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The intensification of repression in Iran while tensions in the region and the risk of war are mounting

Image for women and prison2With the escalation of tensions between the dictatorial theocratic regime of Iran and the right wing and fascist government of the United Sates, the spectre of a devastating war, with the agitations on both sides, is moving over Iran and the Middle East and causes worries for the people and the progressive forces of Iran and the world. This is taking place at a time when in Iran, due to the anti-democratic economic policies the living conditions, the peoples’ livelihood, is constantly declining, and the people, upset with the inflation and high prices, face many difficulties in providing the life necessities, and in addition, are bearing the burden of the imposed sanctions as well.

Today, the destructive and dangerous acts are replacing the rhetorical threats by both sides, especially by the Trump’s quasi-fascist government. These acts are threatening the peace in the region and this conflict situation is pleasing the warmongers on both sides. Experience has shown that the reactionary and anti-democratic policies of the regressive regimes, not only protects the interest of their authoritarian and repressive regimes but also works and is in line with the interest of imperialism. On the other hand, the US destructive and dangerous policies and actions, including imposing sanctions and creating tensions, serve and are in line with the interest of the reactionary and repressive regime of Iran.

Thus, the tyrannical regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran which from two years ago, specially from December of 2017, is facing wide popular protests, has welcomed the tense and dangerous atmosphere and in order to avoid the collapse of its shaking bases, has launched further suppression against social and trade union activists. Systemic corruption and the deepening gap between the poor and the rich, which is the result of the implementation of neo-liberal economic policies, along with the astronomical embezzlements that every so often find its way to the official media, as a result of internal power struggles, along with rampant inflation and the high cost of the basic necessities such as housing, food, etc., day by day push increasing number of people under the line of poverty. At the same time, this has resulted in protest movements by the lower strata of the society and the working class such as the workers, teachers, and the pensioners, which continues despite all the suppression.

Even the cronies of the theocratic regime cannot deny the economic, political and social crises that Iran is faced with. As the food basket of the people shrinks, the general manager of the Office of Nutrition Improvement under the Ministry of Health states: eight provinces of the country are facing with food supply insecurity; specially in the poor provinces such as Sistan and Baluchistan, Kohgilooyeh and Booyerahmad, Eelam, Hormozgaan, Khoozestan, Kerman, and the south Khorasan province. He deems unemployment, low-income, and drought and water shortage, poverty and illiteracy as the main reasons of this situation (ILNA, July 31, 2019).

But the theocratic regime and its dictatorial and anti-democratic structure, as always see the solution in further suppression and violation of the peoples’ rights and freedoms, by taking advantage of the tensions and conflict in the region and widespread arrests and repression of activists who call for an end to oppression, poverty, discrimination and inequality. Due to these arrests, the prisons of the country are full of women and men, freedom fighters, trade union and civil rights activists, university students, teachers, religious minorities, democratic lawyers, environmental activists, and journalists.

According to reports by prisoners’ families, hunger strikes by political prisoners are on-going, and the prisoners continue to sacrifice their lives to pursue their humanist ideals. In recent days there have been reports of the hunger strike of Sepideh Gholian, in protest at the prison guards’ degrading treatment of her elderly parents, the hunger strike of Sanaz Allahyari and Amir Hossein Mohammadifar (journalist couples) or Hakimeh Ahmadi (Civil activist from Azabayjan). While these are taking place the international community is silent.

Let us not forget that the massacre of more than four thousand political prisoners by the theocratic regime of Iran in August and September of 1988 on the eve of the end of the Iran-Iraq war, was also committed in full silence of the international community. Given the developments in cyberspace and communications, today’s situation is in no way comparable to 31 years ago.

Autocracy in Iran has repeatedly showed that its suppression does not differentiate between men and women: from the heavy sentences for the democratic lawyers such as Nasrin Sotoudeh (38 years) , Amir Salar Davoudi who recently was sentenced to 30 years and 111 lashes, or the civil activists such as Yasmin Ariaee, Manizheh Arabshahi and Mozhgan Keshavarz who in total were sentenced to 55 years prison term for protesting the compulsory covering (Hijab) for women and giving flowers to women in Tehran’s subway, to the heavy sentences issued for the teachers trade union activists such as Esmail Abdi and Mohammad Habibi and etc.

The arrests in recent months and the heavy sentences passed on activists for voicing their opinion or peaceful struggle, under the pretext of security risks, happen under circumstances in which the progressive public opinion in the country and around the world are gravely worried about the situation in the region and the consequences of a possible devastating war. The spread of the arrests and the intensification of suppression of activists proves that for the leaders of the theocratic regime of Iran, the best context for their cynical survival is to take advantage of threat of war.

