Archive for the ‘Human Rights’ Category

Sudanese police arrested dozens of women protesting last month against laws they say humiliate women after a video of a woman being flogged in public appeared on the Internet.

Floggings carried out under Islamic are almost a daily punishment in Sudan for crimes ranging from drinking alcohol to adultery.

But vague laws on women’s dress and behaviour are implemented inconsistently. One case sparked international furore when Lubna Hussein, a Sudanese U.N. official, invited journalists to her public flogging for wearing trousers.

The video, which was removed by YouTube, showed a crying Sudanese woman being lashed by two policemen in front of onlookers in a public place. She was made to kneel and the police laughed during the punishment.

“Humiliating your women is humiliating all your people,” the women shouted as they were being arrested on Tuesday.

Around 50 women sat down outside the justice ministry holding banners and surrounded by riot police telling them to move.

Three plain-clothed security men threw the BBC correspondent to the ground, confiscating his equipment.

All the women were arrested and taken to a nearby police station. Their lawyers were prevented from entering, but senior opposition politicians were allowed to go inside.

The women said they had tried to get permission for the protest but had been refused. The police declined to comment.

“The authorities here take the law into their own hands. No one knows what happens inside these police stations,” said one of their lawyers, Mona el-Tijani. “This video was just one example of what happens all the time.”

Sudan’s justice ministry said it would investigate whether the punishment was administered properly.

It was not clear what offence the woman being lashed had committed. Officials from the ruling National Congress Party offered conflicting explanations in the local press.

(this is a comment piece by Meredith Tax)

The International Criminal Court, the first permanent tribunal set up to prosecute individuals for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, opened its doors in 2002. Five years earlier, people in the global women’s movement had organised a women’s caucus for gender justice to bring about this happy event, and the existence of the ICC is in no small part the result of their concerted efforts. Some of the best feminist lawyers in the world, including the late Rhonda Copelon of the international women’s human rights law clinic of the City University of New York, worked on creating the court, and the Rome Statute – the treaty that established the court – made a qualitative leap forward by integrating gender-based violence into its definitions of international crimes. The statute had provisions to ensure that evidence would be gathered in a way that protected witnesses and did not cause additional trauma, gave the court authority to award reparations, and required the prosecutor to appoint advisors with legal expertise on sexual and gender violence.

Unfortunately, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the ICC’s first prosecutor, has shown little grasp of the statute he is supposed to be enforcing. He came to the court to implement a treaty unique in its attention to gender, and his first case ignored gender altogether. This case, in which Thomas Lubanga, a Congolese militia leader, is accused of drafting child soldiers, has already dragged on for four years. It has been almost thrown out of court twice because the prosecution evidence was so poorly prepared, and last year, Lubanga’s defence team charged that prosecution researchers in Congo got some witnesses to fabricate evidence. This charge could result in the whole case coming to nothing.

Equally serious was Moreno-Ocampo’s failure to include rape among the charges, even though young girls abducted by Lubanga’s troops were routinely forced to have sex with their commanders. Women’s human rights activists tried to persuade the prosecutor to include crimes of sexual violence among the charges, but he wouldn’t listen. Now, because Lubanga was not charged with rape, defence attorneys do not have to allow questions about those crimes.

The ICC’s second Congo case, that of Jean-Pierre Bemba, is flawed in a different way. The Rome Statute provides that rape can be charged as a crime in itself and also as a form of torture or genocide; such multiple charges were intended to capture the many dimensions and the full harmfulness of the act. However, in the Bemba case, the judge in the pre-trial chamber has refused to allow multiple charges of rape; she threw out the charge of torture, partly because the indictment was poorly drafted and the prosecutor’s office showed insufficient evidence.

All this underlines the importance of another provision of the Rome Statute, also violated by Moreno-Ocampo – the early appointment of high-level experts on gender as a permanent part of the prosecutor’s staff. Those who drafted the Rome Statute knew from experience that mainstreaming crimes against women was a new idea, and lawyers and judges would need to be trained for the work. But instead of appointing gender experts, integrating them into his staff and letting them shape cases, Moreno-Ocampo delayed any such appointment for six years.

Finally, in November, 2008, as criticism of him mounted, he appointed Catharine MacKinnon as special gender adviser – not a staff position, but a consulting one with no attendance requirement. It was a peculiar appointment in other ways. MacKinnon had not been directly involved in the process leading to the creation of the court and the mainstreaming of gender in the Rome Statute. Her main claim to fame in the US, where she is a polarising figure, has been in sexual harassment law, and through her activities during the “porn wars” of the eighties, when she sought to criminalise pornography as a violation of women’s civil rights. She carried her analysis of the centrality of porn into the Yugoslav wars, arguing, on dubious evidence, that Serbian militias in Bosnia were provided with special porn to psych them up for mass rapes.

At the ICC, it has begun to appear that MacKinnon’s main assignment is to blow smoke. In a speech in September 2009, she said ( pdf):

“The most striking quality of the pursuit of these [gender-based] crimes by the ICC to date has been that they are there: their centrality to every prosecution so far, in a way that clarifies how the sexual abuse becomes a specific instrumentality in each conflict.”

This is a whitewash of the way gender was neglected in the early years of the court, as evidenced in the Lubanga case.

When the modern human rights movement began, its normative victim was an eastern European male prisoner of conscience. In the nineties, women activists shone light on violations based on gender, and the definition of a human rights victim became broad enough to include sexual violence by both state and “non-state actors” – militias, paramilitary groups, religious fundamentalists, even fathers and brothers and husbands. The Rome Statute is one of the major markers on that road. But the “war on terror” has returned us, in many ways, to status quo ante: today, the normative human rights victim is once more a male prisoner, this time in Guantánamo; human rights offences by states are back at centre stage; and crimes against women and children are again being marginalised.

The ICC’s deficiencies are one symptom of this slippage in the progress of women’s human rights. The struggle between Gita Sahgal and Amnesty is another. We live in a world where the internal processes of human rights organisations, whether Amnesty or the ICC, lack transparency, and where discussions about them are increasingly confined to experts. While the context of women’s human rights work has been transformed by the “war on terror”, the rest of the human rights movement has not caught up, and the global women’s networks that existed in the nineties have become fatigued and lack funding.

