September 9, 2020
Police arrested an outspoken Iranian women’s rights activist in Turkey on Monday, and may deport her to Iran, where she may potentially could face torture, prison and even the death penalty.
Maryam Shariatmadari is one of the Iranian women who courageously defied compulsory Hijab in the Twelver-Shi’ite clergy-dominated country.
The anti-compulsory hijab movement, called “the Girls of Revolution Street,” started after a woman took off her headscarf in central Tehran.
In a video on Instagram, Shariatmadari said that her name is registered with the Turkish Immigration Office, and that local officials do not pay any attention to the issue and “do not even check their computers.”
Iran’s judiciary has charged Shariatmadari with “encouraging corruption by discarding her hijab in public,” and sentenced her to one year in prison.
Radio Farda’s Hannah Kaviani spoke to Maryam Shariatmadari spoke about the uncertain situation she faced on Monday in Turkey.
Shariatmadari told Radio Farda that, “if there was no support last night, I would have been forced to sign the deportation letter, and my fate would have been unclear.”
The strong reaction of Iranian and Turkish activists yesterday lead to her release, she said, adding, ” I want to emphasize that this support always has a positive impact, maybe it’s one case out of hundred that it might have a negative impact, but it’s really worth the try for the other 99 percent.”
Shariatmadari also described her precarious situation, saying, “I am not in the condition to go back to Iran. There are very few, almost none, countries which would host refugees. and for other countries I would need a visa, so me and people like me have very limited options.”
On a cold day on December 27, 2017, Vida Movahed, a 31-year-old mother of one dressed in black, stepped up to electricity box in a busy road, Enqelab (Revolution) Street in Tehran. She courageously removed her headscarf, tied it to the tip of a stick, and silently waved it in the air, until the security forces rushed in and took her away.
Movahed’s image and bravery inspired dozens of Iranian women to join her and protest the Hijab forced on them since the downfall of the pro-West monarch and the Islamic Republic’s establishment in 1979.
Movahed’s move gained widespread popularity as dozens of Iranian women across the country followed in her footsteps, with Iran’s following anti-compulsory-hijab protest movement was quickly given a catchy new name, “Girls of Revolution Street.”
Shariatmadari was one of them.
The United States-based Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) reported in 2018 that a Tehran criminal court sentenced Shariatmadari to a year in prison for her protest, including “encouraging corruption by removing her hijab.”
Nasrin Sotoudeh, an Iranian lawyer and human rights defender currently behind bars for her human rights work, represented Shariatmadari in court. Sotoudeh told Deutsche Welle’s Persian service that Iranian authorities released Shariatmadari hours after she received a beating, before she was detained again when her computer was confiscated as well as more of her belongings.
A computer science student at Amir Kabir University in Tehran, Shariatmadari was arrested by Iranian security forces when she took off her headscarf in Tehran’s Enqelab (Revolution) street. A police officer pushed Movahed off a utility platform from which she was waving her Hijab in defiance of the Islamic Republic’s gender apartheid system.
Shariatmadari managed to escape the country in January 2018 after being released on bail.
In an Instagram Live live broadcast on Monday, Shariatmadari disclosed that Turkish police had detained her and several others “for no reason” to “victimize and deport them.”
Turkish police have repeatedly deported Iranian asylum seekers to Iran, raising concerns about their safety.