Committee of Human Rights Reporters – Mahdieh Golru, student’s rights, human rights and woman’s rights activist has been arrested.
On the morning of October 26th, Intelligence agents raided the home of Mahdieh Golru and arrested her. During the raid, her personal items such as her computer were confiscated. At the same time her place of work was raided and items were also confiscated at that location.
In all likelihood Mahdieh Golru’s arrest is related to her protest of the recent acid attacks against women in the city of Isfahan. In the past weeks, a number of women in Isfahan were targeted by assailants on motorcycles and doused on the face and body with acid. The attacks had a similar pattern with two men on a motorcycle; one threw acid as the other was driving. Per various reports the attacks caused severe injuries and some of the victims were disfigured or blinded. Witnesses indicated that the women seemed to be targeted because they were deemed as not conforming to the Islamic dress code.
The acid attacks coincided with the recent proposal of a new law protecting agents who were assigned to ensure the public upheld the Islamic dress code. This along with the initial refusal of the authorities to acknowledge the attacks or make efforts to find the assailants has enraged the public and sparked a new wave of protests in various cities in Iran. In the past days Golru was among thousands in the city of Tehran who gathered across the parliament building and shouted slogans demanding that the government protect the safety of women in public.
Government officials have warned the public and news agencies to not associate the attacks with “bad hijab.” The hardline cleric Ahmad Khatami said, “sites and newspapers who have accused the Islamic regime and the faithful must be prosecuted.” A few days ago, ISNA photojournalist Arya Jafari who had taken pictures of the protests that were published on Iranian news sites along with AFP, was arrested.
Yesterday following the past few days of protests, hundreds of security forces thwarted a gathering planned to demand government protection for women. Riot police and security forces carrying batons and shields told the protestors they had to disperse because they didn’t have a permit to hold a rally. A group of the protesters later came back with their faces covered but were chased away by baton wielding security forces. Government officials have dismissed the acid attacks as a random act perpetuated by sick individuals.
Mahdieh Golru is among a group of women’s rights activists who have been vocal about the atrocities of the acid attacks. She along with other women’s rights advocates had received suspicious and threatening phone calls in the past days.
Mahdieh Golru, women’s rights activist and member of the Right to Education Council, was first arrested in December 2009 during the time of mass unrest following the disputed presidential elections. In August 2010 Branch 54 of the Tehran Court of Appeals upheld her sentence of 2 years in prison on the charges of “propaganda against the regime,” and “gathering and collusion with intent to harm national security.” On May 19, 2012, after spending 30 months behind bars, she was released. Student’s rights activist Mahdieh Golru is a “starred” student who despite her efforts has been banned from continuing her education.
On October 22, Mahdieh Golru in her last Facebook post before her arrest today, wrote of her experience before her 2009 arrest, during an altercation with security forces at her university; she was taunted and told she deserved to have acid thrown on her face.
In her post she wrote, “I am a woman. I am an Iranian woman who is afraid and is always worried.” She ended, “I am a woman, and these days, my womanhood scares me.”