Defying the Misogynist Regime, Paying the Price of Freedom
“Women in the Iranian Resistance – Defying the Misogynist Regime, Paying the Price of Freedom” was the theme of an international conference held on Sunday, July 14, 2019, at Ashraf 3, Albania.
A number of women’s rights activists and prominent personalities from Albania, Europe, United States, Canada, Australia, Asia and Arab countries participated in this event.
Ashraf 3 is home to members of the main Iranian opposition, People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran. These prominent figures voiced their support for the women of Iran, who have been leading the struggle for freedom in the past decades.
The event’s keynote speaker was the NCRI President-elect Maryam Rajavi. In part of her speech about the status of women in Iran and women in the Iranian Resistance, she said, “The history of struggle in the past four decades against religious dictatorship is notable because of the leading role of PMOI women….
“I must emphasize that equality and emancipation of women would be genuine only when it is accompanied with the emancipation of men. This is the achievement of our movement, namely the human growth and progress of pioneering men who have rebelled against gender discrimination and patriarchy to build truly equal relationships. And on this path, they have emancipated themselves.
“If our movement was not deeply against exploitation and all of its political, social, theoretical, and cultural components, women could not have held such positions for a long time.
Women’s progress in the resistance movement is before anything else indebted to a consistent struggle against reactionary and oppressive thoughts.”
After Mrs. Rajavi’s remarks, Ms. Sarvnaz Chitsaz, Chair of the Women’s Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, briefly welcomed the participants in this gathering. She pointed out, “Every woman in the resistance has made her own choice. They have set examples with their resistance in the dungeons of the mullahs. This is an unprecedented phenomenon in the history of the Iranian women… This is why women are at the forefront of the battle against the regime and leading protests in Iran. They see the history of the women in Ashraf and they are inspired by their resistance. This is why the regime targets Iranian women to such an extent.”
The first speaker to the gathering was Ingrid Betancourt, former senator and presidential candidate from Columbia. She told the gathering, “When you will be in Tehran, and it will happen soon, you will face a tremendous challenge. You are the only real organization where women are consistently at the top. You will be confronted by the fact that taking power in a country like Iran, with 80 million inhabitants, a big country in the Middle East — it’s not a small challenge. Whatever you do will reflect in the whole world.
“The impact you will have, because you have a woman leader, because it’s in a country that has been ruled by a misogynist regime, the impact will be like an atomic bomb. This is a very serious responsibility.”
Mrs.Ranjana Kumari, Director of Centre for Social Research. Currently, she is a member of Global Safety Advisory Board of Facebook. She was named in the 100 Most Influential People in Gender Policy for 2019 – India, said in her remarks, “Whenever we’ve seen these struggles, one thing that is important to keep in mind is that women are in the line of fire. So many struggles where women have fought in the front lines. However, when the power came, women were made to go back to the kitchen. I’m so happy this is a unique organization where women are in top positions. You’re already involved in different levels of governance, you know how to exercise power… When women take leadership, they can move mountains.” Dr. Kumari concluded.
Mrs. Maria Candida Almeida, Deputy Attorney General of Portugal until 2019, Former Attorney General until 2015. She was the first Magistrate of Portugal and Magistrate for 45 years – Portugal, said in part of her remarks, “We must thank Mrs. Rajavi for finding the solution to save the members of the movement, and thank yourselves for keeping the flame of the movement alive. Let’s not forget those who are fighting inside Iran for freedom, democracy and women’s rights…
“The ones who must defend the people’s rights have up taken killings, massacres and suppression. Horrible things are happening in Iran today, such as the killing of pregnant women. The international community must not accept this. This is why your cause is my cause. I am with you… In the past few days, I was encouraged to work harder for you when I return home. I hope you accept me as your messenger. Our next goal is to see all of you—and me too—in a free Iran.”
Dr. Maria Ryan, CEO of Cottage Hospital and women’s rights activist from the U.S., also spoke to the Women in the Iranian Resistance gathering. In part of her remarks, she said, “As we move the regime out from Iran, it’s going to take a lot of work. This is where your strength becomes significant. I learned from you and your optimism. It’s impressive that you can overcome adversity and look to the future and what needs to happen.
