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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.’

‘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 »

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 »

Widening Gender Divide and Increasing Impoverishment of Women

One of the most telling indicators of economic, political and cultural development, gender equality and the empowerment of women, isstreet vendors in Gilan Iran women’s share of economic resources and their influence in the country’s economy. According to agreements and official documents of international gatherings on women, ‘promoting development, eradicating poverty, promoting and achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment are among effective factors for the realisation of human rights (World Conference on Women, 1995), and governments have a duty to plan for these and to implement them.

Therefore, one of the most important indicators of development is the rate of employment among women and its effect on the country’s economy. From this point of view, Iran has a deplorable rating, even among the countries of the region. Read the rest of this entry »

Wednesdays – Special Days for Imprisoned Mothers and their Little Children

Narges Mohammadi, the human rights activist who has spent years in the Islamic Republic’s prisons for trumped up charges, has written a report on the visiting day in the women’s ward of Evin Political Prison in Tehran.Narges Mohammadi and kids

“There are special days in Evin prison that mean a lot to the imprisoned women. Eight of 31 women held there, namely Maryam Akbarimonfared, Leila Jama’at, Nigara Afsharzadeh, Nargess Mohammadi, Zahra Zehtabchi, Fatemeh Mossana, Azita Rafeezadeh and Nazanin Zaghari have very young children.
According to prison regulations, very young children can visit their mothers on Wednesdays from 1 to 2 PM. The meetings are held inside the prison hall and observed by prison guards and 5 CCTV cameras. The children are accompanied by their families to the prison’s gate, and then guided by the officials from there towards the meeting hall to see their mothers for about an hour.
On Wednesdays, all the mothers in the women’s ward are excited and look forward to seeing their kids. Azita begins to Read the rest of this entry »

The poor reduced to sheltering in Graves, and the Regime’s Response

In recent weeks the scenes of destitute men, women and children taking shelter from the bitter cold in empty graves has shocked the people of grave-dwellersIran. In December 2016, the daily Shahrvand reported that in the Municipality of Shariar in Western Province of Tehran, the cold of winter has forced around 50 homeless people who usually sleep in cardboard covers, to take shelter in 20 of the 300 graves that have been prepared for burials in the large scale graveyard of Nasir Abad Baghestan. The reporter found 3-4 people occupying each of the graves that are 1.5 meters deep. Some homeless families live in tents in the area around the graveyard or under the viaduct. The homeless shelter here during the night. In the course of the day they leave their meagre belongings in the graves and try to source food or beg in the surrounding area. Their belongings which consist of torn blankets or clothes are prone to being stolen by other grave-dwellers. These graves are a short distance from those that house the dead following daily burials nearby.
According to the cemetery’s keeper, the grave-dwellers first moved in about a month previously. The boundary wall is low enough for them to scale it and although the officials had chased them away, they would keep returning. Many of them were picked up by the police and moved to ‘camps’ (for the homeless) but they escaped and returned to the graveyard. He also thought that: “nearly all of them are drug addicts. There are two women and an 8 year old child. They are also addicts. Opposite the cemetery, 100 meters away, there is also an old woman with two sons and her daughters-in-law and grand-children living in a tent. The old woman and one of her sons are addicts. There are more of them. A bit further along, under the bridge, there are a couple who have come from the provinces. They also live in a tent but they aren’t addicts.” Read the rest of this entry »

Workers and Youth Beaten and Flogged, while ‘Fat Cats’ Are Left Free to Do as They Please

The Public Prosecutor of the city of Qazvin in Iran announced that 35 students who were celebrating their graduation were flogged 90 lashes, in order to deter others from mixed shalagh-495x335parties and drinking alcohol.
This flogging was not the only one in that week. In another incident the workers of the Mine of Agh Darreh, who had been laid off were flogged and fined. Their solicitor told ILNA that each worker was given between 30 to 100 lashes.
Around eight o’clock in the evening of 27th December 2015 three workers who had been sacked from the Gold Mine of Agh Darreh attempted suicide in protest at losing their jobs. One of the three lost his life. The main contractor, Puya Zarkan which had sacked 350 workers at the mine, was already in the public eye and this event created much adverse publicity for it. It complained to the courts against the protesting workers. The public prosecutor brought a case against 17 workers, as a result. The first charge against the workers was rioting. In Read the rest of this entry »

Issues Facing the Women’s Movement

The following is an account of some of the issues that face Iranian women.994-women-p8
“…The world has been witness to immense technological development and progress in the 21st century. These developments have had profound effect on our way of living, working and on individuals’ social relations. The effect of these changes has been significant in communications too. In addition to new problems, today’s world has been faced with new possibilities too. In the field of communications, the reach of news has extended to the most isolated places, and this can lead to public opinion being mobilised around vital issues.
It would not be an exaggeration to say the in many arenas of life we women continue to face massive problems. This is cause for sadness and concern…”. Read the rest of this entry »

Greetings on the 8th of March

We greet all women on the occasion of 8th of March, the day of solidarity of women worldwide, as we call for building a new world, one free from war, poverty, violence, discrimination, and inequality; and struggle for peace, freedom, and social justice.demonstration
We, the women of Iran, celebrated this day 93 years ago, twelve years after Clara Zetkin the prominent fighter in the communist and working class, and women’s movement had marked it in 1910. To this day, we have celebrated the 8th of March relentlessly as we have struggled against reaction and medieval despotism, discrimination and inequality.

Through our struggle for equal rights, we forced the reactionary monarchy to acknowledge the right to education for girls and to-date we occupy 60% of places in higher education institutions. However, the reactionary regime of the Supreme Religious Leader sees us as the weaker sex, in the civil law we are seen as second class citizens and are under the yoke of men in the family who own the right to give or refuse permission for us to work or travel. Even the right of choosing our clothes has been taken from us. Every time that there has been the slightest opening in the oppressive climate in the country, we have tried to extend our wings and to inform people of our rights. Our struggle is not against men, but against misogynistic and medieval laws that Read the rest of this entry »