At an international conference at McGill University in 1999, Rhonda Copelon observed that “human rights, like law itself, are not autonomous, but rise and fall based on the course and strength of peoples’ movements and the popular and political pressure and cultural change they generate.” We cannot allow ourselves to be pushed back to a narrow mid 20th-century vision of human rights, least of all in the ICC. Ocampo-Moreno’s term as prosecutor expires in 2012. It is time for activists to begin to mobilise, and lobby for a replacement who will have a better grasp of the gender provisions so meticulously written into the Rome Statute.

The promotion and protection of human rights has been a major preoccupation for the United Nations since 1945, when the Organization’s founding nations resolved that the horrors of The Second World War should never be allowed to recur.

Respect for human rights and human dignity “is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world”, the General Assembly declared three years later in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In 1950, all States and interested organizations were invited by the General Assembly to observe 10 December as Human Rights Day (resolution 423(V)).

The Day marks the anniversary of the Assembly’s adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. Over the years, a whole network of human rights instruments and mechanisms has been developed to ensure the primacy of human rights and to confront human rights violations wherever they occur.

Human Rights Day 2010 on 10 December recognizes the work of human rights defenders worldwide who act to end discrimination.

Acting alone or in groups within their communities, every day human rights defenders work to end discrimination by campaigning for equitable and effective laws, reporting and investigating human rights violations and supporting victims.

While some human rights defenders are internationally renowned, many remain anonymous and undertake their work often at great personal risk to themselves and their families.

More links and details at

This Report Card presents a first overview of inequalities in child well-being for 24 of the world’s richest countries. Three dimensions of inequality are examined: material well-being, education, and health. In each case and for each country, the question asked is ‘how far behind are children being allowed to fall?’

The report argues that children deserve the best possible start, that early experience can cast a long shadow, and that children are not to be held responsible for the circumstances into which they are born. In this sense the metric used – the degree of bottom-end inequality in child well-being – is a measure of the progress being made towards a fairer society. Bringing in data from the majority of OECD countries, the report attempts to show which of them are allowing children to fall behind by more than is necessary in education, health and material well-being (using the best performing countries as a minimum standard for what can be achieved).

In drawing attention to the depth of disparities revealed, and in summarizing what is known about the consequences, it argues that ‘falling behind’ is a critical issue not only for millions of individual children today but for the economic and social future of their nations tomorrow.

Download report in PDF:
• (pdf) Full text – Kb 1512
• (zip) Compressed – Kb 752

Ama Hemmah was allegedly tortured into confessing she was a witch, doused in kerosene and set alight. She suffered horrific burns and died the following day.

Belief in witchcraft is relatively common in Ghana but there was widespread revulsion at the killing.

Hemmah, from Tema, was allegedly attacked by a group of five people, one of whom is an evangelical pastor, Ghana’s Daily Graphic reported.

Three women and two men have been arrested. They are Nancy Nana Ama Akrofie, 46, photographer Samuel Ghunney, 50, Emelia Opoku, 37, Mary Sagoe, 52, and pastor Samuel Fletcher Sagoe, 55.

The suspects say the death was an accident and deny committing any crime. They claim they were trying to exorcise an evil spirit from the woman by rubbing anointing oil on her but it accidentally caught fire.

Newspaper pictures showing the woman’s injuries have caused anger in Ghana. The incident has been condemned by human rights and women’s activists.

Comfort Akosua Edu, of the country’s Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice, said: “The commission finds the action of the perpetrators of this atrocious crime as very barbaric and one that greatly dims the nation’s human rights record. That they came and met her in their room does not in any way warrant branding her as a notorious witch who deserved to be subjected to such an ordeal.”

She added: “It is very disheartening that some men of God, whose responsibility it is to help save lives, could orchestrate the killing of innocent souls, all in the name of God.”

Part of a longer article at

See also: Who killed Amma Hemmah?

Senegal: Reviewing implementation of UN WOMEN and Millennium Development Goals
“We are moving beyond simply asking for gender equality, that was then! we are now calling for technical and specialized skills to use effective tools in bringing the political will into reality across all sectors in terms of gender” A quote statement by HE Mrs Awa Ndiaye, Minister of State, for Gender and Relations with African Women Associations and Foreign. Dakar, Senegal, on Nov 30, 2010.

International: Structures of Violence: Defining Intersections of Militarism & VAW
On the occasion of the International Day of Women Human Rights Defenders on November 29 and the 10th anniversary of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325, the Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition (WHRD IC) critically reflects on Structures of Violence: Defining the Intersections of Militarism and Violence Against Women, the theme of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence for 2010. The experience of discrimination, intimidation and attack of women human rights defenders lies at the intersection of their gender identity and their position as dissenters in their societies, particularly when working on women’s or sexual rights.

Israel/Palestine: Coalition of Women for Peace Report “All-Out War: Israel Against Democracy”
CWP published a new report today, titled “All-Out War: Israel Against Democracy.” This comprehensive report documents the increasing political persecution of peace and human rights organizations and activists, and describes the connections between the assaults led by Israeli government officials, security forces, courts, journalists, and extreme-right organizations in this well-orchestrated offensive on democracy. The report was published in Hebrew, Arabic, Russian, and English. To download the full report (in English):

Iran: Unprecedented Death Sentence for Christian Pastor on Charge of Apostasy
The Supreme Court of Iran should immediately reverse the apostasy conviction and death sentence of Christian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani and release him from prison, theInternational Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said today. The judiciary should also release another pastor, Behrouz Sadegh-Khanjani, who faces a similar prosecution.

Bahrain: Targeting and harassment of human rights defenders
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses deep concern about the Bahraini authorities persistence in targeting and harassing human rights defenders, which was shown recently in the ill treatment inflicted upon the president of BCHR, Mr. Nabeel Rajab, through selective security measures practiced against him. Mr. Rajab was detained for about one hour by national security agents upon his departure to Greece through Bahrain National airport, after being threatened, his personal laptop and mobile phone were forcibly confiscated (in addition to the rest of the electronic devices that were in his possession), all files and information on these devices were copied, even family pictures and files related to his human rights work.

