Iranian women’s rights activist Shadi Sadr beaten, arrested and disappeared

Posted on July 18, 2009


Escalation in arbitrary arrests and disappearances of individuals and human rights defenders

July 17, 2009

Shadi Sadr, a lawyer and prominent women’s rights activist working with the One Million Signatures Campaign, was arrested today by plain clothes security officers and taken to an undisclosed location. The men pulled her into a car as she walked along a busy road and beat her as she struggled to escape.

Ms. Sadr, a journalist, member of Meydaan (Women’s Field), director of Raahi (legal advice center for women), and founder of Zanan-e Iran (Women of Iran–the first website dedicated to the work of Iranian women’s rights activists), has written extensively about Iranian women and their legal rights.

Ms. Sadr’s violent arrest marks an escalation in attacks against human rights activists by the Iranian government since demonstrations protesting Iran’s disputed presidential election results. It follows the arrests and disappearances of numerous other human rights defenders, social justice activists, and journalists. Reports from inside Iran indicate that hundreds more protestors have been killed than government reports suggest. Many families are unable to locate their loved ones and are searching through hospitals, photographs of corpses, police stations, prisons, and inquiring at the Revolutionary Court.

WLP is gravely concerned for the safety of Shadi Sadr and women’s rights activists and citizens who have been peacefully speaking out for their basic rights. We are especially concerned about the mounting violence against women by state agents. The murder of 26 year old Neda Agha-Soltani during the initial wave of protests brought the world’s attention to the danger that innocent women are facing as they stand up for their civil rights. Now we have learned of the apparent murder of 28 year old Taraneh Mousavi after she was brutally attacked.

The recent political protests have brought on increased persecution of women’s rights activists, who have been regularly arrested and harassed since 2006 for peacefully advocating for their equal rights before the law. They have faced charges such as “acting against the national security of the state,” “propaganda against the state,” “disrupting public opinion” and, most recently, for membership in the One Million Signatures campaign itself. Many are serving suspended sentences, and face regular harassment and persecution by the government.

We call upon the women’s rights community and all human rights activists and organizations to speak out in defense of Shadi Sadr and all those who are being unjustly persecuted.

Please write to local and international media, mobilize your social networks, and urge your policy makers and embassies as well as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay to take action to protect the basic human rights of all those who are being abused and arrested in Iran.

The Honorable Ban Ki-Moon
Secretary General
760 United Nations Plaza
United Nations
New York, NY 10017
Web contact:

Ms. Navanethem Pillay
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
Palais des Nations
CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
Tel: +41-22-917-90-00
Fax: +41-22-917-9008 or +1-212-963-4097