June 15, 2010 VOLUME 73
E-ZAN VOICE OF WOMEN AGAINST FUNDAMENTALISM IN IRAN
To our readers,
Marking the one year anniversary of the
June 12, 2009 elections, people once again took to the streets chanting
“Down with Dictator, Down with the Supreme Leader.” Skirmishes between
protestors and anti-riot police in various areas of Tehran, Mashad, and
Esfehan, resulted in 91 arrests, as was reported by the regime’s ISNA
news agency. The regime has furthermore continued a control campaign out
of fear of the people, by filtering and jamming cell phone, internet,
and satellite connection and information flow. They have even heightened
their segregation policies to the extent that one could arguably call
what’s happening gender apartheid. Women, who are already restricted
from conversing with any male that is not an immediate family member,
may now conduct their banking needs at female only banks, as the first
“women only” bank opened in Mashad recently.
According to Human Rights Watch, over the past year, numerous human rights groups, foreign governments, and Iranian civil society have called for investigations into the executions, tortures, rapes, kidnappings, and arbitrary detentions of the protestors and activists. To date, not a single high-level government official has been tried and convicted by the Iranian courts. Justice remains to be served, as mothers and family members continue to agonize over the deaths of their loved ones.
With the passing of a fourth round of UN sanctions on June 9th, as well as a meeting of the UN Human Rights Council the following day, during which Iran resisted any criticism of its gross human rights record, the regime has once again been shamed by the international community. These actions only prove that further second chances have had no effect on Iran’s brutal misogynist nature, treatment of political prisoners, nor have they been a deterrence to the nefarious pursuit of nuclear proliferation. If anything, the West’s “extension of the olive branch” philosophy, has only bought the regime more time to continue their reign of terror at home and abroad.
For those who still believe there is a peaceful means to end the conflict between the people and the Iranian government, one only has to look to the recent wave of executions, despite immense international pressure, to realize that the Iranian government has escalated its conflict into a violent one, with no intention for peaceful resolution. When confronted with this reality, the Iranian people are left with no choice but to deal with this regime, beyond peaceful means.
E-Zan Featured Headlines
Iran Focus-May 19, 2010
State Security Forces in the central Iranian cities of Isfahan and Shahinshahr have launched a major crackdown on women for "mal-veiling".
The crackdown began immediately after Isfahan's Friday Prayer leader in his sermon warned women and young girls over their "loose" veiling. Over the past five days "anti-vice" patrols have been seen stopping and arresting numerous women over their "un-Islamic" attire.
NCRI –May 19, 2010
In reaction to memorial services held by female prisoners in the honor of Shirin Alam Houli who was executed on May 9th, the authorities suspended all their family visits. The authorities at the women’s ward of Evin prison announced that participation of female political prisoners in the mourning ceremonies held for their executed cellmate Shirin Alam Houli has led to cancellation of family visits this week. Women political prisoners are allowed to meet their relatives once a month. Shirin Alam Houli was executed on May 9th along with four others without prior notice.
Reuters-May 24, 2010
* Maximum fine increased to $1,300
* Morality police crack down on dress code every spring
* Men's cars seized for harassing women
Iran's second biggest city has massively increased the amount it fines for women who fail to observe the Islamic dress code and don't cover their hair properly, media reported. Morality police around Iran are beginning their annual spring crackdown on women wearing too much makeup, daring to show their hair or dressing in a way that shows their body contours too clearly.In the holy city of Masshad, the public prosecutor has increased the fine to 1.3 million tomans, roughly $1,300 -- a hefty sum in a country where a teacher's monthly salary is around $500. "In the past the penalty for not observing the Islamic dress code was 50,000 tomans along with two months' imprisonment," Mashhad's public and revolutionary prosecutor Mahmoud Zoghi told the semi-official Fars news agency. Men are also targets of the spring crackdown as police can confiscate the cars of young males found sexually harassing or trying to pick up women. In the capital Tehran over the past two days police have seized some 50 vehicles, lining them up in the street to serve as a warning to other men.
Iran Focus-May 27, 2010
Shiva Nazar Ahari, 26, journalist, human rights activist, blogger and reporter of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters was put on trial on 23 May on a charge that could lead to a death sentence. Another member of this committee, Kouhyar Goudarzi, remains imprisoned without trial, the Italian Peace Reporter said. Amnesty International described the two as "prisoners of conscience, detained for the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression and association." Both have been detained since December 2009. Iran's state news agencies have accused Ahari of being affiliated with the main opposition group People's Mojahedin (PMOI). Goudarzi faces the same charge. Goudarzi told her family last February that he had been put under pressure by Iran's intelligence service to confess to having links with the PMOI. She has been put in solitary confinement after he had protested the treatment of other prisoners.
Euro News-June 2, 2010
A small group of MEPs briefly blocked the arrival of the Iranian Foreign Minister to the European Parliament in Brussels. Cries of ‘murderer’ reflected their outrage that Manouchehr Mottaki had been invited. Mottaki was on an official visit to hold talks on wide ranging topics including human rights, the death penalty and non-nuclear proliferation. There was anger that the parliament’s president refused a request to hang a large photo of a young music student. Neda Agha Soltan was killed by a government militiaman during protests at Iran’s disputed elections a year ago. MEPs held up smaller pictures instead. “They abuse women. They execute women and children and men. They execute political prisoners. They execute peaceful protesters,” said British MEP Struan Stevenson. “I want to ask him how many people they have executed this week. This is a man who brings disgrace to this Parliament by coming here.”
CNN-June 2, 2010
According to human rights groups, 27 political activists remain on death row in Iran. The first anniversary of the disputed elections is in just two weeks and in an apparent effort to discourage protests, 11 people were hanged in a single weekend early this month. Sometimes the Iranian regime seems odd or weird or even funny. But it's repression of the basic rights of thousands of Iranians continues … Many of you will remember the story of my friend and colleague, Maziar Bahari, "Newsweek's" man in Tehran…After 118 days in prison, [he was] released on bail and finally allowed to leave the country. Well, he was recently sentenced in absentia of course and the judgment against him was 13 years and six months in prison, plus 74 lashes. Yes, 74 lashes.”
