Iran launches crackdown on women's rights activists

Iran launches crackdown on women's rights activists
Iran's regime has launched a crackdown on human rights campaigners, with women's rights activists a key target in the arrests, according to Amnesty International.
3 min read
04 September, 2018
Women's rights activists have been targeted by the regime [Getty]

Women's rights activists in Iran are been targeted by the Tehran regime, as a crackdown on civil society intensifies in the Islamic Republic, Amnesty International has said.

Three human rights lawyers and a women's rights activist have been arrested over the past week, leaving human rights defenders living in a "suffocating climate of fear", according to Amnesty.

Hoda Amid, a human rights lawyer and women's rights activist, was detained on 1 September, who had worked for more women representatives in parliament and called for free and fair elections.

On the same day, women's rights activist Najmeh Vahedi was arrested at her Tehran home by the Revolutionary Guards' intelligence unit, who like Amid has campaigned for the empowerment of women, particularly those in marriage.

Days earlier, human rights lawyers Payam Derafshan and Farokh Forouzan were also arrested, while visiting the home of another recently jailed lawyer, Arash Keykhosravi.

"These latest arrests are a blatant attempt to silence those advocating for human rights in Iran," said Philip Luther, Amnesty International's research and advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa.

"The human rights situation in Iran has reached crisis point. Mild expressions of concern are not enough. We call on the international community to demand that the Iranian authorities stop attacks on human rights defenders, including human rights lawyers and women's rights activist," Luther added.

He called for the immediate and unconditional release of the detained and for the government to ensure that every detainee is provided access to a lawyer of their own choosing from the time of arrest.

"Given its ongoing dialogue with Iran, the European Union (EU) should be at the forefront of such calls."

Iran has witnessed a number of arrests in recent months, with Nasrin Sotoudeh detained in June, who has defended women arrested after protesting against the country's mandatory headscarf law.

She is being held in Tehran's notorious Evin prison, charged with "insulting the Supreme Leader" and "spreading propaganda against the system", among other charges.

Authorities - dominated by hardliners and conservatives - have waged a war against activists, reformists and liberals in Iran.

Protests during the new year against the economic situation in Iran has seen the regime rattled, with waves of arrests against demonstrators and many killed.

Authorities have attempted to lay blame at the moderate government, led by President Hassan Rouhani, accusing many is his clique of corruption and dealing with foreign powers.

Conservatives appeared alarmed by the nuclear deal between Iran and the US, and other world powers, which emboldened moderates.

Since US President Donald Trump scrapped the deal and economic hardship has prevailed, with conservatives using the opportunity to clampdown on potential opponents.

Among those rounded up are human rights defenders or individuals who face the death penalty, including for crimes committed as a child, Amnesty said.

Women's rights activists have been a leading target in the regime's clampdown.