Saturday, February 17, 2018

Women Force for Change-Iran Uprising and the Role of Women

Maryam Rajavi accompanied by lawmakers, dignitaries and women rights activists in Conference “Iran Uprising and The Role of Women”- Paris – February 17, 2018
Maryam Rajavi in conference Women Force for Change, Iran Uprising and the Role of Women:


Distinguished guests, my dear sisters,
Let me congratulate everyone on the International Women’s Day.
Congratulations to you, all the women of the world, and the freedom loving women of Iran. Congratulations for adhering steadfast to the cause of equality. Congratulations to the women of the world because their sisters in Iran led the protests this year against the mullahs’ fundamentalist and misogynous regime.
This year, the International Women’s Day is a day to be proud of, celebrate and admire because the women of Iran played their role at the forefront of the fight against fundamentalism, the enemy of women the world over.
I must also salute our sisters around the world who resisted last year and stood up to tyranny, fundamentalism and violence. I would like to salute the women of Syria, in particular, who have kept the banner of hope aloft in the midst of the ruins of a country with 10 million homeless and 500,000 victims.
Dear sisters, distinguished guests,
Today, I would like to speak to you on several issues:
On Iranian women’s vanguard role in the uprising;
On Iranian women’s right to overthrow the clerical regime;
On women’s responsibility in furthering the protests;
On the issue of mandatory veil;
And finally the answer to this question: What is the backing for Iranian women’s role in which we believe?
First, the uprising. I would like to point out that one of the most remarkable aspects of this incident was that women and youth had a pivotal role in it.
It’s not without reason, that one of the symbols of the recent uprising in Iran is the picture of a young woman who is passing through tear gas smoke with her fist in the air.
One of the chants in the uprising was “Reformists, hardliners, the game is over.” Yes, this slogan was first chanted by young women and men, university students protesting in Tehran.
The protesters also addressed the mullahs and chanted yet another important slogan: “Be scared, we are all together.” This was also initiated during a gathering outside Evin Prison, where women played an active role.
Yes, the mullahs must fear because we are all together.
Khamenei has declared, “Women’s equality with men is among Western notions that are totally wrong.”
And Iranian women gave him a decisive response on this. A courageous woman stood at an arm’s length from the guards and security forces and shouted in their face, “Death to Khamenei.” Nobody knows the name of this woman, but in the moment she was crying out, her name was Iran.
On women’s role in the uprising, the IRGC’s political deputy provided a relatively clear picture when he said, “In the 1980s, the leaders of street protests by the Mojahedin Organization were mostly women. And today, too, the main ring of incitement and start (of the protests) were women. For example, four of these women created the riots in Ilam. After they were arrested, it became clear that none of them were from Ilam. Likewise, those who were from Karaj were arrested in Kermanshah, and those who were from Bandar Abbas were arrested in Shiraz; these were the Mojahedin who emerged in cities in an organized fashion and led the slogans.”
The regime thus confessed that the main ring provoking the uprising was made up of women. And I reiterate that the main ring of regime change in Iran is also made up of the arisen women of Iran and freedom fighters.
Dear friends, women did not take to the streets to demand anything from the regime; they rather wanted to eliminate the clerical regime. Women have not risen up to demand only their own freedom; they have risen up to liberate the entire nation.
This reality is the subject of the second part of my speech.
In the 1790s, during the Great Revolution in France, Olympe de Gouges issued a declaration on the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen, which was based on the French Human Rights Declaration. She declared then, “Woman has the right to mount the scaffold; she must equally have the right to mount the rostrum.”
Likewise, we tell the mullahs, when tens of thousands of Iranian women have been tortured and executed, when you have taken away their most basic rights, then the Iranian woman has the right to overthrow the clerical regime. And this right will certainly be upheld.
Regime change is the right of Iranian woman. At the same time, it is her only way to achieve freedom and equality. As attested by the experience of the past 39 years, this regime has left them no other way or method. Did the women of Iran gain anything from the game played by the so-called reformists and moderates? Never. Did the efforts to make slight reforms in the regime’s discriminatory laws benefit them at all? Never. Wasn’t the volume of misogynous laws increased every year? Did women not lose more and more job opportunities with every passing year? Didn’t women become more unemployed, isolated and humiliated every year?
As a result of these policies, the majority of Iranian society, particularly women, have become increasingly poorer every day. Look at the condition of our society. Sale of kidneys, sale of infants, marriage of girl children, sexual assaults, verbal abuse and humiliation of women. Indeed, our nation is heartbroken and devastated by such oppression and injustice against women. Certainly, you would ask why is it not possible to fulfill the most rudimentary demands of women under this regime? Because the mullahs perceive the realization of each of these demands as a step towards regime change, from abolition of the compulsory veil, elimination of all forms of discrimination to equality. Whatever a woman wants, is a demand serving regime change and cannot be realized unless by the overthrow of the clerical regime.
The next issue is why have the mullahs deprived women of one of their most basic rights, that is the freedom to choose their own clothing?
The ruling mullahs claim that this is in accordance to the instructions of Islam. Imposing the veil (Hijab) by compulsion is diametrically against Islam. Faith is based on one’s free choice and out of free will. The Quran stipulates, “There is no compulsion in religion.” Therefore, anything that is forcibly imposed on people is against genuine Islam, whether it is imposed religion or the veil. Mandatory veil is against Islam and is only meant to enchain women, facilitating a general social clampdown.
Otherwise, what is the objective of marshaling 26 ministries and institutions to impose the compulsory veil? Why are at least 2000 women arrested across the country every day?
Yes, the whole story is that whenever they want to politically suffocate the society, they launch a campaign to arrest women under the pretext of improper veiling. Iranian women found out about the objective from the onset. This is why the Mojahedin women participated in the protest march against the compulsory veil in March 1979, although they wore the scarf.
Since the first day, imposing the veil on women was a means of repression and obstructing women’s path, and nothing else.
Khomeini began his ominous rule on February 11, 1979. Fifteen days later, only 15 days, on February 26, he revoked the law on the protection of family. On February 28, he extended gender discrimination against women to the sports arena. On March 4, he granted men the unilateral right to divorce. On March 6, he revoked the law on women’s social services. On March 7, he imposed the compulsory veil on female employees. The person in charge of implementing this in the Army’s offices was Rouhani, the present president of the clerical regime. The 39-year history of this regime is a history of suppression of Iranian women. And now the women of Iran want to turn this dark page of Iran’s history.
This is why Iran’s uprising is not only for the overthrow of a political regime, but is a revolt against religious fundamentalism which has drenched the region in blood. This is a new dawn. A hopeful dawn not only for the people of Iran but for all the peoples of the region and the world, because fundamentalism which was born with the emergence of the rule religious tyranny in Iran, died in the uprisings of 2017 and 2018.

