TEHRAN, Iran – Maryam Hosseinkhah, a journalist and women’s rights activist, was arrested on November 18 in Iran. She was accused of “disturbing public opinion”, “propaganda against the system” and “publication of lies” through websites she edits. Bail was set for one billion rial ($107,000) but she could not afford it and was taken to prison.
Hosseinkhah is an active member of the feminist website Change for Equality, an initiative to collect a million signatures to end legislations that discriminate against women. Zanestan, another women’s online bi-monthly Hosseinkhah was frequent contributor of, has been closed since November 12 on the order of the Internet Bureau of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Orientation.
Hosseinkhah’s arrest marks the continuation of increased harassment of women’s rights activists, especially members of the “One Million Signatures” petition. Since the start of the campaign, 40 individuals have been arrested. Two other members of the campaign besides Hosseinkhaha remain in prison without access to their families or lawyers.
Press freedom organization Reporters Without Borders said “these women are simply asking for the same rights as men and there is nothing dangerous about them. The crackdown against these brave women shows the importance of the Internet in the country to the feminist struggle.”
This was not the first time Hosseinkhah was arrested. In June 2006, she took part in a protest in Tehran square against Iranian laws in marriage, child custody, and divorce for women. Seventy people who participated the protest were arrested and some were jailed. Police were accused of beating up women. Also in March 2007, Hosseinkhah was among 33 women arrested for protesting at the trial of five women’s rights activists.
Iran is notorious for omnipresent internet monitoring. It is among the world’s most repressive countries in relation to the Internet and boasts that it filters 10 million “immoral” websites. Since 2006, authorities have banned high speed connections in order to hamper what little internet freedom the Iranians previously enjoyed before.
For more information, please see:
Reporters Without Borders – Authorities could demand 95,000 euros for cyber-feminist’s release – 21 November 2007
AFP – Iran arrests women’s activist – 21 November 2007
Amnesty International – Arbitrary arrest/prisoner of conscience: Maryam Hosseinkhah – 19 November 2007
Payvand News – Journalist and woman activist, Maryam Hosseinkhah, arrested – 18 November 2007