Thursday, 12 June 2008 20:00 Reporters Without Borders Editorial Dept - Free Press

Iran: Reporters Without Borders condemns the government's continuing persecution of cyber-feminists - women who use online publications to defend their rights. Nine were arrested yesterday for organising a meeting in Tehran to commemorate a big demonstration they staged two years ago, on 12 June 2005. They were all released this morning.

"The authorities have tried yet again to intimidate women who are just demanding their rights," Reporters Without Borders said. "The way the government is hounding them, and keeping some of them under surveillance, is an indication of its fear of the scale of this movement."

Yesterday's meeting - to mark the second anniversary of the biggest feminist demonstration ever held in the capital - was banned in advance and security forces were stationed outside the auditorium where it was due to take place.

The nine women arrested included five online journalists: Jila Bani Yaghoub of the daily Sarmayeh and the Canon Zeman Irani ( website, Jelveh Javaheri of the Change for Equality ( website, who was already arrested at the end of 2007, Aida Saadat of the daily Etemad and Change for Equality, Farideh Ghayb of Canon Zeman Irani and Sara Loghmani of Canon Zeman Irani and Change for Equality. Their lawyer, Nasrine Satoudeh, was also arrested.

The police went to the home of Change for Equality editor Parvin Ardalan, who was given a two-year suspended prison sentence by a Tehran court on 2 May, but she was not there and they were unable to arrest her. The same morning, they also went to the home of Sussan Tahmassebi, who edits the English-language pages of Change for Equality.


Parvin Ardalan is a journalist and women's rights activist. She was an editor for the website Feminist Tribune and is a member of the Women's Cultural Center. She is also one of the most prominent activists of the Change for Equality Campaign, which aims to collect 1 million signatures in support of changing Iran's discriminatory laws against women. Prior to her current detention, Parvin Ardalan has been interrogated several times and detained as a result of her writings and activism on behalf of women's rights.

The 12 June 2005 demonstration on Tehran's Hafte Tir Square was organised by these women using the Internet. They also launched a campaign for "A million signatures to obtain the reform of laws that discriminate against women."

At least 14 websites that defend women's rights were blocked by the authorities last month. Some ISP representatives told Reporters Without Borders on condition of anonymity that they are now getting a list of sites to be banned every day. "This is not new, but the frequency of these lists indicate a significant reinforcement of online control," one source said. Iran is one of the world's most repressive countries towards bloggers and is on the Reporters Without Borders list of Internet Enemies. It was ranked 166th out of 169 countries in the latest Reporters Without Borders world press freedom index.

The 2008 annual report on press freedom in Iran

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