The One Million Signatures Campaign is a grassroots movement aimed at gathering signatures from one million Iranian nationals and calling for an end to the legalized discrimination against women that currently exists in Iranian law. Activists, many of whom are young women, gather signatures in the street and promote equal rights in meetings and rallies. The authorities have repeatedly broken up such events, and closed down publications and websites that have publicized and supported its goals. Activists have been detained and even prosecuted on charges of “endangering state security” for collecting signatures. Despite sustained repression, support for the campaign continues to spread throughout the diverse geographic regions of Iran and across all social classes.
Timeline of events:
June 12, 2006
Demonstrators gathered at the Haft Tir Square in Tehran to raise awareness about gender discrimination in Iran. The peaceful demonstration was violently disrupted by the authorities; 42 women and 28 men were arrested and charged with “participation in an illegal assembly.”
Prior to the June 12 demonstration, Iranian judiciary summoned and interrogated several women’s rights activists: Noushin Ahmadi Khorasani, Parvin Ardalan, Sussan Tahmasebi, Zohreh Arzani, and Fariba Davoodi Mohajer. Fariba Davoodi Mohajer was interrogated for 10 hours by the judiciary agents.
June 19, 2006
Of the 70 protestors arrested during the June 12 demonstration, only Ali Akbar Mousavi Khoini, a former member of the parliament, remained in custody. He was detained for over four months and tortured.
Delaram Ali and other injured demonstrators filed a complaint against the police for brutally beating demonstrators during the June 12, 2006 demonstration. In October of 2007, a court dismissed all charges against the police officers present at the demonstration.
Campaign to collect 1 million signatures is commenced calling for an end to discrimination of women in Iran.
Aug. 27, 2006
The official launch of the One Million Signature Campaign is blocked by the authorities; however, activists continued to collect signatures.
January 5, 2007
Jila Baniyaghoob was charged for “acting against national security by participating in an illegal gathering,” due to her presence at the June 12, 2006 demonstration. The presiding judge subsequently dropped charges.
Nasim Sarabandi and Fatemeh Dehdashti were arrested while collecting signatures on the metro in Tehran. They were sentenced on August 12, 2007 to six months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years.
30,000 women have signed the petition since the official Campaign kickoff in August of 2006.
March 4, 2007
26 prominent women’s rights activists were arrested during a gathering marking the International Women’s Day. Two days later, the women started a hunger strike while Shahla Entesari was being held in solitary confinement.
March 4, 2007
33 women were arrested during a silent protest in front of the Islamic Revolutionary Court in Tehran where four women were prosecuted for their involvement with the June 12, 2006 demonstration. Following international pressure, all of the women were released, the last two on March 19, 2007.
March 6, 2007
Eight youngest detainees arrested on March 4, 2007 were released without being charged.
April 11, 2007
Azadeh Forghani was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment for “acting against national security by participating in an illegal gathering.”
April 15, 2007
Mahboubeh Hosseinzadeh and Nahid Keshavarz, two women’s rights activists, were released out of prison following a two week incarceration. However, additional 11 activists were summoned by the Revolutionary Court and charged with “violating national security,” “publicity against the Islamic Republic,” and “participating in an unauthorized demonstration.”
April 18, 2007
Fariba Davoodi Mohajer and Sussan Tahmasebi were sentenced on April 18 to four years’ imprisonment for “collusion and assembly to endanger the national security” and “acting against national security,” respectively. The courts have suspended three years of Davoodi Mohajer’s sentence, leaving her to serve one year in prison. Sussan Tahmasebi’s sentence has been shortened from two years to six months. Presently, both women are free on bail pending court appeals.
April 23, 2007
Two more women’s activists were sentenced to prison, reportedly charged with “gathering and colluding to disturb national security,” “disturbing public order” and “disobeying the orders of officials.”
April 24, 2007
Noushin Ahmadi Khorasani, Shahla Entesari, and Parvin Ardalan were sentenced to three years’ imprisonment for “collusion and assembly to endanger the national security.” The courts have suspended two-and-a-half years of each sentence, leaving all three to serve six months in prison.
May 14, 2007
Activists protested the arrest of Zeinab Peyghambarzadeh, a women’s rights activist, journalist and student leader, who was arrested on May 7, 2007.
Delaram Ali was sentenced to 34 months imprisonment and 10 lashes on charges of “participating in an illegal gathering,” “propaganda against the system,” and “disrupting public order and peace.” Due to domestic and international outcry, her sentence was temporarily stayed by the Head of Judiciary on November 10, 2007.
