TEHRAN (Reuters) - An Iranian woman activist has started a three-year jail term for taking part in a protest in 2006 to demand more women’s rights, a fellow campaigner said on Monday.
Alieh Eghdamdoust was among 70 people arrested during the rally in Tehran, but this was the first prison sentence to be implemented, leading activist Sussan Tahmasebi said.
Eghdamdoust was first sentenced to three years and four months’ in prison and 20 lashes. This was later reduced to three years’ jail by an appeals court.
“She started serving her sentence yesterday,” said Tahmasebi, who herself is appealing against a partly suspended two-year jail sentence for the same protest, on June 12, 2006.
Of those arrested during the rally, 14 people were charged with criminal offences, including spreading propaganda against the ruling system.
Police had said the rally was illegal as the protesters did not have a permit. Tahmasebi said peaceful rallies were allowed under Iran’s constitution.
There was no immediate comment from the judiciary.
The website of a campaign for women’s rights in Iran said Eghdamdoust was taken under guard on Sunday from her home in the northern city of Fouman to the Office of Implementation of Sentences to serve her jail term.
Activists say women in Iran are subject to institutionalised discrimination that makes them second-class citizens in divorce, inheritance, child custody and other aspects of life, although they are legally entitled to hold most jobs and can vote.
The Iranian state dismisses such accusations.
A few months after the 2006 protest, campaigners began trying to collect 1 million signatures on a petition demanding greater women’s rights.
Tahmasebi said about 47 activists had been detained in connection with the campaign, including three last Friday. Most were freed after a few days or weeks.
Western diplomats and rights groups say the arrests of women’s rights campaigners form part of a broader crackdown on dissent, possibly in response to external pressure on Tehran over its nuclear programme.