May was marked by two major developments in Iran. One was the elections and all its surrounding developments, and the other was widespread protests against looting of people's properties by the so-called credit companies. Women were actively involved in both of those activities.
In the course of televised election debates, candidates revealed but small parts of the deplorable conditions of women under the mullahs' rule.
In a televised debate broadcast on May 2, from the national television, one of the presidential hopefuls, Es'hagh Jahangiri, asserted that "women are the most oppressed sector of our society whose rights are not heeded." Admitting that "women's rights and respects are not honored," Jahangiri stressed that 49% of the population have been "marginalized."
In a rebuff to Tehran's Mayor Ghalibaf's claim in the debates, Mohammad Haghani, head of Tehran City Council's environmental committee, revealed, “The presence of a woman among senior managers of Tehran Municipality, is just a symbolic theatrical measure to counter those who say women's share in high-level responsibilities in Tehran's Municipality is zero per cent." (The state-run Entekhab news website – May 5, 2017)
On the other hand, in an article published after the elections on May 29, the state-run Iran daily newspaper revealed that the number of women finding their way to city councils in 31 provincial capitals across the country had "dropped remarkably" compared to the previous round, falling from 66 in the fourth round, to 42 in the recent round.
Women, however, actively boycotted the sham elections. From inside prisons to the activist mothers and others. They declared they would not vote for the murderers of Iranian youths.
Women also played a significant role in pro-resistance campaigns in support of the NCRI president-elect Maryam Rajavi and calling for the regime's overthrow. These activities greatly infuriated the regime and provoked extensive reactions in the press and media.
In the final days of May, women participated in extensive demonstrations across the country protesting the looting of their properties by the so-called credit companies affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). Women were particularly daring in these protests.
Systematic violations of the right to life
Executions, arbitrary killings, deaths in custody, and death sentences
Two women were executed in the morning of Wednesday, May 3, 2017, in Gohardasht Prison, Karaj. They have not been identified.
The number of executions of women under Rouhani thus reaches 77.
Inhumane treatment and cruel punishments
Four women, civil rights activists in Tehran, were each sentenced to 91 days in prison and 30 lashes of the whip for participating in a protest gathering. They were identified as Nahid Babazadeh, Baharak Azarnia, Zahra Shafii and Melika Kavandi.
In a shocking move by the Iranian Judiciary, a young woman in Tehran convicted of having illicit relations with a man was sentenced to 74 lashes and two years of washing the dead in a mortuary. The woman was identified as Mina, 35. (The state-run Iran newspaper – May 13, 2017)
The last day of May marked the last day of hunger strike by the children’s rights activist Atena Daemi. She started a hunger strike on April 8, 2017, to protest incrimination of her sisters and their 91-day prison sentences.
After the revision court convened and issued its verdict exonerating Ensiyeh and Hanieh Daemi, Atena ended her hunger strike on May 31,2017, after 54 days.
Kurdish political prisoner Zeinab Jalalian started a therapy strike in Khoy Prison. In a letter to the General Prosecutor, Zeinab Jalalian’s lawyer wrote about his client’s refusal to accept any form of treatment.
Amir Salar Davoudi expressed serious concerns about his client’s health and underlined the responsibility of Khoy Prison officials and Khoy’s security and judicial authorities in guaranteeing Ms. Jalalian’s physical and mental health.
Fatemeh Mosanna, a political prisoner in Evin, is suffering from severe tendon injury in the leg because she was not given the necessary treatment at the time of injury. She suffered this injury last year during break time as she was walking in the yard.
Fatemeh Mosanna, 47, was arrested by security forces in February 2013, on the charge of supporting the opposition PMOI.
Mahsa Roj'ati is lingering in solitary confinement in Evin Prison in dire physical conditions. She has been experiencing nervous shocks, yet prison officials have refused to approve her transfer to hospital.
Civil rights activist Mahsa Roj'ati was arrested by agents of the Ministry of Intelligence on January 2, 2017, at the airport as she was departing the country for Canada.