The Times-June 2, 2010
Iranian security forces arrested two female reporters, bringing the number of journalists held in Iran to at least 37 since a clampdown on the media which followed last year’s election. Azam Veisameh and Mahbubeh Khansari were seized at their homes on Monday.It is not yet known where they are being held. Further arrests are expected in the run-up to June 12, the anniversary of last year’s election, which saw President Ahmadinejad re-elected amid accusations of systematic vote-rigging. Ms Veisameh and Ms Khansari are well-known in Iran for their work on a range of reformist publications. Ms Veisameh, a parliamentary reporter, was detained and interrogated last year for her coverage of the opposition protests that followed the election. Iran is now the country with the world’s worst record for jailing journalists. Those jailed in Iran include editors, reporters, photographers, bloggers and even a writer for a children’s magazine. Some are charged with endangering national security and issuing propaganda against the state, offences that carry the death penalty.
Iran Focus-June 2, 2010
As Iran steps up its annual pre-summer clampdown on women it considers to be 'immodestly' dressed, Iranian state media are promoting a new 'hi-tech' Islamic veil into the fashion line. The new head-to-toe veil, or 'chador', comes in black and is complete with 14 state-of-the art features, including the ability for women to access their purse underneath it. The top of the line veil also allows women to adjust its openings for their face and hands while it is worn. The Jalabib chador took four years to design and test before being introduced to the market. The Jahan website, which is close to the country's intelligence services, published photos of the new chador alongside an article entitled "14 features of a new veil for women."
Reuters-June 7, 2010
Iran's first women-only bank branch opened Monday, allowing women to manage their finances without dealing with unrelated men -- something likely to appeal to religious families who oppose mingling between the sexes. Under sharia, the Islamic legal system imposed after Iran's 1979 revolution, unrelated men and women are forbidden to have intimate contact. However, this is not generally taken to include activities such as banking or shopping, and women do commonly use banks where they may be served by someone of either sex. Bank Melli -- one of Iran's biggest retail banks -- opened the women-only branch in the holy city of Mashhad as a service to women, Iran's official IRNA news agency reported. In recent years women-only taxis, with female drivers, have become available in some Iranian cities, as well as public gardens where men are not allowed. Buses in Iran are segregated, with women sitting at the back. A local judiciary official said last month that the maximum fine for breaching the Islamic dress code -- which decrees that women must cover their hair and wear long shapeless coats -- was 13 million rials (over $1,300).
NCRI-June 12, 2010
Passengers at the main platform of Tehran’s railway clashed on Friday with the Iranian regime’s suppressive forces, chanting “death to Khamenei,” referring to the regime’s Supreme Leader. The clashes took place after the occurrence of problems in ticket sales and services at the station. The fearful forces of the regime quickly called for reinforcement and forced people out of the railway station, but people still resisted at Rah Ahan Square just outside, chanting anti-regime slogans. Separately, on Thursday afternoon, after suppressive forces violently assaulted female pedestrians at Enqelab Square in Tehran under the pretext of “mal-veiling,” people reacted by clashing with the forces. Beatings of the young women and men coupled with their insults were met with resistance on the part of the people on the scene, who courageously rose up in support of the young girl. Simultaneously, drivers of nearby vehicles honked their horns to protest the violence perpetrated by the regime’s agents. Consequently, clashes and hit and runs erupted between protesting youths on the one hand and reinforcements and members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on the other. The regime’s agents injured a number of youths and arrested them, including a young girl, taking the detainees to unknown locations.
ABC News-June 12, 2010
Thousands of police and government forces have taken to the streets in Iran to crush any outbreak of violence on the anniversary of last year's disputed presidential election. Iran's opposition forces called off plans to stage new protests against president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, citing fears for their safety, but they have vowed to continue agitating against his re-election. Police and the pro-government Basij militia were sent in their thousands to central squares in Tehran to put down any opposition unrest. Government authorities last year used brute force to quell massive demonstrations that erupted after the president was returned to power. There have been no such protests for months, but opposition leaders accuse Iran's rulers of crushing dissent by jailing opposition supporters and banning much media coverage.
E-Zan Featured Reports
Iran-trafficking of girls has become an industry
WUNRN (Women’s UN Report Network)
May 15, 2010
A joint research conducted between two independent organizations in Iran, the Center for Cooperative Women’s Affairs and the Committee for the Defense of Victims of Violence indicates the skyrocketing trend of kidnapping and trafficking Iranian women and girls as slaves, to neighboring countries such as the UAE, Pakistan, Afghanistan, as well as Europe and Asian countries.
The result of this research which has been published (in Persian) indicates that the traffickers and slave traders lure girls and young women to places such as parks and other recreation areas in the guise of friendship or courtship, promising these young women who are generally in search of a better life, an easy way out of the country, jobs with decent salaries and generally a higher standard of living.
Elham Aaraam-Nia, sociologist reports: “The human traffickers usually promise to help these women in exchange for the use of the women’s passports to export goods.” That way having deceived the young women with these promises and a small sum of money, they get them onto planes or cars and legally transport them over the borders and out of Iran.
Many of the girls are runaways who leave home due to abject pressures on the home front. In 2005 informal statistics taken by women’s groups inside Iran indicated 300,000 runaway girls in Iran. This form of exploitation however does not confine itself to girls and women but extends to boys and children as well. Other than sex slavery and forced prostitution, a large number of these young women are bought and sold for their organs. Reports indicate that traffickers looking to sell women in the international market target girls between 13 and 17, although some of the girls are reported to be as young as 8 and 10. The younger girls are often forced to work as maids until slave traders deem them old enough to work out of clubs, motels, or brothels.
It appears that though up to now many of these trafficking groups have been identified, they have not been stopped by the Iranian government and seemingly they are allowed to freely cross the borders without being stopped. There have been other reports over the years that suggest that various officials of the Iranian regime are not only involved but profit from the trafficking of women.
The head of Iran’s Interpol bureau believes that the sex slave trade is one of the most profitable activities in Iran today. This criminal trade is not conducted outside the knowledge and participation of the ruling fundamentalists. Government officials themselves are involved in buying, selling, and sexually abusing women and girls.