The names of some of the arrested people in recent months are as follows:

Farangis Mazloom, Mother of Soheil A’raabi, political prisoner

Asrin Kaleh, Women and Human Rights Activist

Marzieh Amiri, Anisha Asadollahi, Neda Naji and Atefeh Rangraz, arrested during the May 1st (Labour Day) gatherings

Sepideh Gholian and the journalist couples Sanaz Allahyari and Amir Hossein Mohammadifar, defendants in the judicial file of Haft-Tapeh strike who presently are on hunger strike

Leila Hosseinzadeh, Secretary of the Central Student Council of Tehran University

Parisa Rafiee and Saba Kord Afshari, Human Rights Activists and former political prisoners

Naheed Shaghaghi, Women’s rights activist who was arrested for hiking without wearing the veil (Hijab)

Hakimeh Ahmadi, Human Rights Activist from Azerbaijan

Sepideh Moradi, Elham Ahmadi, Shokoofeh Yadollahi, Dervish women, imprisoned in Section 7 of Gharechak Varaamin prison

Sima and Shima Entesari, two sisters, held in Section 1 of Gharechack Varaamin prison

Hengameh Shahidi, Journalist, sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment

Niloofar Bayani and Sepideh Kashani, Environmental Activists, along with 4 male activists, has been detained “temporarily” in Revolutionary Guard Torture centres for more than 4 year now

Yasamin Ariaee, Manizheh Arabshahi and Mozhgan Keshavarz, charged with protests against the compulsory veil (Hijab) and giving flowers to women on Tehran’s subway. Sentenced to a total of 55 years in prison

Sadigheh Moradi and Mehdi Khavas Sefat, the couple who are former political prisoners, were arrested on July 7, 2019 by the security forces in Tehran

Maryam Mohammadi, Akram Nasirian, Aras Amiri, Sepideh Farhan, … and the list goes on.

Even though this list is not complete and does not cover many of the detainees outside Tehran, or those prisoners whose relatives for one reason or another, under threats by security forces, do not officially release the prisoner’s names. It is just a snapshot of the intensification of suppression in Iran.

Courageous women political prisoners, like their male counterparts, show resistance against the torturers and their masters: the misogynist and despotic theocratic regime of Iran. Prisoners such as Nargess Mohammadi, Atena Daemi, Zeinab Jalalian, Sepideh Gholian, and Nasrin Sotoodeh, and hundreds of others, are incarcerated in Iran’s prisons, and their number is increasing by the day. Defending all the political and civil prisoners, regardless of their political tendencies, has become one of the effective means of struggle beside that of the masses for social and economic change, against the regime and against war. By connecting these struggles with the general struggle of the Iranian people, we can get rid of dictatorship, war, and injustice in Iran.

Let us be the voice of the political prisoners of Iran!

We conclude with a quotation from the brave and steadfast Ms. Nargess Mohammadi, a civil and human rights activist, who wrote, in a letter, from the notorious Evin prison in Tehran:

Dictatorship and war are the two sides of the same coin in destructing the societies, and their obvious common denominator is violence. Thus, the same way and with the same power that we have stood and will stand against war and violence, we have a mission that retreating from it would never be justified, and that is to fight against the dictatorial regime. For many years, we have witnessed repression and oppression, which has resulted in endless and limitless systematic corruption of the rulers and increasing poverty and marginalization of the people, lack of freedom of expression and opinion, imprisonment and arrests, silencing the opponents and critics. (August 2019)

MaZanan 23.09.2019

No to War, No to Sanctions, No to Dictatorship

Ahvaz-bombardment-iran-iraq-warThe following are excerpts from the message of the Democratic Organisation of Iranian Women (DOIW) to the Women’s International Democratic Federation -WIDF, in June 2019

‘As you know, the tensions between Iran on the one hand, and the Trump Administration together with its regional allies such as Saudi Arabia and Israel, have been intensifying and the drums of war are sounding again. Without a serious and concerted struggle to stop war, another catastrophe can befall the world. Progressive forces and peace activists in Iran and the world are voicing their deep concern at the intensification of this dangerous trend which, in addition to verbal threats by both sides, has led to the massive increase in the deployment of the imperialist war machine in the region.

The instigators of this tension are the racist and neo-fascist Trump administration in the USA and its allies in the world and the region on the one hand, and the despotic regime of Supreme Religious Leader which faces increasing political and economic crisis in the country, and whose survival depends on preserving a theocratic dictatorship, and guaranteeing the interests of big capitalists, middlemen and rentiers, on the other hand. Neither have any compunction about killing millions of innocent people and destroying the vital infrastructure of the country. A military confrontation will only benefit the material and political interests of the belligerents in power.

