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Startseite Urgent Actions 2019 07 Jailed for protesting forced veiling laws Women’s rights defender at risk of torture
FI 096/19-2
Abgeschlossen am 21. November 2019

Women’s rights defender at risk of torture

AI-Index: MDE 13/1170/2019

On 5 October 2019, women’s rights defender Yasaman Aryani, jailed for campaigning against Iran’s forced veiling laws, was moved suddenly from the women’s section of Tehran’s Evin prison to section 2A, which is under the control of the Revolutionary Guards. She is being held incommunicado and is at risk of torture and other ill-treatment.


In the video that went viral on International Women’s Day on 8 March 2019, Yasaman Aryani is seen handing a flower to a woman wearing a hijab and saying that she hopes that one day they can walk side by side in the street, «me without the hijab and you with the hijab». Following the posting of the video, Yasaman Aryani was arrested on 10 April 2019 at her family home in Tehran. The next day, her mother, Monireh Arabshahi, was arrested after going to Vozara detention centre in Tehran to inquire about her daughter and was herself arrested and taken to Shahr-e Rey prison in Varamin, near Tehran. Mojgan Keshavarz was arrested about two weeks later, on 25 April 2019, and similarly taken to Shahr-e Rey prison.

Following her arrest, Yasaman Aryani was held in solitary confinement in Vozara detention centre for nine days without access to her family and lawyer. During this period, the authorities concealed her fate and whereabouts from her family, subjecting her to enforced disappearance. After persistent inquiries by her family, she was allowed to call them briefly six days after her arrest. While held in solitary confinement, she was regularly threatened with, among other things, the arrest of her father and younger sibling unless she appeared before a camera retracting her opposition to forced veiling, denouncing the White Wednesdays campaign – a popular campaign which encourages women to share pictures and videos of themselves walking in public without a headscarf and expressing opposition to forced veiling laws and discussing their hopes for women’s rights – and expressing «regret» for allowing herself to be «incited» by «anti-revolutionary opposition agents» outside the country. She was also taunted with claims that her case had been forgotten by the outside world.

On 18 April 2019, Monireh Arabshahi was transferred to Vozara detention centre. Without explanation, she and Yasaman Aryani were then put into a van and driven to an unidentified location in Tehran. As soon as they were taken out of the van, they were confronted with camera crews from the state-run Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) corporation, who filmed them without their consent. They were then taken to a room to be «interviewed» by the IRIB and, when they objected, were told that they had no choice but to answer the questions. Both subsequently spent a night at Vozara detention centre and were taken to Shahr-e Rey prison the next day. On 13 August 2019, Monireh Arabshahi, Yasaman Aryani and Mojgan Keshavarz were transferred to Evin prison.

Under Iran’s forced veiling laws, the punishment for women seen in public without a headscarf includes arrest, a prison sentence, flogging or a fine. Forced veiling laws violate a whole host of rights, including the rights to equality, privacy and freedom of expression and belief. These laws also degrade women and girls, stripping them of their dignity and self-worth.

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