More Than Two Months in Solitary Confinement for Protesting Exclusion of Women in Stadium
A young woman’s detention in solitary confinement continues after her June 30, 2014 arrest, following her earlier arrest and release outside a Tehran sports stadium when she tried to attend a volleyball game. Ghoncheh Ghavami’s lawyer, Mahmoud Alizadeh Tabatabaee, told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that he is unaware of his client’s charges despite the fact that Ghavami has been in solitary confinement at Evin Prison for more than two months and her “temporary detention” orders have been extended twice.
Ghoncheh Ghavami, 25, who holds dual citizenship from Iran and the United Kingdom, is a law graduate from SOAS, University of London. She returned to Iran in March 2014 upon completion of her studies. Ghavami was among a group of women who appeared outside Tehran’s Azadi Sports Stadium on June 25, to demand permission to attend the Iran-Italy volleyball game. Iranian authorities did not allow the women to attend the event. Ghavami and a group of other women were arrested and transferred to Tehran’s Vozara Complex. They were later released, after they signed a letter of recognizance and their personal belongings were confiscated.
When Ghavami appeared at the Vozara Complex on the morning of June 30 to claim her confiscated belongings, she was arrested without any explanation, and has since been kept inside a solitary cell at Evin Prison. According to Kaleme, following her June 30 arrest, agents appeared at her home and searched the premises.
“Unfortunately, I have not yet been allowed to visit with my client, and because she is still in the interrogation stage and no indictment has been issued, I don’t know her exact charges,” Tabatabaee told the Campaign. “I hope, according to the discussions I have had, that Ms. Ghavami is released on bail over the next few days. I am optimistic,” he added.
The Campaign has learned that Ghavami has been allowed to contact her family by phone a few times, and has been allowed one visit with them since her arrest. Judicial authorities have repeatedly promised her family that she would be released on bail, but she has remained in prison for more than 70 days.
Iranian police and security agents prevented women from attending any of the World League volleyball matches between Iran, Brazil, Italy, and Poland, held in June and July of this year. At the first game of the League on June 13, in which Iran played Brazil, Iranian women were prevented from entering the Azadi stadium in Tehran even as Brazilian women were allowed to attend and cheer their team. On June 20, 2014, during the Iran-Italy match, the police harassed, physically assaulted, and arrested several women who were attempting to enter the stadium and attend the game, including a female journalist who had gone to the stadium to report on the match.
Jila Baniyaghoub, a journalist present at that match, reported on her Facebook page that: “The stadium was full of anti-riot agents and police vehicles. A large number of police were in constant motion in the paths leading to the stadium and prevented women from gathering. This time their treatment of the women and their male supporters was more violent.” She noted that the police were also cracking down on the men who were accompanying the women. “Several times, the men who were supporting the women were beaten and insulted and several of them were arrested. They put some of the women inside the police vans and took them away,” Baniyaghoub reported.