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To the Women’s International Democratic Federation

The Women’s International Democratic Federation (WIDF) marked its 70th anniversary in October 2015. The Democratic Organisation of Iranian Women, itself founded in 1942 sent its greetings to WIDF. The message is cited below:

To the Women’s International Democratic Federation

Esteemed members of the Executive Committee of the Federation,

Comrades and friends,WIDF poster

The Democratic Organisation of Iranian Women, founded in 1942, conveys its sincere greetings to you on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the Women’s International Democratic Federation with its history of heroic struggle for liberation from class oppression; and for social, economic and political equality.

The significant role women have played in striving for peace and their struggle to prevent war, the protection of the environment, and ending all forms of violence, is compelling evidence of the Federation’s role in the heroic struggle of women worldwide. We fully support the Federation in its struggle against imperialist aggression, neo-liberalism and oppression, and for justice, peace and socialism.

Comrades,

Iranian women, having played a significant role in the political developments of our country in the last century, have followed with a sense of solidarity their sisters’ liberation struggles in the region, their fight against theocracy, participation in the popular movements of the Arab countries and the armed struggle against the horrific crimes of ISIL (Daesh) and their ilk, and their struggle for freedom from dictatorship, reaction and foreign intervention.

Women played a significant role in the 1979 Revolution and were an integral part of the popular struggle against the pro-imperialist dictatorial regime of the Shah. After the defeat of the revolution and the betrayal of our people’s movement by the anti-people theocracy, headed by Khomeini, DOIW continued its struggle against the reactionary and deeply misogynistic regime established by the Iranian clergy. The domination of the Islamic clergy on all instrument of state power during the last three decades has plunged our country into deep and ongoing political, social, economic and cultural crisis.

Among the difficulties that our citizens face are the neo-liberal economy based on the exploitation of the workers; serving big capital, intensification of class and sexual exploitation of women. The medievalist and misogynist regime continues to devise and implement the most humiliating and discriminatory laws against women, interfering in the most private aspects of their existence. For example, the Islamic Republican regime prevents women from entering the economic life of our country effectively, by introducing directives such as the “ban on employment of unmarried women” in offices and similar Bills. The result of such destructive policies is evident in the employment rate of women, which has dropped by 12% in recent years, and in 20 provinces the rate of unemployment among young women has shot to above 40%. According to the country’s Centre for Statistics the major share of the drop in economic activity belongs to women. During the past year alone, 550,000 women have left the job market and according to the official statements, 80% of women heads of household are unemployed.

Women from the middle and lower income groups are driven from the formal sector to the informal sector, to temporary and zero hour contracts and with very low pay, where there is no legal oversight or control and where they have to give in to the most unjust conditions.

In addition, the adoption of a neo-liberal economic policy with its catastrophic consequences has led to the increase in the numbers of those laid off that join the huge army of unemployed in our country. As usual, women, especially those from the deprived sector of the society are the first victims of this policy. Employers’ free hand for the dual exploitation of women is tantamount to state violence. Children are not immune from this brutal exploitation either. The number of children at work and street children has increased exponentially, as a result of the regime’s rule.

Dear comrades,
The state uses legislation to subjugate women as the personal property of men .
These laws are in breach of the International Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women; and other international agreements.
Anti-women and backward laws have created serious social and psychological problems – the rise in cases of depression, suicides, drug addiction, prostitution, homelessness of women, and overall increase in women’s poverty are some of their consequences.

Iran is signatory to international conventions and is duty-bound to eradicate violence against women and girls. One of the means of reducing violence is to empower women and ensure their greater participation in the economic, cultural, social and political arenas; however, the theocratic regime, following the Supreme Religious Leader’s dictat, is increasingly in conflict with these undertakings, so much so that in the latest report of the World Economic Forum, Iran’s ranking is 137 out of 142.

Dear comrades,

The acid attacks on women, conducted by fundamentalists continue. Today, one year on from the chain of attacks in cities in Iran, the perpetrators of acid attacks have not been brought to justice. Women’s movement and civil activists, and researchers are intimated and arrested arbitrarily. All these measures are aimed at creating an atmosphere of fear in order to increase the remit of security forces and prolong the life of the Islamic Republic. This is a system that sees its survival tied to the suppression of workers, teachers, nurses, students and religious and ethnic minorities. At present many are continuing their struggle in the Islamic Republic’s prisons. In recent days we have witnessed the death in custody of the imprisoned trade union activist Shahrokh Zamani, and there are a large number of teachers who have been arrested in recent months.

The families of the more than 5,000 political prisoners who were summarily executed in 1987 and buried in unmarked mass graves, are yet to find out how and why their loved ones were sent to their deaths and they are still not allowed to publically mourn their deaths and commemorate them.

Political prisoners in Iran are deprived on the right to lawyers and to a fair trial; or to contact with family and other rights.

However despite these pressures, women political prisoners incarcerated in the dungeons of the Islamic Republic, the place where Fatemeh Modaresi, the Tudeh Party’s brave fighter and many other courageous women were executed in the 1980s because of their adherence to their humanitarian beliefs, are continuing their struggle. The list that follows includes the name of some of the political prisoners held in Evin prison, alone, at present.

Dear comrades,
The brave women of Iran fight for the repeal of discriminatory laws, based on gender or class, for Iran joining the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and together with all progressive forces of Iran, they demand the freedom of all political prisoners and the end of executions.

The Democratic Organisation of Iranian Women calls on the Women’s International Democratic Federation – to prioritise solidarity with the Iranian women’s struggle. We appeal to WIDF, in line with your policy of campaigning to end women oppression worldwide, to support for the struggle of the women of Iran against discriminatory laws, and for WIDF official leadership organisation to discuss and adopt resolutions in this regard. We would like WIDF to encourage its organisations in Asia, Middle East, Europe and America to undertake a campaign of sending protest letters to the Islamic Republic’s diplomats, to condemn the misogynistic policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran and demand that they respect the democratic rights of Iranian women:
1. An end to gender inequality and discrimination in law which disproportionately harms the deprived strata;
2. An end to the suppression of freedom-seeking people, especially women;
3. Immediate freedom for all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, especially women political prisoners.

With warm comradely greetings and wishes for success in your campaigns,
Democratic Organisation of Iranian Women,
Mina Rastin,
October 2015

Appendix
According to reports from HRNA, the news outlet of human rights activists in Iran, twenty women are held in Tehran’s Evin prison alone (in mid-October 2015), with political-security charges. They have been sentenced to around 180 years imprisonment.

The list of these prisoners – civil or political activists, or religious minorities:
Narges Mohammadi – 6 years
Bahareh Hedayat – 10 years
Hakimeh Shekari – 3 years and 6 months
Neda Mostaghimi – 3 years
Maryam Shafi-pour – 2 years and 6 months
Atena Farghdani – 12 years and 9 months
Atena (Fatameh) Da’emi – 14 years
Roya Saberi Nejad-Nobakht – 7 years
Farideh Shahgoli – 3 years
Maryam Akbari Monfared – 15 years
Sedigheh Moradi – 10 years

Reyhaneh Haj-ebrahim-Dabbagh – 15 years
Behnaz Zakeri – 10 years
Zahra Zehtab-chi – 12 years
Mahvash Shahriari – 20 years
Elham Farahani – 4 years
Fariba Kamal-abadi – 20 years
Nasim Bagheri – 4 years
Faran Hesami – 4 years
Maryam Naghash-zargaran – 4 years
Elham Barmaki – 5 years
Zahra Rahnavard – House arrest”

MaZanan November 2015

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