Iran jails women activists, arrests top former MP
Agence France Presse
May 16, 2010
TEHRAN — Iran has sentenced in absentia award-winning women's rights activist Shadi Sadr and another fellow activist to jail and lashes over a protest in 2007, their lawyer told ILNA news agency on Sunday. Former MP Mohsen Armin, who is a senior member of a reformist party which backs opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, was also arrested in Tehran on Sunday, his daughter told a reformist website. The revolutionary court "has sentenced Shadi Sadr, 35, to six years in jail and 74 lashes for acting against national security and harming public order," lawyer Mohammad Mostafai said. The other activist, Mahbubeh Abbas-Gholizadeh, was also handed a term of two-and-a-half years in jail and 30 lashes for similar charges, he said, adding that he has 20 days to appeal the "heavy sentences." The court had tried the pair, both currently abroad, on May 8 over a rally in March 2007 outside a revolutionary court where four fellow feminists were on trial. Iranian authorities arrested them along with 30 other protesters. Sadr, who is also a lawyer and journalist, was awarded the Polish Lech Walesa Prize in September 2009 along with two other Iranian women for promotion of "human rights, freedom of expression and democracy in Iran."Both women, who also back the anti-government opposition, are well-known for their campaigning to abolish the stoning to death penalty for adulterers and for writings against Iran's Sharia-based law deemed as discriminatory to women. Iran's hardline authorities have grown increasingly suspicious of human rights activists and scores have been jailed, especially after the disputed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last June.The authorities have also rounded up scores of reformist politicians, opposition campaign workers and journalists after the poll, accusing them of inciting mass anti-government protests which engulfed the capital last year."This morning agents who appeared to have a judiciary warrant searched the house and took my father away," Armin's daughter, who was not named, told Parlemannews.ir, website of the minority faction of reformist MPs. Armin is a senior member of the Organisation of Mujahedeen of the Islamic Revolution, which was banned by the hardline authorities. Several of its members were jailed after the June 2009 election which saw Ahmadinejad win a second term amid fraud allegations.
Front Page Magazine
Betraying Iranian Women
May 18, 2010
On April 28, 2010, the Islamic Republic of Iran was elected to the United Nation’s Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). Possibly the world’s worst abuser of women, the Shariah-ruled country in which the fate of women and girls is left in the lecherous hands of misogynistic mullahs had been given membership on a commission founded to protect women’s rights and promote their equality. There was little media coverage of the announcement. And there has been little effort to prevent or denounce this obscene situation. But a few voices in Congress, some women human rights leaders, and, most poignantly, Iranian women themselves, have challenged the moral equivalency and cowardly silence of those that have failed to support women’s rights in Iran.
Iran’s CSW election was not surprising for the United Nations, whose moral vacuity remains proudly unmolested on First Avenue and the Palais des Nations. After all, Libya has chaired the Commission on Human Rights and Sudan has graced the Human Rights Commission with its presence during the most ferocious years of the genocide it has perpetrated in Darfur. But for the United States, it was a new low to remain silent in the face of such an outrage.
Iran was elected by acclamation. (Remember vote by acclamation? That was how Barack Obama got the Democratic presidential nomination, when between clenched teeth Hillary suspended the roll call.) In the case of Iran, it meant that none of the UN member states, including the U.S., asked for an open vote on Iran’s election to the women’s commission. Some say that this was a quid pro quo for Iran withdrawing its bid for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council. So human rights abuser Iran will only make UN policy on women’s human rights, not human human rights. The women of Iran are not greatly relieved by this devil’s bargain.
In past years, the U.S. worked to prevent abusers of women, genocidairres, and other assorted miscreants from achieving such positions of authority on UN commissions. American delegations to the UN encouraged the delegations of other countries to take a stand and to work together to present alternatives to objectionable candidates and to objectionable text in resolutions.
This was not an easy task. Dr. Mark Lagon described the challenges faced by the Bush Administration at the UN in an April 19, 2005
testimony at a subcommittee hearing of the House International Relations Committee (now House Committee on Foreign Affairs). Then Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs, Lagon explained that “some of the most egregious violators of human rights work through their regional blocs to gain nomination and election” to UN commissions “in order to protect themselves and their ilk from criticism.” The UN Commission on Human Rights (CHR) was being “increasingly confronted with bloc voting. . . shifting the CHR’s focus away from bedrock civil and political rights, and toward economic, social, and cultural rights.”
If the United States could not prevent such elections or resolutions, it could at least be counted on to speak out about such injustices, even when criticized for acting “unilaterally.” For example, in the spring of 2004, in the midst of horrific genocide in Darfur, the UN Commission on Human Rights passed an insultingly weak resolution on Sudan. As Lagon later told students at Georgetown University’s Institute of International Law and Politics, the U.S. tried to revise and/or replace text to more accurately respond to the atrocities taking place. When this failed, the U.S. opposed the resolution. A few days later, when Sudan was reelected to the Commission on Human Rights, Lagon said “the U.S. delegation reproached the body by walking out of the meeting and issuing a public, very critical, statement.”
Under the Obama Administration the U.S. delegation has twice walked out of speeches by Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The most recent walkout occurred on May 3, 2010, at the UN Conference on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. But walking out on the Iranian dictator’s sound and fury about “the Zionist regime,” aimed, in part, at America, is less difficult than a public reproach of the UN body for approving Iran’s CSW election. Writing in Commentary the day after the election, Jennifer Rubin
raged, “The U.S. couldn’t muster a word of opposition — not even call for a vote… why? Because our policy is not to confront and challenge the brutal regime for which rape and discrimination are institutionalized policies. No, rather, we are in the business of trying to ingratiate ourselves, and making the U.S. as inoffensive as possible to the world’s thugocracies. …It is what this administration does and how they envision raising our status in the world.” Thankfully, “making the U.S. as inoffensive as possible to the world’s thugocracies” is not the approach of some members of the U.S. Congress. U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) released a statement the day after the election in which she said, “Allowing Iran to sit on the commission, a nation where gender equality is only a dream and where women are subject to inequality in all aspects of their daily lives, makes a mockery of the commission’s work.” Thaddeus McCotter, a Republican member of the House of Representatives from Michigan, also vehemently denounced Iran’s election the same day. McCotter declared, “By electing the Tehran butchers to its Commission on the Status of Women, a morally rancid United Nations has salted the wounds of the Iranian freedom movement’s regime-murdered martyrs.” The congressman went on to blast this outrage in an interview on Fox News in which he said that the moral relativism of the UN had allowed Iran to “get elected to sit as a predator monitoring the prey.” McCotter will also introduce a congressional resolution condemning Iran’s election. Hopefully, many other members of congress will join on the resolution as co-sponsors.
