On the occasion of International Women's Day a conference was held on March 1 in Paris with the presence of Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the Iranian Resistance, a large number of prominent political and social figures as well as artists, human rights and women’s rights activists from five continents. Also, delegations representing dozens of Iranian women’s associations and organizations from North America and Europe joined the conference.
Mrs. Maryam Rajavi was the keynote speaker at the conference.
Participants of the International Women's Day conference shared experiences from their own countries and warned of the Iranian regime’s role in spreading Islamic fundamentalism throughout the region and the entire globe.
Maryam Rajavi - President-elect of the Iranian Resistance
"Indeed, the ideal of equality is alive, but not just because of depravations, humiliations and oppression. Because a generation of women has arisen to overthrow dictatorships in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Ukraine, Syria and Iraq; women who are intent on toppling the religious dictatorship ruling Iran.
Indeed, rest assured that ultimately, these oppressed women will overthrow the ruling theocracy in Iran.
Despite the fact that the mullahs have turned Iran into the epicenter of fundamentalism, owing to the Iranian people’s history of struggle and culture, and by relying on five decades of perseverance of the People’s Mojahedin, Iran is the epicenter of liberation from fundamentalism and, at the same time, the epicenter of women’s emancipation and equality.
Islamic fundamentalism thrives on inequality while continuously causing oppression and discrimination. Therefore, if the regime were to abandon misogyny, the ruling theocracy would collapse. Thus, neither Khatami nor Rouhani, who launched a charm offensive of reform and moderation, did not and do not even get close to easing the oppression and subjugation of Iranian women. Because doing so would mean the beginning of the end of the regime."
Linda Chavez - Former White House Director for Public Liaison, former human rights expert on the UN Human Rights Sub- Commission. She is also a TV political commentator and columnist
"A country cannot be judged on whether it is great or whether it honors its people or just by looking at how it treats those who are in power, those who are powerful and those who control others. It must be judged by looking at how it treats women and minorities. If you want to judge the character of a country you must look at how it treats those who are least privileged. And when we look at a country like Iran over the past 35 years, we see oppression of the majority of the population and most especially of the women of that country. Now recently we have seen activity in the press, we have seen reaction of the leaders in the west, of around the world, celebrating what they consider to be a new moderation in Iran, with the election of Hassan Rouhani. You see that kind of infatuation in the press, we have certainly seen it in my own administration in my own country, as if there has been some kind of fundamental change in that country of Iran. But in fact, one of the things that we must look to, to judge Mr Rouhani is how he treats the women of Iran. And what we know is that the women of Iran are oppressed today as they have been for the last 35 years. There is no change.
And we are here today to say to the world: Unless the women of Iran are free and guaranteed their equal rights, Iran is not free and it is a disgrace to the world."
"There are alternatives to this. There are freedom loving people in Iran. There are freedom loving Iranians throughout the world. And Madame Rajavi represents the President Elect of the National Council of the Iranian Resistance.
So I say to you women who are gathered here today, we must be the voice of conscience. We must speak out, we must speak for our fellow sisters in Iran who under the current regime cannot speak for themselves. We must also speak for those voices that are in captivity, that are imprisoned in so called camp Liberty in Iraq. If ever there was a blasphemous use of the term Liberty is to use it as a reference to what is a concentration camp in Iraq. The women in Ashraf have given their lives, the men and women in camp Liberty who have given their lives and who today still face a threat from the Maliki regime in Iraq, we must stand with them. We must represent their voices because they cannot speak for themselves as long as they are in captivity. I say to you who are in this audience, you must go home to what ever it is you have come from and you must speak with one voice that says: until we have fundamental regime change in Iran, there will not be freedom for the women in Iran, there will not be freedom for any who live in Iran and there will not be peace in the world. Thank you very much!"
Michèle Alliot-Marie - French Minister of Defense, Foreign Affairs, Interior and Justice from 2002 to 2011
"Democracy, without the participation of women in the political management of the country, whatever country it may be, cannot be real. A country can’t be great without the participation of women in the power structure and their equal rights with men. I know that most of you come from a great and beautiful country called Iran. A country with a great and ancient civilization cannot concede to remaining in a reactionary system where half the population is eliminated and women are prosecuted and deprived of freedom of expression.
Yes, I am here among you today to send a message. A message which Maryam Rajavi very well represents. I am here to convey my mother’s message to you. When we want to, we can. If you want to, you can. Yes, when we want to, we can oppose that when only men, particularly when they claim they are fundamentalists who can decide for the lives of anyone, the lives of our children. When we want to, we can. Women know this better because they have endured the regime’s oppression and they take part in all aspects of life.
