April 15, 2009 VOLUME 59
E-ZAN VOICE OF WOMEN AGAINST FUNDAMENTALISM IN IRAN
To our readers,
Last month, the Iranian authorities arrested twelve women’s rights activists on March 26, 2009, on Sohrevardi Avenue in Tehran. The individuals were members of the One Million Signatures Campaign and Mothers for Peace. They were arrested on their way to pay a visit to the families of political prisoners for the Iranian New Year. Among them were Delaram Ali, Ali Abdi, Baharah Behravan, Farkhondeh Ehtesabian, Shahla Forouzanfar, Mahboubeh Karami, Khadijeh Moghaddam, Arash Nasiri Eghbali, Leila Nazari, , Amir Rashidi, Mohammad Shourab, and Soraya Yousefi. It is customary during the Iranian New Year to visit friends and relatives. For years, rights activists have visited families of political prisoners as a display of solidarity. Family and friends also gather outside the Evin prison at the start on the New Year on March 20th to celebrate. A group was detained this year and transferred to the prison as a result of their gathering.The women activists were charged with “disturbing public opinion” and “disruption of public order.” They all were transferred to the notorious Evin prison in Tehran and held in Ward 209 which is under the control of the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS).
These events happen in Iran, as the regime is focusing on its 'negotiation' dance on the nuclear issue with the Obam's administration. While some are very excited about the prospect of meaningful outcome, the reality is what is on the table is no different than what was on the table with the Bush Administration. There is no doubt these 'hopeful' talks and new faces at the table will come to the same realization as the previous negotiators. One must not forget, however, these negotiations are taking place while more women and students are being arrested and persecuted by the fundamentalist regime in Tehran.
Iranian women have already declared their position on any talks with the fundamentalist regime in Tehran. The only hope is that the Obama administration will come to a conclusion that is in line with the desire of Iranian people and their aspiration for a democratic free Iran.
E-Zan Featured Headlines
Amnesty International, March 18, 2009
As Iran’s New Year, or Norouz holiday approaches on
21 March, marking the start of the country’s longest holiday, university
students across Iran face repression and arrest at a time when families are
coming together to celebrate.This latest series of arbitrary arrests and
repressive measures are particularly directed against students, members of
Iran's religious and ethnic minority communities, trade unionists and women's
rights activists. Amnesty International has voiced concerns at the repressive
measures meted out against students and called for all students detained for
peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression and assembly to be
released.More than 70 students were detained on 23 February during a peaceful
demonstration held by students at Amir Kabir University. Sanaz Allahyari, Nasim
Roshana’i, Maryam Sheikh and Amir Hossein Mohammadi-Far, from the students'
rights body, Students for Freedom and Equality (Daneshjouyan-e Azadi Khah va
Beraber Talab) were arrested by security officials on 1 March. Amnesty
International has expressed fears that they are at risk of torture or other
ill-treatment while in detention. They are believed to be held in Evin Prison.
The Washington Times - March 23, 2009
Iranian blogger Omidreza Mirsayafi died March 18
under mysterious circumstances in Tehran's notorious Evin prison. The official
word is suicide, but close observers strongly suspect foul play...most women
journalists in Iranian prisons can't count on high level intervention. Four
Iranian “cyber-feminists” recently appeared before a revolutionary tribunal for
writing essays in the blog sites “Women's City” and “Change for Equality.” They
are charged with, among other things, “disrupting public opinion” which
presumably is what blogging is all about. One of the activists, Maryam
Hosseinkhah, wrote from her cell in Evin prison that she was “one of hundreds of
women who for years are entangled in the tall walls of Evin and have no one to
help. Neither the law helps them, nor family, nor any one else. The true
definition of helplessness can be learned here, in the eyes of these inmates.”
Iran Human Rights Site - March 29, 2009
Iranian authorities should immediately release a
dozen women’s rights activists detained arbitrarily in Tehran today [26 March
2009], the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said. Security forces
detained 12 members of the One Million Signatures Campaign and Mothers for Peace
at a street corner as the group met to make private New Year visits to families
of several prisoners of conscience. With the Persian New Year holidays underway,
it is customary for families and friends to visit each other. As of this
evening, local time, all detainees have been transferred to Evin Prison. A judge
named Matin Rasekh has charged them with “disturbing public opinion” and
“disruption of public order.” The arrests suggest that security and intelligence
forces [have kept surveillance over] and [have been] eavesdropping on activists’
private communications. Police forces arrested the group at their meeting place,
on Sohrevardi Street in Tehran, before they could embark on their private
visits, the website Change for Equality reported.
