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More than 1,000 Equal Rights Defenders Protest imprisonment of Hosseinkhah

Maryam Hosseinkhah

Change for Equality: Monday November 25, In a statement issued yesterday on Sunday November 24, more than 1,000 equal rights defenders have protested the imprisonment of Maryam Hosseinkhah, while claiming, that all those who seek equal rights for women and a remedy to the negative impact of discriminatory laws, are as responsible as Maryam. The text of the Statement in English appears below:

Statement of Protest to the Arrest of Maryam Hosseinkhah

On 18th November, Maryam Hossienkhah, a journalist who is one of the many active members of One Million Signatures Campaign to end legal discrimination against women, was arrested after having been summoned to the revolutionary court. After being interrogated she was charged with disruption of public opinion, propaganda against the state, and publication of lies through her activity and writings in sites such as "Change for Equality" ( and "Zanestan" ( The bail was set for 100 million Tomans (more than hundred thousand dollars). As she could not afford bail she was transferred to Evin prison's public ward.

We the activists, in support of legal equality, have taken steps, however small, to raise public awareness of the present discriminatory legal system. We have tried where possible to record by writing, whether in sites such as Change for Equality, Zanestan, Kanoone Zanan, and Meydaan, or in weblogs and newspapers, the experiences and pains of women in our society.

Therefore, the responsibility for the legality and transparency of the sites "Change for Equality" and "Zanestan" falls on the activists of this movement and each one of the signatories of the letter recognizes herself/himself as a member of the movement for equality. Each one of us, the defenders and activists of the movement for equality under the law, like Maryam Hossienkhah, are reporters of the pain and suffering of women in our country. We all write and we all protest the present legal discriminations. We reflect this pain and suffering through peaceful means in these sites, weblogs and newspapers such as "Change for Equality" and "Zanestan." Therefore we share responsibility with Maryam Hosseinkhah. All the sites that write about legal equality belong not only to Maryam Hossienkhah, but to us all. They belong to all those who speak of the objections to legal discrimination through their writings. Therefore, we are all responsible for content of the internet sites and other media that publish on women's rights issues.

We the signatories of this statement, like Maryam Hossienkhah, write in women's sites, newspapers and magazines in the hope of improving women's lives by echoing the pains and sufferings that are due to the existence of discriminatory laws such as polygamy, unequal blood money and age of criminal responsibility, etc.

There is no doubt that if Maryam Hosseinkhah is responsible for the writings and activities of women's sites such as "Change for Equality" and "Zanestan," then we the signatories are equally responsible. If Maryam Hossienkhah is imprisoned for what we all have done, then thousands of activists and defenders of equal legal rights in Iran should also be imprisoned.

Read the statement in Farsi and view the signatures:

Family Visits Maryam Hosseinkhah in Prison

Change for Equality: Tuesday November 20, 2007, Today is visiting day for female prisoners in Evin's public ward and Maryam Hosseinkhah's family was able to visit her as well, at the prison where she has been incarcerated since Sunday on charges related to her activities in the Campaign, the site of the Campaign, Change for Equality and the site of the Women's Cultural Center. Shahab Mirzaee, Maryam's husband, explains: "visiting hours are from 9:00am-2:00pm on Tuesdays. Fortunately we were able to visit with Maryam today." He explains further that: "Maryam's spirits were very good. She said that here you forget your own pain and problems."

Hajar, Maryam's sister was also able to visit Maryam today. Hajar reports on her visit with Maryam as such: "I explained to Maryam that we are trying very hard to secure your freedom. Maryam expressed dismay at the high amount of bail set for her release, as we do not have 100 million tomans (roughly $110,000). But I explained that we are trying to reduce the amount of bail requested in her case." Hajar continued by saying that "Maryam was very pleased with the kind treatment she has received from fellow inmates. She told me that they don't usually accept newcomers amongst themselves very easily, but they have treated me well as if they know me. They know about our activities, and their positive impact on the outside, and they are grateful." Maryam explained further that "they have taken care of me since I arrived and are making sure that I don't need anything. They know all our members and ask about Nahid and Mahboube [who were imprisoned in this same ward in April, 2007] and the Campaign and our efforts to collect signatures. They are very hopeful about our movement." Hajar explained further that: "Maryam views prison as an opportunity and wants to use it to reflect and convey the legal problems of female prisoners, in an effort to demonstrate the negative impact of discriminatory laws on their lives."

