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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 March 2007, 16:15 GMT
Iran police stop women's protest
Iranian women hold banners calling for equal rights - June 2006 photo
Seventy people were arrested at a demonstration last June
Police in the Iranian capital Tehran have prevented protesters from taking part in a rally outside parliament to mark International Women's Day.

The authorities deployed large numbers of riot police and plain clothes officers in front of the parliament.

A few people tried to gather but were dispersed. One women was seen lifted up and carried away by female officers.

The police action follows the arrest of leading women's rights activists taking part in protests outside a courthouse.

Two of the activists and their lawyer are still in jail but the rest of the 33 women who were arrested on Sunday were freed in the middle of Tuesday night.

They were warned not to take part in any protests to mark International Women's Day later on Wednesday.

The BBC's Frances Harrison in Tehran says the decision to arrest so many prominent women brought the Iranian government much negative publicity internationally.

Women activists say they have been subject to increasing intimidation since they launched a petition to change discriminatory laws on polygamy and child custody.

The women have launched a campaign to collect one million signatures for their petition.

Mobile phone footage of a demonstration by women

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