Change for Equality:
Esha Momeni, women’s rights advocate and a member of the Campaign from California was arrested on Wednesday October 15, 2008, while on a visit to Tehran. Momeni who is a photographer and graduate student was arrested in an unusual and illegal manner after being pulled over on Moddaress highway, by individuals who identified themselves as under cover traffic police on the pretense that she had unlawfully passed another vehicle while driving. Esha was arrested and taken to Section 209 of Evin Prison, managed by the Intelligence and Security Ministry.
Prior to her transfer to Evin, security officials searched her home and seized property, including her computer and films which were part of her thesis project. The security officials had an arrest warrant and court permission to search the home and seize property.
While Esha’s friends and colleagues were insistent about announcing the news of her arrest immediately, based on requests from her family this news was announced with delay. Security forces had promised Esha’s family that she would be released quickly if news of her arrest was not published.
Esha’s parents went to the Revolutionary Courts today, on the fifth day of her arrest, to follow up on the case of their daughter. Court officials told the Momeni family that they should not come to the courts again, and that their questions will not be answered until the investigation of Esha’s case comes to a close.
Esha Momeni is a graduate student at the School of Communications, Media and Arts at California State University, Northridge. Esha had come to Iran two months ago to visit with her family and to work on her Masters thesis project, focused on the Iranian women’s movement. To this end, she had conducted video interviews with members of the One Million Signatures Campaign in Tehran.
Women’s rights activists object to the unusual manner in which Esha was arrested, as well as the irresponsible treatment of her family members by security forces. Further they strongly object to the unjustified and unwarranted arrest of this women’s rights defender.
A weblog in support of Esha pressing for her release has been established, which includes interviews with her professors. The weblog as well as the site of the Campaign, Change for Equality, will continue to provide news on developments about Esha’s case.
More details on the case, who to write to, and how, here at Amnesty International.
The Campaign for Equality, launched in 2006, is an Iranian women’s rights initiative composed of a network of women and men committed to ending discrimination against women in Iranian law. The Campaign gives volunteers basic legal training, and these volunteers travel around the country promoting the Campaign, talking with women in their homes, as well as in public places, telling them about their rights and the need for legal reform. The volunteers are also collecting one million signatures of Iranian nationals for a petition demanding an end to legal discrimination against women in Iran.
Dozens of activists and supporters have been arrested in connection with their activities for the Campaign for Equality, some while collecting signatures for the petition demanding an end to legal discrimination against women in Iran. As of October 2008, the Campaign’s website had been blocked by the authorities at least 16 times. Official permission to hold public meetings has frequently been denied, and Campaign activists usually hold their workshops in the homes of sympathizers, some of whom have then received threatening phone calls apparently from security officials or been summoned by them for interrogation. At least one such workshop was forcibly broken up by police, who arrested those present, beating some.
Take action now–please write to the following contacts:
* Leader of the Islamic Republic, His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei, The Office of the Supreme Leader, Shoahada Street, Qom, Islamic Republic of Iran, Faxes: + 98.21.649.5880 / 21.774.2228, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org;
* President, His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Presidency, Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, Fax: + 98.21.649.5880, E-mail: email@example.com;
* Head of the Judiciary, His Excellency Mr. Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrudi, Ministry of Justice, Park-e Shahr, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, Fax: +98.21.879.6671 / +98 21 3 311 6567 / +98 21 3 390 4986, Email: Irjpr@iranjudiciary.com / firstname.lastname@example.org;
* Minister of Foreign Affairs, His Excellency Mr. Manuchehr Motaki, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Abdolmajid Keshk-e Mesri Av, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, Fax: + 98.21.390.1999, Email: email@example.com;
* Director, Human Rights Headquarters of Iran, His Excellency Mohammad Javad Larijani, C/o Office of the Deputy for International Affairs, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Justice Building, Panzdah-Khordad (Ark) Square, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, Fax: + 98 21 5 537 8827
* Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Chemin du Petit-Saconnex 28, 1209 Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 7330203, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org;
* Ambassador Mr. Ahani, Embassy of Iran in Brussels, avenue Franklin Roosevelt, 15 A. 1050 Bruxelles, Belgium, Fax: + 32 2 762 39 15. Email: email@example.com.
Amnesty International recommends that all appeals:
- [express] concern at the arrest of Esha Momeni, and [urge] on the authorities to treat her humanely in detention, and protect her from torture or other ill-treatment;
- [ask] the authorities to ensure that while in detention she is granted immediate and regular access to her family, a lawyer of her choice, and any medical treatment she may require;
- [express] concern that her arrest was apparently in connection with her peaceful activities in support of equal rights for women in Iran and in the context of her graduate research;
- [urge] the authorities to release her immediately and unconditionally if she is not to be charged with a recognizably criminal offence and brought to trial promptly and fairly
Also see this article written by Momeni in 2007 on the 0ne Million Signatures Campaign.