A 100 Million Toman bond has been set for the release of Maryam. Her husband explains that: "with a salary of 200 thousand Tomans (approximately $220) per month which is customary for journalists, it would take us up to 50 years to come up with that sum-given that the publication is not shut down. This is the price that people who believe in their cause have to pay."

High Bail Set for Maryam Hosseinkhah

Change for Equality: Monday November 19, 2007, In a phone conversation with her lawyer and husband, Maryam Hossienkhah announced that she is being held in ward 3 of Evin prison, a public ward for non-violent offenders. She also explained that a bail order of 100 million Tomans (approximately $110,000) was issued in her case. She has indicated on legal forms that she is unable to produce and post the bail required for her release. According to Maryam, the judge in charge of her case realizing that she is unable to post bail responded that "I will send you to a place where you will be able to complete your research on women."

Publications of lies, disruption of public opinion, and propaganda against the state, are the charges brought against Maryam Hosseinkhah. In an interview with Change for Equality, her lawyer, Shirin Ebadi explained that: "Maryam Hosseinkhah is a well-known and respected journalist who is in prison because of charges related to articles she has written on women's rights for various dailies, the site of the Women's Cultural Center and the site of the campaign, as well as her activities within the One Million Signatures Campaign. Unfortunately the high bail set in this case, and her inability to post the amount, has landed Maryam in prison." Ebadi continued to say: "this young journalist's earnings through her writings has not totaled more than one million Tomans (approximately $1,100), as such posting such high bail is very difficult for her." Shirin Ebadi explained further that she has requested judiciary officials pave the path toward Maryam's release by reducing the amount of bail in her case. "I am certain that the courts will not find her guilty," Ms. Ebadi stated.

Ebadi went further to call the high amount of bail "illegal, as the amount of bail must be determined in relation to the crime committed as well as the situation of the accused. Ms. Hosseinkhah is not a flight risk, nor is her crime, meaning the writing of a few articles, significant enough to warrant such high bail. The prosecutor in this case fully knows that it would be impossible for a young journalist, who is newly married, to post such an exorbitant amount of bail, and in fact the high bail was intended as a strategy to ensure the issuance of an arrest warrant and the subsequent imprisonment [of my client]."

Shirin Ebadi emphasized that all necessary legal steps will be taken to reduce the amount of bail to ensure Maryam Hosseinkhah's release and to also prove her innocence in a court of law. Maryam Hosseinkhah, Journalist and Member of the Campaign Arrested

Change for Equality: November 18, 2007: Maryam Hossienkhah, Journalist, member of the Women's Cultural Center, and an active member of the One Million Signatures Campaign was arrested earlier today. A few days after the site of the Women's Cultural Center, a leading women's NGO, was shut down on order of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance and the Judiciary, Maryam Hosseinkhah, an editor of the site of this organization as well as one of the eiditors of the site of the One Million Signatures Campaign, Change for Equality, was summoned to the security branch of the Revolutionary Courts on Saturday 17th of November. She was interrogated for over 2 hours on Saturday and was told that she is charged with disruption of public opinion, propaganda against the state, and publication of lies through the publication of untrue news items on the site of the Women's Cultural Center and the One Million Signatures Campaign. Maryam Hosseinkhah was also ordered to return to the Revolutionary Courts for more interrogation today, Sunday November 18, 2007 at 9:00am. After arriving at Court today, an order of arrest of issued for Ms. Hosseinkhah, and to our disbelief she was arrested and transferred to Evin Prison at 2:00pm.

The arrest of Maryam Hosseinkhah marks the continuation of increased harassment of women's rights activists, especially members of the Campaign, by the Security forces. To date, over 40 individuals have been arrested in relation to their peaceful activities in support of the Campaign. Currently two other members of the Campaign besides Maryam remain in prison. Ronak Safarzadeh and Hana Abdi were both arrested in Kurdistan after collection of signatures. They remain in prison and have had not had access to their families or lawyers.

... Payvand News - 11/28/07 ... --

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