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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The impact of Iranian doctrines in the region is apparent throughout history. At one time Iran had a constitutional monarchy, which affected the entire region. Then it had a campaign for modernization during the reign of Reza Shah Pahlavi (1925-1941), the effects of which were felt throughout the region, once again. Nationalization of the oil industry in the 1950s also brought nationalism to the entire region.
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.
Mohamed Mostafaei was detained in Turkey because of passport problems but can apply for asylum if he wants to, the agency said. He disappeared from view late last month after being summoned for questioning in Tehran. Amnesty International accused the Iranian authorities of harassing him. Though the stoning penalty was lifted, she may still be executed by hanging.
Female lawmaker Fatemeh Alia said on Sunday that her nomination as education minister has become certain.
"In the light of my 20-experience in education. I have been selected as the final choice for the ministry of education," Alia told the Mehr News Agency.
Alia represents the people of Tehran at the parliament.
Created by the FreeMiddleEast.com organization, the film compared the rights of women in Iran with those in South Africa in the days of Apartheid.
“This oppression of Iranian women is reminiscent of black apartheid in South Africa,” FreeMiddleEast says. “Let's stop Iran's Gender Apartheid together."