Malaysia: Sisters in Islam statement on reports of child marriage
Sisters in Islam (SIS) expresses its utmost concern over news reports of a 14-year-old child married off to an adult man in July this year. This only came to light when the child and the man who married her participated in a mass wedding celebration at the Federal Territory Mosque on 4th December 2010, where couples were given RM1,000 and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom was in attendance as guest of honour.

UK: Hate crime against Ahmadi Muslims
It’s not known exactly how many Ahmadis have settled in Britain – because many are too fearful to even admit they belong to the religion. They are a small, peaceful community who came here after fleeing persecution in Pakistan. But many Ahmadis are now living in fear for their lives – because they claim a campaign of hatred against them by other, extremist Muslims, is being exported from Pakistan onto the streets of the UK.

Aceh: Local Sharia Laws Violate Rights
Two local Sharia laws in Indonesia’s Aceh province violate rights and are often enforced abusively by public officials and even private individuals, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The country’s central government and the Aceh provincial government should take steps to repeal the two laws, Human Rights Watch said.

Afghanistan: Female prisoners not released in absence of male relative
Zarghoona* has completed her three-month sentence at a prison in Kandahar Province, southern Afghanistan, but she is not allowed home because no male relative has shown up to guarantee that she will not run away from home again. “All my family has abandoned me. I am dead for them but they [prison authorities] say they will only release me to a man from my family,” the woman told IRIN in a phone interview facilitated by an official who preferred anonymity.

Pakistan: Sherry Rehman submits bill seeking end to death penalty under existing blasphemy laws
Amid announcements by the religious forces in the country to resist any move to change the blasphemy laws, former information minister and Pakistan People’s Party MNA Sherry Rehman has submitted a bill to the National Assembly Secretariat seeking an end to the death penalty under the existing blasphemy laws.

More at

Abortion will be tackled anew by the National Human Rights Commission (Korea), putting the most ethically-controversial “fetus removal” issue under the spotlight once again.

The human rights watchdog will hold public hearings, discussions and conduct media monitoring next year before it decides whether or not to advise the government to revise a pertinent law which imprisons women who get abortions.

If so, the administration may have to revise its policy, which they believe will help address the low birthrate.

According to the commission, the decision was made in response to a petition filed by Korean Womenlink that the law violates the rights of women and their freedom of choice. Currently, except for several restricted circumstances, women who get an abortion are subject to up to one-year imprisonment or up to a 2 million won fine. Doctors who perform the practice are also subject to prosecution.

The petition reads, “The current law shows no understanding of the circumstances of women who are forced to abort. Penalization is the last thing a government should consider because it could drive women to receive the practice in the dark. The regulation violates not only the rights of women to choose but also the right to live a healthy life.”

The commission explained that the United Nations also advises governments with such laws to make a revision. “It is true that the law does not reflect the social, economic and individual conditions of a pregnant woman. Some women go abroad for the practice, which could risk their lives,” an official of the commission said. “On the other hand, we need to have discussions to look into the rights of a fetus to live. It is a tricky issue.”

Indeed, abortion is a difficult and thorny issue in Korea as in the rest of the world. In the latest report by gynecologists here, there were reportedly 342,233 cases of abortion in 2005 while the number of births stood at 476,000 in the same year. Some birth experts said the actual number of abortions could be double or treble the reported figure.

The administration, which has been extremely concerned about the falling birthrate, set out to regulate abortions. The regulation was part of its plan to boost the birthrate, which marked 1.18 in 2008, one of the lowest in the world. Some doctors joined in by revealing the names of gynecologists and the clinics performing the illegal practice.

But some experts refuted that the prohibition has adversely created a black market, allowing incompetent doctors to perform operations that could put women’s lives at risk and charge them rather inflated prices.

In a seminar held to discuss the possible legalization of abortion, Prof. Kim Hae-jung of Korea University said some countries with looser regulations such as Japan, Australia and Canada have a lower rate of abortion than Korea, meaning that legalization does not lead to an increase in abortion. “Education on contraception should also be included as a measure,” he said.

Female Prisoners Get Less Time Out of Cells; Family Visits Restricted

Syria’s prison authorities should immediately transfer women detained in the predominantly male `Adra prison to a facility for women, Human Rights Watch said last week. The authorities are holding at least 12 women among an estimated 7,000 men.

Syrian rights activists in touch with families of some of the detained women told Human Rights Watch that the women are held in a section of the prison under the control of Political Security, one of Syria’s multiple security agencies. They are only allowed out of their cell twice a week and family visits are subject to the approval of Political Security. Two female guards reportedly supervise the women directly, but male guards for the other prisoners have verbally harassed the women, the activists said. Male prisoners are allowed out of their cells for at least two hours twice a day and can receive weekly visits without Political Security review, male former prisoners told Human Rights Watch.

“We don’t know why Syria is keeping these women in `Adra prison, but we do know that their situation is precarious and they are being treated worse than their male counterparts,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.

The United Nations-issued Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners say that, “Men and women shall so far as possible be detained in separate institutions,” and, “No male member of the staff shall enter the part of the institution set aside for women unless accompanied by a woman officer.” Syria has prisons for women, including a main facility in Douma, located in the suburbs of Damascus. Human Rights Watch has not been able to determine why some women are in `Adra prison.

Among the women in `Adra is Tuhama Ma`ruf, 46, a dentist detained there since February 10, 2010, to serve the remaining part of a sentence issued by the Supreme State Security Court (SSSC) in 1995 for membership in the unlicensed Party for Communist Action (PCA). Syria’s security services detained Ma`ruf in 1992 as part of a crackdown against the PCA, which no longer exists. Authorities released her on bail in 1993, but the SSSC sentenced her in 1995 to six years for “membership in an illegal organization.” At the time, Human Rights Watch criticized the trials against PCA members for due process violations and for criminalizing peaceful political activity.

Ma`ruf did not turn herself in after the sentence was issued in 1995 and lived clandestinely for the next 15 years. Security forces arrested her on February 6 and placed her in `Adra to serve the remaining five years of the sentence. Ma`ruf’s lawyers petitioned for her freedom, arguing that her sentence should be commuted because of the passage of time, but the SSSC prosecutor’s office rejected her request.