NCRI Website - March 30, 2009
The Women’s Committee of the National Council of
Resistance of Iran condemns suppressive measures and illegal remarks by
Mouwaffaq al-Rubaie, Iraqi National Security Advisor, against Ashraf residents,
particularly 1,000 female residents. It also calls on all human rights and
women’s rights organizations to denounce pressures on women residing in Camp
Ashraf. In an interview with Al-Hurra Arab TV network on March 27, al-Rubaie,
using the same misogynist attitude as the mullahs ruling Iran said that women in
Ashraf should go back to their country. In an earlier interview with Al-Iraqiya
TV on March 21, he said, “There are 900 women in the Camp [Ashraf]. We think
that these women will go back to their families in Iran.” The logic used by al-Rubaie
and his comments on women in Ashraf are clear examples of prevailing
discriminatory and misogynist views of the Iranian clerical regime which
violates many international conventions. He should be told that the women who
did not surrender to the ruling religious fascism in Iran and did not fear
imprisonment, torture and execution, will not be discouraged by unlawful,
inhuman and anti-Islamic threats of al-Rubaie and will never back down. Many of
these women have spent the best part of their lives in medieval prisons and
torture chambers of the mullahs’ regime. Ms. Sarvnaz Chitsaz, Chair of the
NCRI’s Women’s Committee, condemned the Iraqi official’s disrespect for one
thousand women residing Ashraf and described his remarks as blatant violations
of the International Humanitarian Law, Geneva Conventions as well as conventions
and resolutions concerning the rights of women including the Security Council
She added that forcible displacement of Ashraf residents, in particular that of women, would be absolutely unlawful and a clear example of crime against humanity liable for judicial prosecution.
Worthy News Site - March 31, 2009
Two Iranian Christian women have been detained
because of their Christian activities, supporters of the Iranian Christians said
Tuesday, March 31. Farsi Christian News Network (FCNN), which has close ties
with churches in Iran, said Marzieh Amirizadeh Esmaeilabad, 30, and Maryam
Rustampoor, 27, were arrested by Iranian security forces March 5 for alleged
involvement in anti-government activities. However FCNN said the women were
"unfairly labeled" as "anti-government activists." Their, "only crime is that
they are committed Christians who follow the teachings of Jesus," the network
added. FCNN said they were hand-cuffed and held at different locations before
being moved to "the notorious Evin Prison" in Tehran, where they are being held
without officially being charged. Iranian Christians say there has been growing
"government intimidation" of Christians in the strict Islamic country. In recent
months dozens of Christians are known to have been imprisoned and there were
reportedly some cases of torture.
NCRI Website - April 2, 2009
According to reports received from the women's ward
of infamous Evin prison in Tehran, Ms. Kobra Amirkhizi, 56, who had suffered
from bleeding in one of her eyes in ward 209 of this prison, is in serious
danger of losing her eyesight. Ms. Amirkhizi, from a well known family in
Tehran that has had a number of its members executed by the mullahs’ regime, is
mother to a resident of Camp Ashraf in Iraq, home to the nearly 3,500 members of
the main Iranian opposition group, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).
Ms. Amirkhizi, denied medical treatment in Evin prison has been told by a staff
of prison’s clinic, "you still have time before you can see only under your
feet". On Friday afternoon, January 16, 2009, dozens of family members of Ashraf
City residents, including Ms. Amirkhizi, were traveling to Iraq in order to see
their relatives. They were arrested at Tehran airport. The majority of those
arrested were women between 60 to 80 years of age, and have been violently
beaten by Intelligence Ministry henchmen. The arrested families were placed in
solitary confinement in Evin’s Ward 209. Their homes also were raided and
searched by the regime’s suppressive forces. Their belongings were seized and
even their children were threatened by armed men. Ms. Amirkhizi’s family has
gone to the first branch of the so-called Revolutionary Court to follow up on
her case. In their last meeting on February 27 with the head of this branch,
they were told, "Our superiors ordered that we do not release her because many
of her close relatives are in Camp Ashraf".
