Shadi Sadr and others – Lawyers

Re: Shadi Sadr and others – Lawyers

To: Leader of the Islamic Republic – Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei

From: Tina Parbhakar – LRWC/Iran Monitor

Date: 2007-03-12

LRWC has received information that Ms. Shadi Sadr, alongside Ms. Gila Baniyaghoub and Ms. Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh, was arrested in Tehran on March 4, 2007 during a protest against a trial of six women’s rights activists on charges of “propaganda against the system,” “acting against national security” and “participating in an illegal demonstration.” Ms. Sadr and the other women remain detained in Ward 209 of Evin Prison without any official charges against them, although apparently Ms. Sadr is accused of organizing the protest. Furthermore, we have heard that they are on a hunger strike started on March 6, 2007. LRWC will continue to monitor the conditions and status of Ms. Sadr, and notes with alarm the heightened clamp-down on women’s peaceful activities to achieve equality. This is our first time writing to you with regards to Ms. Sadr, winner of the prestigious Ida B. Wells Award for Bravery in Journalism in 2004. She had also been nominated by Amnesty International as a participant to the Global International Consultation on Women Human Rights Defenders, which took place in Sri Lanka in 2005, but was unable to attend due to a travel ban imposed by your government. She is the founder of the first website dedicated to the work of Iranian women for equality, Zanan-e Iran, and has written many articles and books on the subject of Iranian women and legal rights.

We know that on March 4, 2007, 30 additional women were arrested while peacefully gathering in the front of the Tehran Revolutionary Court to mark International Women’s Day and subsequently released. They were also protesting the fact that the six women were prosecuted (as mentioned above) 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.

We note that Ms. Sadr been a central voice against death sentences for women who kill in self-defense against rape, against biased divorce laws, against capital punishment by stoning and against the provision on stoning in the

Islamic Punishment Act. In this capacity, Ms. Sadr has represented a number of persecuted activists and journalists and been the director of Raahi, a legal advice centre for women. As the legal counsel for Ashraf Kalahri, a mother of four children who was subject to this cruel and inhuman punishment, Ms. Sadr submitted a petition signed by over four thousand people to Ayatollah Shahroudi. Although Ms. Sadr’s efforts successfully resulted in the stoning being stayed and Minister of Justice, Jamal Karimi Rad’s denials of this practice, Ms. Kalahri and others that Ms. Sadr has voluntarily represented remain at risk under unjust sentences and un-amended legal provisions.

Let us be clear, your government’s actions towards this intelligent and inspirational woman are contrary to both international and Iranian law. Ms. Sadr’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 of Ms. Sadr 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 with Ms. Sadr’s family and other international groups to demand that she receive an immediate and unconditional release, whether from prison authorities who oversee Evin prison or the Ministry of Intelligence, who monitors and supervises ward 209. Although the situation has progressively worsened for Ms. Sadr among other women, who, as equal partners with men, seek to enhance their communities through their work ethic, creativity and collective voice, we still 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. Sadr is, in all circumstances, physically and psychologically safe, not subject to arbitrary detention and/or charges and not harassed for her professional work as a lawyer and as an advocate for human rights.

Furthermore, provide LRWC with details of how you will ensure a respect for international human rights standards and instruments ratified by Iran. We will be writing to you again if we do not hear from you within two weeks of the date of this letter.