Dear friends,
Another issue, is the responsibility of continuing the uprisings. I am addressing the brave women who actively participated in the protests. The present circumstances provide the potential for continuing the protests. And the message for you, the arisen women of Iran, is that you should place the responsibility of furthering the uprising on your shoulders. This responsibility is two folds: First, shattering the wall of fear and disbelief, and second, organizing the protests.
The protest gatherings of recent months and their climax in the eruption of the uprising once again showed that you brave women have been able to change the situation and expand the protests.
Your role at this time is significant. Your specific responsibility is shattering the atmosphere of fear, repression and disbelief. Your role is to revive hope and courage in people and reinforce the power of youth in confronting suppression.
When the Revolutionary Guards charge to arrest a youth, you should provoke everyone who is standing around with fear and doubts to move, cry out and encircle the agents. You can create a protest and an uprising out of a confrontation with an arrest.
After the anti-monarchic revolution, from 1979 until 1981, the generation of young men and women who studied in high schools and universities and followed Massoud Rajavi stood up against the attacks of club wielders and revolutionary guards and were fearless and brave in battle for freedom.
Your Mojahed sisters in Ashraf and Liberty, persevered with the same spirits. They were at the forefront and time and again repelled the enemy who was armed to the teeth.
So, when the regime’s mercenaries attack, you must endeavor with all your power to launch a reciprocal attack, defeat the agents and compel them to retreat. Step up the protests against the arrest of protestors. And accompany the families of prisoners and support them.
My dear sisters, you can crush the wall of fear, disbelief and despair.
I have repeatedly seen you walk in the demonstrations with your hands chained together. You need to promote this way. These closed ranks can and must establish freedom and equality.
But your second duty, the duty of women protesters, is to organize. The uprising in January showed that organization is a prerequisite to advancement. So you must try to organize your other sisters.
Teach your fellow countrywomen in all cities to set up 1,000 bastions of rebellion. Teach them to form councils of resistance.
Tell the mothers, that 39 years of agony is enough. Now, they should form the Mothers’ Council of Resistance to continue the uprising.
Tell the women heads of household that there is window to genuine hopes that could be opened only by your hands.
Unemployed and laid off women can undertake a major task by forming their councils of resistance. Forming the Councils of Resistance and bastions of rebellion is the way to continue the uprisings until final victory.
Yes, the resistance councils of teachers, retirees, women employees, blue-color workers, high school and university students, the resistance council of teachers, nurses and mothers of those executed and mothers of those imprisoned.
Yes, let 1,000 fountains spring, 1,000 flowers bloom, and the bastions of rebellion and resistance councils get multiplied in every city and village. As Massoud Rajavi, the leader of the Iranian Resistance, has once said, Khamenei “is most afraid of your organization and organized resistance because in them, he clearly sees his demise. Better than anyone else, he knows that the Mojaheidn and the social network of the uprising, the bastions of rebellion and 1,000 Ashrafs are made up of courageous women and men.”
I would like to stress the fact that to expand the uprising and to overthrow the clerical dictatorship, we need to create hundreds and thousands of opportunities and this is something that all of you free women of Iran can do because your pioneers who have valuable experiences and have been in struggle for four decades, and are now concentrated in the Central Council of the People’s Mojahedin with 1,000 vanguard women who struggle against the religious dictatorship.
Addressing the freedom-loving men of Iran, especially the youth, I would like to say that you need to couple your fury and dislike against the clerical regime with resistance against their misogyny. The mullahs’ policy is suppressing women and compelling men to be passive and surrender. You should crush this policy all together.
Your brothers in the ranks of the PMOI and the Iranian Resistance have paved the path and advanced in struggle and in thinking by respecting women’s equality. The same is true for you. To defend your own human identity, and to defend the dignity of Iranian woman, rise up and fight against the mullahs and their repression. Never remain silent when a woman is attacked. Never give in, and never stand by and watch. Resist against suppression and humiliation of women and youths and in this way distance yourself from the backward and fundamentalist ideology of the mullahs. Add to your strength and human dignity a hundred times.
Distinguished guests, 
