By Stephanie Nebehay


GENEVA (Reuters) – U.N. human rights investigators called on Iran Thursday to end what they called a “crackdown” on women’s rights activists who have been harassed and detained for seeking equal status in the Islamic Republic.


Women and men involved in a grassroots movement to collect 1 million signatures to demand full equality between women and men in Iran have been “particularly targeted,” they said.


“Over the past two years, women’s rights defenders have faced an increasingly difficult situation and harassment in the course of their non-violent activities,” the two independent experts said in a statement.


Some have been prevented from travelling in the ongoing “serious repression,” according to Margaret Sekaggya, U.N. special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, and Yakin Erturk, special rapporteur on violence against women.


“Peaceful demonstrators have been arrested, detained and persecuted with prison sentences having been imposed on many of them,”


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