July 11, 2007
Amir Yaghoub-Ali, a 20-year old student, was arrested and held for a month for collecting signatures as part of the One Million Signature Campaign.
August 27, 2007
The One Million Signature Campaign celebrated its first anniversary.
Due to his presence at the June 12, 2006 demonstration, Bahman Ahmadi Amou’I, a journalist, was sentenced to six months’ prison term, suspended for two years.
September 15, 2007
Reza Dowlatshah and 24 other people were arrested during a raid on his home where he was hosting an educational workshop for the One Million Signature Campaign. He was beaten, held for three days, and finally released.
November 18, 2007
Maryam Hosseinkhah was arrested for her involvement with the Campaign’s website. She was released on January 2, 2008 along with Jelveh Javaheri, who had been arrested on December 1, 2007. Both women were released on bail in the form of a bank check guarantee in the amount of approximately $5,500.
As of January 2008, the One Million Signature Campaign’s website had been blocked by the authorities at least seven times. Official permission to hold public meetings has frequently been denied.
Zanan, Iran’s premier women’s magazine, was shut down by Iranian authorities. President Ahmadinejad said that Zanan showed Iranian women in a “black light” and was a threat to the psychological well being of Iranian society.
February 14, 2008
Raheleh Asgarizadeh and Nasim Khosravi were arrested and charged with “propaganda against the state” for collecting signatures at Daneshjoo Park, following a street play about polygamy, which was performed as part of the International Fajr film festival. They were initially detained at Vozara Detention Center, with bail set at $22,222, which they were not able to pay. They were then transferred to Evin prison’s public ward, and after 13 days in captivity, the bail was reduced to $11,000 and they were released on February 26, 2008 on a third party guaranty.
February 20, 2008
Ehteram Shadfar, a member of the Mothers Committee of the One Million Signatures Campaign, is sentenced to 6 months suspended prison term for collecting signatures.
February 24, 2008
The One Million Signature Campaign was launched a year and a half ago. Since the launch, the cost of pushing this social movement forward has been the issuance of temporary detention warrants for 43 Campaign activists (ranging from one day to five months), and the issuance of suspended prison sentences (a total of 18 months). Acts of harassment and persecution happen during signature collection in public, following educational workshops, after small or large gatherings in Tehran and the provinces, and sometimes due to dissemination of news about the Campaign through its website.
March 3, 2008
Journalist and campaign organizer Parvin Ardalan is removed from a flight at Tehran International Airport, just as she is about to travel to Stockholm, Sweden to be awarded the 2007 Olaf Palme Prize for her work on gender equality. The authorities seized her passport and served her with a summons to appear in court.
April 19, 2008
The Sixteenth branch of the Revolutionary Courts issued a suspended sentence of two years in the case of Zeinab Peyghambarzadeh, who was among the March 4, 2007 arrestees. Peyghambarzadeh was found guilty of illegal gathering and collusion intended to disrupt national security.
April 23, 2008
The Thirteenth Branch of the Revolutionary Courts issued a suspended sentence of 6 months and 10 lashings in the case of Nahid Jafari, women’s rights activist and member of the One Million Signatures Campaign, also among the 33 women arrested on March 4, 2007. Jafari was found guilty of illegal gathering and collusion intended to disrupt national security. During her arrest, Jafari was beaten, and lodged a complaint against arresting officers, for excessive use of force. Jafari, along with her lawyer, Zohreh Arzani, intends to appeal her sentence.
April 30, 2008
The Thirteenth Branch of the Revolutionary Courts issued a 3 year suspended sentence of 6 months and 10 lashings in the case of Rezvan Moghaddam, another of the March 4 arrestees and active member of the One Million Signatures Campaign. Moghaddam was found guilty of illegal gathering and collusion intended to disrupt national security. She intends to appeal the sentence, which is suspended for the period of 3 years.
May 13, 2008
Maryam Hosseinkhah, woman’s rights activist and a founding member the Campaign was summoned to the Revolutionary Courts. Hosseinkhah, who had also participated in the March 4, 2007 protest, was initially to appear before the courts in November of 2007. At the time, however, she could not appear in court, as she was being held on security charges related to her activities with the Campaign’s website, Change for Equality, as well as the site Zanestan (the webzine of the Women’s Cultural Center).
May 17, 2008
Jelveh Javaheri, women’s rights activist and member of the Campaign, who had previously been arrested on December 1, 2007 and spent a month in prison before her release on bail, was summoned by the 13th branch of the Revolutionary Courts. Her trial is scheduled for August 2, 2008.