We have always emphasized on our belief that Iran’s women have significant role in change in Iran towards freedom. But how? Let me explain:
Nobody granted the present status to the women of Iran. She has built this through her own suffering and sacrifice and with determination to achieve freedom.
On the night of June 20, 1981, Khomeini ordered executions of 12 Mojahed girls only for participating in the peaceful June 20 demonstration. Most of them were less than 18 years old. At the time of execution, however, they had not even said their names. Tens of thousands of Mojahed and other combatant women were tortured or executed in this path.
Indeed, why did Khomeini use the torture chambers known as residential units, against women prisoners? Why were they imprisoned in cages and coffins? Because his torturers had been repeatedly defeated in the face of their resistance. The resistance of Mojahed and combatant prisoners, particularly women, in the years 1981 to 1987, were indeed among the most glorious phases of the history of Iranian resistance for freedom.
In 1988, Mojahed women and men faced two choices: They had to choose between surrender and the gallows. They persisted on their stances and defended the cause of the PMOI and Massoud Rajavi and gave their lives. Steadfast resistance against Khomeini was made possible at such a price.
In the early years of Khomeini’s rule, Mojahed and combatant girls created a formidable barrier against him. In the next step, there were heroines like Tarhereh Eskandar Nejad and Akram Khorasani who were among the pioneers in confrontations with the revolutionary Guards in Tehran streets. In the PMOI and the National Liberation Army, women held the highest positions of command. In the battles of the Eternal Light Operation, women’s high and aggressive spirits terrified the enemy. Still, after three decades, the regime recalls them with fear. Tahereh Tolou was among the commanders of that battle. The Revolutionary Guards held so much spite against her, that they stabbed her in the heart and hanged her body from atop a cliff overlooking the Charzebar strait in Kermanshah.
Then we see Iranian women over 14 years of perseverance in Ashraf and Liberty. They protected Iran’s bastion of freedom while in the center of a harsh and long blockade. And now, we are observing the same valiance in women's presence in the protests or in the resistance and hunger strike of women political prisoners.
Iranian society will never forget women like Fatemeh Amini, Marzieh Oskouii, Azam Rouhi Ahangaran and Ashraf Rajavi, who opened the way for the 1979 Revolution with their determination and sacrifice. Hail to all of them. It is with these assets that we say the fundamentalists cannot prevent the victory of Iranian women. Yes, no army and no force is stronger than our desire for freedom.
And now I would like to address the equality movements and my sisters from all around the world.
Fortunately, there are some of my dear sisters from Asia, Europe, US, Africa, Canada, and Australia. I would like to reiterate that supporting the struggle against fundamentalism is the greatest project of our time for advocates of women’s rights. Since the heart of fundamentalism and terrorism beats in Iran and under the rule of the mullahs, supporting the Iranian people’s uprising for the overthrow of the regime is doubly important. I am confident that the women of the world will undertake their historic responsibility.
Dear friends, 
Last year saw the movement of women in western countries against sexual abuse, harassment, and insult. They rose up and broker their silence. In this way, they showed that women are not doomed to be violated and at the same time tolerate and cover it up forever.
Their courage and worldwide support for them is undoubtedly a stride forward in rebellion against patriarchy.
Yes, when women continue to suffer from oppression, poverty, discrimination, and violence while making up half of the world’s population, any resistance against oppression and injustice is an achievement for all women.
Now, I would like to tell you, women active in the equality movement: The uprising of your sisters in Iran against the mullahs’ misogynous regime, is an advancement for the entire humanity. Any step you take for them, any activity in defense of the arrested women, any effort to expose the torture of prisoners, and anything you do to compel your governments to severe relations with the clerical regime, is going to be very effective.
In the present circumstances, we demand the immediate release of the prisoners of the uprising, freedom of speech and assembly, and abolition of women’s suppression and the compulsory veil. To realize these demands, we need the support of each and every one of you.
The day, when Iranian women destroy the entrenchments of fundamentalism in Iran, freedom and equality will have a leap forward all across the world. And that day is not far.
I thank you all very much.
For watching the conference: "Women Force for Change-Iran Uprising and the Role of Women" please click on the following link:


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