Green for the Women of Iran
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July 15, 2009
To our readers,
Since last month, the world community has witnessed, first hand, the bravery and courage of Iranian women defying Islamic fundamentalism. Media reported images of women organizing and joining others in the frontlines to push back the suppressive forces of the Iranian regime are countless. Of course, the price for liberation and freedom is high. Just like Ned a Agaha-Soltan Salehi, other women like Parisa Koli and Fahimeh Salahshoor have been killed by regime's sharpshooters in the streets of Tehran and elsewhere. The misogynous regime in Tehran has given the sharpshooters specific directions to aim to kill women in the streets. Faced with the undying aspiration of an indigenous liberation movement, Khamenei and Ahmadinejad realize that their days are numbered.
The recent uprising in Iran marks a significant milestone in the forthcoming change of regime in Iran. Many, rightfully so, compare these days with the leading months to the 1979 revolution. A page has turned in Iran and some call it the "beginning of the end" of the system of vali-e-faqih (Supreme Leadership). There is no doubt that women will continue to play an active and leading role in coming months. They have the most to gain from a positive change in Iran.
To support them, the world community must speak in one voice to:
- Denounce the Iranian regime and its crimes against the Iranian people.
- Declare the criminal gang of Khamenei and Ahmadinejad illegitimate and illegal.
- Cut all diplomatic ties with the regime in Tehran
When the people of Iran are paying with their blood to rid the world community from such a dangerous regime, this is the minimum others can do in their support. Let us hope the leaders of the free world will listen and take the side of the Iranian people and not the criminal regime in Tehran.
in this issue
• 30 Years of Iranian Women´s Resistance
• E-Zan Featured Headlines
• Woman Power
• Inside the Iranian Crackdown
E-Zan Featured Headlines
Christian Science Monitor - June 15, 2009
What is striking about the Iranians protesting fraud in the June 10 "election" is the number of women on the front lines. Among all those cheated at the polls, they may feel the most denied. For the first time in one of the Islamic Republic's controlled presidential campaigns, the women's movement was able to raise its demands clearly and independently - even though the unelected, 12-member, all-male Guardian Council did not allow any female candidates to run.
The movement's courage to confront the patriarchal theocracy (in which "morality police" still roam the streets looking for women with make-up) may have been a big reason why the regime rigged the vote count...Yet the ballot fraud was done with such audacity and clumsiness that the "landslide winner," President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, will likely find it difficult to rule.
And the West should hesitate before cozying up to a regime with fading legitimacy and which so openly suppresses half its population and sees women as a security threat. What country would have faith in signing a deal with a regime that cheats its own people, especially women, at the ballot box?...
Mr. Ahmadinejad has a strong record against women. He changed the name of the government's "Center for Women's Participation" to the "Center for Women and Family Affairs." He limited women's access to higher education and proposed laws that would allow men to divorce their wives without informing them and not to pay alimony. Most of all, the regime has jailed dozens of women involved in the One Million Signatures Campaign, a grass-roots movement that began in 2006 to reform the legal system and to end gender discrimination. The group has been harassed in their homes and branded as illegal. It is of little surprise, then, to see images of women, only slightly veiled, confronting the regime in post-election protests. While Ahmadinejad's false victory may have toughened the clerics' foreign posture with the West, they've only exposed their weakness at home.
The Associated Press - June 17, 2009
It's not just young, liberal rich kids anymore: Whole families, taxi drivers, even conservative women in black chadors are joining Iran's opposition street protests.The last time Iran was engulfed in similar anti-government action was a decade ago when a deadly raid on a Tehran University dorm sparked six days of nationwide protests. At the time, they were considered the worst since the 1979 revolution that toppled the pro-U.S. shah and brought hard-line clerics to power.A mother and her daughter, making their way through the crowd of thousands, said they had come because they could not sit at home anymore and watch what was happening. "
This is completely different to 1999. That was between the students and the government. This is between the people and the government. This time it is all of Iran. This is a historic movement," Boorghani said."The government may try to strangle us, but we won't sit back and let them," Boorghani said. "There's no way back. We won't give up."
CNN - June 19, 2009
Like thousands of other Iranian women, Parisa took to Tehran's streets this week, her heart brimming with hope. "Change," said the placards around her. The young Iranian woman eyed the crowd and pondered the possibility that the rest of her life might be different from her mother's. She could see glimmers of a future free from discrimination -- and all the symbols of it, including the head-covering the government requires her to wear every day.