Judiciary officials continue to detain civil rights activist Massoumeh Zia despite having received 200 million toumans in March from her family as bail to release her. Prison officials claim that a suspended sentence of one-year prison term in Ms. Zia's previous case has come into force and she would have to stay in prison.
Arbitrary arrests and detentions
In May, arbitrary arrest and detention of activists and arresting people in their homes and private parties continued.
Dozens of young women and men were arrested in roundups in the cities of Qom and Abadan within two days for participating in mixed-gender parties.
45 men and women were arrested in the security forces' raid in Qom, and 36 young men and women were arrested in Abadan. (The state-run ROKNA news agency – May 1, 2017)
55 men and women were arrested for taking part in a party in Kerman, southern Iran and the venue was sealed upon a judiciary warrant. (The state-run Farda news website – May 6, 2017)
60 young men and women were arrested in a private party in Gorgan, north of Iran. They were arrested on the order of judiciary officials and by the moral security police. (The state-run Mehr news agency – May 11, 2017)
A young woman was arrested by security forces in Sanandaj in western Iran. Sara Kamangar was charged with activity on the internet.
Arrests and Summons woman activists
Security forces raided the residence of Mahtab Alipour on May 27, 2017, and arrested her without a judicial warrant. Agents also seized part of her personal belongings. Mahtab Alipour is a civil rights activist and a member of the banned Erfan-e Halgheh mystic group.
Hana Khorsan, a cultural activist, was summoned and interrogated by the intelligence ministry in Ahvaz on Tuesday May 30, 2017. She manages a cultural group called "Novares".
Institutionalized discrimination and repression against women and denying them social support has led to numerous social disasters.
Following are some examples of the restrictions and their consequences:
Lorestan's Chief of Traffic Police announced on May 1, 2017, that cars having tinted windows and carrying unveiled women will be impounded and the passengers will be dealt with in accordance to the Islamic law. (The state-run IRIB news agency – May 1, 2017)
A 22-year-old woman, Donya Dadgostar, hanged herself and ended her life on Saturday, April 29, 2017, in Marivan (Iranian Kurdistan).
One of the female students of Persian Gulf University in Boushehr threw herself off the dormitory building and broke her spinal cord.
“She was studying in Bachelor's degree in economics,” Abdolmajid Mosleh the head of Persion Gulf University said. (Aftab-e Yazd state-run newspaper – May 8, 2017)
An 18-year-old woman hanged herself at home in Babol, northern Iran.
A 30-year-old woman identified as Sh. B. set herself on fire in Divandarreh, in the western Iranian Kurdistan Province. She has been transferred to hospital.
Another 25-year-old woman identified as Bayan Mohammadi also committed suicide in Divandarreh by setting herself on fire. (The state-run ROKNA news agency, Kordpa news agency – May 18, 2017)
A17-year-old girl in Marivan by the name of Sahar Ayyubvand set herself on fire and died. The reason for her suicide was family problems.
A 5-year-old girl in Mashhad suffered brain death due to harsh beating by her stepfather. Multiple scars of injury were evident on the girl's abdomen, head, and face upon admission to hospital. After clinical examinations, it became clear that in addition to broken legs and hip, she had also suffered brain damages. (The state-run IRNA news agency – May 3, 2017)
A man splashed acid on his wife because she refused to divorce him.
The acid attack took place in the city of Joghatay, in the northeastern Khorassan Razavi Province. The defenseless woman suffered burns in the head and neck, and was transferred to hospital. (The state-run IRNA news agency – May 4, 2017)
Zahra Nemati, the archer who took part in the Rio 2016 Olympic, was banned from leaving the country by her husband. (The state-run ISNA news agency – May 8, 2017)
Prisoners and activist mothers boycotted the sham election
Women's protests last month were manifested in their boycott of the regime's sham elections. A wide spectrum of women ranging from prisons to the activist mothers and etc. participated in defying the regime.
