Iranian security forces on Sunday arrested around 30 women’s rights activists rallying outside a Tehran court where a group of their fellow campaigners were on trial over a demonstration last year.
“My clients and other women who had gathered in front of the court were arrested,” Nasrin Sotoodeh, the lawyer for the accused, was quoted as saying by the ISNA news agency. According to unofficial reports, around 30 people were detained, including some of the most prominent women’s rights activists in Iran.
The protestors had gathered in front of the revolutionary court in solidarity with five women on trial over their roles in a demonstration which was broken up by police in June last year. Nushin Ahmadi Khorasani, Parvin Ardalan, Shahla Entesari, Susan Tahmasebi and Fariba Davudi Mohajer were standing trial for organising an “unauthorized” rally to ask for equal rights for women.
It was not clear which of the accused were among those arrested. Sotoodeh later told AFP that the arrested activists had been transferred to the notorious Evin prison in northern Tehran. “The families of those (arrested) who do not have a problem have been told to bring in property documents to bail them out,” the lawyer said. “But this does not apply to those who do have a problem.”
Sotoodeh said that the authorities have still not officially said how many people were arrested and or released their names. Seventy people, most of them women, were arrested at the protest last June when they called for improved rights and changes to laws discriminating against women.
Under Iranian law, married women have to go through a lengthy process to be granted a divorce, and the testimony of two women is equal to that of one man. Rights groups claimed that some demonstrators at that protest were beaten by the police. Those arrested in June were all subsequently released, although one detained protester, reformist ex-MP Ali-Akbar Musavi Khoini, was held in prison until October.