Women’s Rights Activist Arrested After Attending Workshop in Georgia
Twenty Others Who Attended Women’s Empowerment Workshop Also Questioned
Photographer and women’s right activist Alieh Matlabzadeh has been undergoing interrogation in Evin Prison since November 26 when Intelligence Ministry agents took her into custody without charge, her husband, Sadra Abdollahi, said in an interview with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
Matlabzadeh, who worked as photographer for a number of reformist publications, including the Zanan (Women) magazine before it was banned, is a member of the One Million Signatures for gender equality campaign and has actively protested against acid attacks on women. She also made a documentary titled, “Let’s Not Forget Victims of Violence Against Women in Society.”
“On October 18 , a day after Alieh returned from a trip [to the Republic of Georgia], a number of Intelligence Ministry agents forcibly entered our home at 10 o’clock at night and showed us a warrant to pursue and arrest anti-revolutionaries and members of Daesh (ISIS) but it didn’t say anything about searching the house. They searched everything until about 2 in the morning and confiscated personal items and documents. A few days later Alieh was summoned to the Intelligence Ministry and questioned for seven hours,” Abdollahi told the Campaign.
“They asked her about her trip to Georgia, where she attended a workshop for empowering women,” he added. “Is that a crime?”
In addition to Matlabzadeh, the Campaign has learned that 20 other women’s rights activists who participated in the same workshop in Georgia, have also been questioned by the Intelligence Ministry in recent days. Reza Khandan, the husband of human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, said on his Facebook page on November 26 that the arrests were “ongoing.”
Alieh wrote a letter to Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi complaining about the illegal search of her home. Two weeks later she received a call to appear at the ministry to pick up the confiscated belongings, except a photographic archive containing 30 years of her professional work, her husband said.
“On Saturday morning, November 26, we received another call that Alieh should appear at the Intelligence Ministry at 2:00 pm,” Abdollahi added. “Then four hours later she called for a short conversation to say she had been arrested at the ministry and taken to Evin Prison’s Ward 209.”
“Alieh is a supporter of [President Hassan Rouhani’s] government. She was very active during the election campaigns for president and parliament. It’s not right to treat a citizen like her in this way. These actions will live in infamy.”
Talebzadeh’s husband added that the charges against her were not clear.
“I asked about the charges against Alieh so that I could get her lawyer. But the authorities said the charges will become clear in 10 days, which means my wife has been arrested without being charged.”