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Vida Movahedi was arrested in December for standing on a utility box in Tehran with her head uncovered and waving a white scarf, inspiring dozens of others to make similar protests.

Amnesty International says dozens of women are at risk of "long jail terms" for protesting against the compulsory hijab in Iran.

Iranian authorities have arrested dozens of women who have protested against the hijab by removing their head scarves in public.

In an official statement on February 23, Iranian police warned that women who protested the law would now be charged with "inciting corruption and prostitution," which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

London-based Amnesty International said in a statement on February 26 that the move "has put dozens at immediate risk of unjust imprisonment and represents an alarming escalation of the authorities' violent crackdown on women's rights."

Amnesty said more than 35 women had been "violently attacked and arrested" in the capital, Tehran, alone since December 2017 for taking part in "ongoing peaceful protests."

"This is a deeply retrograde move by the Iranian authorities in their ongoing persecution of women who dare to speak out against compulsory veiling. It places many women at serious and immediate risk of unjust imprisonment while sending a chilling message to others to keep quiet while their rights are being violated," said Magdalena Mughrabi, Amnesty's deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa.

Last week, the authorities arrested two more women who protested against the hijab in Tehran.

Shaparak Shadizadeh, one of the two women arrested, was taken into custody on February 21. Her family says she was beaten up during the arrest.

Another woman was reportedly arrested on February 22.

A video shows a police officer kicking her down from a utility box where she had staged her peaceful protest.

Women's dress has been heavily scrutinized in the Islamic republic since the 1979 revolution, when adherence to an Islamic dress code became compulsory.

The dress code dictates that women's hair and body must be covered in public.

Morality police launch regular crackdowns on those who do not fully respect rules relating to the hijab.

Artyom Goncharenko was ruled to be a repeat offender because he was detained on January 28 after putting an oversized inflatable duck in an apartment window at a demonstration calling for a boycott of the March 18 presidential election.

A Russian activist has been sentenced in St. Petersburg to 25 days in jail after being detained on his way to attend a February 25 rally in memory of slain opposition leader Boris Nemtsov.

Artyom Goncharenko, a member of the Vesna human rights group, was kept by police overnight and handed the jail term by a district court on February 26.

The St. Petersburg court ruled that Goncharenko had violated Article 20.2 of the Administrative Code, which is the "repeated violation of the established procedure" for holding meetings or rallies.

Anastasia Burakova, a lawyer for the Open Russia Foundation, said the judge rejected all of the motions put forward by Goncharenko's defense and gave it 15 minutes to review the materials in the case.

Goncharenko was ruled to be a repeat offender because he was detained on January 28 after putting an oversized inflatable duck in an apartment window at a demonstration calling for a boycott of the March 18 presidential election.

Those nationwide rallies had been called by anticorruption crusader Aleksei Navalny after he was barred by Russia's Central Election Commission from running in the presidential election.

The rubber duck became a symbol of government corruption in Russia after Navalny published a report that alleged Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev had built a duck house on one of his estates.

Fellow activist Yaroslav Putrov was also detained with Goncharenko while walking to the Nemtsov rally. Putrov was, however, released the same day without charges.

Goncharenko's detention came as the United States in a statement commemorating the anniversary of Nemtsov's death on February 26 called on Russia to "uphold its obligations to promote and protect universal human rights, including freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and freedom of association."

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert also said Russia should "ensure that all involved in [Nemtsov's killing], including those who organized or ordered it, are brought to justice."

In July, a Moscow court found five men from Russia's North Caucasus region of Chechnya guilty of the murder and sentenced them to lengthy prison terms.

But relatives and associates charge that his assassination was ordered at a higher level. They say justice will not be served until the person or people who ordered the killing are identified and prosecuted.

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.


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