Friday, March 12, 2010

We Will Stand by the People

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Rooz Online English /

In a gathering to mark the International Women’s Day, Iranian women’s rights activists called for the “eradication of discrimination against women in all laws, the adoption of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination, equal opportunities in politics and management, release of political and ideological prisoners and freedom of peaceful action for women.” They announced, “We will stand by the people and green movement activists while continuing the struggle for the achievement of our independent rights and demands. We will not stop until their full achievement because we are countless.” According to Rooz reporters, the gathering to mark the International Women’s Day was held despite the extreme amounts of pressure and intimidation imposed by the government, at Mir-Hossein Mousavi’s office. Zahra Rahnavard and many women’s rights activists attended the gathering, as many others have been arrested or forced to leave Iran since the June 12 election coup. In previous years also similar gatherings on the International Women’s Day were either prevented or turned violent because of police interference. In 1385 (2007), plain-clothes and special unit forces engaged in violent clashes with the women, dispersing them from the Baharestan square and arresting several activists. In 1382 (2004) the gathering ended before it began as plain-clothes agents surrendered the Laleh park, where the gathering was scheduled to be held, and beat the participants with batons.

Yesterday’s gathering was held while Simin Behbahani, who was scheduled to fly to Paris on an invitation from the Paris city government, was barred by security agents from leaving the country. The feminism school website quoted Simin Behbahani, “I was invited by the Paris city government for March 8, and I had prepared a text on feminism and a poem about women to read at the event and planned to return on Wednesday. Because of my old age and health issues I repeatedly thought about not going, but decided to participate in the event with my poem and text on feminism because of the kindness and persistence of inviters and my love and dedication for my country’s women and respect for this important day. After I passed through the customs gate and received the exit stamp on my passport, two agents called me, confiscated my passport and interrogated me until 5 am with a series of why and how questions, and then gave me a piece of paper asking me to go to the Revolutionary Court to get my passport back.” As such, Simin Behbahani joined the growing group of female civil society activists who have been barred from exiting the country throughout the past four years. Among them are Nasrin Sotoudeh, Mansoureh Shojaie, Narges Mohammadi, Talat Taghinia and Badrossadat Mofidi.