Baton-wielding police charge women’s rights demonstrators in Iranian capital |

Baton-wielding police charge women’s rights demonstrators in Iranian capital

TEHRAN, Iran – Police armed with batons charged into about 200 mostly female demonstrators demanding equal rights for women in a Tehran park, beating protesters, witnesses said Thursday.An international rights group accused Iran of using violence to suppress peaceful protest.”The attack on women’s rights activists highlights the Iranian government’s consistent policy of suppressing freedom of association and assembly,” Human Rights Watch said in a statement issued by its head office in New York.The protest Wednesday afternoon in Daneshjoo Park was largely ignored by Thursday’s media, and the two reports that did appear – one on a Web site and the other in a small-circulation paper – did not mention the police charge.It was not known if the government tried to suppress reports on the police action. A government spokesman could not be reached for comment because of the late hour.A news photographer who saw the incident said police confiscated journalist’s cameras. The photographer, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he feared problems with the authorities, said his camera was not taken, but his paper did not report on the protest. He declined to say why.The group of mostly women and a few male supporters had assembled at the park to mark International Women’s Day. They held banners calling for equal rights, with one reading: “It’s a shame to have to ask men for our rights.”Another banner condemned the fact that since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, women have not been allowed to serve as judges in Iranian courts. “The right to be a judge is essential for women,” it read.Police told the protesters to disperse because they did not have a permit from the Interior Ministry, said a woman who took part in the demonstration. She spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution from the authorities.When the women refused to leave the park, the police charged the demonstrators with batons and dispersed them, she said.The photographer said the police chased the women down the streets near the park to prevent them from reassembling.Vail, Colorado

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