Jailed for reporting on the World Cup?

The Guardian reports that Pegah Ahangarani, a popular Iranian actor who was scheduled to be heading off to Germany  to cover the women’s World Cup football, was arrested last week. According to the Guardian, Pegah is the second woman to have been arrested in recent weeks in connection with the women's World Cup. Photographer and activist Maryam Majd, who had campaigned for women to be allowed to enter stadiums to watch football matches in Iran, was arrested in late June before going to Germany to work on a book about women and sport. And they are just two of several women – mainly human rights activists – who have been detained recently.Maryam Bahreman is a member of the One Million Signatures Campaign, also known as the Campaign for Equality, in the city of Shiraz. She was arrested in May this year, held in solitary confinement and interrogated. Despite an order from the Prosecutor ’s office in Shiraz to release her on bail at the start of July, Maryam Bahreman remains in detention. Amnesty International considers her to be a prisoner of conscience, held solely for the peaceful exercise of her rights to freedom of expression and association.The One Million Signatures Campaign is a grassroots organisation working to end discrimination against women in the Iranian legal system. They give basic legal training to volunteers, who then travel around the country meeting women and informing them of their rights.It’s a fine organisation and a great rebuttal to those who argue cultural relativism, that there is no tradition of women’s rights or human rights in some countries. Here are women who’re demanding their rights and empowering others to do the same, despite the extreme risk to their own security.  At least six members of the Campaign for Equality are currently in prison:Mahboubeh Karami began serving a three-year sentence in Tehran’s Evin Prison on 15 May 2011;  Alieh Aghdam-Doust is serving a three-year prison sentence in Evin Prison for participating in a peaceful demo in June 2006 against discriminatory laws;  Fatemeh Masjedi began serving a six-month sentence on 28 January 2011 in the city of Qom. She had been convicted of “spreading propaganda against the system in favour of a feminist group”; Zeynab Beyezidi is a member of the Kurdish minority and member of the Kurdistan Human Rights Organization (KHRO), is serving a four-and-a-half-year sentence in connection with her membership of the KHRO and her activities for the Campaign; Ronak Safazadeh, a Campaign member who is also a member of the Kurdish minority, is serving a six-year sentence, convicted of membership of a Kurdish armed group, PJAK. According to her lawyer, Ronak's activities were limited to work with an NGO affiliated to the Campaign for Equality.We’re calling for the release of Maryam Bahreman and others who are detained just for the peaceful expression of their opinions. Find out how you can help here.

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