“Ma`ruf was sentenced to prison solely for her peaceful political activism, which is protected under international human rights treaties that Syria has ratified,” Whitson said. “The authorities should release her.”

The Syrian activists said that other female detainees in `Adra whose identities they know include Yusra al-Hassan, detained since January without any formal accusation or judicial referral. Her husband is being held by the United States in Guantanamo. Other female detainees in `Adra reportedly include members of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) as well as women convicted on drug or prostitution-related charges.

We (Lakhdar Brahimi and Mary Robinson) have just visited the Gaza Strip where we met many courageous people trying to live relatively normal lives despite the crippling effects of the illegal Israeli blockade. The blockade was imposed to punish the Hamas-led government, but it is women and children who are paying the highest price.

In our conversations with a range of women, we learned that despite the apparent “easing” of restrictions by Israel and Egypt, important socio-economic indicators such as poverty, malnutrition, unemployment and family violence are getting worse. Women in this conservative society find their domestic responsibilities made all the more difficult and time-consuming by the blockade — and they bear the brunt of society’s frustration and anger in such trying times.

Equally disturbing are the creeping restrictions on women’s freedom imposed by Hamas activists. These restrictions are not being imposed through the introduction of laws, but rather through party-led initiatives that are enforced without any system of accountability. For example, there is no legal decree stating that all schoolgirls must wear a headscarf, yet those who don’t wear it are harassed. Women are punished if they smoke in public, while their male compatriots are allowed to do so. And at the beach, Gaza’s main source of fun and entertainment, women and men are strictly segregated.

The erosion of women’s freedoms is compounded by their lack of participation in politics. In Gaza, women already struggle to be heard. The absence of women from politics in turn fuels perceptions of women as passive; they are seen as victims of the ongoing conflict, rather than active participants in shaping opinions and political processes. Despite the extremely challenging circumstances in which they live, it was therefore encouraging to meet a remarkable group of women in Gaza who are working hard to counter prevailing stereotypes. They are doing it in particular through a UN mechanism called 1325.

Ten years ago, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 1325, which recognized that sustainable peace could not be achieved in any conflict without the full participation — and protection — of women. We were impressed to see that women’s groups in Gaza are working hard to mobilize support for the democratic principles of Resolution 1325. At the heart of this resolution is the conviction that women, like men, have a right to participate as decision-makers in all aspects of governance: Women have a right to a voice in institutions that are democratic and accountable, including those that govern peacemaking.

Women’s groups in Gaza told us that they are doing their best to raise awareness about Resolution 1325 among local leaders. They have provided training to women on the ground in how to exercise their political rights. They have documented human rights violations and violence against women, and they participated in the UN investigation, led by Judge Richard Goldstone, to establish whether war crimes were committed during the devastating Israeli attack on Gaza in December 2008/January 2009. However, they don’t feel that there has been any positive improvement in the lives of Gazan women.

Women activists are clamoring for help from beyond Gaza: “What we do ourselves is not enough”, they told us. “We need help to make sure that our voices are heard in the outside world.” These women are very keen to join networks worldwide who are working on Resolution 1325 and women’s rights more generally; They want to stand in solidarity with women around the world and feel that they are not alone. They want to reach out to the wider international community, but they are penned in — the blockade prevents them from doing so.

This is one, largely unrecognized, price of the blockade of Gaza: It is hampering women’s efforts to cooperate and build a movement that can effectively advance gender equality. The effect extends beyond politics; the disempowerment of women hinders post-conflict reconstruction, reduces the likelihood that it will be sustainable, and prevents any meaningful progress on development.

As Elders, we call for the immediate and complete lifting of the blockade on Gaza. The ongoing siege is a denial of dignity; it is the denial of rights of a people, particularly its women, who yearn to be free.

Lakhdar Brahimi and Mary Robinson are both members of The Elders. Mary Robinson was the first woman President of Ireland from 1990 to 1997 and United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights from 1997 to 2002. Lakhdar Brahimi is a distinguished diplomat and mediator. He was Foreign Minister of Algeria from 1991 to 1993 and has led UN missions in South Africa, Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Women’s League of Burma (WLB) warmly welcomes Daw Aung San Suu Kyi back into active political and public life and we hope to soon celebrate the reinstatement of her inalienable rights, especially her freedom of movement. Though her release brings us joy and hope, we also clearly recognize that this alone does not fully ensure democratic progress for the country unless all political prisoners are released unconditionally.

In 1990, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), won the country’s first election in decades by a landslide. The military regime did not honor the election result and she has been kept under house arrest for 15 of the last 20 years. Even while under house arrest, she has demonstrated unwavering and determined political leadership, provided inspiration and garnered respect from the people of Burma and democracy-loving people around the world. The recent expression of public support leading up to her release shows that although she was kept out of the publics’ eye, she is always in their hearts. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is a true role model of the kind of leadership Burma is desperately yearning for; someone who can facilitate trust building, cooperation, dialogue, and progress.

WLB calls for her release to be unconditional but final and her security must be guaranteed. Though her liberty rekindles hope, the SPDC must meet other essential benchmarks of democratic progress. She is one of many political prisoners, and one of millions of women in Burma struggling against military rule.

The recent election is a clear example that the military regime’s focus is to ensure power through all methods of manipulation and control, and this election must not be recognized. The military regime’s ongoing attacks against civilians, even in recent days, are a clear sign they do not mean to bring peace to the country and this is unallowable. We urged the SPDC to cease all hostilities and stop fighting in the ethnic areas. The international community must continue to firmly call for the release of all political prisoners, an end to crimes against humanity, and genuine national reconciliation with effective action until the SPDC response the calls.

WLB believes that all women in Burma will continue to face injustice and violence as long as the junta is holding on to power. Therefore, we urge all the people of Burma to work together and rise up using peaceful means to end the military dictatorship in Burma.

WLB honors Daw Aung San Suu Kyi for her tireless work in pursuit of democracy in Burma and will continue to work alongside her until our mutual aims are achieved.