The Associated Press - April 5, 2009
The parents of an imprisoned American
journalist arrived in Tehran early Sunday from the United States to seek a
meeting with their daughter and her release, the family's lawyer said. Reza
Saberi and his wife, Akiko, hope to meet with Iranian authorities Sunday to seek
permission to see their daughter, Roxana Saberi, said the lawyer, Abdolsamad
Khorramshai. Iranian prosecutors have now issued a formal charge or indictment
against Roxana Saberi, but he has not yet seen the charges and probably will not
for several weeks under Iran's court procedures, Khorramshai said. He had no
NCRI Website - April 11, 2009
The mullahs' Supreme Court upheld the death sentence
of Delara Darabi, a 23-year-old female artist. She will face the gallows soon.
Darabi has been serving time since she was 17. The ruling clerics first tried
and sentenced her to death in Juvenile Court in the northern city of Rasht.
However, the human rights activists managed to force the mullahs' judiciary to
put a temporary hold on her death sentence. Her paintings have drawn
considerable attention both domestically and internationally. Human rights
activists have been instrumental in holding exhibitions of her arts to help her
case. Ms. Sarvnaz Chitsaz, Chair of the NCRI's Women's Committee, described
Darabi's death sentence as criminal since she was under 18 at the time of the
alleged crime. She also called on all international human rights organizations
and women's rights activists, in particular the UN High Commissioner for Human
Rights, to adopt urgent binding measures to stop Darabi's execution.
E-Zan Featured Reports
Will Obama listen to Iran's bloggers?
March 24 2009
The Wall Street Journal
By Bret Stephens
Barack Obama extended the olive branch to Iran's leaders last Friday in a videotaped message praising a "great civilization" for "accomplishments" that "have earned the respect of the United States and the world." The death of Iranian blogger Omid-Reza Mirsayafi in Tehran's Evin prison two days earlier was, presumably, not among the accomplishments the president had in mind.
Mr. Obama's solicitous message, timed to the Persian New Year's celebration of Nowruz, met a blunt response from the Islamic Republic's supreme leader, Ali Khamenei: "He insulted the Islamic Republic of Iran from the first day," he said. "If you are right that change has come, where is that change?" To this, soidisant Iran experts and latter-day Walter Durantys explain that it is merely Mr. Khamenei's opening gambit in what promises to be a glorious new chapter in Iranian-U.S. relations.
Maybe the experts never got the message about no meaning no. And maybe Mr. Obama forgot that the late Ayatollah Khomeini tried to ban Nowruz, a pre-Islamic tradition, and that both Mr. Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have sought to curtail and Islamicize the holiday against widespread resistance. But never mind: The most telling indicator of what we can expect from Mr. Obama's overture is Mirsayafi's death, a fitting emblem of everything the Islamic Revolution stands for on its 30th anniversary.
What was a blogger doing in prison in the first place? Ask 26-year-old Kianoosh Sanjari, another Iranian blogger and Evin prison alumnus who fled the country in 2007 and is now in the U.S. seeking asylum.
Mr. Sanjari was first arrested at 17 for joining a procession commemorating the first anniversary of the violently suppressed 1999 student protests at Tehran University. Over the next seven years he was arrested nine times, imprisoned six, flipped between "official" and secret prisons, surveilled and harassed by the secret police, subjected to endless interrogations, held both in overcrowded cells and incommunicado in solitary confinement (for a total of nine months), beaten while blindfolded and subjected to extreme sensory deprivation.
"When you express your dissatisfaction in a civil way and you're faced with physical violence and cruelty, you realize the baseness of the equation," Mr. Sanjari tells me, explaining the impulses that animated his dissent. "The moment you go to prison is when you realize you are in the right. And when you see what nefarious people the regime has to break you is when you feel the need to fight back."
Between prison terms Mr. Sanjari headed the Association of Political Prisoners, which follows more than 500 known cases in Iran. About Mirsayafi, he says that when his fellow blogger "found out that he had been summoned to court and that he may end up with a prison sentence, he wrote an email to friends. He said he felt powerless to withstand what torture he would have to face in prison. He also told a mutual friend that he did not think he would survive the imprisonment. He was well aware of the fact that they wanted to do away with him."