May 25, 2008
The Tehran Revolutionary Court sentences Amir Yaghoub-Ali, a student and a member of the One Million Signatures Petition Campaign, to one year of imprisonment for “endangering national security”. Mr. Amir Yaghoub-Ali had been arrested on July 11, 2007 as he was collecting signatures for the Campaign in a park. On July 15, he had been transferred to the Section 209 of Evin Prison, in Tehran. He remained in custody for 29 days and was then freed on bail on August 8, 2007. Eleven charges were pending against him, though no information has been obtained on the other charges. Mr. Yaghoub-Ali intends to appeal this decision.
May 26, 2008
Activist Mahboubeh Hosseinzadeh was summoned to court for trial on May 26, 2008. Hosseinzadeh was arrested on March 4, 2007 along with 32 other women’s rights activists, during a protest held before the Revolutionary Courts. Both Hosseinzadeh and her lawyer, Abdulfateh Soltani appeared in court on May 26 for the scheduled trial, but the trial was rescheduled due to the fact that the prosecutor was unable to appear in court. A court date in relation to this case has been scheduled for Hosseinzadeh for Tuesday July 1, 2008.
June 12, 2008
Women’s rights activists plan to commemorate the second anniversary of the June 12 2006 demonstration. The gathering is threatened by security forces and 9 women who had arrived at the event anyway were arrested. The women, Nafiseh Azad, Jila Baniyaghoob, Alieh Eghdamdoost, Farideh Ghaeb, Jelveh Javaheri, Sarah Loghmani, Nahid Mirhaj, Aida Saadat, and Nasrin Sotoudeh, were taken to the Vozara Detention Center, and released 8 hours later, after third parties signed for their release.
June 13, 2008
Mahboubeh Karami, a member of the Campaign was arrested in Tehran, near Mellat Park.
June 18, 2008
Judge Tayari in Branch 2 of the Revolutionary Court in Sanandaj sentences Hana Abdi, a 21 year-old student and women’s rights activist to a prison term of five years in exile in West Azerbaijan province, on charges of “gathering and colluding to threaten national security” under article 610 of the Islamic Penal Code. According to Abdi’s lawyer, Mohammad Sharif, Abdi who had been in prison since around November 4, 2007, was interrogated by Intelligence Ministry officials during her incarceration. Abdi spent two months of her imprisonment in solitary confinement. Sharif was refused access to his client during the interrogation process, which formed the basis of her conviction. Abdi’s attorney plans to appeal the decision.
June 25, 2008
Mahboubeh Karami informs her family, via telephone, that she has been transferred to the women’s ward of Evin Prison.
June 28, 2008
Campaign members Raheleh Asgarizadeh and Nasim Khosravi, have been summoned to the Revolutionary Courts. According to the summons they have to appear in the 13th branch of the Revolutionary Courts on the 20th of July, 2008. The two were arrested while collecting signatures on February 14, 2008, and have been released on bail since February 26, 2008. The July court date is in relation to charges pending against them since that arrest.
July 9, 2008
Zeinab Bayzeydi, a women’s rights activist and member of the Human Rights Organization of Kurdistan and active with the One Million Signatures Campaign in the city of Mahabad in Kurdistan Province is arrested. According to Bayzeydi’s family, Zeinab was first interrogated on Saturday July 5th for several hours, and was released. She was summoned again on July 9, and when she appeared, she was transferred to a detention center in Mahabad.
July 12, 2008
Two prominent human rights defenders, Nasrin Sotoudeh and Mansoureh Shojaee receive summons to appear within 3 days. Sotoodeh is an attorney who has represented many of the activists involved with the Signatures Campaign and has also been active on the issue of juvenile executions. Shojaee, a member of the Signatures Campaign, is also a member of a women’s cultural center and sits on the editorial board of the website “Feminist School.” Reportedly, the summons they have received does not provide any information on the charges against them. Human rights defender and Nobel peace prize recipient Shirin Ebadi will be representing the two women.
July 12, 2008
The attorney representing Mahboubeh Karami, Houshang Poorbaaba’i reports that he referred to Branch 2 of security courts and discovered that his client’s bail has been set at 100 million tomans (in excess of $100,000) – an amount her family is unable to pay. Karami, was arrested on June 13th and while detained in the women’s ward at Evin prison, participated in a hunger strike with 9 other detainees to protest their detention and detention conditions.
