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LAHIJI, Ms. Shahla [Human Right Activists]
LAHIJI, Ms. Shahla
Shahla Lahiji is the foremost feminist publisher in Iran. Her publishing house, Roshangaran, is a center of intellectual activities that promotes writers, supports women's studies literature and introduces translation of the most thought-provoking new books and ideas. A sociologist by training Lahiji is the author and co-author of several books, such as Quest for Identity: Iranian Women in Historical Perspective.


At age 58, Shahla Lahiji has been an active defender of women's rights her entire life. Shahla began writing for newspapers when she was only 15. At age 16, she was the youngest member to be admitted to the Association of Women Writers and Journalists. In 1979, at the time of the Revolution, Shahla was vocal in protesting the new restrictions imposed on women's participation in government. In 1984, she founded Roshangaran Publishing Company, becoming Iran's first independent female publisher. She also later established and ran the Women's Studies Center in Tehran, a private research institute devoted entirely to women's issues.
In late April 2000, Shahla Lahiji was imprisoned by Branch 3 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran. She was accused of "acting against national security", for speaking at an academic and cultural conference in Berlin. She was apparently detained because at the conference, issues of political and social reform in Iran were being debated. Shahla was also accused of propaganda against the Islamic system, stating that books and newspapers are censored and that certain individuals have been executed in Iran because of their beliefs. She was released on June 21, 2001 on a bail of US$60,000
Shahla Lahiji is working again at Roshangaran Publishing. No date has been set for her trial and it is not known what charges she faces. If convicted, she faces many penalties, including long term imprisonment.
Talking Points
1. Noting that if imprisoned, Shahla Lahiji would considered a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International, detained for the non-violent expression of her conscientiously held beliefs
2. Urging that the charges against all those convicted on the basis of their participation in the Berlin conference are reviewed and dropped upon appeal, since the existing charges do not appear to justify the convictions of the defendants.

       
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