at the 2007 rally. LRWC continues to monitor the status of specific women human rights defenders and remains appalled by the clamp-down on women’s peaceful activities that has only escalated in the past few months and the subsequent abuse of public power through arbitrary and exorbitant bails.

The Campaign is rooted not only in lessons from women’s struggles world-wide, but also in the history of experiences of mothers and grandmothers in Iran, and its aim is to reform laws that reduce them to second-class citizens. The 2008 Annual Report by the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders details the difficult situations, including detentions, of campaigning women in the last year and the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders recalls that over 100 women have been arrested, interrogated, or sentenced in the past 2 years with over 1 million Euros raised by imprisonment and the extraction of bails for release.

We note that Ms. Ardalan, a journalist and writer, recently won the prestigious 2007 Olaf Palme award for her work on the Campaign which includes her writing for online webzines, Change for Equality and Zanestan, yet was unable to attend the ceremony due to the confiscation of her passport by state authorities. She has also helped establish the Women’s Cultural Centre (Markaz-e Farhani-ye Zanan). Meanwhile, Ms. Moghadam is a teacher who sits on the Mother’s Committee of the Campaign and has been active since the age of 15 in improving living conditions for socially deprived women, protecting the environment, fighting against drug abuse, among other issues. They both seek to appeal the decisions of the Court and do not understand why their hard work for Iranians is being rewarded with such harsh treatment.

Your government’s actions towards citizens such as Ms. Moghadam & Ms. Ardalan are contrary to both international and Iranian law. The 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 and sentencing of Ms. Moghadam, Ms. Ardalan and other women is also in contravention of the Iranian Constitution, 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.”

Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada (LRWC) joins other international groups to demand that both receive an immediate and unconditional release. Although the situation has progressively worsened for women, who, as equal partners with men, seek to enhance their communities, we still urge you to provide a response.

Write to LRWC by mail, e-mail or fax to advise of us of the actions taken by your government to ensure that Ms. Moghadam & Ms. Ardalan are, in all circumstances, physically and psychologically safe, granted fair and impartial trial(s), so that the arbitrary charges are dropped; and further drop similar charges against peaceful activities of the One Million Signatures Campaign.