Journalist with Shargh newspaper
Acting against national security
Sudabeh Rakhsh works at the international desk of the reformist newspaper Shargh. She was arrested along with tens of others who had planned to attend a rally outside the Ministry of Labor and Welfare building in Tehran on the occasion of International Women’s Day. Ali Salem, her colleague at Shargh newspaper, was also arrested, and reportedly badly assaulted during his arrest.
Various women’s rights activists groups had called for the rally. They planned to read a statement of protest against gender inequality and discrimination against women, especially in the job market and education, against the violations of their social and human rights, and against forced hijab. The protesters were reportedly carrying signs that read “No to Gender Discrimination,” “Equal Pay for Women” and “Freedom, Equality and Gender Justice.”
But before the rally could start or the statement could be read out, police responded with force and violence. They arrested more than 80 people.
The majority of the protesters were released that night or the next day, but 14 women and five men were charged and detained. The women, including Sudabeh Rakhsh, were sent to Gharchak Prison in the outskirts of Tehran, and the men to the Greater Tehran Detention Center, known as Fashafuyeh Prison.
“Plainclothes officers riding motorbikes attacked the rally and started beating up the men,” one of the released women told IranWire. “Then they arrested people and put them in a van.”
She described in more detail what they went through. “I don’t know why they detained us,” she said. “First they took us to the police station at Gisha street and then to the station at Vozara Avenue. Some people were released there and then and some were released the day after. But on Friday [March 9], they took us to Evin Courthouse. There they read us our charges and afterward they transferred us to Gharchak.”
According to her, during the three days that they spent at Gharchak, they were not given enough water to drink and were kept in unhygienic conditions. “The water in Gharchak Prison is not fit for drinking,” she said. “To buy [bottled] water we needed a prison card, but the card takes a week to be issued. We were in need of clean underwear but, again, we could not buy any because we did not have cards.”
It was reported that several of the detainees were charged with activities against national security.
The 14 women arrested were released on March 12 and the five arrested men were released on March 17. All were released on bail, pending the court’s decision on whether to drop the charges or proceed with the prosecution. As often happens with the Islamic Republic’s judiciary, the cases might remain open and undecided indefinitely until the individuals are arrested again, for whatever reason, and the existing charges may then be added to new charges against them.
Updated: March 26, 2018
دهها نفر از جمله دو خبرنگار روزنامه شرق در تجمع روز جهانی زن در تهران بازداشت شدند, Radio Farda, March 8, 2018
“Iran Blocks Women's Day Gathering, Detains Participants,” Radio Farda, March 8, 2018
“Iran Arrests Women Protesting against Discriminatory Laws,” Radio Zamaneh, March 9, 2018
آزادی زنان معترض هشت مارس از زندان قرچک و ادامه بازداشت پنج فعال مرد در زندان تهران بزرگ, Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI), March 10, 2018
زنان و مردانی که روز جهانی زن در برابر وزارت کار بازداشت شدند, EuroNews, March 11, 2018
“Women’s Day Protesters Released from Gharchak Prison,” IranWire, March 14, 2018
مردان بازداشت شده در تجمع روز جهانی زن آزاد شدند, Radio Farhang, March 18, 2018