If a woman is killed for her ideals; if women are martyred in Ashraf; if they are allowed to get killed by guns for their ideals, this means that they also have the right to express their beliefs in political platforms. This is what our struggle represents and this is what your struggle should represent. When we die for our beliefs, then we must have the right to defend our ideals anywhere and anytime about our country. This is what I came here to say. The young must be convinced. If they want, they can enter into politics. This does not mean that problems are disregarded. This is very easy for me in France to say this today and I know this is very difficult in countries such as Iran while we know there are women who have endangered their lives and freedom for the very things I told you today.
What I want to say tonight is that yes, we can, when we are all together. But I say this with much humility because I am thinking of the women in Ashraf and Liberty."
Ingrid Betancourt - Former Member of Colombian Senate and presidential candidate
"The issue that I want to share it with you is that how we can turn weakness to strength, because our challenge is exactly this; this is the reason that we gathered her, replacing a weak woman, the weakness that we all feel, witness and are victims to, into power, strength for all those who need our support.
I am telling you about this experience. I think we have gathered here not just to celebrate women’s power on International Women’s Day which will be in next few days, but to consolidate on the idea of fighting Islamic fundamentalism. We are here because this Islamic fundamentalism wants to divide the world into two parts. On one side the men and on the other side, women. This arbitrary division puts the fundamental human honor at risk.
We should fight for women’s right in the globe, not just women in present time, but the women of the future. In this world, the number of women is more than men, yet, we are looked at as a minority. Why, because the world is faced with violence. We are living in a world were bullies are winners and everything is based on violence. Governments and state leaders consider violence more than human rights.
What’s important is that with the very issue of being a woman, we are the voice of the weak. We are the voice of minorities across the globe, even if we may be the majority. We are the voice of children of the world that are victims of violence, the violence imposed by men. We are the voice of all people that cannot physically defend themselves, and we want a world to be organized and power in it to not only belong to the most powerful on the basis of nuclear, arms and money. In a violent world, to what direction must we go? First of all we must turn to these women that are examples for us, and today we believe that all of you agree with me that there is a woman in this hall that deserves to be recognized as the model for other women in the world. And this woman is Maryam Rajavi.
She is leading the most important struggle of women today. This is the most important struggle in this day and age, being the struggle against the Iranian government. Why as a woman? First of all for the reason that Iran is a flagrantly misogynist government."
Kim Campbell - 19th Prime Minister of Canada and a former Minister of Justice and Minister of National Defense. Campbell was the first, and to date, the only female Prime Minister of Canada. She was named as Woman of the Year for 1993 by Canadian women's magazine Chatelaine
"I want to make 3 main points. First that religious fundamentalism is always based on the repression of women.
The second point I want to make is that you cannot separate the women's status from the broader question of human rights. It used to sometimes be the case of people would say well, let us get democracy organized, let us make the big decisions and the big reforms and then we will look at what the girls want, what women want. Well, in fact, we understand now that the two are inextricably connected. You cannot have freedom if women are oppressed, because everywhere women are oppressed, men are also oppressed, they may be the people in power, but large number of men will also be subject to arbitrary rule, to the denial of rights, there is no separate path for men and women on the road to freedom, we must walk together and smart men get it and are with us. Society cannot be half free, and finally, societies need women as political leaders.
They need women as political leaders for 2 reasons, one, for the substance of policy, women in many ways lead lives that are different from those of men. They experience differently from men. And unless their voices are heard at the table of policy developments, half of the population's reality will not be reflected in the law.
I am a founding member of an organization called the Council of Women World Leaders, which is made of women who are or have been president or prime minister of their country...And we are now over 40 members
And we created the Council of Women World Leaders to remind people that women are leading, that women are presidents, that women are prime ministers and they have performed very well in many different countries of the world. I was the first woman to be Minister of Justice in my country. In Iran, women cannot be judges, in Canada, I appointed the judges and I appointed a lot of women judges. I was the first woman in my country to be minister of National Defense, second in the world, the first was Elizabet Ren of Finland.
I was the first woman to be the Defense Minister of a NATO country. But you know what? What does a defense minister look like? Looks like me, looks like Michèle Alliot-Marie, looks like Michelle Bachelet of Chile, because she was defense minister, before she became president of her country. Not what does a woman minister of defense look like? What does a minister of defense look like? What does a minister of justice look like? Looks like Michele, looks like me, looks like the other women who have been justice ministers all around the world. What does a prime minister look like? Looks like me, looks like Margaret Thatcher, looks like Edith Cresson, looks like enormous number of women. And until we are visible, until we are there, we will never change that landscape and assure people that we look like the powerful people in terms of how the world works. Iranian women are leading the opposition. Iranian women are extraordinary and it is an honour and privilege for me to be here. Many of us may not have been deeply aware of the inferior status that women have and is written into the Iranian laws, but Iran is an object lesson for all of us that what can happen and we must work side by side with Iranian women to change the regime and to unleash that extraordinary wellspring that extraordinary of talent and intelligence and strength and capacity to lead that exist in that country. So, what does a prime minister look like? Looks kind of like me and some day a prime minister would look like some of you out there, particularly a prime minister that would look like Madame Maryam Rajavi, and I can hardly wait. Thank You"
Carmen Quintanilla - Chair of the Spanish Parliament Women’s Committee, Vice Chair of the Equality Committee of Council of Europe
"I believe every time we raise this issue or deliver a speech we cannot forget our history, the history of women all across the world, and therefore I want to remind the pioneer women who raised the flag of world’s women in Denmark, Austria and Switzerland in 1911, and 66 more years had to pass until 1977 when the UN announced March 8th as the International Women’s Day, just like the International Peace Day, because speaking about women today is tantamount to speaking about democracy, because speaking about women in the world means speaking about peace and speaking about freedom.
