Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Shadi Sadr: Activist, Journalist, and Human Rights Lawyer Arrested in Iran

The recent arrest of journalist, activist, and lawyer Shadi Sadr in Iran shows that the country still is not safe for anyone who decides to speak out against the government.

Amnesty International announced on Friday that Shadi Sadr was violently arrested amidst a wave of activist arrests made by Iranian officials in recent months. Sadr was walking along a busy road with a group of women on their way to morning prayers when men in street clothes dragged her into their car. She managed to escape--losing her headscarf and jacket in the struggle--but was recaptured and beaten with batons before being taken to an unknown location. No reason was given for the apparent arrest.

"In reality, Shadi Sadr has never endangered national security, unless the Iranian national security is inextricably based on the oppression of women," says Rochelle Terman who has worked with Sadr.

Sadr is a human rights lawyer who has done extensive work in women's rights. Until it was shut down by authorities, she ran a legal advice center for women named Raahi. She also founded the first website dedicated to the work of Iranian women's rights activists in Iran and is a member of Women's Field where she has worked on the "Stop Stoning Forever" campaign.

"This is the latest of a continuing series of high profile arrests of Iranians - students, journalists, intellectuals, political and civil society activists," said Malcolm Smart, Middle East Director for Amnesty International.

Since her illegal capture she has been held in Tehran's Evin prison and her home and office has been searched. Sadr, who has a husband and ten year old daughter, was arrested in 2007 among 33 other women brought in for conducting a peaceful protest of the unwarranted arrest of 5 other female activists.

Sadr's friend who was with her at the time of the arrest shares this account of the events:
"It was then one of the officials from the opposite side attacked her and was pulling onto her scarf. Shadi was resisting his force when the scarf came undone. Shadi again escaped. This time two other people appeared unexpectedly, one of them carrying a spiral baton. They took Shadi and beat her violently while she continued to resist them." You can read the full account on the Women's Field site here.

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