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Over the past weeks Amnesty International and other human rights organizations have been highlighting the plight of two women sentenced to death in Iran. Both of them have suffered incredible injustices, but their stories are actually very different and while one of them has received a great deal of publicity, the other has failed to attract the attention that her case deserves.
Women supporters of the Iranian Green Movement - June 2009
While the Iranian authorities have effectively quashed all overt political organization for women's rights, today women are the most dynamic group in Iranian opposition politics.
Shadi Sadr, the Iranian lawyer and women's rights activist, was just released from prison.
On July 28 she went free.
This is wonderful news. It sends relief and immense joy throughout the ranks of Iran's pro-democracy and humanitarian rights community, all of whom have worked so hard on her behalf.
A prominent human rights group has expressed "grave concerns" that Iran will soon execute a women sentenced to death by stoning who purportedly confessed in a televised interview this week.
New York-based Human Rights Watch on Friday criticized Iran for airing the confession of the woman said to be Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani.
Addressing a meeting of the Community of Democracies in Krakow, Poland, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke of the importance of robust, non-governmental civic organizations to prosperous, democratic societies: "Citizens," she said, "must be free to come together to advocate and agitate, to remind those entrusted with governance that they derive their authority from the governed."
The Iranian government has announced it will not allow a United Nations special rapporteur into the country. The head of Iran's Human Rights Council, Mohammad Javad Larijani, called the appointment of a UN special rapporteur on human rights for Iran "an illegal measure."
Two Iranian activists have been arrested as a group of political prisoners ended a hunger strike protesting the death of a women's rights activist, friends say.
Iran should stop infringing on women's rights and take immediate steps to meet Iranian women's demands for full equality, Human Rights Watch said today. Iranian women's rights activists have issued a call for freedom and gender equality in Iran in connection with International Women's Rights Day on March 8.
The controversial death of Dr. Ms. Haleh Sahabi is coming under international scrutiny as the U.S. State Department, The Foreign Office (FCO) in the UK and the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) issue statements on human rights abuse in Iran and the need for transparency.
"The Iranian women's movement is not simply demanding equal rights alone. It is demanding a larger universal reality, which is democracy." - Shirin Ebadi, October 9, 2009
In an annual survey known as the Rule of Law Index, issued by the World Justice Project, Iran ranks last out of 66 nations for the protection of fundamental rights. The survey notes that Iranian law enforcement authorities perpetrate abuses against citizens, and Iran's courts are infected by corruption and political interference.
Recent news from Iran demonstrates the depths of the Iranian government's contempt for the rule of law.
Tehran's prosecution service on Monday confirmed the arrest of Pagah Ahangarani, a reporter, actress and film-maker who had wanted to cover the women's football World Cup in Germany, ISNA news agency reported.
"Pagah Ahangarani was arrested a week ago and she is being investigated," ISNA quoted an informed judicial source in Tehran's prosecution office as saying, without elaborating.
The Iranian government and police have begun positioning women as watch guards at female prisons across the country aimed at preventing abuses, the ISNA news agency reported.
According to the report, the women will be trained by the Iranian Police Prison authorities and will work inside prisons.
Iranian women have pushed the battle for equal rights online even as security forces aggressively monitor the Internet and shut down pro-democracy Web sites that fall out of step with the regime.
"Every print magazine for women we had was closed," Parvin Ardalan said in a recent phone interview from Sweden. "So we created a new world for ourselves in cyberspace."
Iran might not send its girls' soccer team to the Youth Olympics in Singapore next month because of a dispute over the players' Islamic attire, Iranian media reported Thursday. The deputy head of Iran's physical education department, Marzieh Akbarabadi, was quoted by newspapers, including Khabar Varzeshi, or Sport News, as saying the newly designed dress was "inappropriate."
A constitutional body in Iran has ruled that women cannot run in presidential elections scheduled for June 14.
Mohammad Yazdi, a clerical member of the Guardian Council, said the Constitution ruled out the participation of women, British broadcaster BBC reported May 17. Thirty women registered as candidates, but there had been little expectation they would be allowed to stand.
Iran has released two prominent cultural figures from jail following intense criticism of its crackdown against artists and rights activists.
Pegah Ahangarani, 27, a popular actor and outspoken supporter of the country's opposition green movement, was arrested two weeks ago en route to the women's World Cup. Mahnaz Mohammadi, 37, a documentary filmmaker, was detained by unidentified officials in June.