The tragic death of Sahar Khodayari who self-immolated in protest
to her six-month jail sentence for attempting to enter a sports stadium, has aroused widespread global outrage, and has been covered by the press and media around the world. It has once again focused global attention on the plight of Iranian women and violations of their rights in Iran.
The widespread global outrage included a statement by Amnesty International on September 12, 2019, in which AI wrote, “What happened to Sahar Khodayari is heart-breaking and exposes the impact of the Iranian authorities’ appalling contempt for women’s rights in the country. Her only ‘crime’ was being a woman in a country where women face discrimination that is entrenched in law and plays out in the most horrific ways imaginable in every area of their lives, even sports.”
Amnesty International also addressed the stadium ban on Iranian women, saying, “This discriminatory ban must end immediately and the international community, including football’s world governing body, FIFA, and the Asian Football Confederation, must take urgent action to end the ban and to ensure that women are allowed access to all sports stadiums without discrimination or risk of prosecution or punishment.”
It was reiterated in the statement, “Amnesty International believes that Sahar Khodayari would still be alive if it were not for this draconian ban and the subsequent trauma of her arrest, detention and prosecution for attempting to circumvent it. Her death must not be in vain. It must spur change in Iran if further tragedies are to be avoided in the future.”
The U.S. Department of State announced on September 12, 2019, “Death of blue girl, Sahar Khodayari, is another proof for the fact that the Iranian people are the greatest victims of the Islamic regime.”
On September 11, 2019, Reuters reported that following the self-immolation and death of Sahar Khodayari which led to widespread global outrage, authorities of the World Football Federation-FIFA are going to visit Iran.
A FIFA spokesman said the visit is expected to take place within the next two weeks with regards to the preparations for the World Cup qualifying games. However, they are going to check the preparations made by the Iranian Football Federation to provide access to that qualifying game for women.
In a statement issued on September 10, FIFA expressed its condolences and said it reiterated “our calls on the Iranian authorities to ensure the freedom and safety of any women engaged in this legitimate fight to end the stadium ban for women in Iran.”
A number of Iranian soccer players such as Ali Karimi have boycotted the stadiums. Iranian regime is the only regime in the world, that banns women from watching sports in stadiums.
Judiciary and security agencies are stepping up pressure on members of the Voice of Iranian Women Association. They are charged with “promoting corruption and prostitution”, “formation of the Iranian Women Association”, “association and collusion against national security”, and “propaganda against state.” They are either imprisoned in limbo, or are under increasing pressure by judiciary and security agencies. Akram Nasirian, Nahid Shaqaqi, Mahboubeh Farahzadi, Maryam Mohammadi, Esrin Derkaleh and Laila Hossienzadeh are a few of such women in prisons under pressure.
Akram Nasirian and Nahid Shaqaqi were summoned to the 2nd Branch of the Prosecutor’s Office of Evin, on September 4, 2019. Four days later, on September 8, when they reported in, they were told that their bail bond had increased. They were freed after they paid the bail. Mmes Nasirian and Shaqaqi had been arrested in April 2019 and detained for a month before being released on bail.
Mahboubeh Farahzadi, retired teacher and a member of the Voice of Iranian Women Association, was also summoned on September 3, 2019, to the Prosecutor’s Office of Evin, and was interrogated there for several hours on September 8, 2019.
Maryam Mohammadi, another member of the Voice of Iranian Women Association, was arrested on July 8, 2019, in the city of Garmsar and taken to solitary confinement in the Intelligence Ministry Ward 209 in Evin Prison. She was confined for a month in solitary and subsequently transferred to the Women’s Ward. Ms. Mohammadi was a political prisoner in the 80s. She was arrested in 1981 at the age of 14 and remained in detention until 1989. She has two daughters, 16 and 26 years old.
Members of Voice of Iranian Women Association under more pressure
Esrin Derkaleh, another member of the Voice of Iranian Women Association, has been in prison for more than 40 days. She was arrested on July 28, 2019, in Garmsar and taken to Ward 209 of Evin Prison. She was born in 1983 and has an 18-year-old child.
Mmes Mohammadi and Derkaleh are presently held in detention under undetermined status.
In another development on September 11, 2019, the lawyer of imprisoned student activist Leila Hosseinzadeh announced that a new charge has been levelled against his client.
Leila Hosseinzadeh is the secretary of the student central council of Tehran University who is presently imprisoned in Evin Prison
Leila Hosseinzadeh is the secretary of the student central council of Tehran University who is presently imprisoned in Evin Prison. Her new charge is participating in the birthday ceremony of another imprisoned student in January 2019 outside the Industrial Sharif University of Tehran. Leila Hosseinzadeh was sentenced to 30 months of prison on June 24, 2019, for “association and collusion against national security” and to another one year in prison for “propaganda against the state.” She will be banned from leaving the country for two years after completing her sentence.