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Amnesty Sends Letter To Top Iran Judge For Detained Anti-Hijab Activists

Iranian women’s rights defenders Monireh Arabshahi (Center), Yasaman Aryani (Left) and Mojgan Keshavarz (Right) have been detained in Shahr-e Ray prison, outside Tehran, since April 2019.

The human rights global organization Amnesty International has sent a letter to Iran’s top judicial official demanding the release of three anti-hijab women activists detained since April.

The letter is addressed to Ebrahim Raeesi (Raisi), a conservative cleric appointed as head of the all-powerful judiciary earlier this year.

Amnesty says in the letter the women, Monireh Arabshahi, Yasaman Aryani and Mojgan Keshavar have been arrested arbitrarily with no access to lawyer. The arrest took place on April 10, after a video emerged in March, on international women’s day showing the activists without headscarf.

Since December 2017, a women’s movement of removing headscarves started in Iran, which became known as Girls of Revolution Street, when for the first time a young woman removed her hijab and hoisted it on a stick as a sing of protest in Tehran's Revolution Street..

There is no explicit law in Iran mandating hijab, but shortly after the 1979 revolution, the newly established Islamic government and its vigilante supporters began forcing women to follow a dress code.

Amnesty reports that the three women were taken a Revolutionary Court for an indictment hearing on June 26. The judge was reportedly abusive toward the defendants, telling them “You all appear to be addicts” and “I will make you all suffer”.

They were charged with “gathering and colluding to commit crimes against national security”, “spreading propaganda against the system” and “inciting and facilitating corruption and prostitution” through promoting “unveiling”, in connection to their campaigning against forced veiling laws, although that remains vague.