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Shirin Ebadi's letter to The Executive Director of the UN Women, Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka
Thu 2 07 2015

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Shirin Ebadi, President of the Defenders of Human Rights Centre and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, 2003 in a letter to The Executive Director of the UN Women, Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka,talked about the increasing pressure over the women right activist and illegal sentences and prevention of women form attending the games in stadiums.
original letter:

16 June 2015

The Executive Director of the UN Women, Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka,

Upon Iran becoming elected member of the board of the UN Women, it was expected that Iran’s outlook on “women’s rights” and its way of approaching the activists working in this filed would reform. Unfortunately, these expectations have not been met.

Discriminatory laws have not been amended under the pretext of cultural relativism and women’s rights activists have been treated more harshly, as we witness long imprisonment sentences for women who demand legal equality for human beings. One example is the case of Atena Faraghdani, a young artist working in the filed of women and children, convicted to 12 years in prison. Her lawyer, who went to prison to consult her, was arrested and transferred to prison on a false accusation.

Minoo Mortazi, a prominent women’s rights activist, has also been sentenced to six years imprisonment. Nargess Mohammadi, Deputy Head and Spokesperson of the Defenders of Human Rights Centre, who had been sentenced to six years and is currently in prison, has faced another case and will go on trial next month.

More than fifty women’s rights activists are in prison, each charged with false accusations of acting against national security, disturbing public order, participating in illegal gatherings, etc.

Based on UN general assembly resolutions, dated 17 November 2009 and 27 November 2013, that urge states to support human rights defenders and women human rights defenders, please ask Iranian government to provide a comprehensive report on the legal status of these imprisoned women upon which its commitment and dedication in protecting women human rights defenders could be evaluated.

I would like to inform you that Iranian women, in particular young girls, have been trying for years to secure their rights to attend stadiums to watch sports matches. A campaign has been initiated in this regard. Unfortunately, some of its members were prosecuted. For example, Goncheh Ghavami, a young woman, spent some months in prison.

Ms. Shahindokht Mollaverdi, vice president for women and family affairs, has recently announced that permission was given for women to attend the stadiums to watch volleyball matches. But a number of fundamentalists issued several statements warning women of physical attack should they go to the stadium.

The Volleyball World League will start on 20 June in the Azadi stadium in Tehran. Some Iranian women may want to go to the stadium to watch the competitions. The responsibility to protect the life and liberty of women who are going to watch the matches rests with the government.

It is obvious that a government, who is a member of the UN Women, cannot prevent women from attending the stadiums to watch sport matches on false excuses. Such state has the duty to facilitate the presence of women not only at volleyball matches but all sports events.

With respect,
Shirin Ebadi
President of the Defenders for Human Rights Centre
Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, 2003

cc: The Honourable United Nations’ High Commissioner for Human Rights
The Honourable UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran
The Honourable UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women; its causes and consequences
The Honourable UN Special Rapporteur on Independence of Judges and Lawyers
The Honourable UN Special Rapporteur on Situation of Human Rights Defenders
Amnesty International
The International Federation for Human Rights /FIDH
Human Rights Watch


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Defenders of Human Rights Center
Member of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)