Women, regarded as second-class citizens under Iranian law, have been noticeably front and center of the massive demonstrations that have unfolded since the presidential election a week ago. Iranians are protesting what they consider a fraudulent vote count favoring hardline incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but for many women like Parisa, the demonstrations are just as much about taking Iran one step closer to democracy. "
This regime is against all humanity, more specifically against all women," said Parisa, whom CNN is not fully identifying for security reasons. "I see lots of girls and women in these demonstrations," she said. "They are all angry, ready to explode, scream out and let the world hear their voice. I want the world to know that as a woman in this country, I have no freedom." "Today, we were wearing black," Parisa said, referring to the day of mourning to remember those who have died in post-election violence."We were holding signs. We said, 'We are not sheep. We are human beings,'" she said. Parisa was thankful for all the images being transmitted out of Iran despite the government's crackdown on international journalists. She was thankful, too, that the world cared. "Today," she said, "I had this feeling of hope that things will finally change."
The New York Times - June 20, 2009
I also know that Iran's women stand in the vanguard. For days now, I've seen them urging less courageous men on. I've seen them get beaten and return to the fray. "Why are you sitting there?" one shouted at a couple of men perched on the sidewalk on Saturday. "Get up! Get up!"
Another green-eyed woman, Mahin, aged 52, staggered into an alley clutching her face and in tears. Then, against the urging of those around her, she limped back into the crowd moving west toward Freedom Square. Cries of "Death to the dictator!" and "We want liberty!" accompanied her.
There were people of all ages. I saw an old man on crutches, middle-aged office workers and bands of teenagers. Unlike the student revolts of 2003 and 1999, this movement is broad. "Can't the United Nations help us?" one woman asked me. I said I doubted that very much. "So," she said, "we are on our own."
Later, as night fell over the tumultuous capital, gunfire could be heard in the distance. And from rooftops across the city, the defiant sound of "Allah-u-Akbar" - "God is Great" - went up yet again, as it has every night since the fraudulent election. But on Saturday it seemed stronger. The same cry was heard in 1979, only for one form of absolutism to yield to another. Iran has waited long enough to be free.
The Associated Press - June 25, 2009
For years, women's defiance in Iran came in carefully planned flashes of hair under their head scarves, in brightly painted fingernails, and in trendy clothing that could be glimpsed under bulky coats and cloaks. But these small acts of rebellion against the theocratic government have been quickly eclipsed in the wake of the disputed June 12 presidential elections. In their place came images of Iranian women marching alongside men, of their scuffles with burly militiamen, of the sobering footage of a young woman named Neda, blood pouring from her mouth and nose minutes after she was fatally shot. In a part of the Muslim world where women are often repressed, these images have catapulted female demonstrators to the forefront of Iran's opposition movement. It is a role, say Iranian women and experts, that few seem willing to give up, and one that is likely to present even greater challenges to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's hard-line government in the wake of the recent violence and protests. "
Iranian women are very powerful, and they want their freedom," said one woman in Tehran who said she had been taking part in the protests. Like all women in Iran interviewed for this story, she did not want to be named, fearing government retribution. But, she said, "they're really, really repressed, and they need to talk about it."
The election seemed to open the floodgates for airing that sense of frustration. While Iranian women have been politically active in the past, coming out in large numbers in support of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the latest demonstrations showed them standing shoulder-to-shoulder with their male counterparts, enduring the same blows and threats. "We were all together, and we helped each other despite our sexuality, and we will be together," said a Tehran woman, 34, who is active in the protests.
Statesman Journal - July 1, 2009
Every revolution needs a unifying symbol, and members of Iran's opposition movement now have theirs...The thought is inescapable that the beautiful Neda Agha Soltan might have been selected from the crowd not to scare away protesters, but to unite them. It is not impossible to imagine that someone had a greater purpose in mind for the young philosophy student...What follows next is by no means predictable, but history provides hints. Neda's anointment as a martyr could become crucial in the next month.
Followers of the Shiite branch of Islam participate in cycles of mourning - on the third, seventh and 40th days after death. These cycles served as rallying points during the 1979 revolution and conceivably could serve the same purpose now. In the meantime, it is reasonable to ask why Neda so captured the imagination when many others have died since the June 12 election.
On the same day that Neda died, at least nine other protesters were killed...But as the days unfold, it will be interesting to watch how Neda, whose name means "The Voice" or "The Calling," is incorporated into the developing narrative of Iran and especially of Iranian women...
That message may have been the sniper's target. With his bullet, he delivered another: Women either will behave and follow the rules, or they will die. Whatever the shooter's true aim, the body he left in the street has become immortal in the story of Iran. Neda - the voice of freedom - can never be silenced now.
NCRI Website - July 9, 2009
According to reports from inside Iran by the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) Social Headquarters, in the course of the July 9 uprising in Tehran, a large number of young women were arrested.
They were taken to undisclosed locations and their fate remains unknown. Plain-clothes agents beat young women with batons and used pepper sprays, which could cause serious harm to their eyes, during the arrests. The agents then transferred the detainees in vans with license plates.
