Female activists in Iran continue to face state punishment and arrest for their peaceful demonstrations, which protest discriminatory laws against women under the Iranian theocracy and the killing or jailing of fellow activists. The Mourning Mothers group, thirty-three of whom were arrested Monday during a protest in Tehran, was formed after the death of Neda Agha-Soltan, a 26-year-old Iranian woman who was shot and killed last June on the outskirts of another anti-government protest. Agha-Soltan's death was caught on a video tape seen throughout Iran and around the world, making her the much-mourned face of all those killed in protest against the Iranian state (this number is uncertain--according to the New York Times, ten to nineteen deaths have been officially reported within the country, and outside estimates are much higher).
The Mourning Mothers are only the latest women to be jailed in an effort to silence dissenting voices, and indeed the group is made up of mothers of other protesters who have been arrested, killed, or are missing. Last month, the Ministry of Intelligence detained female journalist Morteza Kazemian, Noushin Ebadi, a professor of dentistry who is by all accounts uninvolved in protests but is the sister of Nobel laureate and human rights activist Shirin Ebadi, and Mansoureh Shojaee, one of the founders of the One Million Signatures campaign for womens' rights in Iran. The One Million Signatures campaign began in August of 2006 despite government blocking at its very inception, a grassroots initiative to collect one million signatures from Iranian citizens demanding an end to legalized discrimination against women.
You can join a letter-writing campaign and show your solidarity with Iranian female activists through the Feminist Majority website, and protest the imprisonment of the Mourning Mothers and other women in letters to the Iranian Head of the Judiciary, Secretary General of the U.N. Ban Ki-Moon, and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Photo Courtesy of the AFP