In a joint statement, Margaret Sekaggya, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, and Yakin Erturk, Special Rapporteur on violence against women, said, "Over the past 2 years, women's rights defenders have faced an increasingly difficult situation and harassment in the course of their non-violent activities. ... Peaceful demonstrators have been arrested, detained, and persecuted, with prison sentences having been imposed on many of them."
Women and men involved in the One Million Signature campaign, a grass roots petition drive that seeks to educate Iranians about the country's discriminatory gender laws and collects signatures in support of their repeal, have been "particularly targeted." To date, said Ms. Sekaggya and Ms. Erturk, "Eighteen communications have been sent to the Iranian authorities concerning violations committed against over 70 human rights defenders involved in the campaign. ... Until now, we have received only 3 responses from the [Iranian] government."
The statement by the 2 UN Special Rapporteurs follows a report by UN General Secretary Ban Ki Moon critical of Iran's human rights abuses, including its treatment of peaceful women's rights advocates, and the passage of a UN General Assembly Third Committee draft resolution on the human rights situation in Iran.
In addition, a consortium of human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch, the International Federation for Human Rights, and the Asia Pacific Forum on Women and Development, has issued a statement calling on the government of Iran to end the regime's persecution of women's rights advocates and respect the rights of freedom of association and assembly that are enshrined and protected by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Iran has ratified.
The United States joins with this chorus of international voices and calls on the Iranian government to stop its abuse of Iranian human rights defenders, including women's rights advocates, who seek to exercise their universal rights and freedoms.