Mirsayafi's forebodings proved well-justified. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports that he was taken to the prison hospital shortly before his death with an irregular pulse. "The doctor told [the prison authorities] how to treat him, asked him to send him to a city hospital," Mirsayafi's lawyer told RFE/RL's Radio Farda. "But they ignored the doctor and said [Mirsayafi] was faking his illness. The doctor said, 'his heartbeat is 40 per minute, you can't fake that.' But they sent the doctor out of the room." Prison authorities ruled the death a suicide; Mirsayafi was only 25.
Whether Mirsayafi's death cows or emboldens Iran's dissident bloggers remains to be seen. Not the least of their considerations will be the attitude of Mr. Obama, who in his videotaped address went out of his way to speak of "the Islamic Republic of Iran," thereby giving the mullahs claim to a nation, and a civilization, they have done so much to oppress and degrade. Yes, an American president must look first, second and third to American interests. But a presidency predicated on the view that our values are our strength should not forsake those values for diplomatic expediency, much less betray our friends abroad who live, and have died, by those values.
Shortly after Mr. Obama's inauguration, Mr. Sanjari put his name to an open letter to the new president, signed by several prominent young Iranian dissidents, calling on him "to pay special attention to the repressive, unaccountable nature of the regime" that now threatens and provokes the U.S. and our allies. Its conclusion is as fitting a tribute as any to Mirsayafi's notable and too-brief life:
"Mr. President, you marked your first day in the White House by ordering the closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison. But in our country, many Guantanamos exist, only our Guantanamos are home to students, women's rights activists, labor organizers, political activists, and journalists. We, as former student activists who spent time in Iranian prisons under inhumane conditions, call on you and all those who defend human rights, freedom and equality to express solidarity to the people of Iran as they wage their struggle for freedom."
Iran's women suffer under Ahmadinejad
By Haleh Bakhash
March 25, 2009
The Washington Post
To celebrate the Persian New Year, US President
Barack Obama sent a videotaped message to the people of Iran. But many women
there may not hear his references to a ‘new day’ for relations between
Washington and Tehran.
Roxana Saberi, a 31-year-old Iranian American freelance journalist from Fargo, North Dakota, has been in the infamous Evin prison for more than a month. The regime announced two weeks ago that it had completed its investigation of Saberi and reportedly planned to release her in ‘a few days’. Saberi’s arrest and delayed release are the latest twists in a frightening pattern of harassment and detainment of women and dual nationals by Iran’s intelligence ministry. The ministry is behind a stepped-up campaign to silence women writers, journalists and peaceful activists.
Saberi, who has reported for the BBC, NPR and other respected news outlets, has lived in Iran for the past six years. Her father says that she was pursuing a master’s degree and researching a book about the country’s people and culture when she was arrested January 31. Officials allege that Saberi was working ‘illegally’ because her press credentials had been revoked. Typically, no formal charges have been filed against Saberi; over more than six weeks, she has been allowed only a couple of brief telephone calls to her family and meetings with her lawyer.
Charges were filed in the case of Esha Momeni, a graduate student at California State University at Northridge who was arrested last October while visiting family and researching her master’s thesis project. Her parents’ apartment was searched, and her computer and videotapes of interviews that she had conducted as research on the Iranian women’s movement were seized.
Momeni, who spent three weeks in solitary confinement in Evin, was charged with ‘acting against national security’ and ‘propaganda against the state’. Although Momeni was released on $2,00,000 bail, the government has not returned her passport, making it impossible for her to leave the country.
These days, the intelligence ministry arrests and incarcerates people at will. Officials consider any Iranian with ties to the West a security threat and label innocent scholarly or journalistic activity as ‘propaganda against the system’ or ‘acting against state security’. Since ‘evidence’ is often flimsy or nonexistent — Saberi was arrested for allegedly purchasing a bottle of wine, an infraction normally punished by a monetary fine, and Momeni was arrested for a traffic violation.
The targeting of dual nationals seems to have intensified as hardliners seek to sabotage any initiative for an Iranian-American dialogue by the Obama administration.
But dual nationals are not the only women being persecuted. In January 2008, the government shut down the influential women’s magazine Zanan”. In December, authorities raided and shut down the office of Shirin Ebadi, the Nobel Prize winner and human rights defender. Attorney Nasrin Sotoudeh, an advocate for women and children, was prevented from going to Italy to receive a human rights award for her work. Also last year, Parvin Ardalan, an activist for the women’s Change for Equality campaign, was forced off a flight to Sweden where she was to collect the Olof Palme Award for human rights.