No corresponding calls denouncing Iran have been issued by the major feminist organizations, however. The National Organization of Women (NOW) is too busy gloating over the Wal-Mart lawsuit, cheering Democratic congressional delegates, and experiencing ecstasy over President Obama’s U.S. Supreme Court nominee to go about the messy and thankless job of defending the rights of women under Islam. On the other hand, the women’s rights group Equality Now does fight against the evils that affect women under Shariah in Iran and elsewhere, such as
female genital mutilation (FGM), rape, sex trafficking, and child marriage. But perhaps because they work too closely with the disease-ridden United Nations, Equality Now focuses on the symptoms rather than the disease.
Women’s ministries and commissions of left-leaning and “progressive” evangelical churches have also let down the women and girls of Iran by not protesting Iran’s farcical election. The feminists of such groups make careers of attempting to shatter every stained glass ceiling that they encounter. But given the opportunity to respond to the life-long suffocation of women under Shariah’s oppressive ceiling, they are silent. Officers and staff of these ministries spend their days issuing statements against gender inequality, sexual violence, and the perceived iniquities of misogynistic patriarchal Christianity, but the UN is their friend! And the progressive evangelicals of trendy organizations like Sojourners blog and twitter in their usual self-important, self-righteous way about America’s greed, evil, and injustice. But there is neither a tweet nor a blog post expressing outrage over Iran’s ascendency to the UN commission.
Other than the resolution pending in Congress, there have not been many efforts to support the women of Iran. But on May 5, 2010, a group of women leaders sent an open letter to Secretary Clinton protesting U.S. silence over the election of Iran to the women’s rights commission. The letter called on Clinton to “denounce Iran’s election. . . as an appointment that shocks the conscience of civilized societies” and demanded to know why the United States failed to request an open vote. “We await your public and clear condemnation of this outrageously sexist and insensitive decision by the U.N.,” the letter concluded. Letter signers range from Ayaan Hirsi Ali to Wafa Sultan, Anne Applebaum to Diana West. They are international human rights and women’s rights specialists, attorneys, scholars, columnists, media figures, women in the arts, and activists of all sorts. Experience for experience they match and surpass the leftist feminists. But unlike their counterparts in liberal land, the letter signers “get it” and their integrity requires them to enter the realm of the so-called politically incorrect and intolerant on behalf of women living under Shariah. The most courageous effort to prevent Iran’s CSW election came from Iranians themselves. On April 27, 2010, 214 Iranian women’s rights activists inside and outside Iran sent an open letter to the United Nations urging that Iran not be allowed CSW membership. Supported by “the global sisterhood network” and endorsed by over a dozen other organizations, the Iranian activists told the UN that “for the sake of women‘s rights globally, an empty seat for the Asia group on CSW is much preferable to Iran‘s membership.” They reminded the UN that “discrimination against women is codified in [Iran’s] laws, as well as in executive and cultural institutions, and Iran has consistently sought to preserve gender inequality in all places, from the family unit to the highest governmental bodies.” Iran will certainly use the opportunity afforded to it on CSW “to curtail progress and the advancement of women,” they warned.
Not long after the UN failed to heed this warning and elected Iran to the CSW, the official Iranian news agency (IRNA) demonstrated the accuracy of the Iranian activists’ prediction when it stated that “Iran’s membership in the Commission on the Status of Women is important because “Iran’s views about the position of women,” through this podium, “can help reflect Islamic views about family and women.” The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran also reported IRNA’s claim that efforts against their candidacy were by “hostile groups and western media” trying to prevent Iran’s membership in the CSW through “poisonous propagation.” IRNA then boasted “their efforts were ignored by members of ECOSOC.” A sad indictment of all of the member nations of the UN. The U.S. and other nations of the free world let down the Iranian people when they stood by and did nothing as the regime crushed the election protesters last year. Some brave Iranian freedom fighters are still
paying the cost for that defiance. Five political prisoners were hanged in secret on May 9, and twenty-seven others are awaiting execution. Now by remaining silent about the election of Iran to the CSW the U.S. has failed to support the people of Iran again.
But this will not deter courageous Iranians. They will find encouragement from those who have decried the UN’s outrageous election. And it’s not too late for the U.S. to help. By supporting legislative efforts like Mr. McCotter’s resolution, the U.S. could, as that resolution’s last sentence says, “reaffirm its solidarity with the Iranian people in their continuing struggle for freedom and human rights, including equal rights for women in Iran.”
Mother of executed teacher thanks Iranians and protestors for denouncing executions
May 23, 2010
The mother of Farzad Kamangar, a Kurdish teacher who was executed by the Iranian regime at the notorious Evin prison in Tehran on May 9 along with 4 other political prisoners, has sent a message to all organizations and individuals who attempted to save the life of her son and later condemned his cruel execution. In a part of the letter addressed to the freedom-loving people of Iran, Ms. Kamangar states: On my behalf, please say hello to all organizations, groups and dignified and freedom-loving individuals, and all the beloved people across the world who tried to free him from prison, protested, wrote letters, signed letters, and later after the death of Farzad, expressed solidarity with us from near and afar. I know what people did and how hard they tried. Please convey my warm and endless greetings to all of them. I expect all these beloved individuals to continue the path of Farzad. I am now the mother of thousands of Farzads. I have said repeatedly that Farzad was not mine only, he was the son of all Iranians.
In the northwestern cities of Orumieh and Eshnavieh, students refused to attend classes in protest to the execution of the five political prisoners and the regime’s refusal to hand over their bodies. On Tuesday, May 18, 2010, more than 50 percent of the junior high and high school students in Orumieh did not attend classes. In Eshnavieh, more than 75 percent of schools, including Ferdows High School, the so-called Motahari High School and Haj Rasoolian High School were almost closed. Students at Bu Ali Sina University located in the western city of Hamedan placed the pictures of the five executed political prisoners in front of the Sciences department, held a ceremony in their honor and lit up candles. Political prisoners in Ward 350 of Evin prison also held a protest of their own in reaction to the execution of Farhad Vakili, who used to be incarcerated with them in that ward. On Monday and Tuesday, May 10 and 11, they launched a hunger strike and chanted “death to dictator” in the prison’s open area. Following this act of protest, prison guards transferred some of the political prisoners to Gohardasht and Pardis prisons in Karaj. A number of female political prisoners in Evin also wrote a letter, honoring the memory of Shirin Alam-Houli, and expressing condolences to the families of the slain prisoners. In the letter, they stated, “Shirin was executed while the process of her interrogation and trial was illegal and coupled with frightening physical and psychological tortures.”