July 13, 2008
Bahareh Hedayat and Mohammad Hashemi, two members of a reformist student organization (the “Office to Foster Unity”) are arrested and taken to Evin prison. The two reportedly stand accused of having relationships with “illegal and anti-revolutionary groups outside the country.” In addition to being involved in the student movement, Hedayat had been among the activists put on trial for her participation in the June 12 2006 demonstration. In that case, she had been charged with “acting against national security, “disturbing public order,” and “propaganda against the state.” For her participation in the protest, Hedayat was sentenced to a two-year suspended sentence in effect for five years.
July 14, 2008
Nasrin Sotoudeh and Mansoureh Shojaee appear before the Revolutionary Court with their attorney, Shirin Ebadi. The two are charged with taking actions against Iran’s “national security” by having unauthorized relations with “Iranians outside the country.”
August 25, 2008
Campaign member Mahboubeh Karami is released from prison, after 70 days, by posting bail in the amount of $100,000.
August 29, 2008
Security forces arrest Solmaz Igdar, a regular contributor to the Association for Iranian Women website and women’s rights activist while she was attending a commemoration ceremony at Khavaran. The cemetery, situated southeast of Tehran, is said to be a mass grave containing the bodies of thousands of political prisoners executed by the Iranian authorities in 1988. Security and police forces disrupted the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the executions, arresting at least 17 participants. Igdar was detained for thirteen days before being released after her family posted bail.
September 3, 2008
Four Campaign members – Parvin Ardalan, Maryam Hosseinkhah, Jelveh Javaheri, and Nahid Keshavarz – are sentenced to mandatory six-month prison terms. The sentences, issued by the 13th branch of the Revolutionary Courts and based on Article 500 of the Islamic Penal Code, were in connection with the women’s writings on the Campaign website and Zanestan, the webzine of the Women’s Cultural Center. They are appealing the sentence.
September 6, 2008
Campaign member and journalist and editor of the site Association for Iranian Women, Jila Baniyaghoob appears in the investigative branch of the Revolutionary Court and is charged with disruption of public order and refusal to obey police orders. The charges are in connection with her arrest on June 12, 2008.
October 4, 2008
Women’s rights activist, journalist and Director of Azar Mehr, a women’s rights NGO in the Kurdistan province of Iran is arrested and detained in Section 209 of Evin prison. She was subsequently released on November 28, 2008 after posting bail in the amount of approximately $50,000.
October 7, 2008
An appeals court reduces the sentence of student and women’s rights activist from Kurdistan province, Hana Abdi, to one and a half years (from the five year sentence imposed in June 2008). Abdi was arrested in October 2007 and has been in prison since.
October 12, 2008
The Campaign website is blocked for the 16th time.
October 15, 2008
Campaign member Esha Momeni, a dual American-Iranian citizen, graduate student at California State University, Northridge conducting research for her Master’s thesis on the Iranian women’s movement, is arrested. Two individuals who identified themselves as traffic police pulled her over on the pretext that she had illegally passing another vehicle. Security officials also searched Momeni’s home and seized her computer and her films of interviews with Campaign members as part of her thesis project. Momeni was detained in Section 209 of Evin Prison, until her release on November 10, 2008. She tried to leave Iran to return to the U.S. and resume her studies, but has been prevented from traveling.
October 18, 2008
Two officers from the Gisha Police Station search the home of Campaign member Parastoo Alahyaari while she was is at work. The officers took her laptop, CDs, books, picture albums, and other Campaign materials, leaving a summons with Alahyaari’s mother. Later, security officials escorted Alahyaari to the Revolutionary Court, where she was interrogated by an investigative judge assigned to her case. The previous day Alahyaari and other Campaign members met in Laleh Park in Tehran, but had to disperse when police officers ordered them to do so.
October 26, 2008
Security officials at Imam Khomeini Airport confiscated the passport of Campaign co-founder Sussan Tahmasebi, and prevent her from traveling. The same day, Tahmasebi’s home is searched by five agents who seized her laptop computer, books, and other materials. This is the fourth time Tahmasebi has been prevented from traveling; despite repeated inquiries, she has yet to be given a reason for the travel ban. Three days later, Tahmasebi was interrogated for five hours at the security offices of the Revolutionary Court.
