Soumya Swaminathan pulls out from the Asian Team Chess Championship over headscarf protocol

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Soumya Swaminathan pulls out from the Asian Team Chess Championship over headscarf protocol

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SportsCafe Desk


Soumya Swaminathan has refused to participate in the Asian Team Chess Championship on account of the compulsory headscarf protocol kept by the host country, Iran. Citing the criteria to be a severe violation of her personal rights, she has decided to refrain from being a part of the tournament.

The Woman Grandmaster and former world junior girls’ champion, Soumya Swaminathan was to be a part of the event, going to be held in Hamadan, Iran, from July 26 to August 4 from which she has withdrawn because of compulsory headscarf rule for women. In 2016, an Indian shooter, Heena Sidhu had refused the participation in Asian Airgun meet in Iran because of the same cause.

“I do not wish to be forced to wear a headscarf or burqa. I find the Iranian law of compulsory headscarf to be in a 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,” Soumya posted on her Facebook Account.

Soumya stated that she had given her approval when she had been informed that the host country would be Bangladesh with different dates. She withdrew her participation after the change of venue and dates.

“I am very disappointed to see that player's rights and welfare are given little importance while allotting and/or organising official championships,” Soumya expressed her disappointment with the allocated venue.

The Muzhychuk sisters from Ukraine, Anna and Mariya also refused to play in premier tournaments in Saudi Arabia. Nazi Paikidze from America, also refused to play in World Championship in Iran due to the same reason. Soumya is being highly appreciated form her vocal protest and courageous attitude towards the situation, where Bharat Singh Chauhan, All India Chess Federation honorary secretary was unresponsive to any request for comments.

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