We have therefore gathered here to speak about the women in Iran who play a significant role in struggle for the women’s rights in a region where Iran is located. That’s why we have gathered here from various countries of the world based on Mrs. Rajavi’s call to send a message to the international society for Iranian women’s freedom and human rights.
Today we must speak about the women in Iran; about the women who do not have equal rights in Iran’s society with men for just being a woman; the women who are deprived of their basic rights in the courts because a patriarchic culture mixed with religious fundamentalism still continues today to deny women’s rights. That’s why we have gathered today, because it’s no accident that women are the main target of the attack that occurred on September 1st, and then in Camp Liberty, because those attacks were arranged by Islamic fundamentalist forces who want to suffocate women’s cries and we are here today because Mrs. Rajavi has created a movement by the women, she has organized Iranian women’s movement who struggle for the sake of women in other parts of the world; furthermore, it’s a movement for freedom. It’s a movement that says that’s enough! No more violation of women’s rights in Iran. And that’s why we have to call today for the safety and security of women in Camp Liberty more than ever, because unfortunately six women were killed in a recent attack on Camp Ashraf and six other women were taken hostage. They were the women who spoke about freedom, who worked hard for the human rights, and the women who tried for peace in the world as the UN has called for in its announcement.
Today we have gathered here from different countries to the call of Mrs. Rajavi, to send a message to the international community for the human rights of women and to talk about the women in Iran who play a significant role in the struggle for women's rights in that region.
It’s no coincidence that women were the main focus of the attack that occurred on September 1 in Ashraf, and later at Camp Liberty. Because these attacks by Islamist fundamentalists, aim to silence women's voices. But today Mrs. Rajavi has created a movement led by women, she has organized women's movement in Iran to fight for freedom. It is a movement that says that it is enough. Enough with violation of women's rights in Iran.
That is the reason that we must more than ever call for the protection and safety of women at Camp Liberty. Unfortunately, six women were killed recently in an attack on Camp Ashraf and six other women were taken hostage, women who talked about freedom, who endeavoured for human rights and have struggled for peace in the world.
I therefore call on the international community to investigate the 1 September 2013 massacre in Ashraf, where 52 defenceless people, including 6 women were brutally killed and six others were taken hostage.
Today, we must raise our voice for our freedom more than ever at this meeting of more than a thousand women. We must raise our voice for the human rights of women. Also something that was mentioned here which I also have condemned in the Spanish Parliament as well as in the Council of Europe is the fact that in Iran new laws have been adopted that a stepfather who adopts a girl can later marry her. This means that the rights of these children are violated. This is means legalizing pederasty and sexual violence against these children who have no right to defend themselves. That’s why we should condemn such acts.
I also want to call from here to those women in Iran who look to us when they look into the mirror every day. Who are longing and expecting that we do something to help them be free. I want to give them the message of hope. That the word hope must be present in their lives, because today we women are so many who have joined in sending a message to them that the future belongs to us. A message that one day they will also be free like us and be able to live in a democracy and enjoy all the rights that belong to them.
Dear friends, today the women of Iran are looking to us, they are looking to Mrs President Rajavi. They see that the flag of human rights and equality is in our hands and that there is no doubt that we will take that flag to Iran. Thank you."
Dr. Kiran Bedi - Recipient of Asian Nobel Peace Prize, (Ramon Magsaysay Award), Civilian Police Advisor to UN Secretary General
"I am your sister from India one of the world’s largest democracies with over a billion and a half people. I was the first woman in India to join the officer rank of the Indian Police Service way back in 1972.
I want to thank Maryam Rajavi for the wonderful opportunity it is a very rare privilege for me to come all the way to experience what you have experienced. The experience of the fight and struggle you are going through. As a police officer I want to salute you, to salute the entire movement, to salute you completely and pray that the Lord God gives you all the strength to win. I think if you got to win, that is what you have to pray for. One day we will win and win for the women of the world.
