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News: Women

Female Singers Sent to Jail as Women’s Rights Activist Goes on Hunger Strike in Iran

File photo- Female singers under most sever restrictions in Iran
Iran-Female singers sent to jail

Iran’s regime is once again cracking down on women in Iran. 

Six female singers were each sentenced to one year in prison for “unauthorized audiovisual activities, collaboration in making music and images, and airing them on anti-regime satellite networks,” the Women’s Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran reported on Friday.

The verdicts were handed down by the 36th branch of the Revision Court of Tehran Province.  

In May 2019, a female singer was prosecuted for solo singing during a tour of Abyaneh, a village in Isfahan Province, the state-run Fararu website reported on May 21, 2019. 

Separately, Tehran’s Guidance Ministry Court summoned Matin Sotoudeh, a cinema, television and theater actress, on October 16, 2019, over the way she had dressed during the screening ceremony of a movie. 

In August, the commander of Tehran’s State Security Force, Hossein Ashtari, declared that posting pictures of people wearing dresses not complying with the official dress code is a breach of law. He added, “It doesn’t matter who is breaking the norm; whether an artist, an actress or a celebrity, all of them will be dealt with accordingly,” the state-run ROKNA news agency reported on August 5, 2019. 

Women have always been banned from solo singing under the mullahs’ rule and were targets of censorship. In the early years of Khomeini’s rule, female singers were literally forced to stop their activities and go home, and many had to leave the country. Many others were forgotten and left alone without being able to make ends meet. Only a small number of female singers that chose to tolerate the regime’s repressive censorship, were allowed to perform before a female audience. 

Separately, Atefeh Rangriz, a graduate student of sociology and a labor activist, started a hunger strike in the notorious Qarchak Prison of Varamin on October 16, 2019, to protest her unjust treatment in prison. 

 

Atefeh Rangriz has been sentenced to 11 years and six months in prison and 74 lashesOn the first day of her hunger strike, she sent an open letter out of prison, stating: 

I was arrested on May 1, 2019, during the International Labor Day gathering. After four days, I could be freed on a 30-million-toman bail, but my release was prevented. 

For 28 days, I was being transferred back and forth between Qarchak and Evin prisons and interrogated. Although I had repeatedly told them in my answers that my activities had been completely legal, and I could not understand any of their questions, I finally faced charges which were utterly fake and fabricated… 

I have repeatedly objected to the illegal proceeding of my case, including the rejection of my bail bond, and the authorities’ failure to observe the principle of separation of prisoners’ categories. I have also protested in various ways the handing down of unfair sentences. This is a summary of the unlawful situation I have been through over the past 5 months and 13 days. Outside the prison, my family did not receive any response for their inquiries, neither did I from inside… 

Therefore, I have made a weapon from my body to stand up to the injustices we have and continue to experience. I hereby announce that I am going on a hunger strike to protest the five times illegal rejections of my bail bond, and also to protest the unfair sentences and my illegal detention in Qarchak Prison. 

I know it all too well that my life is not worth protecting those who are playing with it. I have decided to endure this suffering to break the suffocating silence that is effectively killing our civil society and our righteous cries. 

Hence, I conclude this letter with two words that have echoed throughout the history of oppressed people, “Either death or freedom.” 

Atefeh Rangriz, Qarchak Prison, October 16, 2019

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