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Predicting Her Arrest, Reformist Activist Wrote Letters Criticizing Rouhani’s Failure to Protect Citizens

Hengameh Shahidi, a reformist - Hengameh Shahidi, a reformist senior member of the Etemad Melli (National Trust) opposition party, has decried her arrest as part of a crackdown by hardliners on reformists ahead of Iran's upcoming presidential election. In two open letters, she also criticized President Hassan Rouhani, who will be running for re-election on May 19, 2017, for failing to protect citizen's rights.

Report Released by UN Special Rapporteur on Women’s Rights to International Women’s Day

Reportthemediaexpress -Iran is drawing international attention for its human rights violations, but as International Women's Day this week, attention is being given to the lack of rights for women in Iran. The Iranian government accepted 27 of 60 recommendations regarding the rights of women in its 2014 UPR review. These included recommendations regarding gender discrimination, early marriage, access to health and education, political and economic participation, and domestic violence.


IRAN: UK-IRANIAN CHARITY WORKER NEEDS MEDICAL CARE: NAZANIN ZAGHARI-RATCLIFFEAmnesty - British-Iranian charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is suffering with severe arm, neck and back pain and needs urgent hospitalization. An appeal court has upheld her five-year prison sentence for the charge of "membership of an illegal group" in connection with her work with the BBC and Thompson Reuters Foundation.

Iran Bans Teen Chess Siblings Over Head Scarf, Match Against Israeli

RFL/RE - Iranian chess officials have barred two teen siblings from domestic chess tournaments and the national team for crossing some of the religious establishment's so-called red lines at an international chess event.

Borna (L) and Dorsa Derakhshani

The Iranian National Chess Team dismissed 18-year-old Dorsa Derakhshani for appearing at the Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival 2017, which ran from January 23 to February 2, without the Islamic head scarf that became compulsory in Iran after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Her 15-year-old brother, Borna Derakhshani, was banned for playing against an Israeli opponent at the same event.

Iran does not recognize the state of Israel and forbids Iranian athletes from competing against Israeli athletes at international sports events. Iranians in the past have cited injury or illness to avoid facing Israeli rivals.

Last year an Iranian refused to compete against an Israeli at a chess tournament in Switzerland in order to reject the existence of "the Zionist state" and to express support for the "oppressed people of Palestine," the semiofficial Mehr news agency reported.

The measures against the Derakhshanis were announced by the head of the Iranian Chess Federation, Mehrdad Pahlevanzadeh, on February 19.

graphic by Assad Bina Khahi

"As a first step, these two will be denied entry to all tournaments taking place in Iran, and, in the name of Iran, they will no longer be allowed the opportunity to be present on the national team," Pahlevanzadeh told the semiofficial Fars news agency.

Pahlevanzadeh said the pair had attended the Gibraltar event independently rather than representing Iran. "Anyone can participate in it," he said.

He suggested that the teens had hurt Iranian national interests.

"Unfortunately, what shouldn't have happened has happened. Our national interests have priority over everything," Pahlevanzadeh said. He added that there would be no "leniency" for those who trample on Iran's "ideals and principles."

"We're considering measures that will prevent similar incidents from taking place in future tournaments," he told Fars.

Borna Derakhshani reportedly lives in Iran. His sister studies in Spain.

The two have not reacted publicly to the ban.

Iran enforces a dress code that requires women to cover their hair with the Islamic head scarf, or hijab, through regular crackdowns. Female officials, athletes, and other national representatives are required to respect the hijab guideline while traveling abroad, too.

Last year Minoo Khaleghi, who was elected to the Iranian parliament, was barred from taking her legislative seat after reports that photos emerged on social media showing her without a head scarf during a trip to Europe and China.

About the author:

Golnaz Esfandiari is a senior correspondent with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. She can be reached at  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


The World of Women Under the Iranian Mullahs

themediaexpress -For women under the Iranian regime, equal rights stop at the door of their homes. This means that they don’t have the right to their money, to work or to their children. Everything is set up to keep them uneducated and isolated at home.

Debate over sterilizing homeless women addicts resurfaces in Iran

Debate over sterilizing homeless women addicts resurfaces in IranAl-monitor - Iran is in the grip of heated debate on whether homeless women who are addicted to drugs should be sterilized. The controversy began Dec. 27 after Shahrvand daily published images of homeless men and women sleeping in open graves in a cemetery near Shahriar, a small town in Tehran province. The story sent shockwaves across Iran and led to sharp exchanges between the administration of President Hassan Rouhani and its critics over the issues of poverty and corruption in Iranian society. Some officials called for sterilizing homeless women who are addicted to drugs as a solution, and there have been widely divergent reactions in Iran's political and public spheres.

Iran: Stoning writer rearrested as Revolutionary Guards block review of her conviction

Iran: Stoning writer rearrested as Revolutionary Guards block review of her convictionAmnesty  - Iranian human rights defender and writer Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee, sentenced to six years in prison for writing a story about the cruel practice of stoning, was rearrested on Sunday and the judicial review of her conviction is being illegally blocked, said Amnesty International today.

Iranian Women Arrested for Riding Motorcycle; Video Fuels Backlash

VOA - Iranian police have arrested two women for riding a motorcycle in a western city - an incident that went viral when images appeared online and sparked a social-media backlash against the country's political and religious authorities.

Two Iranian women riding a motorcycle in Dezful.
(source: video posted on Iranian investigative journalist Masih Alinejad's Facebook)

State news agency IRNA said the two women were detained Sunday in Dezful, whose law enforcement chief, Ali Elhami, accused them of committing an "ugly" act that breaks the "religious norms" of the conservative Islamic-led nation.

IRNA quoted Elhami as saying he ordered the women's arrest after online images of the two women riding the motorcycle and being surrounded by male onlookers at a local park prompted complaints about the women's dress, appearance and interaction with the men. The women, who were not identified, were handed over to judicial authorities.

Women in Iran are barred from obtaining licenses to drive motorcycles in public.

Read article published by Iranian daily Shargh:
"Iranian law doesn't ban women from riding motorcycles"

Iranian investigative journalist Masih Alinejad, who hosts VOA Persian's TV program Tablet, shared images of the incident on her Facebook page and her Instagram account./p>

The 34-second video, apparently filmed by a witness with a mobile phone, shows two women riding a motorcycle on a street with a group of male motorcyclists riding behind them, while onlookers yell and whistle. After a few seconds, the video shows the women standing in the midst of a group of male motorcyclists who gesture at them and hold up their phones to take pictures. The women walk away from the men and the video stops.

WWhat happened next is not clear from the posted video.

On Alinejad's Facebook page, some users criticized the male onlookers for shameful and harassing behavior. Others criticized the arrest of the female motorcyclists as part of what they see as Iran's oppression of women.

August 2016

Iran does not ban all women from motorcycle riding. Off-road motorcycle racer Behnaz Shafiei was among a group of women granted official permission to practice on off-road circuits in 2015. In March of that year, Iranian newspaper Jamejam published photos of her practicing. At the time, she also told The Guardian newspaper that she hoped to be allowed to compete in motocross competitions.

VOA's Persian service contributed to this report.

About the author: Michael Lipin covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific.

Hardline Tehran Prosecutor Advocates Harsher Penalty for Mixed-Gender Parties - Tehran's hardline prosecutor general has announced that people caught at mixed-gender parties, especially celebrity artists and athletes, along with those caught consuming alcohol, or participating in other "indecent" activities should face stiffer penalties.

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