In a letter dated May 3, 2017, political prisoner Maryam Akbari Monfared wrote from prison:
I, Maryam Akbari Monfared, have spent 8 years in the Islamic Republic’s prisons. As I have witnessed every day cases of rape and torture of female prisoners in Gohardasht, Shahr-e Rey and Evin prisons … (I am confident that) this regime is not capable of reform and it does not bear any trace of moderation, because it is unprincipled and does not have any roots. It is illegitimate in the eyes of the Iranian people, so my vote is NO to the Islamic regime.
On the fortieth day of her hunger strike in Evin Prison, Atena Daemi announced that she will not participate in the elections. She wrote in a letter from prison:
Indeed, what is there to vote for? Poverty? Continued sanctions for human rights violations? Group executions? Repression and censorship? Forcible hijab and religion? I will not participate in this sham election.
Human rights activist Golrokh Iraee sent an open letter from Evin Prison and wrote:
I will refuse to take part in the election which is just a show of force for a monopolist rule of oppression and tyranny and is aimed at fooling the public. And I will actively endeavor to create an atmosphere for freedom of activity for all parties in an Iran that is free from the yoke of despotism…
Mrs. Sholeh Pakravan, human rights and anti-death penalty activist, published an audio file and said:
I will not vote for any of the six players. I will not vote for the murderers of thousands of youths. I will not vote for the thieves who plunder my country. I will not vote for those who took the innocent to the altar. I will not vote for the murderers of my Reyhaneh and many more like my Reyhaneh.
Shahin Mahinfar, a human rights activist, denounced the Iranian regime's upcoming elections and declared that she "will not vote for the murderers of (her) children."
Ms. Mahinfar's young son, Amir Arshad Tajmir, was ran over by security forces' vehicle during an uprising on December 27, 2009.
Young artist and former political prisoner, Atena Farghadani, sketched a new cartoon mocking the sham election in Iran.
In her Facebook account, she explained, "Another four years will be added to what we have had over the past 38 years. For another four years, the rulers of this land will become richer, filling their pockets with more of the national resources, and the people will remain destitute trying to earn a living."
A group of women staged a protest in front of the Governor’s Building in Mashhad on Friday, May 26, 2017. Some of the women participated in the protest while wearing white shrouds. They chanted against the Caspian Institute.
Women staged a protest on Sunday May 27, 2017, in Ahwaz. These women have lost their property looted by the Tose’eh Credit Institute.
They blocked the road and demanded the authorities to reimburse their deposits.
Another group of women staged a protest on May 28, 2017, in Aligoudarz, western Iranian Lorestan Province. Their grievance was looting of their properties by the Tose’eh Arman Credit Institute.
Similar protest gatherings were also held in other Lorestan cities including Borujerd, Delfan, Doroud, Noorabad and Azna.
Women staged a sit-in in front of the Governor’s Office in Khorramabad, capital of Lorestan Province, on May 30, 2017. They were protesting the looting of their deposits in a credit institute by the name of Arman. Security forces intervened to confront the women’s protest. (The state-run Aflak website – May 30, 2017)
Student and staff’s protest
A group of doctors and medical students staged a protest on Monday, May 29, 2017, outside Rouhani’s office in Tehran. The protesters carried white umbrellas. They cried out to Rouhani: Your minister does not hear the doctors’ voice.
A group of nurses and hospital personnel of Imam Sajjad Hospital gathered in front of the governor’s office in Yasouj and demanded their payments. They haven’t been paid for 6 months.
Teachers and educators protest – Athletes
A group of women teachers staged a protest gathering on May 2, 2017, in front of the parliament (Majlis) in Tehran to observe the national Teachers Day. The State Security Force intervened and dispersed the crowd who continued their gathering in a nearby park.
Teachers working on temporary contracts gathered outside the Iranian parliament in Tehran to express their protest. The contract teachers demanded determination of their employment status and payment of their salaries and stipend by the Education Ministry. (The state-run ISNA news agency – May 23, 2017)
Fereshteh Hosseini, member of Iran's Canoe Polo national team, who had traveled to Germany, has formally sought refuge in that country. Ms. Hosseini held championship title as member of the national team. (The state-run ISNA news agency – May 17, 2017)