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Writer and women's rights activist Roya Toloui released on bail

(WiPC/IFEX) - International PEN's Writers in Prison Committee welcomes the release on bail on 5 October 2005 of writer and women's rights activist Dr. Roya Toloui, who was among several prominent Kurdish human rights defenders and journalists to be detained on 2 August 2005 following protests in the city of Sanandaj, capital of Kurdistan. International PEN remains concerned that Dr. Toloui still faces charges, and calls for all charges against her to be dropped in accordance with Article 19 of the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a signatory.

According to PEN's information, Roya Toloui was among several leading Kurdish journalists and human rights activists to be detained on 2 August 2005 in Sanandaj, the capital of Kurdistan. On the same day the government also shut down two newspapers, "Ashti" and the weekly "Asu". Those detained alongside Roya Toloui included Mohammad Sadeq Kabudvand, journalist and co-founder of Kurdistan Human Rights Organization; Jalal Qavami, editor of the journal "Payam-e Mardom", writer Said Saidi and journalist Media Ahmadi. PEN is seeking confirmation of the current status of these four journalists. There has been mounting unrest in Iran's Kurdish region since the presidential elections in late June, which saw the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a candidate closely identified with Iran's ruling clerical establishment who is viewed as hostile to Kurdish demands for greater political and cultural recognition. The protests have been violently suppressed by the Iranian security forces, resulting in over twenty deaths and hundreds of arrests. Martial law is said to be effectively in place across the region.

Dr. Toloui is editor of the monthly cultural magazine "Rassan" and founder of the Association of Kurdish Women for the Defense of Peace and Human Rights. The authorities have reportedly refused to legally register this organization and its members have been repeatedly harassed and threatened in recent months. Dr. Toloui is known for her outspoken criticism of the Iranian authorities and defence of the rights of women and religious and ethnic minorities. Her public comments have brought her to the attention of the authorities and she was summoned to appear before a Revolutionary Court in April 2005 to face accusations that her non-violent activism "endangered national security." She is also a member of Kurdish PEN.

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