“You are part of the living history. Fifty years from now, books will speak about you and President Rajavi. I put Madam Rajavi up with the forefathers of my country.”
Italian MP Giuseppina Occhionero said in her remarks, “Your struggle for civil rights is an honor for all the world, especially for me since I’ve been with you in the past few days.
“Today, we see that we can unite and we can struggle against inequality. You women are the force of change in Iran, and it is very important that you are not part of the inequality. We all have to take responsibility and work in different fields. And we have to keep our femininity. You are the answer. To all the women who have paid the price of freedom, I thank you for this… Change will come through the fulfilment of women’s rights.”
Zinat Mirhashemi, NCRI member and the editor in chief of Nabard-e-Khalq review, said in her speech, “In the 120 years of struggle for freedom in Iran, women have had an important role. In previous generations before the revolution, the face of the struggle for freedom and equality was not just the face of men. They showed to the world that women have a significant role in this fight… And now we have reached a time when we see women’s roles in the highest ranks in such a struggle. This is the assurance of this organization’s future and that women’s equality will be fulfilled, because these women are leaders.”
Khadija Ziyani, Member of the Parliament of Morocco, also addressed the conference. She said, “The world will remember you for what you have shown as women who strive for freedom. What you’ve accomplished in 18 months in building Ashraf 3 from scratch is something that we are proud of. If you were in your own country, you would have achieved a lot more. I’m very optimistic that you will reach freedom, not for power and with power, but with hearts that don’t give up and are determined. You have high human values.”
Olfa Jouini Hamza, Member of Parliament from Tunisia, pointed out, “Women have always been the main victims of oppression. The role of women in the Iranian Resistance and their perseverance against the fanatic and corrupt regime in Iran in order to achieve freedom has allowed Iranian women to be a force for change in society. Iranian women in Mrs. Maryam Rajavi’s movement have found their true role in liberating their homeland and people.”
Former Romanian MP Maria Grecea also noted, “We are at a critical and sensitive moment in Iran’s history because the mullahs’ regime is at a political and social dead-end and we the supporters of the Iranian Resistance must help the people. History has proven to us that some things will change and the fascist dictators of Iran must fall. This is important not only for the people of Iran but for the world because an exporter of terrorism will be eliminated.”
Edit Bauer, former MEP from Slovakia, said in her remarks, “As a woman, what makes your resistance special to me is the key role played by women in the struggle for freedom in Iran. Mrs. Rajavi has educated and trained a generation of women who are capable of leading Ashraf residents through ups and downs, but also a generation of men who can cooperate with women in building their nation. You have confronted fundamentalism in a way that no other movement has. You have proven the failure of the mullahs’ ideology in practice. I’m seeing the strengthening of the support for your movement around the world.
“Mrs. Rajavi, I stand by your side and you have my support until the women of Iran have equal rights in every field.”
Dr. Somaya Al Jowder, former Bahraini MP, pointed out in her speech to the gathering about women in the Iranian Resistance, “From you, I learned about being patient and giving to others. I learned from you that endurance is the answer to everything, and how we can add to our belief and our faith. I have seen the perseverance of your men. They don’t fight to be first. We hope that our men in our country will do the same… Iran’s uprising and rebuilding of Iran will be done by you, the PMOI (MEK) women. I’m sure that next year, all of us will be celebrating democracy in Iran.”
Iranian human rights activist Flore Sadoudi told the gathering, “When the mullahs came to our country, they ruled like ISIS… Mrs. Rajavi has been digging this cancerous tumor out of Iran. … “This ten-point plan that Mrs. Maryam Rajavi has shown to the world is a declaration that will be something of a very big change for Iran. With this ten-point plan, there will be 100 percent equality between men and women.”
Concetta Giallombardo, President of the Association of Female Jurists from Italy, told the gathering of women in the Iranian Resistance, “Struggling for the equality of men and women is something that we must pay the price for. In your struggle and resistance, this has been reviewed. There’s a mindset that is different about the relationship between men and women. The relationship is about knowledge and understanding.
“I would like to congratulate you for your mindset and how you view the relationship between men and women. I hope that under your viewpoint, we will see a new society.”