For More Information:
Lway Aye Nang: + 6680 115 9598
Tin Tin Nyo: +66810322882
Thin Thin Aung: +91-9891252315

See also:
* Aung San Suu Kyi: Undiminished by years of house arrest – interview with BBC
* Video of BBC interview
* Aung San Suu Kyi calls for dialogue with Burma’s junta – Various videos via Guardian web site

* The victory of the junta-backed party in the Nov. 7 elections for Burma–which the military government calls Myanmar–comes as no surprise to Charm Tong.
It only reiterates the belief that she and many others hold that the polls were conducted to legitimize the military regime. That means the continuation of military rape and sexual violence in conflict-affected areas of eastern Burma that Tong has been trying to stop for more than 10 years.

Hundreds of supporters of Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi have gathered at the headquarters of her political party in Yangon after one of its leaders revealed an order for her release had been signed by the ruling junta.

About 300 people gathered at the headquarters of the National League for Democracy (NLD) as news of her possible release was made public.

Ms Suu Kyi’s house arrest officially ends on Saturday, but rumours have that she might be freed a day earlier have swept the city.

“My sources tell me that the release order has been signed,” said Tin Oo, vice chairman of the NLD party. “I hope she will be released.”

He did, however, not say when she would be freed or when the order had been signed, but her lawyer, Mr Nyan Win, believes her release is imminent.

He added: “There is no law to hold (Ms Suu Kyi) for another day. Her detention period expires on Saturday and she will be released.

Jailed or under house arrest for more than 15 of the last 21 years, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate has become a symbol for a struggle to rid the south-east Asian country of decades of military rule.

Her current detention began in May 2003 after her motorcade was ambushed in northern Burma by a government-backed mob. The detention period was extended in August this year when a court convicted her of briefly sheltering an American intruder who came to her house uninvited.

If she is released, Ms Suu Kyi, 65, plans to help her disbanded party probe allegations of election fraud, according Mr Nyan Win, who is also a spokesman for the party.

Meanwhile, state media announced on Thursday that the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party had secured a majority in both houses of parliament.

Sussan Tahmasebi, recipient of the Alison Des Forges Award for Extraordinary Activism for 2010, dedicated her award to the imprisoned lawyer and human rights defender Nasrin Sotoudeh and other detained women activists on November 10, 2010. Human Rights Watch is presenting the award to Tahmasebi for her courageous work to promote civil society and women’s rights in Iran.

Tahmasebi expressed her concern about Sotoudeh’s deteriorating health. Sotoudeh has been on a “dry” hunger strike since October 31, 2010, refusing to eat or drink anything to protest being held in solitary confinement since her arrest on September 4. Prosecutors charged Sotoudeh with various national security crimes, but have not made public any information regarding the basis for these charges.

“Nasrin Sotoudeh has dedicated her life to defending the rights of the accused, often at great risk to herself and her family,” Tahmasebi said. “Now she is behind bars, for no other reason than being unwilling to compromise with authorities when it comes to safeguarding her clients’ due process rights.”

Prison officials have prevented Sotoudeh from meeting with her husband and lawyer. Sotoudeh’s health is in serious decline and she is in critical need of emergency intervention, Tahmasebi said.

Since 2005, and especially since the disputed presidential election in June 2009, Iran has stepped up repressive measures against Iranian civil society activists, including those who advocate women’s rights and speak out against discriminatory laws. The government has arrested scores of volunteers and members of the One Million Signatures Campaign, a grass-roots campaign aimed at overturning discriminatory laws.

“Iranian women in prison today include human rights activists, lawyers, journalists, and students,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “What they have in common is their relentless pursuit of justice, at great risk to themselves, their families, and their reputations.”
Tahmasebi expressed particular concern about three other women sentenced to prison for their work:

* Bahareh Hedayat, the first secretary of the Women’s Commission of the Office to Foster Unity (Tahkim-e Vahdat), and the first – and so far only – woman elected to the national student organization’s central committee. Authorities arrested her on December 30, 2009, and charged her with various national security crimes, including “propaganda against the system,” “disturbing public order,” “participating in illegal gatherings,” and “insulting the president.” In May, Judge Moghiseh of Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court sentenced Hedayat to nine and a half years in prison in relation to her student and women’s rights activities. In July, an appeals court upheld the sentence. She has remained in prison since her arrest and is currently serving her term.

* Jila Baniyaghoub, an award-winning journalist and women’s rights activist. Security forces arrested her and her husband in their home on June 20, 2009. Prosecutors charged her with “propaganda against the regime” for her journalism and released her on bail after she spent two months in detention. Her husband, Bahman Ahmadi Amoui, is currently serving a five-year sentence on various national security charges related to his journalism. On June 8, a revolutionary court sentenced Baniyaghoub to a year in prison and barred her from working as a journalist for 30 years. In late October an appeals court affirmed the lower court’s ruling. She has not yet begun her sentence.

* Shiva Nazar Ahari, a human rights activist who worked with the Committee of Human Rights Reporters. Security forces arrested her on December 20, 2009, as she and several colleagues were preparing to take a bus to Qom to attend the funeral of Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, a dissident cleric who long criticized the government. Prosecutors charged her with “assembly and collusion to commit a crime,” “propaganda against the regime,” and moharebeh, a vaguely defined offense meaning “enmity against God” that carries the death penalty and is often reserved for people accused of belonging to an organization that takes up arms against the state. On September 18, a revolutionary court sentenced Ahari to six years in prison, to be served in Izeh prison, 500 miles from Tehran, her home town. Ahari’s lawyer has appealed.

Tahmasebi also referred to the situation of several other women activists and journalists who have been sentenced to prison terms. These women include:

* Aliyeh Eghdamdoust, a women’s rights activist serving a three-year sentence for national security crimes after taking part in a peaceful women’s rights gathering at Haft-e Tir square in Tehran on June 12, 2006.

* Shabnam Madadzadeh, deputy chair of the Tehran Council of Tahkim-e Vahdat, the national student organization. Authorities arrested her and her brother on February 20, 2009. Prosecutors charged the two with moharebeh and “propaganda against the regime” in connection with their student activities. In February, after they spent a year in detention, Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court, headed by Judge Moghiseh, sentenced them to five years in prison. Prison authorities transferred her to Rajai Shahr prison in Karaj, where conditions are notably poor, on August 2. They have denied her family’s requests for medical leave though she reportedly suffers from numerous physical ailments.