Separately, underscoring the intensity of July 9 protests, at 23:00 local time, people in Aryashahr chanted, "We are men and women of war, Fight and we will fight back." People also went to their rooftops immediately after the protests to chant "God is great" and "Death to dictator."
Time Magazine - July 9, 2009
Nearly two weeks of silence on the streets of Tehran were broken in the evening of July 9 when thousands marched through the central districts of the Iranian capital to protest the June 12 presidential election. Another anniversary helped precipitate the show of apparent defiance: the 10th anniversary of a bloody student uprising that was brutally put down by the government.
Despite threats earlier in the day of a "crushing" response, men, women and even some children went onto the streets with chants of "Death to the dictator"...But the response was indeed crushing. Members of the élite Revolutionary Guard and the dreaded paramilitary group the Basij rushed the initial crowd gathered at Enqelab (Revolution) Square with batons at around 5 p.m.
One woman who was fleeing the scene had bloodstains on her white skirt splattered from demonstrators nearby. But pockets of protesters numbering in the hundreds soon resurfaced along many of the main streets north and east of Enqelab Square and in the city's main squares. For a few hours, the energy of the crowds seemed infinite, undiminished by the baton-wielding Basij zipping by on motorbikes.
One student stood resolutely on the sidewalk of Fatemi Street and said, "We will not give up. First, Ahmadinejad. Then Khamenei. Then freedom."
For the most part, the crowd remained nonviolent, though at one point young men began to throw rocks from an alley at passing soldiers. When the small group of soldiers retreated, the man in front of the protesters threw up his hands in victory to the cheers of the crowd. As a procession of men carrying flower arrangements commemorating the 1999 student uprising went by, a bystander explained that these men were the first to be attacked.
NCRI Website - July 15, 2009
Nearly one month after suppressive forces arrested Ms. Taraneh Mousavi, 28, there is still no information about her fate and whereabouts. She was arrested by suppressive forces on June 17 in Shari'ati Street in Tehran during the Iranian people's nationwide uprising. Her mother was informed recently that Taraneh was undergoing treatment in Khomeini Hospital in Karaj, but when her mother went to the hospital, officials told her that they had no record of her there.
According to eye-witness reports, Taraneh and a group of other people were arrested and taken by plainclothes agents to a secret torture site known as a "safe-house". All those arrested with her were later transferred to Evin Prison, but no one has been able to confirm if she had been transferred from that center or removed from the custody of the plainclothes agents. Detainees of the uprising, in particular women and girls, are facing physical and psychological torture and even rape by plainclothes agents who are under the direct command of the office of the regime's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
In addition to Taraneh, there is no word on the fate of many other detained women and girls. At least 14 women and girls were among those arrested during protests on July 9, and their relatives have no information about them. (There is a list available with their names)
Ms. Sarvnaz Chitsaz, Chair of the Women's Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, urged Ms. Navanethem Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Dr. Yakin Ertürk, the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, to look into the cases of the detained women and girls, in particular Taraneh Mousavi. She calls on the UN Security Council to take urgent action against the brutal suppression of the detainees, especially the women.
Regimes that repress the civil and human rights of half their population are inherently unstable.
By Anne Applebaum
Slate and Washington Post
June 22, 2009
Women in sunglasses and head scarves speaking through megaphones, brandishing cameras, carrying signs. When they first appeared, the photographs of the 2005 Tehran University women's rights protests were a powerful reminder of the true potential of Iranian women. They were uplifting, they featured women of many ages, and they went on circulating long after the protests themselves died down. Now they have been replaced by a far more brutal and already infamous set of images: the photographs and video taken last weekend of a young Iranian woman, allegedly shot by a government sniper, dying on the streets of Tehran.
I don't know whether the girl in the photographs is destined to become this revolution's symbolic martyr, as some are already predicting. I do know, however, that there is a connection between the violence in Iran over the last week and the women's rights movement that has slowly gained strength over the last several years in Iran.
Find out more... in the newsletter
Inside the Iranian Crackdown
When the Unrest Flared, the Ayatollah's Enforcers Took to the Streets of Tehran With Batons and Zeal
By Farnaz Fassihi
July 11, 2009
The Wall Street Journal
When the protests broke out here last month, Mehdi Moradani answered the call to crush them.
On the first day of the unrest, the 24-year-old volunteer member of Iran's paramilitary Basij force mounted his motorcycle and chased reformist protesters through the streets, shouting out the names of Shiite saints as he revved his engine.
On the fourth day, he picked up a thick wooden stick issued by his Basij neighborhood task force and beat demonstrators who refused to disperse. Members of Iran's Basij paramilitary force, on motorcycle, police a demonstration in Tehran on Thursday. By the eighth day, demonstrators alleging that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had rigged his re-election were out by the hundreds of thousands.
