Dozens of women still behind bars after taking off head covering


UPDATE 1130 GMT: The Supreme Leader has defended compulsory hijab as a necessity to prevent deviancy:

An Iranian woman who removed her headscarf on a Tehran street has been sentenced to two years in prison.

Tehran Prosecutor Abbas Jafari Doulatabadi said the woman was attempting to “encourage corruption through the removal of the hijab in public”.

The judiciary’s news agency did not identify the woman, but some reports named her as Narges Hosseini, 32, one of the women who arrested during the “Girls of Revolution Street” demonstrations that have spread from Tehran across Iran.

In the past, women accosted for “inappropriate” covering have been quickly released or sentenced to short prison terms and fined about $25. However, authorities have been unsettled by the protests in which women have stood on electrical junction boxes and waved their hijabs on the end of sticks.

See Iran Daily, March 1: “Zero Tolerance” for Women Protesting Hijab — Tehran Police Chief
Iran Daily: HRW — End Detentions of Women Protesting Hijab

Officials said last month that they had detained 29 women. They threatened a 10-year prison sentence for anyone who encouraged the protests.

Amnesty International has called on the authorities to “end the persecution of women who speak out against compulsory veiling, and abolish this discriminatory and humiliating practice”.

14 Women Arrested During Protest at Labor Ministry

On International Women’s Day, 14 women have been arrested during a peaceful protest in front of the Labor Ministry.

Security forces dispersed the demonstration, and reportedly also broke up gatherings elsewhere in Tehran. Witnesses spoke of a large security presence with vans and guards at key points.

Video has been posted of women singing a Song for Equality in the Tehran Metro.

Widow of Environmentalist Who Died in Prison Barred from Leaving Iran

Authorities have refused to allow Maryam Seyed Emami, the widow of a prominent academic and environmentalist who died in custody, to leave Iran.

Seyed Emami was held up at the airport as her sons boarded a flight for Canada.

Kavous Seyed Emami, professor of sociology at Imam Sadegh University and Managing Director of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation, was seized on January 24. His wife Maryam was notified on February 9 that he had died.

The family do not accept officials’ claims that Seyed Emami committed suicide and have defied warnings not to speak to the media.

See Iran Daily, Feb 14: Family — Officials Lied About Environmentalist’s Death in Custody

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland protested on Twitter:

Striking Steelworkers Freed From Prison

Eight striking steelworkers have been released from prison, amid ongoing protests over unpaid wages and mismanagement.

Nine workers were seized on March 1. One was freed two days later.

Almost 4,000 workers of the National Steel Industrial Group have been on strike for more than two weeks in Ahvaz in southwestern Iran. They have not been paid for three months, and are calling for the departure of the tycoon who owned the NSIG and of the Ahvaz Governor-General.

The Iran Free Trade Union described the detentions as “hostage taking” to force the steelworkers to end the strike without payment of overdue wages.

“The workers are expecting the employer to pay their rightful claims, and they have no work to do due to a lack of financial resources and the raw materials needed for production,” said labor official Ahmed Shajirati.

The head of the judiciary in Khuzestan Province, Farhad Afsharnia, said the protests “do not comply with the law”: “Our patience is limited, and if the protest assemblies persist, we have to deal with the other workers, as well.”

Amid a series of protests across Iran over pay and working conditions, the Supreme Leader has accused “enemies” of fomenting discord.