Iran Moves to Thwart Protests Ahead of Election Anniversary
By NAZILA FATHI
New York Times
May 31, 2010
Moving to thwart any protests on the anniversary of a disputed election, the authorities in Iran have ordered at least two million paramilitary members into Tehran, re-arrested dissident activists furloughed from prison and aggressively enforced public bans on mingling of the sexes and un-Islamic women’s clothing. The paramilitary deployment, reported in recent days by Iranian news agencies, and the other measures, reported by dissident Iranian Web sites and witnesses reached by telephone, come less than two weeks before the June 12 anniversary of the lopsided re-election victory of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The opposition contends his re-election was rigged by Iran’s Islamic religious establishment. The two principal opposition leaders, Mir Hussein Moussavi and Mehdi Karroubi, who have defied numerous government warnings, urged followers on Monday to march on June 12 and have sought a permit for a demonstration, according to a Web site linked to
Mr. Moussavi, www.kaleme.com. It is considered highly unlikely the request will be granted.
On Monday, the Fars news agency quoted senior commanders of the Revolutionary Guards as saying they were bringing large numbers of Basij paramilitary forces from around the country into Tehran, officially to participate in the 21st anniversary of the death of the founder of the Iranian revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, on Friday. But the Basijis are expected to remain in Tehran until after June 12, the commanders said.“We are going to witness one of the most awe-inspiring Friday prayers,” a senior commander, Hossein Hamedani, was quoted as saying by Fars. The commander said five million members of the Basij had registered to participate in the ceremony. Another commander, Ali Fazli, was quoted as saying that more than two million members would be stationed in Tehran. Iran’s supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is expected to lead Friday Prayer for the first time since he spoke last June 19, a week after the election, when he decreed that the vote had been fair and all protests should end. Opposition Web sites reported that Iran’s judicial authorities have begun a new clampdown in recent days, summoning high-profile political prisoners who had been granted leave from prison since the Persian New Year holidays in March, and transferring many to prisons outside Tehran.
Some opposition Web sites and witnesses reached by telephone in Tehran reported that since Saturday, police squads have begun an aggressive effort to enforce chastity rules on young people, preventing unwed couples from walking together and forcing women to wear proper Islamic attire. The measure appears to be aimed at keeping the youths, who had a dominant presence in the post-election protests last year, off the streets.
Women have been required since the 1979 revolution to cover their hair and wear dark long shapeless coats to cover their bodies. But women have been pushing back the restrictions on their clothing over the past three decades, making the coats more colorful, tighter and shorter, and the headscarves smaller. Although the chastity rules are often enforced at the beginning of the summer when the weather warms, Tehran residents said that the crackdown this year was comparable in severity to the early days of the revolution.
One woman in Tehran reached by telephone, who withheld her name for fear of retribution, said the scale of intimidation was so large that many women were not leaving their homes because they no longer had the proper clothes. The ILNA news agency posted photos on Saturday of a police crackdown in Tehran in which officers stopped 30 cars to check on possible violators of the women’s dress code. Some of the cars were seized, ILNA reported, and owners were required to retrieve them after paying fines.In addition, a new court has been set up to deal with women who violate the dress code, Fars reported Monday. The opposition Web site Iran Green Voice reported that students had circulated a petition at Tehran University on Saturday to condemn the measures. “Such measures do not lead to chastity in society,” the petition said
Iranian Foreign Minister Visit Sparks EU Parliament Outcry
Deutsche Press Agenteur
June 1, 2010
Brussels-A visit by Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki sparked an outcry Tuesday in the European Parliament in Brussels, with one lawmaker calling him "a murderer." British conservative Struan Stevenson launched his verbal attack before Mottaki entered the foreign affairs committee for a closed-door hearing. He was holding a picture of Neda Agha Soltan, a student killed last year during demonstrations against Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's re-election.A dozen centre-right deputies from Italy, Spain and Estonia took part in the protest, but all were unceremoniously pushed away by security to make space for Mottaki. A brief tussle between EU lawmakers and the European Parliament's guards ensued, but no injuries were reported. Deputies and EU assembly officials who listened to Mottaki said he rejected all criticism of Iran's human rights record and defended his country's nuclear programme, which Western nations fear may be used for military purposes.
Alejo Vidal-Quadras, a Spanish EU deputy who was part of the anti-Mottaki demonstration, said "The first thing (Mottaki) did" was to criticise Israel for Monday's attack on a flotilla defying the naval embargo on the Gaza Strip, which resulted in at least nine deaths. "It was a shameful session," Vidal-Quadras said. A German liberal, Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, told the German Press Agency dpa that Mottaki was blunt "to the point of being offensive, saying the EU did not have a foreign policy." The bloc has for years negotiated on behalf of the international community with Iran's representatives, but never managed to strike a deal on the nuclear issue. Emerging from the hearing after an hour and a half, Mottaki told journalists he had had "a frank and somewhat friendly discussion" and claimed it had been "in general a good meeting." Several EU deputies said he should not have been given a platform."It's like inviting (Nazi Germany foreign minister Joachim von) Ribbentrop to the European Parliament, the man is a disgrace," Stevenson told dpa. But the president of the EU assembly's foreign affairs committee, Italian centre-right politician Gabriele Albertini, defended the decision. "The alternative is either to confront opinions that may be different from our own or to ignore them, and we are in a parliament that draws inspirations from the values of freedom of expression and democracy," he said. Mottaki came to Brussels against the backdrop of increased tensions in the Middle East due to Israel's flotilla attack, while the United Nations Security Council is debating a resolution that strengthens sanctions against Tehran's regime. The European Parliament has no say in the EU's foreign policy, but often serves as a forum for debate on international affairs.
Iranian authorities step up arrests of women for 'immodest' dress
By Thomas Erdbrink
June 2, 2010
TEHRAN -- Iranian authorities have begun police patrols in the capital to arrest women wearing clothes deemed improper. The campaign against loose-fitting veils and other signs of modernism comes as government opponents are calling for rallies to mark the anniversary of the disputed presidential election, and critics of the crackdown say it is stoking feelings of discontent. But hard-liners say that improper veiling is a "security issue" and that "loose morality" threatens the core of the Islamic republic.Iran's interior minister has promised a "chastity plan" to promote the proper covering "from kindergarten to families," though the details are unclear. Tehran police have been arresting women for wearing short coats or improper veils and even for being too suntanned. Witnesses report fines up to $800 for dress considered immodest. Some here say the new measures are part of a government campaign of intimidation ahead of the election anniversary this month. The hard-liners have grown more influential since the vote, which led to months of anti-government demonstrations that leaders saw as the biggest threat to the Islamic system in decades.