* Mahdieh Golroo, a student activist and member of the Committee to Defend the Right to Education, a group dedicated to restoring the rights of students prohibited from continuing their college education because of their political activities. She has been in prison since November 3, 2009. A revolutionary court convicted her of national security crimes and sentenced her to 28 months in April 2010. Although she reportedly suffers from intestinal problems, prison authorities have refused to grant her temporary medical leave.

* Jila Tarmasi, a member of a group of mothers protesting their children’s detentions, who was arrested on October 9, along with her daughter, when security forces raided her home in Tehran. Tarmasi’s daughter was released after 12 days, but Tarmasi still remains in prison and has not been allowed visits by her family. She joined the “Mourning Mothers,” now called the “Mothers of Laleh Park,” to protest her son’s detention. “Mourning Mothers” was established in June 2009 by mothers whose children lost their lives in state-sanctioned violence following Iran’s disputed June 12 election. They used to conduct silent protests in Tehran’s Laleh Park, but security forces now prevent them from holding the protests.

* Akram Zienali, another member of “Mourning Mothers,” was also arrested on October 9 along with her daughter when security forces raided her home in Tehran. Her daughter was released after 12 days, but Zeinali remains in custody. Her son, Saeed Zeinali, was a university student arrested 11 years ago after protests erupted at Tehran University. He has since disappeared, and his mother has been trying for years to discover his fate.

* Fatemeh Masjedi, a member of the One Million Signatures Campaign from Qom who worked to promote women’s rights. She was charged with “spreading propaganda against the state” and supporting a “feminist group which works in opposition to the regime” and sentenced on August 29 to a year in prison. Her lawyer is filing an appeal, and she has not yet begun serving her term.

* Maryam Bidgoli, another Qom resident who is a member of the One Million Signatures Campaign and who worked for women’s rights. She was arrested and sentenced to a year in prison along with Masjedi, on the same charges. Her lawyer is filing an appeal and she has not yet begun serving her term.

* Mahsa Amrabadi, a journalist who sent a public letter to the head of the Judiciary, Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani, criticizing the arrest and detention of journalists, including her husband, Massoud Bastani. Judge Moghiseh of Branch 28 of Iran’s Revolutionary Court sentenced her to a year in prison in October for “acting against national security” in connection with her interviews and reports regarding the post-election crackdown on journalists. She has not yet appealed the decision in her case nor has she begun serving her prison term.

* Hengameh Shahidi, a journalist and women’s rights activist sentenced to six years in prison on November 15, 2009, by Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court. Security forces arrested her on June 30, 2009, in Tehran and charged her with various national security crimes, including “participation in illegal gatherings,” “propaganda against the regime,” and “insulting the president.” After persistent requests from her family, authorities temporarily released her from Evin prison on October 28 so that she could undergo medical treatment for a variety of physical ailments, including heart problems.

Tahmasebi called on the Iranian authorities to release those who are serving prison terms or are in “temporary detention,” including Nazanin Khosravani, a journalist who was arrested by security forces last week, and to overturn the convictions of all of the women whose cases she highlighted.

With a view to assessing progress made by States in meeting their obligations under the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, the next report (from the Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights defenders, Margaret Sekaggya) to the Human Rights Council, due in March 2011, will focus on women human rights defenders and those defenders working on women’s rights and gender-issues.

The report will seek, in particular, to identify the specific risks women defenders and those defenders working on women’s rights and gender-issues face as well as their specific security and protection needs.

To this end, the Special Rapporteur (SR) would be grateful if you could answer the attached questionnaire. Deadline for responses: November 30, 2010.

The SR has also requested information from member States. SR’s report will later be made public here

The Special Rapporteur would greatly appreciate receiving your responses at your earliest possible convenience, preferably no later than 30 November 2010. Responses received after this date will not be reflected in the 2011 report. Responses may be addressed to the Special Rapporteur at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (; fax: +41 22 917 90 06).

The English, French and Spanish versions of the questionnaire are available to download from

The Syrian government should immediately release Tal al-Mallohi, a 19-year-old high school student and blogger held incommunicado without charge for nine months, Human Rights Watch said today. She has been held by Syria’s security services since being detained on December 27, 2009.

State Security (Branch 279), one of Syria’s multiple state security agencies, summoned al-Mallohi to Damascus for interrogation in December and immediately detained her. Two days later, members of State Security went to al-Mallohi’s house and confiscated her computer, some CDs, books, and other personal belongings. Since the arrest, the security services have not allowed her family to communicate with her and have not offered any explanation for the arrest.

“Detaining a high school student for nine months without charge is typical of the cruel, arbitrary behavior of Syria’s security services,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “A government that thinks it can get away with trampling the rights of its citizens has lost all connection to its people.”

It is unclear why the authorities have detained al-Mallohi. According to her family, al-Mallohi, who is in her last year of high school, does not belong to any political group. Some Syrian activists have expressed concerns that security services may have detained her over a poem she wrote criticizing certain restrictions on freedom of expression in Syria. Her blog, which contains poetry and social commentary, focuses mostly on the plight of Palestinians and does not address Syrian political issues. Her homepage shows a picture of Gandhi with the quote, “you will remain an example.”

On September 1, al-Malouhi’s mother issued a public appeal to President Bashar al-Asad urging him to provide her with information about her daughter.

See also:

The Afghan blogosphere is small but female practitioners say their words are closely monitored. The backlash to what they say helps define a range of off-limit topics, from criticizing religion to advocating for women’s rights.

With one in three women around the world being beaten, coerced into sex or abused, more must be done to ensure the human rights of women, a member of the United Nations expert body monitoring compliance with the international pact on eliminating discrimination against women said today.

“Significant progress has been achieved with respect to women’s human rights but we know that much more needs to be done throughout the whole world,” Zou Xiaoqiau, the vice chair of the 23-member UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, told reporters in New York.

She expressed alarm over the fact that violence against women is prevalent in many parts of the world, pointing out that the scourge is on the rise.

Characterizing the statistics as “frightening,” Ms. Zou noted that many rapes go unreported due to stigma and trauma, with charges being dropped against a rapist in some countries if he marries his victim.