Much of the crackdown has focused on Change for Equality, a campaign that seeks to collect one million signatures to reform discriminatory laws against women in child custody, divorce, inheritance, equal pay and other areas. The group’s website has been shut down more than a dozen times. Members have been arrested and beaten during peaceful protests. Some have had their homes searched and computers seized. Last month, the teacher and women’s rights activist Alieh Eqdamdoust began serving a three-year prison sentence for participating in a peaceful protest in Tehran in 2006 — a worrisome sign for other women in the campaign who await trial on trumpedup charges.
The reasons for this crackdown are clear. Change for Equality, which is not connected to any sanctioned political groups or parties, is about women taking matters into their own hands. By taking its signature campaign directly to the people, it has the potential to mobilise large numbers of women. Just as authorities are trying to intimidate individual journalists and researchers, they are trying to suppress a movement over which they have no control.
The silver lining to this pattern of harassment is the reminder that women have been at the forefront of the struggle for freedom and rights in Iran. They have overcome adversity in the past. In the environment of threat and intimidation they are enduring, they need and deserve all the international support that can be mobilised for them.
Iran Opposition In Iraq Threatened
By Lara Logan
March 30, 2009
If you could travel freely in Iraq, you would be
able to visit a place called Camp Ashraf. But the road north that would take you
there is still too dangerous to travel – not because of roadside bombs or
terrorist attacks, but because the Iraqi government doesn’t want you to go
Iraqi journalists say that trying to go to Ashraf is a death sentence – “do not expect to come back,” they say.
The reason is simple: Camp Ashraf is the target of those in Iraq's government who are most friendly with the regime in Iran, and Iran wants the camp and its inhabitants shut down forever.
To outsiders it is the strangest thing: some 3,500 Iranians living in Iraq. But they’ve been there for more than two decades, supplying information to Iran’s enemies in their efforts to overthrow the Iranian regime.
When Ashraf was under U.S. military control, Iran couldn’t touch it. But since the Iraqis took over in January, they’ve been systematically pressuring the Iraqi government to take action. Now it’s been cordoned off for the past 20 days by Iraqi forces, gradually cutting them off from the outside world.
Residents chant "Ashraf is the city of peace, it is not a prison," to protest their treatment by Iraqi soldiers.
Why should the U.S. care?
Ashraf is home to Iranian opposition members from the PMOI – or People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran. These people are the reason Iran’s nuclear program was exposed – it was their intelligence that brought it to the world's attention.
But in Iran’s eyes, they are a terrorist organization. The current Iraqi government agrees and the group is still on the U.S. blacklist, although it has been taken off the list of terrorist organizations by the EU.
Tehran wants their camp shut down, wanted members arrested and handed over for trial - and their organization destroyed.
But the U.S. has an obligation to the people of Ashraf. In July 2004, the United States Government recognized PMOI members as Protected Persons under the Fourth Geneva Convention, meaning that they should not be deported, expelled or repatriated, or displaced inside Iraq.
Now, as U.S. influence wanes in Iraq, Iran’s influence continues to strengthen and grow. Through Iran’s allies in the Iraqi government, a noose has been applied around Camp Ashraf and the people living there, and is slowly tightening.
So far that has meant stopping fuel supplies, cutting off logistic trucks – allowing only limited shipments of food to the camp. This month, when Iraqi forces occupied a building that had been housing Iranian women, there were clashes with the camp’s residents and several were beaten by Iraqi soldiers, until U.S. forces stepped in.
Residents of Ashraf say their family members who have travelled from Iran to see them at the camp for the past 23 years, are now being stopped from entering. Many have been held in the desert area beyond the camp by Iraqi authorities and forced to wait for weeks with no shelter, even though there are women and children among them.
The situation has been escalating since control of the camp was handed over from the U.S. military to Iraqi authorities in January this year. Although the U.S. still maintains a small monitoring presence, it is now Iraqi soldiers who surround the camp and guard its gates. And that has made it more like a prison than their home.
Now the residents of Ashraf live in fear. Their greatest enemy – the Iranian regime – has never been more powerful inside Iraq. The supreme leader Ali Khameni, when he visited Iraq in February, made it clear he expects Iraq to close the camp. Iran also wants a list of wanted PMOI members to be handed over for trial.
And since his public remarks, the residents of Ashraf say new and inhumane restrictions have been placed on them. Of particular concern to them, are the remarks made by Iraq’s National Security Minister, Mowaffak Rubaie, who has promised to close the camp by late March.