Iranian women are obliged by law to cover their hair and wear long coats in public. The Islamic veil protects the purity of women, preventing men from viewing them as sex symbols, clerics here say. But the law is imprecise, and interpretations vary. On a recent day, two young women wearing bright pink lipstick and identical thigh-hugging beige coats strolled down Tehran's affluent Bahonar Street. Their peroxide-blond hair, emphasized by delicately positioned brown scarves, spilled onto their shoulders. When seminary student Fatemeh Delvari, 24, moved to Tehran from a provincial town eight months ago, she was shocked to see how some women dressed.
"My own veil oppresses my feminine side, so I can be free and active," she said of her black chador, a garment that covers the entire body except the face and hands. "But some women seem to be only interested in looking beautiful." "They are trampling on social boundaries," Delvari said. "Violence is not good, but they should be punished." Delvari, a leading member of the Students Justice-Seeking Movement, which aims to revive the values of the Islamic revolution, said authorities should also restrict makeup sales, prohibit jewelry and force women to "spend some nights from their families" in order to counter improper dress. "Our Islamic system is like a ship; we can't allow some of the passengers to make holes in the hull," she said. During the reign of Iran's Western-backed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, bikinis and miniskirts were not uncommon here. But in the first years after the 1979 Islamic revolution, groups of Islamists armed with batons would beat women who were not veiled, shouting such slogans as "Cover up or feel the stick."
In 2006, a year after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came to power, special moral "guidance" teams attempted to enforce dress codes in what was the most ambitious operation in recent memory. Hundreds of teams patrolled shopping centers and popular squares, stopping and sometimes arresting women they thought were poorly veiled. Today some say the repetition of such punishments for a few women will have little effect in Tehran, a city of 12 million people."My white coat was three inches too short on the sleeves," said Nadia, 15, a high school student who was arrested Tuesday. "It was impounded. The guidance police called my dad to pick me up and gave me a chador to wear on the way home," she said. "Such patrols come and go," her father said. "But they leave mental scars of intimidation." Mohammad Hadi Ayyazi, deputy mayor of Tehran and former police commander, said the problem should not be exaggerated. "This is a cultural problem, not something the police can solve," he said in an interview. Some who tried years ago to get women to uphold the veil now say that force will not work. "For some women, a different form of wearing the veil is also a protest against those that want them to only wear the chador," Fatemeh Rakaee, a former lawmaker and former Islamic revolutionary, said in an interview. "Violence and patriarchy will never reach any results."
Iran: Controlling universities through gender segregation
June 5, 2010
Discussions around setting up gender-based universities, gender segregation in existing campuses and establishing a dress code for female students continue within the regime. A member of the regime’s Majlis (Parliament) committee on national security recently spoke of "those working to create and promote moral corruption among university students", while the Ministry of Science has been showing increasing proclivity to grant permits for single gender universities.
In an interview with the state-run Mehr News Agency on Wednesday, the Majlis deputy, Zohreh Elahian, referred to “an enemy which has lost hope with regards to the post presidential election incidents.” She added, “News and information received show that our enemies are trying to confront the state by talking about widespread networks of corruption, an issue reported at the social level and also universities." She reiterated that the foreign media are trying to make ”mal-veiling” a symbol of the fight against the ruling regime among the youth and students of Iran.
The Majlis deputy’s comments are not the only statements directly dealing with the issue. Recently, the Minister of Science said, "Universities should become Islamic.” During an interview with the state-run news agency ISNA, he stressed that the "plan for chastity and veiling in universities does not require new laws and regulations."
Last week, two days after the minister’s remarks, another state-run news agency quoted the Director of Cultural Affairs at the Ministry of Science who talked about the formation of a “Council on University Attire.” In parallel to increasing talk about female students’ attire by regime authorities, granting permits for single gender universities is also being seriously considered, a subject that has become a top university news story.
But instituting uniformity in universities is not restricted to attire and gender. On Wednesday, June 2, the regime’s Minister of Science, Mohammad Mehdi Zahedi, declared in Ilam province, "Anyone not in agreement with the demands of people who marched on December, 30, 2009 has no place in university."
He was referring to a pro-government rally organized on December 30, 2009, in response to widespread opposition protests on the religious day of Ashura (December 27).
Gender segregation is also seen as a method to control the country’s universities by the ruling regime. According to Zahedi, “In the past 15 years, our universities have been among the main areas that have constantly said ‘a huge no’ to the exiting establishment, and part of the campaigns for our civil rights have always emanated from our universities."
The regime’s measures are believed to be doomed to failure. Universities are platforms for the generation of new ideas. Students are usually at the peak of their youth and adamant about individual thought and decision making.. Throughout the years when the issue of single gender universities has been on the table, the regime has only succeeded to implement it in a few cases like the University of Al-Zahra, Imam Hussein University and Imam Sadeq University.
Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh sentenced to 2 ˝ years in jail and 30 lashes for ‘acts against national security'
Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML)
June 5, 2010
The Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML) International Solidarity Network and the Global Campaign to Stop Killing and Stoning Women (SKSW) are deeply concerned by the sentencing meted out to our colleague and friend, Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh, in May by the Iranian Revolutionary Court for exercising her constitutional right to peaceful assembly.
On 8 May 2010, the Revolutionary Court in Iran sentenced Ms. Abbasgholizadeh, 52, to two and a half (21/2) years in jail and thirty (30) lashes for ‘acts against national security through conspiracy and collusion intended to disrupt public security, disturbing public order and defiance against government officers.” According to her lawyer, Mohammad Mostafai, she was tried in absentia with the State knowing that his client was out of the country and could not properly represent herself in court. Ms. Abbasgholizadeh has twenty (20) days to lodge an appeal in the Court through her lawyer.
Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh is a women’s rights activist and filmmaker. She is an active member of the Stop Stoning Forever Campaign and the Iranian Women’s Charter movement. She was the director of the Non-Governmental Organisation Training Centre (NGOTC), an organisation formed to support the work of the growing NGO community in Iran, which was closed down by the Revolutionary Court of Iran during her first arrest in 2004. She also headed the Association of Women Writers and Journalists NGO and was the editor-in-chief of Farzaneh, which is ‘a journal of women’s studies and research in Iran and Muslim societies’. Ms. Abbasgholizadeh was first arrested on 1 November 2004 with her personal effects summarily seized and her office closed down. The arrest was authorised by Tehran’s Chief Prosecutor, Said Mortazavi, without any charges being filed against her. Abbasgholizadeh reported having been subjected to extreme mental and emotional torture throughout her detention, especially during her interrogation. She was also deprived of her visitation rights by her family. On 4 March 2007, she was again arrested along with other women activists during a peaceful demonstration in front of Tehran's Revolutionary Court in solidarity with five (5) women activists on trial for their demonstration on 12 June 2006 demanding equal rights in law for women in Iran. The national security police provoked the demonstration through verbal and physical violence against the women demonstrators and thirty three (33) of them were eventually arrested. Ms. Abbasgholizadeh, along with another woman human rights defender Shadi Sadr, was held in solitary confinement from 4 to 19 March while the rest of their colleagues were released much earlier. Throughout her detention, Ms. Abbasgholizadeh was kept in ward 209 of the notorious Evin Prison, which is run by the Ministry of Intelligence of the Islamic Republic of Iran. As a condition of her release on 19 March 2007, her bail was set at 250 million toman (or US$260,000), a prohibitively high amount. Her NGOTC office, which was re-opened after her release was again closed down and its bank account was frozen. She has not recovered both until now.
On 21 December 2009, Ms. Abbasgholizadeh was amongst those arrested in Iran while on their way to attend the funeral of Grand Ayatollah Hosseinali Montazeri, a senior cleric who criticised the Iranian government’s crackdown on demonstrators in the aftermath of the contested June 2009 presidential elections. This time, she was arrested for her work as a filmmaker. She was conditionally released after 24 hours based on the promise that she would remove her films critical of the regime from the website of her collective.
Iran's crackdown on dissent widens with hundreds unjustly imprisoned
June 9, 2010
One year on from Iran’s disputed June 2009 presidential election, Amnesty International has documented a widening crackdown on dissent that has left journalists, students, political and rights activists as well as clerics languishing in prisons.
Lawyers, academics, former political prisoners and members of Iran’s ethnic and religious minorities have also been caught up in an expanding wave of repression that has led to widespread incidents of torture and other ill-treatment along with politically motivated execution of prisoners.
This repression is documented in the new Amnesty International report From Protest to Prison – Iran One Year After the Election which reviews a year of arrest and detention of those who have spoken out against the government and its abuses. The publication of the report marks the launch of a one-year campaign calling for the release of prisoners of conscience in Iran held since the disputed 2009 presidential election and ensuing repression and fair trials without recourse to the death penalty for other political prisoners.
"The Iranian government is determined to silence all dissenting voices, while at the same time trying to avoid all scrutiny by the international community into the violations connected to the post-election unrest," said Claudio Cordone, Amnesty International’s interim Secretary General.
"The government has taken the absurd stand that virtually no violations have occurred in Iran when it presented its national report to the Universal Periodic Review by the Human Rights Council, who will adopt its final report this week. We ask them to accept recommendations relating to the treatment of prisoners and to let UN human rights experts visit the country.”
Hundreds of people remain detained for their part in the protests of June 2009 or for otherwise expressing dissenting views and the imprisonment of ordinary citizens has become an every day phenomenon in an expanding ‘revolving door system’ of arbitrary arrest and detention. Those with only tentative links to banned groups as well as family members of former prisoners have been subjected to arbitrary arrest in the past year. Examples include: Banned student Sayed Ziaoddin Nabavi serving a 10-year prison sentence in Evin Prison. A member of the Council to Defend the Right to Education, his sentence appears to be linked to the fact that he has relatives in the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran, a banned group, which the authorities claim, was responsible for organizing demonstrations.
Around 50 members of the Baha’i faith have been arrested across Iran since the elections - continuing to be unjustly cast as scapegoats for the unrest. Iran’s ethnic minority communities have faced arrest and detention, during and following the election. Four Kurds were among five political prisoners executed in May without the notifications required by law, in what was a clear message to anyone considering marking the anniversary with protest.
“What we are calling for is very simple: the immediate and unconditional release of all prisoners of conscience and for others to be tried promptly on recognizably criminal offences, without recourse to the death penalty, in proceedings which fully meet international standards for a fair trial,” said Claudio Cordone. Detainees have been held incommunicado for days, week or even months while relatives remain unable to find out where they are being held or on what charges. The secrecy surrounding these arrests makes it easier for interrogators to resort to torture and other ill-treatment, including rape, and mock executions, in order to extract forced “confessions” which are used later as evidence in trial.
One woman said of a women’s rights activist held with her that: "She told us that her interrogators had attached cables to her nipples and given her electric shocks. She was so ill she would sometimes faint in the cell.” The mother of another human rights defender, Shiva Nazar Ahari, detained without charge or trial whose case is highlighted in the report, said “I hope your daughters grow up to get married – mine grew up to be thrown into jail,” illustrating the journey taken by an increasing number of Iranians, from political and civil activism to the cells of Evin Prison and other prisons in the provinces. Politically motivated executions, recently taking place prior to key anniversaries when mass protests are expected, continue, with the justice system used as a lethal instrument of repression by the Iranian authorities. At least six people remain on death row charged with ‘enmity against God’ for their alleged involvement in demonstrations and membership of banned groups. Iran has one of the highest rates of executions in the world. To date in 2010, Amnesty International has already recorded over 115 executions.
“The Iranian authorities must end this campaign of fear that aims to crush even the slightest opposition to the government,” said Claudio Cordone. “They are continuing to use the death penalty as a tool of repression, right up to the eve of the anniversary of the election. The Iranian authorities blame everyone but themselves for the unrest but they are failing to show any respect for their own laws which prohibit the torture and other ill-treatment of all detainees.”
Women lead Iranian democracy movement
By: Shirin Ebadi
June 12, 2010
The struggle for human rights and gender equality continues in Iran as we mark the one-year anniversary of the demonstrations against the rigged elections. On June 12, 2009, the Iranian people took to the streets in droves to protest the fraudulent elections that returned Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the presidency. The Iranian regime resorted to extreme violence against these peaceful demonstrations.
Since that day, the people have not backed down and continue to fight peacefully for their basic human rights. Meanwhile, the Iranian government continues its crackdown on any opposition or dissent with ever-increasing brutality.
