RFL/RE – Hundreds of civil activists in the western Lorestan Province have issued a statement calling on the Iranian authorities to release a woman who was arrested for protesting the mandatory head scarf and was apparently beaten to force a televised confession from her.
The signatories of this letter described Sepideh Rashno’s “forced confessions” on state television as a “ridiculous display” and condemned the “producers” of the television program and their “insulting behavior” toward Rashno.
The Iranian Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) said on August 5 that Rashno had been beaten before she confessed on air to breaking the country’s hijab law.
According to eyewitnesses the agency spoke to, Rashno had low blood pressure and had difficulty moving when she was transferred to the hospital. She returned to prison immediately after the examination.
Rashno, a 28-year-old writer and artist, was arrested on June 15 after a video of her arguing with another woman who was enforcing rules on wearing a head scarf on a bus in Tehran went viral.
The other woman threatened to send the video — which showed Rashno riding the bus without a hijab — to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.
Rashno was subsequently detained and has been held since without access to a lawyer, nor have the charges against her been made public.
Amid growing concern over her whereabouts, a Twitter campaign started with the hashtag “Where is Sepideh?”
Iran’s state television subsequently showed Rashno in a video report on July 30 where her eyes appeared darkened. Witnesses said she was listless and moved slowly.
During a one-sided narrative over the confrontation, Rashno was shown for a few seconds in what looked like a studio setting saying lines that appeared to have been written for her.
The signatories of the statement, who introduced themselves as “Lorestan men and women from different social classes,” also demanded the immediate release of Sepideh Rashno and an official apology from state television.
They asked the head of Iran’s judiciary to “take legal action against those who tortured and broadcast the forced confessions of Sepideh Rashno on TV.”