In addition, some 2 million girls between the ages of five and 15 are introduced into the commercial sex market annually, and forced or unprotected sex puts women at risk of acquiring HIV, AIDS and other sexually-transmitted diseases.

Ms. Zou, who presented the report of the Committee to the General Assembly yesterday, also spoke out against communally-sanctioned violence, such as honour killings, which claim the lives of thousands of young women every year.

The Committee regularly reviews each country once it becomes a party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). Currently, 186 countries have accepted the Convention, which was adopted in 1979.

“The Committee is committed to combating and ending discrimination and violence against women in all its forms,” Ms. Zou stressed, appealing to the States parties to fulfil their obligations under the pact and adopt its additional protocols to “ensure that women are treated with the dignity and respect that they deserve and demand as human beings.”

She also welcomed the creation of UN Women, or the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, which merges four UN entities: the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), the Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW), the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues, and the UN International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (UN-INSTRAW).

Established in July by a unanimous vote of the General Assembly, the first UN super-agency on female empowerment will oversee all of the world body’s programmes aimed at promoting women’s rights and their full participation in global affairs.

Headed by former Chilean president Michele Bachelet, it will help Member States implement standards, provide technical and financial support to countries which request it, and forge partnerships with civil society. Within the UN, it will hold the world body accountable for its own commitments on gender equality.

The winner of RAW in WAR’s fourth annual Anna Politkovskaya Award is Dr. Halima Bashir from Darfur (Sudan). Halima comes from the Zaghawa tribe who inhabit the western region of Sudan. In 2003 she became her village’s first formal doctor at 24. A year later, the conflict in Darfur broke out and Halima ran into trouble with the authorities for telling a reporter that the government should help all Darfuri people regardless of their ethnicity. The Sudanese secret police came for her. They drove her to a “ghost house” – a secret detention centre – and abused her, accusing her of being the doctor that helped the rebels, and that she had spoken to the media. She was told to be silent or face the consequences. As a result, the ministry of health transferred her to a remote village clinic, a punishment posting, in northern Darfur, where she was the only doctor. There in early 2004, Halima personally witnessed grave atrocities against women and girls committed by the Janjaweed. They surrounded a girls’ school and held over 40 girls, as young as eight, and their teachers in a primary school, and, while the army stood guard, the militia repeatedly gang-raped the girls.

As she treated the traumatized victims, Halima refused to stay silent once again. She gave detailed witness statements to United Nations representatives, whilst continuing to work in the clinic. Several days later she herself was abducted by Sudanese soldiers, held hostage and gang-raped for three days, to punish her for speaking out and exposing the rape of women and girls by the Janjaweed. They told her they would let her live because “we know you’d prefer to die”. After returning to her family, her own village was also attacked and her father killed. Knowing she would no longer be safe in Sudan, she fled the country, and sought asylum in the United Kingdom. When she was asked by a New York Times writer, Nicholas Kristof, if she regretted speaking out, she remarked, “what happened to me happened to so many other Darfur women. … I have the chance. I am a well-educated woman, so I can speak up and send a message to the world”. Halima was the first to break the silence surrounding Sudanese cultural taboos on sexual violence and became a voice of strength, resilience and courage around the world, speaking out against the rape of women in Darfur committed by the army and the government backed militias. Since leaving Sudan Halima has testified against the current Sudanese president, Omar Al-Bashir, before the International Criminal Court, which indicted him in 2009 for crimes against humanity. Halima has also published an award-winning book, co-written with Journalist Damien Lewis, titled ‘Tears of the Desert: A Memoir of Survival in Darfur’ (2009). She continues courageously to advocate for justice for the women and girls in Sudan, despite the danger to her own life.

See also:

The International Campaign for Human Right in Iran called for the immediate release of prominent human rights lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, who was arrested at Evin prison on 4 September 2010, and for all charges against her to be dropped.

Sotoudeh is a leading human rights lawyer widely respected for her efforts on behalf of juveniles facing the death penalty and for her defense of prisoners of conscience. Sotoudeh, a mother of two, had earlier been charged with threatening national security. Her office and home were searched on 28 August and her assets frozen.

Nasim Ghanavi, Sotoudeh’s lawyer, told the Campaign that Sotoudeh was summoned to Evin Prison court on charges of “propaganda against the state,” and “collusion and gathering with the aim of acting against national security.”
Ghanavi accompanied Sotoudeh to the court summon on 4 September but was not permitted to be present during questioning. After her questioning, Sotoudeh was arrested and held in Evin prison.

“This arrest is nothing more than a crude, arbitrary political move to make it more comfortable for the Iranian government to persecute its citizens,” stated Aaron Rhodes, a spokesperson for the Campaign.

A few days before her arrest, Sotoudeh told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran how the authorities were creating bogus tax problems for human rights lawyers as a way to provide pretexts for their prosecution.

“I was referred to the taxation bureau and while there I noticed in addition to my name, they are conducting special investigations into thirty human rights lawyers,” she said. Sotoudeh provided Shirin Ebadi’s tax bill of hundreds of thousands of dollars on her Nobel Peace Prize money as an example, noting as well the irony that human rights cases were all represented on a pro bono basis, and none of the lawyers receive any money from the clients they defend in human rights case. ”The accusation machine is continuing to work fast, further limiting the conditions for human rights defense. The ultimate goal is to shut down all defense of human rights,” she added.

As a member of the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child, Sotoudeh defended victims of child abuse. She has also defended journalist Issa Saharkhiz and human rights activist Parvin Ardalan. Following her attempt to save the life of Arash Ramanipour, who was hung in January 2010 for crimes he had allegedly committed under the age of 18, she went on record to reveal the illegal process of conducting his execution. At that time, she was threatened that if she publicly spoke on the cases she represented, she would be arrested.

She has also opposed the “Family Protection Bill,” legislation under consideration by the Iranian Majlis (Parliament) that would allow men to marry additional wives without the consent of their first wife. The proposed legislation is opposed by many women’s rights activists and others as encouraging polygamy. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad supports the bill.