In the early years after the Revolution of 1979, the war-mongering leaders of the Islamic Republic offered slogans such as  ‘war is a blessing’ and called for the continuation of the destructive Iran-Iraq war even after the liberation of Khoramshahr from the occupation of the Iraqi regime’s forces, and missed the opportunity to end the war by negotiation. This stance led to massive human loss of life and the destruction of our country’s resources. The regime also used the war as a pretext to summarily and secretly execute around 5,000 political prisoners, ultimately using the war to defeat the Revolution. Today, too, the war-mongers are attempting to use the climate of security threat and war, in order to crush people’s protest movement.

In the last decade alone, the rabid, war-mongering imperialists and their allies have started destructive wars in many countries in the region, namely, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen, and they have profited from these wars by hundreds of millions of dollars. The sale of billions of US dollars’ worth of military hardware to the reactionary regime of Saudi Arabia, and the recent dispatch of warships to the Persian Gulf are in line with the US attempts at establishing its domination on the energy sources in the region.

On another hand, in our country, under the rule of despotism and injustice, the anti-people policies of the regime have caused economic bankruptcy, and deepening poverty for most of our people. More than three decades of neo-liberal policies, closure of manufacturing and production units, increasing unemployment especially among women, zero-hour contracts, and privatisations, a rentier economy, have meant that the class division has become ever greater, and the ordinary people’s living conditions have become intolerable. In addition, the imposition of back-breaking sanctions by the US have targeted ordinary people and has made the lives of workers and the poor evermore difficult, and has affected women even more so.

The people of Iran know well that their demands for an end to the economic and social problems they face, and for freedom and democracy, depends on their own relentless struggle. They strongly oppose any imperialist intervention in the country and believe that war and imperialist threats only serve the prolonging of the current conditions and will increase the climate of security tensions and the suppression of the protest movement. For this reason, the people of our country fight on two fronts: against the medieval regime that considers itself to be the representative of god and to have jurisdiction on the life and property of the people, and against its the anti-people economic policies that have driven the people to destitution; they also fight against aggressive imperialist plans of war in the region and in Iran. The slogan of the people of Iran is: ‘No to War, No to Sanctions, No to Authoritarianism’.

‘Ordinary people, at their forefront, women and children are the main victims of wars and displacements. The intensification of tensions and the start of another war, will lead to another catastrophe that will affect the people of the Middle East as well as Iran, threatening to plunge the whole region in an extended war and ruination. In this midst the ordinary people who play no part in the start of wars, become targets for the conflict. The hardship that women and children face in ordinary conditions are multiplied manifold in war conditions.

The Democratic Organisation of Iranian Women appeals to all its comrades and peace activists, worldwide, to mobilise public opinion and seek assistance from international organisations, especially the UN, to stop a new catastrophe from developing in the Middle East and Iran. We must not allow women, children and millions of innocent people, the human and natural resources of Iran to fall victim to the destructive plans of imperialism.’

Torture of Trade Unionists

Reporting on recent strikes in Iran and the torture on activists, CODIR has written:

‘A wave of strike action across the province of Khuzestan has led to the arrest and torture of leading activists.iran_bakhshi-trade unionists

Workers at the Iran National Steel plant in Ahvaz have taken strike action on several occasions over the past year, in an ongoing dispute to demand unpaid wages and the return of their factory to public ownership. They have formed solidarity links with workers at the Haft Tappeh sugarcane complex in the city of Shush, who have been on strike for more than a month over unpaid wages and alleged corruption by managers.

There are also strikes at Abadan oil refinery, the Ahvaz Metro project, and among municipal employees in Hamidiyeh.

Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei claims that the strikes are led by foreign enemies attempting to destroy the economy. But workers respond by describing Iran as “the House of Thieves – unique in the whole world”, insisting that “Our enemy is right here – they lie saying it’s America”.

On 18 November, a demonstration in Shush of 4,000 Haft Tapeh workers was attacked by security forces, and 18 prominent worker leaders were arrested. The next day, the sugarcane complex workers were joined in a solidarity rally by thousands of Ahvaz steel workers. The workers rallied in front of the governor’s office, demanding the release of the activists. Read the rest of this entry »

Workers and Teachers Protest

The Committee for the Defence of  Iranian People’s Rights (CODIR) wrote on 20th November 2018: ‘The wave of protests which has gripped Iran since demonstrations engulfed 85 cities last January are showing no sign of letting up. The protesters range from the low paid, underemployed and disenfranchised, through industrial workers in the steel and sugar industries, to professional workers such as teachers. There is no strand of Iranian society which has not been touched by the protests and the regime continues to struggle to contain nationwide discontent. Jane Green reports on current developments.protesting teachers
At the beginning of November Teachers in ran went on strike for two consecutive days across 27 major cities in Iran. The action is the second round of strikes since mid-October and is aimed at putting pressure upon the government to carry out educational reforms and end mismanagement. The teachers’ action is also protesting against low wages and the violations of the educational rights of students and minorities.
Images of the striking teachers have been widely circulated on Iranian social media, in an attempt to circumvent official reporting, which sought to play down the extent and significance of the disputes. Photographs circulated on social media showed teachers holding up posters and signs with their written demands. Read the rest of this entry »

