The United States remains gravely concerned about Iran’s continued harassment, detention, and imprisonment of human rights defenders. For example, we understand that the trial of human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh is reportedly underway, but it is proceeding without the transparency and due process guaranteed under Iranian law.
Iran’s leaders should know that their efforts to silence those Iranians who stand up for the rights of their fellow citizens do not go unnoticed. We once again join the international community in calling for the immediate release of all political prisoners, including those imprisoned for defending detainees or speaking out against human rights abuses, and urge Iran to afford its citizens those rights that are universal to all people.
Prior to the parliamentary elections in February 2008, The Asia Foundation worked with a network of local Pakistani civil society organizations (FAFEN) to implement an extensive civic education campaign for women, particularly in the remote areas of FATA and the North West Frontier Province. The Asia Foundation and FAFEN held more than 150 meetings with provincial and local representatives of the Election Commission to discuss policies that mitigate gender-based discrimination and harassment; met with 1,100 religious leaders via a series of dialogues to discuss alternative interpretations of Islamic law and develop the dialogues into a documentary style television program; and implemented a massive visual communication and outreach campaign on civil rights and voting procedures in local languages. The organizations distributed more than 500,000 materials, geared specifically towards women, prior to the election. From data collected through its extensive domestic monitoring program, The Asia Foundation and FAFEN conducted the first parallel vote tabulation exercise in the country and the largest in the world. Following the election, they compiled a comprehensive, first of its kind, report highlighting practices at women’s voting stations and presented policy recommendations for future elections.