Pune, Jun 13 : Calling Iranian law of wearing compulsory headscarf as direct violation of basic human rights, Woman Grandmaster and former world junior girls’ champion Soumya Swaminathan has withdrawn from the Asian Team Chess Championship, to be held in Hamadan, Iran, from July 26 to August 4.
“I do not wish to be forced to wear a headscarf or burqa. I find the Iranian law of compulsory headscarf to be in direct violation of my basic human rights, including my right to freedom of expression and right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. It seems that under the present circumstances, the only way for me to protect my rights is to not go to Iran,” said Swaminathan.
The 29-year-old, who is India’s No 5 and world No 97 among women, further added that player’s right are given less important while alloting or organising official championships and there is no place for an enforceable religious dress code in sports.
“I am very disappointed to see that player’s rights and welfare are given such less importance while allotting and/or organising official championships. I understand the organisers expecting us to wear our National Team Dress or Formals or Sporting attire for our games during official championships, but surely there is no place for an enforceable religious dress code in sports.
She expressed her disagreement saying the players make several adjustments for the sake of sports.
“It is a huge honour for me to represent India everytime I am selected in the National Team and I deeply regret that I will be unable to participate in such an important championship. While we sportspersons are willing to make several adjustments for the sake of our sport, always giving it top priority in our life, some things simply cannot be compromised,’ she said.
She is not the first to take take such steps, earlier, in 2016, top Indian shooter Heena Sidhu had withdrawn from the Asian Airgun meet in Iran citing the same reason.