November 2, 2008
An appeals court sentences Campaign member Zeinab Peyghambarzadeh to a one-year prison term. The sentence, suspended for a period of 3 years, will require Peyghambarzadeh to report to the Intelligence Ministry every 4 months during this time. This sentence is in connection with her arrest on March 4, 2007 during a peaceful protest in support of women’s rights activists on trial, during which 32 other women’s rights activists were also arrested. Peyghambarzadeh is also the first Campaign member to have been arrested while collecting signatures.
December 3, 2008
Campaign member Parastoo Alahyaari is summoned to appear before the security office of the Revolutionary Court within three days. Alahyaari made an appearance with her attorney, and was interrogated for two and a half hours.
December 7, 2008
The Campaign website, Change for Equality, is blocked by judicial order, for the 18th time.
December 10, 2008
Attorney and prominent human rights defender Nasrin Sotoudeh, who has represented many Campaign members, is prevented from traveling to Italy, where she was to receive an international human rights prize.
December 21, 2008
Dozens of police officers and plainclothes security agents raid and shut down the Center for the Defense of Human Rights, an independent NGO founded by Nobel Prize Recipient and human rights defender Shirin Ebadi. The closure occurred on the day the Center was planning to hold an event marking the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
December 29, 2008
The private law office of Shirin Ebadi is stormed by 5 security officers identifying themselves as tax officials, and demanding to take two computers and other files. Tax officials had previously gone to Ebadi’s office to make inquiries regarding her income and tax payments, and Ebadi had cooperated with them. Nevertheless, the day following their visit, Mehr news agency announced that Ebadi had failed to pay taxes, a charge Ebadi refutes. During the December 29 raid, the agents demanded to take two computers and files. Citing confidentiality concerns, Ebadi refuses to surrender the files, but after hours, is forced to turn them over.
January 1, 2009
A mob of approximately 150 people demonstrate outside the home Shirin Ebadi. They chant slogans against her and vandalize her property. The demonstration follows the raid on Ebadi’s private office and the closure of her Center for the Defense of Human Rights.
January 9, 2009
The Campaign website is blocked for the 19th time.
January 11, 2009
Campaign member, Nahid Mirhaj, who is also active in the Mother’s Committee of the Campaign is summoned to court and charged in relation to her arrest on June 12, 2008. The charges against Mirhaj are spreading of “propaganda against the state,” “disruption of public order,” and “refusal to obey the orders of the police.” Mirhaj had been arrested with 8 other women on June 12, 2008. On that day, the second anniversary of the June 12, 2006 demonstration at which dozens of activists were arrested, a group of women’s rights activists were planning to hold a seminar commemorating the event. Their plans were canceled by security forces. However, Nahid Mirhaj and eight other women who had come to the event anyway were arrested as they were trying to inform participants about the cancellation of the event.
January 14, 2009
Security agents arrest Jinous Sobhani, former administrative assistant at Ebadi’s Center for the Defense of Human Rights, and the Organization. Sobhani had also worked at another organization founded by Ebadi established to create a project to clear landmines. When arrested, the agents also confiscated Sobhani’s address book, telephone and other work materials.
January 27, 2009
The trial of 4 Campaign members is held in the 34th branch of the Appeals court of Tehran Province. Parvin Ardalan, Jelveh Javaheri and Nahid Keshavarz along with their lawyer appeared in court to defend themselves against the charge of actions against national security through the spreading of propaganda. Maryam Hosseinkhah the fourth person accused in this case was unable to be present in court as she was traveling. The activists are facing charges related to their activities and writings in the site of Change for Equality and Zanestan the webzine of the Women’s Cultural Center. They are appealing a six-month mandatory prison term.
January 30, 2009
Three Campaign members, Nafiseh Azad, Bigard Ebrahimi and another person wishing to remain anonymous, are arrested for collecting signatures in the mountains of Tochal, north of Tehran. Initially detained in the local police station, they are later transferred to the Vozara Detention Center. Ebrahimi and the third person are released after several hours, while Azad remains in detention. Her home is violently searched by the authorities on February 3, 2009 and on February 5, 2009, she is released after posting bail of approximately $50,000.
January 31, 2009
Security agents come to the home of women’s rights activist Alieh Eghdamdoost and escorted her to the Revolutionary Courts. Eghdamdoost, who received a 3-year sentence for participating in the June 2006 demonstration, is detained in Evin Prison and begins to serve her sentence. She is the first participant in that demonstration whose prison sentence has been implemented.
February 4, 2009
Human rights defender Nasrin Sotoudeh is summoned to court in connection with her arrest on June 12, 2008, while attending a ceremony to commemorate the two-year anniversary of a women’s rights demonstration.