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03. May 2005

Shadi Sadr

Shadi Sadr, Iranian lawyer, as speaker at the first international Women without Borders conference "Women Included!" in Vienna.

Iran In Case of Doubt: Round-up those Women!

Open Letter from Shadi Sadr to President Khatami in Protest of Preventing Me from Leaving the Country

A few weeks before the presidential elections in Iran – not one women was accepted as candidate – we read the following story in Iranian news: Shadi Sadr, journalist, lawyer and women’s rights activist (she was one of the speakers at the first international Women without Borders conference “Women Included” in November 2003 in Vienna) was refused the extension of her passport and forbidden to leave the country. The document was confiscated at this occasion. Sadr wanted to travel abroad to follow an invitation to give a talk.
Although she asked several times for the reason behind this band she didn’t get any answer till now. The lawyer now sent an open letter to president Khatami which has been published in the official Iranian news and also in her own online newspaper

Open Letter in Protest of Preventing Me from Leaving the Country
April 23, 2005

His Excellency, Mr. Seyyed Mohammad Khatami
The President of the Islamic Republic of Iran

I, Shadi Sadr, respectfully inform you that on February 11, 2005 I was told at the Passport Division that I was debarred from leaving the country. After I demanded an answer for this action, the officer, who confiscated my passport and handed me a receipt, simply referred me to a room marked as “Section 2”. The police officers in the room, whose uniforms showed only a number as opposed to wearing identifying badges, also refused to give me an answer as to why my passport was being confiscated and which authority had issued this order.

After researching the case law, I learned that Section 2 refers to Article 16, Section 2 of the Passport Act of 1971 that prescribes “The following persons should not be issued a passport to leave the country: … 2. Those individuals who according to prior written notification of the National Information and Security Agency (SAVAK) are determined that their travel abroad compromises the expediencies of the nation”.

Reasoning that the notorious SAVAK in the previous regime was replaced with the Ministry of Information of the Islamic Republic, I wrote a letter to his honourable Mr. Younesi, the Minister of Information, in which I requested to identify the authority who issued this order and its justification. […]
I am sad to say that two months have passed since I learned I am forbidden to travel abroad, and that after repeated requests I have received no straight answer from the Ministry of Information. Therefore, despite my personal desire not to want to bring this case to the public, I have no alternative but to inform you of my situation especially since administratively and legally all the national intelligence agencies, including the Ministry of Information, operate under your auspicious. I would like to know which intelligence agency, and using which reasons, has issued the injunction to prevent me from leaving the country and confiscate my passport? This is important to me because in the past two months I have reached the conclusion that whoever this agency is, not only is it not willing to be accountable before the very same legal levers that justified it to confiscate my passport (without prior written notification), but also it s now hesitant to come out of closed doors and openly and legally defend its ruling. Let us face it: if there is any basis for this ruling, what is the fear to pronounce it publicly? Without my ability to confront the authority that issued the injunction and to challenge its basis, I am denied my due process to demand justice and defend myself. This case, indeed, is about misuse of the government authority, position and power to deprive a citizen from her right to act as a plaintiff against the rulings of the very government. This right has explicitly been provisioned in Article 173 of the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Dear Mr. President, you as the highest officer of the Executive branch of the government and whoever and in whatever capacity has ordered my debarment from travelling abroad, must answer my predestined questions as follows:

1. As a previous journalist, present attorney licensed to appear before the Ministry of Justice and as a women’s rights activist at all times, what threat do I pose against the institution of the Islamic Republic that determines that my travelling abroad “compromises expediencies of the nation”. Can an institution that bans a critic of some of its laws from leaving the country continue to sing the slogan of “convert an enemy of the state to an opponent and an opponent to a critical” as you did during your presidential campaign?
2. Discrimination against the women is not a monolithic act and it does not manifest itself in one shape or one form. In the same Passport Division I witnessed many women who according to the present laws were deprived from travelling abroad because their husbands would refuse to grant them permission. My question is am I being prevented from travelling abroad (although my husband has allowed me) because I expressed and brought to public discourse these kinds of social and legal realties? Is it really the case that by depriving me from one of my basic human rights, I am in effect being silenced? In my opinion there is no difference between discrimination and daily humiliation against the women who cannot travel abroad without their husband’s permission, and abuse and human rights violation against a women’s rights activist, because the source of both of these discriminations is a patriarchal power that for so long has hidden itself behind an unjust law.

Despite all these, would your pompous foreign policy representatives at international meetings continue declaring that there is no discrimination against the women in Iran?

Dear Mr. President, it is true that after this incident the stamp of “forbidden to leave country” is now added to the index page of the adventures of a women’s rights activist, but in the age of information explosion you should be able to distinguish as what wound my debarment could possibly heal, or to what extent it might aggregate the pain.
I let you and your staff decide, and of course I refer you to the day of resurrection to answer before God.

Shadi Sadr

We thank Jaleh Lackner-Gohari and Shadi Sadr for drawing our attention to these news.


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