The Iranian government has arrested numerous human rights lawyers, including Mohammed Ali Dadkah, Mohammad Oliayifard, Mohammad Seifzadeh, and most recently, Mohammad Mostafei, who was forced to flee the country during his defense of Sakineh Ashtiani, sentenced to be stoned to death.

“Nasrin Sotoudeh needs to be restored to her family and to her vocation, and the Iranian authorities must end their transparently illegal attack against human rights lawyers,” Rhodes said.

See also: Iran: women on the frontline of the fight for rights

The independent review into how Amnesty vets partners fudges the issue of ideology and its collaboration with Moazzam Begg

In the wake of the Gita Sahgal/Cageprisoners debacle, Amnesty International appointed independent consultants to conduct a review and recommend changes in the way that Amnesty operates and vets its campaigning partners. Although a little late for Sahgal, perhaps, it is a positive outcome of the fallout as this is exactly what she had been asking the senior management to spell out the process by which they choose their partners.

It appears that Amnesty alliances had been formed on the recommendations of staff members who used a combination of instinct, experience and knowledge of the field in which they worked. Although many of the staff are highly skilled, this was a policy based on a wing and a prayer prayer being the operative word given their joint campaigning with the Catholic church and Cageprisoners, both of which operate in a religious ethos that is often contrary to the spirit of human rights.

The review, Working With Others, recognises Amnesty did not show “due diligence” in its collaboration with Moazzam Begg. However, there seems to be a fudge at the heart of it. It calls for gender (there is only one full-time post on gender currently) and diversity mainstreaming to be implemented across the organisation; and the creation of a space for staff to discuss “the specific challenge religious fundamentalism poses for AI’s policy of not commenting on ideology” but at the same time concludes that even if all this were in place, Amnesty’s collaboration with Begg may not have been materially different. For a human rights organisation to claim that it does not comment on ideology, when every campaign it wages is de facto a comment, beggars belief.

Apart from the muddle, there is the question of monitoring the implementation of such policies. Oxfam provides a salutary lesson. It has just such a policy, also called Working with others, and yet it is currently caught up in a very similar situation in India where its We Can (end violence against women) project is headed by a Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) member, in Uttarakhand state, Meera Kaintura (aka Saklani).

Local NGOs and women’s organisations under the We Can umbrella in the state were shocked to discover this, as the BJP is influenced by a hardline Hindutva philosophy that posits India as essentially the land of Hindus. In the drive to win power in India, the BJP frequently dissembles its true purpose, courts Muslims when it is politically expedient and always has a couple of Muslims in prominent positions to ward off awkward questions even though it was allegedly involved in the Gujarat massacre in 2002, in which an estimated 2,000 Muslims were killed. When Oxfam was challenged about its bedfellows, the initial response from Mona Mehta, global programme adviser (EVAW) Oxfam GB was: “We respect everyone’s right to have varied and different perspectives and also various political affiliations.”

This position sits uncomfortably with Oxfam’s policy as articulated in their partnership document: “We must share a desire to work towards a common position on important issues, including a commitment to gender-equality and respect for diverse identities ” Perhaps in implicit recognition that it would be hard to justify a sustained alliance with individuals associated with the BJP as simply a question of “different political affiliations”, the Oxfam position changed. The national co-ordinator of the We Can campaign, India, denied that Kaintura was a member of the BJP and therefore, saw no need to dissociate from her. This is exactly the kind of smoke and mirrors which bedevils the debate on Begg, except that he admits his directorship of Cageprisoners and proclaims his Salafism, a highly sectarian and anti-woman strand of Islam.

The review has provided the perfect get-out clause for Amnesty when it recommends “creating space for rightsholders to speak for themselves through the development of an AI platform for the voiceless There should be no criterion for access to the platform, save a direct experience of a [human rights] violation”. This is a retrospective, theoretical vindication for an ill-considered collaboration in which, as the review acknowledges the “initial clarity of purpose regarding its engagement with MB blurred over time”. In the appendix, outlining the history of Begg’s involvement with Amnesty, is this little gem: “In 2005, MB lights candle at the opening of AI UK’s annual general meeting.” Isn’t that the kind of symbolic act that goes beyond a “platform for the voiceless” and suggests that Begg is the champion of all human rights that lies at the heart of this furore? It’s time for a little honesty.

Kurdish women contribute to the global fight for women’s rights while also struggling for human rights in their own country, an Istanbul deputy from Turkey’s pro-Kurdish party said at a summit of European feminists at the end of June.

The “Kurdish feminist movement” has gained significance because the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party, or BDP, has prioritized female representation, BDP’s Istanbul deputy Sabahat Tuncel said at the opening session of the 2010 European Feminist Meeting held at Istanbul Technical University’s Maçka Campus.

As a rule, the BDP tries to assign a woman as one of its presidents-general, and out of the 28 female mayors in Turkey, 14 of them are BDP members, Tuncel said, adding that Kurdish men recognize women’s success and motivate them to attain higher positions.

According to the deputy, what she characterized as “Kurdish feminism” has its basis in the larger struggle for Kurdish people’s rights and challenges problems of violence, rape, honor killings and polygamy through demanding equal rights in the political arena.

By establishing nongovernmental organizations, Kurdish women have tried to broaden their outreach within the country despite the racist and nationalistic opposition they sometimes face, Tuncel said.

The 2010 European Feminist Meeting welcomed women from 22 countries to Istanbul to discuss women’s issues as well as the current economic and political situation in Europe.

Update, 21/06/2010: According to the Committee of Human Rights Reporters (CHRR), Shiva has been transferred from solitary confinement to the women’s section of Evin prison, which is a public prison.

In an interview with the news agency, Reporters and Human Rights Activists of Iran on 12 June 2010, Shiva Nazar Ahari’s lawyer, Mohammad Sharif, said: “After two different cases brought against Nazar Ahari were integrated, the [new date for the court] session has not yet been declared to us.” Sharif announced that his client had been officially accused of ‘Moharebeh’ (enmity against God), and acts against national security through collective action and participation in the demonstrations. Such charges attract very severe sentences under Iran’s Penal Code and Nazar Ahari and could face the death penalty. Please continue to write to the Iranian authorities calling for Iran to abide by its commitments under international laws and its own constitution.