Mr. Moradani says he mobilized in a 12-man motorcycle crew, scouting out restive neighborhoods across Tehran. He battled protesters with a baton and tear gas. The demonstrators fought back with rocks, bricks and bottles. Mr. Moradani says he handcuffed scores of demonstrators and dragged them away as they kicked and screamed.
"It wasn't about elections anymore," says Mr. Moradani, a short, skinny man with pitch-black hair and a beard. "I was defending my country and our revolution and Islam. Everything was at risk."
The mass uprising against the results of the June 12 election by supporters of Mr. Ahmadinejad's challengers has largely died down. Demonstrations this Thursday, though heated, drew thousands rather than hundreds of thousands. Iranian officials have said between 17 and 20 people have died in the monthlong protests. Independent organizations tracking human-rights violations in Iran put the death toll closer to several dozen.
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30 Years of Iranian Women´s Resistance
By Jila Kazerounian, WFAFI Executive Director
June 27, 2009
The American Chronicle
The images are very powerful. Iranian women, young and old, stand up to the fundamentalist, misogynist dictators of Tehran. No wonder that Neda Agha Soltan, the brave young woman who was brutally murdered by the Basij militia forces, has become the face and the symbol of this uprising. Iranian women identify with Neda, now a mystified figure, a martyr and an icon. They now have a face and a symbol for their struggle against misogyny. Today, Neda is a daughter and a sister to all Iranians from every walk of life inside and outside Iran.
Though the world is just hearing and seeing bits and pieces of it, the story of the struggle of Iranian women against dictatorship is not new. In the 1979 revolution against monarchy, women were present in masses at all demonstrations that eventually brought down the dictatorship of the Shah. They took part in the revolution with the hope of establishing democracy and freedom in their country. Their revolution was hijacked by Khomeini and his cronies whose viciousness and brutality has been unmatched in Iran´s history.
A few months after the revolution, by Khomeini´s order, women were required to wear hejab (the "Islamic" dress code). Scores of them were forced out of work. The laws of the land morphed into Sharia law that basically considered women as second class citizens with minimal legal rights. Iranian women felt betrayed and found themselves under enormous suppression but they did not give up.
On June 20th, 1981 tens of thousands of women poured into the streets of Tehran alongside their brothers and male comrades to peacefully protest the clerical regime´s conduct in limiting their freedom, closing the media outlets, attacking the opposition and crushing the slightest whispers of dissent. Their peaceful demonstration was attacked the exact same way as we see on the streets toda, by bullets and batons. Thousands were arrested, among them teenage boys and girls.
In the next two weeks, scores of them were executed without even revealing their names to the authorities. Their pictures were published in the state owned media the next day asking parents with missing children to go to the morgue and identify the bodies, and pay the cost of the bullets that killed their loved ones. On June 20th, 2009 the world witnessed in horror the violence and brutality of the ruling mullahs as a result of the internet, cell phones and social networking sites. 28 years prior to this day, the outside world hardly realized the cruelty and viciousness against the generation of Neda´s parents.
Following that infamous day in 1981, the clerics and their cronies (Rafsanjani, Khatami and Mousavi among them) began a horrific campaign of terror against Iranian dissidents. Tens of thousand were imprisoned and executed. The mere distribution of an opposition pamphlet or newspaper could potentially result to one´s execution. Young virgin girls were routinely raped in the prisons before their execution so they would not end up in the heaven (according to the Sharia law, if one dies virgin she will go to heaven!) Pregnant women were shot in the abdomen and grandmothers were hanged in the prisons.
The Iranian women´s heroic resistance was hardly heard or seen then. Those who stood up to the violence of the mullahs then were labeled terrorists by the Iranian regime and their western supporters. Their political activities limited and their hands tied as a show of goodwill to the mullahs.
Throughout the years, the brave women of Iranian resistance have stood up to the most brutal and vicious religious dictatorship of the 20th century. They have led the most organized opposition to the mullahs. Their resolve and resilience has shocked their enemies and heartened their friends. These women never gave up their quest for freedom. There was never a vacuum in the continuity of the struggle. While the western media chose to look for the woods behind a tree, organized resistance led by a woman, Maryam Rajavi empowered thousands of Iranian women to take leading roles in their strive for democracy and justice.
28 years after the mass peaceful demonstration of 1981, history repeats itself. Neda and her friends are an extension of those brave women who have throughout the years stood up to the mullahs and who have never given up. Neda´s struggle is the extension of the struggle of all those women who have defied the rule of tyranny and misogyny.
Let´s bow to Neda´s soul and to all who gave up their lives for freedom of their people. May they all rest in peace.
Find out more...
and at the Women Forum Against Fundamentalism in Iran Website .