Arrest of Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi's Sister
Increased Intimidation, Political Violence, and Clampdowns on Iranian Human Rights Activists. Following increasing threats and harassment earlier in the year, Nobel laureate and women's rights advocate Shirin Ebadi has been unable to return to Iran since the June 2009 presidential election.
She has, however, remained vocal in her defense of human rights, and as a result, her 47-year old sister, Noushin--a professor of dentistry who is not engaged in any human rights work or political activity--was arrested in her home in Tehran by security officials on Monday, December 28. The previous week, Noushin Ebadi had been contacted by officials and ordered to tell her sister to stop her work.
This appalling attempt to silence an internationally-known activist by targeting an innocent family member comes in the midst of further escalation of violent crackdowns on protesters and opposition figures in Iran. Over a thousand people were reportedly arrested following protests during last Sunday's holy day of Ashura, and at least ten killed. This political unrest has become a smokescreen for a more comprehensive clampdown on human rights activists, especially students and women, who have been systematically targeted, harassed, and arrested. Among other prominent women's rights activists arrested recently is Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh, who was arrested along with rights activists Shiva Nazarahari and Kouhyar Goudarzi as they made their way to Qom to participate in the funeral ceremony of Ayatollah Montazeri on December 20. Mansoureh Shojaee, a women's rights activist and researcher who was instrumental in founding the One Million Signatures campaign, was arrested following a search of her home early this morning, December 29. Arrests of women's rights activists during recent months suggest that any semblance of procedural transparency has deteriorated. As such, we are gravely concerned for the safety of all human rights activists and their families in this climate charged with intense violence and political intimidation.