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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.
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.
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."
In what appeared to be the first burst of activism in months not related to the disputed presidential election, about 1,200 Iranians signed a statement against a bill that would further curb women's rights, the feminist Web site Change for Gender Equality reported.
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.
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.
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.
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."
"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
Iranian judicial authorities should immediately release two recently detained women's rights activists, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said today. The Campaign added that the Judiciary should end the harassment and arbitrary prosecution of citizens engaged in lawful actions aimed at challenging Iran's discriminatory laws.
Iranian authorities have suspended the execution by stoning of a woman convicted of adultery, the Foreign Ministry said Wednesday, after weeks of condemnation from around the world.
"The verdict regarding the extramarital affairs has stopped and it's being reviewed," Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told Iran's state-run English-language Press TV.
It is clearly stated in Article 5 of the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights that, "No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."
Iran has confiscated the Nobel peace medal and diploma of Shirin Ebadi, the human rights lawyer who is one of the hardline regime's most outspoken critics. Her bank account has also been frozen on the pretext that she owes almost £250,000 in tax.
Without fanfare, the United Nations this week elected Iran to its Commission on the Status of Women, handing a four-year seat on the influential human rights body to a theocratic state in which stoning is enshrined in law and lashings are required for women judged "immodest."
Human rights activists in Iran are subjected to beatings with batons, mock hangings, rape, sleep deprivation, and threats that family members will be raped or killed, a U.N. rights investigator said in a report released on Thursday.