Just a few weeks ago, on May 9, the lengths to which the regime will go to crush its opponents came to light. Five political prisoners were executed in secret. Not even their families or their lawyers were notified. Shirin Alam Holi, 28, a Kurdish woman, was put to death along with four men. In letters from Evin prison in Tehran, Shirin wrote of being tortured to confess to trumped-up charges of terrorism. She denied the charges and refused to confess, sadly sealing her fate. At least 25 other men and women await the same fate. As we see time and time again, however, the harsher the repression, the stronger the movement grows. And as the story of Shirin Alam Holi demonstrates, female activists are at the forefront of the struggle for human rights in Iran.
This powerful feminist movement did not arise out of the disputed elections. It predates the 1979 Iranian revolution. Women in Iran have enjoyed the right to vote since 1963, for almost 50 years -- even longer than women in Switzerland. After the revolution, when the regime began imposing laws that were discriminatory against women, the feminist movement gained strength. Today, even under a more repressive regime, women flood the ranks of doctors, professors and CEOs. Women constitute more than 63 per cent of university students. Is it any wonder that they refuse to stand idly by and accept that their lives are not worth as much as the life of a man? With no leader or central office, the women's movement for 31 years has resided in every Iranian household that cares about human rights. In the past year, the now-famous Green Movement has emerged and modelled itself after this seemingly unstoppable force. With women's rights activists at the helm, the Green Movement consistently demands democracy and human rights in Iran.
In December, a wave of arrests and violence followed peaceful protests taking place on the Shiite Muslim holy day of Ashura. Dozens of women journalists and human-rights activists were targeted, and I was no exception. In an attempt to stop me from doing my work from abroad, the government arrested my sister, Dr. Noushin Ebadi. My sister has never been politically active or participated in any rallies or demonstrations. She was arrested and detained for three weeks solely because of my work fighting for human rights. Mansoureh Shojaee, one of the founders of the One Million Signatures Campaign, was also arrested at this time, putting the list of women involved with the campaign who have been arrested at more than 50. (The One Million Signatures Campaign has been working since before last year's election to collect signatures from Iranian men and women who oppose discriminatory laws and practices.) Today, June 12, is a global day of action for concerned citizens worldwide to spotlight the horrific human rights abuses that have become all too common in Iran. Women will be at the forefront of today's peaceful activities as they were yesterday and they will be again tomorrow. And mark my words: It will be women who will bring democracy to Iran.
Shirin Ebadi, a lawyer, is a founding member of the Nobel Women's Initiative. She won the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize for her work defending human rights in Iran. She wrote this for Progressive Media Project, a source of liberal commentary on domestic and international issues; it is affiliated with The Progressive magazine
Iranian protesters mark year since Ahmadinejad's election win
By Thomas Erdbrink
June 13, 2010
TEHRAN -- Anti-government protesters took to the streets of the Iranian capital Saturday for the first time in four months, commemorating the anniversary of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's disputed election victory a year ago despite the cancellation of a planned mass rally. Demonstrators turned out all along Enghelab (Revolution) Street, one of Tehran's longest avenues, sporadically shouting slogans in support of Mir Hossein Mousavi, one of the leaders of the opposition. But security forces were present in overwhelming force, hundreds on motorcycles and hundreds of others patrolling on foot, and no serious clashes erupted. "There were so many plainclothes officers, that we didn't know who was with us or who was against us," a protester said. "But people were not afraid at all, which must be worrying for the government." Even though the demonstrations were far smaller and the atmosphere generally calmer than in the post-election protests last year, that people decided to go out was remarkable, analysts said. Over the past year, thousands have been arrested at such events, hundreds were jailed and at least two people were hanged, allegedly for participating in the protests. After officials refused to give permission for a Saturday demonstration, Mousavi and his fellow opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi asked supporters not to protest, in order "to protect people's lives and property," according to a joint statement published on their Web sites. At least 10 people were arrested, according to witnesses. In central Enghelab Square, riot police at times used batons to disperse groups of people, and two women were seen being taken away by security forces. In one instance, blanks were fired in the air. Some witnesses said tear gas was also used. But for the most part, police intervened only when people assembled in larger numbers. When one group gathered at a stone bench, riot police quickly arrived, but found only that someone had written a call for a future protest on the seat. A member of the volunteer paramilitary force known as the baseej started rubbing the stone clean as protesters walked away. In predominantly Shiite Iran, commemorations are traditionally highly important. In the coming weeks, several events will be remembered, including the death of Neda Agha Soltan, the woman whose killing during a protest on June 20, 2009, was captured on video and has been viewed around the world. Also likely to be commemorated is an anti-government demonstration that took place last June 15, in which millions participated and eight people were killed.
Iran bars 71 'improperly' dressed women from planes
June 14, 2010
TEHRAN — Seventy-one Iranian women "improperly" dressed were prevented from boarding flights in recent months, an airport official said on Monday, as a police crackdown on the behaviour of young people intensified. Iranian airports security chief Nabiollah Heidari told ILNA news agency that "in the first 82 days of the current Iranian year (which began on March 21), 71 women were barred from boarding flights because they were improperly dressed." "Their cases have been forwarded to the judiciary," he added.
Iranian women have to abide by an enforced Islamic dress code, and summer crackdowns on what the authorities perceive to be un-Islamic attire are common. Women are often warned about wearing body-hugging short coats and flimsy headscarves in defiance of the Islamic republic's sharia-based law, which stipulates modest dress. Every post-pubescent woman in Iran is required to cover her hair and bodily contours in public, but young women are often seen with their hair only half covered by a scarf. The punishment for women flouting the strict dress code is a fine of up to 13 million rials (1,300 dollars).
In recent weeks the dress code has been more strictly enforced, with police confiscating cars whose drivers are deemed to be harassing women, according to local media that did not clarify what amounts to harassment. The reports say the crackdown has become a major issue for Iran's youth, with police or hardline militiamen stopping luxury cars to question boys and girls on board about their relationship.
Heidari also said that warnings were issued to 87,714 women during these 82 days for not covering their hair properly, while 3,506 such women gave "commitments" that they would follow the Islamic dress code.
On Sunday, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he "strongly" opposed the ongoing crackdown. "It is impossible for such actions to be successful," he said in an interview on state television. "The government is not interfering in this. We consider it is insulting to ask a boy and girl about their relationship. Nobody has the right to ask people such a question."