Reuters: Iranian police clashed on Thursday with scores of rights activists who gathered in front of parliament to celebrate International Women’s Day, one of the activists said. TEHRAN, March 8 (Reuters) – Iranian police clashed on Thursday with scores of rights activists who gathered in front of parliament to celebrate International Women’s Day, one of the activists said.
“Police attacked a gathering of some 700 women’s rights activists and hit them with batons,” the activist, who asked not to be named, told Reuters.
“Fortunately no one was hurt or arrested.”
Police cars and ranks of police blocked the roads to prevent the demonstrators from marching, the activist said.
Security forces arrested 33 women’s rights activists on Sunday outside a Tehran court, where five other women detained in June had gone on trial. Most of them were released on Wednesday.
“All of them have gradually been released. But three of them are still in jail,” lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh told Reuters.
Sunday’s protesters were demanding a fair trial for the five women, charged for “acting against national security” after taking part in an “unauthorised” rally to demand equal legal rights for women in the Islamic Republic.
Iran insists it does not discriminate against women.
“Despite the pressure on the activists to abandon the protest, many of them took part in today’s gathering,” said the activist involved in Thursday’s gathering.
Judiciary officials were not immediately available for comment.
Iran’s 2003 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Shirin Ebadi’s Defenders of Human Rights Organisation, has condemned arrests of women’s activists, saying they were “illegal”.
Also on Thursday, a protest of some 4,000 teachers against poor working conditions and low pay in front of parliament ended peacefully, a Reuters witness said.
Analysts say demonstrations are likely to be a source of embarrassment for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s government, which vowed to improve living standards and to share out Iran’s oil wealth more fairly.
Instead, critics say the government’s economic policies have fuelled inflation, which mostly hurts the worst off in society.