Two independent United Nations experts on human rights issues today (27 November 2008) voiced deep concern over the Iranian Government's increasingly severe crackdown on advocates of the rights of women in recent years.
Defenders of the rights of women are facing a progressively difficult situation, including harassment and intimidation in the course of their non-violent activities, the two UN Special Rapporteurs said in a joint statement.
"Peaceful demonstrators have been arrested, detained and persecuted with prison sentences having been imposed on many of them," said Margaret Sekaggya, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders and Yakin Ertürk, Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences.
Men and women involved in the One Million Signatures Demanding Changes to Discriminatory Laws campaign have been particularly targeted, according to the two experts.
The campaigners aim to collect one million signatures from Iranians demanding the revision and reform of current laws which discriminate against women, such as those regulating marriage practices, divorce, criminal acts, and inheritance rights.
"To date, 18 communications have been sent to the Iranian authorities concerning violations committed against over 70 human rights defenders involved in the campaign, and on 5 April 2007 a press release was issued on the situation," said Ms. Sekaggya and Ms. Ertürk.
"Until now, we have received only three responses from the Government," they added.
In their joint statement, the Rapporteurs urged the Government "to abide by its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women, and respect the rights of women's rights activists to freedom of association and peaceful assembly, and to freedom of opinion and expression".
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