‘Islamic Guidance’ Patrol Beats up Young Woman in Park

A video made public on social media, in recent days, shows the appalling Guidance Patroltreatment of women in the Islamic Republic of Iran during the enforcement of compulsory hejab. The video shows a group of men and women ‘Islamic Guidance’ Patrol approach a few young women in a Tehran park. As they resist the Guards a verbal altercation starts and a female guards starts beating up one of the young women. Her friends try to free her. Crying and screams of the girls is heard remonstrating with the Guards. At the end of the video one of the young women is seen collapsed on the ground with one of her friends saying that she is having problems with her heart. There is no further information about the fate of the girls.
Since coming to power, the Islamic Republic has restricted freedoms of dress, food, social gatherings and other everyday aspects of people’s life. In recent months, resistance against forced hejab has escalated in Iran. This latest incident has caused such repugnance among those who have seen the video that some in official positions have started questioning the wisdom of the function of the patrols and the way they enforce their laws. Some of the statements are cited below. Read the rest of this entry »

The Struggle in Workplaces to Eliminate Discrimination against Working Women

In recent years, the Iranian women have been persistently fighting for their violated and trampled rights in many arenas. They have street vendors in Gilan Irancampaigned against compulsory hijab (head and body covering), Retribution Bill (equal retaliation as punishment for an offence, in Islamic jurisprudence and penal law), the so-called “Family Support” bill which legalizes the lack of rights of women, child marriage, gender segregation (in schools, buses, and other public places), domestic violence and other cases of violence against women, and child abuse. The Iranian women have relentlessly fought for the equal rights in education, the right to go to sport stadiums and attend public sport events, and to defend the rights of the children. Other important struggles of the Iranian women have been in the areas such as, but not limited to, equal rights with men, equal pay for equal work, equal employment opportunity, and pension and health care services, particularly for marginalized women. Read the rest of this entry »

Iranian Women and Gender Discrimination

In recent years that the capitalist system has increasingly put the burden of its crises on the shoulders of women, we have witnessed the demo bannerdeterioration of the living and working conditions of women across the world. The owners and holders of wealth and power try to overcome and go through the crises by intensifying the exploitation of women in every aspect, but our sisters have risen all around the world and have raised their voice of protest in every possible opportunity.
The women’s struggle is not only for women, but is a struggle for all the humanity to realize a humane life, freedom, equality, and social justice. It is essential that all humans who believe in equality, freedom, and social justice join in this struggle. A society whose half of population is not free and is under various pressures and political, social, economic, and social discriminations cannot be a free and democratic society. In a society where there is no equal rights and freedom for women, the concepts of democracy and social justice are meaningless and unreal. Read the rest of this entry »

Amnesty International Call for an End to the Persecution of Women Peacefully Protesting Against the Veil

On 24th January 2018, Amnesty International published a Public Statement in which it called compulsory veiling as abusive, discriminatory and humiliating and demanded an end to the persecution of women for peacefully protesting against it. The full Woman protestor with white clothcontent of the statement is shown below.

‘The Iranian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release a woman who was arrested on 27 December 201

7 in Tehran for engaging in a peaceful protest against compulsory veiling (hijab), Amnesty International said today. The organization renewed its calls on the Iranian authorities to end the persecution of women who speak out against compulsory veiling, and abolish this discriminatory and humiliating practice. This practice has violated women’s rights in Iran for decades, including their rights to non-discrimination, freedom of belief and religion, freedom of expression, and protection from arbitrary arrests and detention, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Read the rest of this entry »

Amnesty International on reports of protester deaths in custody

The following statements were published by Amnesty International, on 9th and 4th of January respectively, following alarming news about brutal crackdown on protesters and mounting deaths of those in custody of the regime.Unrest in Iran

‘Iran: Investigate reports of protester deaths in custody

9 January 2018, 18:04 UTC

The Iranian authorities must immediately investigate reports that at least five people have died in custody following a crackdown on anti-establishment protests, and take all necessary steps to protect detainees from torture and prevent any further deaths, Amnesty International said today.  Read the rest of this entry »

3,700 people imprisoned following recent unrest in Iran

The member of the Islamic Parliament, Mahmood Sadeghi announced that 3,700 people have been arrested during the recent unrest in Iran’s towns and cities. Sadeghi who is a member of the Education Committee of the Parliament indicated that the arrests were made by law enforcement and security forces. He said that it was not po792678_641[1]ssible to give exact figures on the number of university students detained.
According to Asre Iran, Mahmood Sadeghi said in an interview with the Khaneh Mellat news agency, that different forces had submitted differing accounts of the number of students arrested during the recent unrest to the parliament, and therefore it was not possible to state with any accuracy how many were in detention. Read the rest of this entry »