On a visit to Iran Jan. 23, Rubaie said Camp Ashraf would be "part of history within two months."
Then in a statement on March 16, he said:
"The government will not go back on its decision to close down the camp ... residents have the choice between returning to Iran or going to a third country".
But their status in Iran is clear: they would be regarded as terrorists.
Other comments by Iraq’s National Security Advisor are somewhat more revealing – and disturbing.
“These individuals have been brainwashed, and we must liberate them from this poison," Rubaie said. "When we carry out a process of detoxification, if this assumption is correct, this act will at first be painful. There is no alternative than to begin this painful act."
Not surprisingly, this has spread anxiety amongst the residents of Ashraf. It remains to be seen where else these families could go.
But when the world wanted to know about Iran’s nuclear program, the PMOI were not regarded as terrorists – they were welcomed.
Now, it seems they may have been abandoned to their fate.
Iranians use Technology Bolsters Women’s Movement
By Rochelle Terman
April 8, 2009
Next time you find yourself stuck in the crowded subway cars of the Tehran metro system, turn on your Bluetooth. Not only will you find everything from political news to scandalous cartoons of President Ahmadinejad, love letters to pornography, but you will also be exposed to the burgeoning and increasingly techno-clever Iranian women’s rights movement.
Women’s rights defenders in Iran have long utilized technology for their activism. The Change for Equality (www.campaign4equality.info) and Women’s Field (www.meydaan.org) websites are updated daily with news, opinion pieces, and commentary on the status of women and women’s activism in Iran, often in multiple languages for both the domestic as well as international reader. Iran boasts one of the most prolific blogging networks in the world, with 60,000 routinely updated blogs featuring a rich and diverse mix of bloggers. Email and cell phone messaging are ubiquitous among the urban Iranian population, and SMS texting is currently the largest independent network for exchanging information in Iran.
Given the strict censorship the Islamic Republic government places on state television, print, and radio, Iranians are using nuanced techniques for spreading information, and the women’s movement is no exception. Years ago, women’s activists were among the first to use the power of the internet to spread their message of gender equality. In response, the government placed extensive internet filters on any sites featuring dissent and critiques of the Islamic Republic, as well as on pornography and other “immoral and anti-religious” material.
However, these limitations may have catalyzed the emergence of an even farther reaching network of technology-based information sharing for social and political movements. Last year, the official in charge of internet matters in the Tehran city prosecutor’s office announced that the state’s extensive filtering of internet sites had had the unintended consequence of increasing SMS message traffic, as texting less vulnerable to government control.
Most recently, the use of Bluetooth wireless technology—which allows individuals to exchange music, pictures, and video between computers and phones—has provided the Iranian women’s movement with an even more powerful tool to communicate with one another and the public at large. Bluetooth technology is almost impossible to track and control, so it provides a relatively safe and private sphere in which activists can communicate. For now, it is almost impossible for the government to monitor, allowing a kind of freedom of speech rarely seen either during the Shah or since the 1979 Iranian Revolution. And in Iran, anonymity is power.
Women’s movement activists are becoming increasingly clever with their usage of such technology. For example, they will send a Bluetooth message to any Tehran metro passengers, often carry a subject line labelling the message as pornographic, a creative advertising tool to entice acceptance of the message. While passengers think they are about to view an image of a naked woman or sex act, they will often be surprised to find themselves viewing the latest news on the Iranian women’s movement.
And it does not end there. GoogleMaps are used to geographically plan protests and rallies in order to find the safest escape route in case of a police crackdown. Twitter sends minute by minute updates on clandestine Parliament sessions discussing the latest proposed Family Law. Even families who are without internet can now participate in the movement if they have access to a cell phone, which millions of Iranians do. The latest project is building a wiki for a new, democratically written Family Law and Women’s Charter. Almost anyone can add their perspectives without fear of government reprisal.
All of these tools have served to make the Iranian women’s movement stronger than ever. With technology changing at lightning speed, Iranian activists are not only keeping up, but utilizing these techniques in creative and unseen ways to bolster their movement.
The only question remains is: Can the government keep up? While the Iranian authorities scurry to find ways to monitor and censor such activities, the network is growing too fast for their efforts—currently there are an estimated twenty-four million members of the cell phone community—and there are no signs of slowing down.