I have three points to share, I feel a huge energy. First question how do we stay connected as energy? Second is how do we make the United Nations perform? To get rid of mullahs in power and authority is not an easy task. How do we make them perform, which means the coming 8th of March how do we ensure that there is a huge pressure on the United Nations to listen to this movement and to finally come out with a statement of what they plan to do?
The third, how do we deploy our world’s media to write about us? I do not know whether this is making the BBC and CNN news today, if it isn’t, it is a shame. If it isn’t, it is a shame. This must make world news today if it isn’t, I think we mark them absent and let them know that they are absent. If they don’t cover us today, I think it is a cry for the women of this world. You know when I was told by a friend and it was a part of the document that a step father in Iran can marry a step daughter, I can’t still get around, it just doesn’t get a word. You cannot imagine how angry I was. Then therefore something like this should have made world news that this is what is happening in Iran and the entire world’s women notice it and condemn it and say we condemn Iran for that.
But the point is how do we get into a twitter account which is reached out to a billion women? Then we sign on line petitions of a billion women and it goes to the Secretary General, it goes to Security Council, it goes to Obama, it goes to United Kingdom, it goes to Security Council members. I know how the Five P functions, having worked at the United Nations. But the fact is if they can go about having sanctions on nuclear energy why can’t they have sanctions against Iran on these issues where women’s lives are being ruined? Why isn’t women’s rights as important as nuclear energy? These are the few things I thought I would raise these points. How do we stay united? How do we covert this convergence into huge world wide energy? How do we become a billion people? How do we become one billion voice? How do we use technology? I think this is a huge colossal effort I want to thank and admire this National Council of Resistance of Iran.
I think it is time now to unite, to unite and go behind this woman and to see one day she succeeds very soon."
Edit Bauer - Member of the European Parliament from Slovakia and a member of the Women's rights and Equality Committee of European Parliament
"I am here on behalf of the European Parliament's solidarity group, the women for free Iran and I am delighted to deliver to you our assurance that you are not alone. I would like to deliver to you assurance of our solidarity with your extremely strong efforts for freedom in your home country.
The political situation in Iran is very volatile. After the new presidential elections last year there were some illusions in western countries that Rouhani is a moderate who wants to improve the situation. Seven months after he came to power, his record is worse than all his predecessors in the past decade. Then we look at the number of executions which has gone to record high number, at least 28 women were among those who were executed last year. This is a time that the Iranian regime is much weaker than ever before and sees no means other than hanging people in public squares every day to spread and deepen fear to stay in power.
But in face of all these brutalities we have our resistance led by women, the same women who the mullahs try to exclude from the society all these years are in the lead of the struggle for freedom and democracy. Therefore, women in the resistance especially those who led the resistance through the hardships of the past 12 years in Ashraf and Liberty should be commended by all of us.
I would like to commemorate those six women, senior members of the PMOI leadership council who were executed on September 1 last year as well as six others who were taken hostage on the same day.
Last Thursday we adopted a resolution on Iraq in the European Parliament. In that resolution, which had the support of nearly all members of the European Parliament, we strongly condemned the rocket attacks against Liberty in December. We hold the Iraqi government responsible for any harm done against PMOI members in Liberty. The Prime Minister Maliki must be prosecuted for crime against humanity. All those who lost their lives in the recent attacks and those who continue to resist the unbearable condition in Iraq they all had a role model who showed them the way. I think Maryam Rajavi is truly a symbol for all of them but also for all of us, an example of how we can stand up in conditions that seem totally impossible. I am sure that she will be a leader of free Iran in the near future."
Els Demol - Member of Belgian Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee
"As a member of parliament, I support and I work towards to reach the 2015 millennium development goals. They include, among others, basic education for all children, reducing infant mortality, improving maternal health care, promoting gender equality and empowering women.
In 2014 in quite a number of countries basic educations, health care, religious, cultural, political and human rights are gender based. If anything it made, women have played a significant role in leading the Iranian Resistance in recent years, which is remarkable, unique and commendable especially in the Middle East where women traditionally have been held back from the political process. I don’t think it is coincidence or just by chance. I think women in Iran find a role model and an example in Mrs. Rajavi who courageously stood up against the Islamic fundamentalists who hijacked the freedom in her country and used religion as a weapon to suppress, to kidnap and torture and even kill. I therefore want to commemorate and pay tribute to the women of the Iranian Resistance who laid down their lives for freedom and democracy especially the six women who were executed in cold blood in Camp Ashraf and the two women who were killed under mortar attack in Camp Liberty last year.
I call on all freedom loving people around the world to join us in our plea to free the six women and a man, free the 7 who were kidnapped from Camp Ashraf last September. We know that they were taken by Iraqi forces and are kept in secret prisons in Baghdad. Despite all actions on behalf of the hostages, they have not been set free. But I want to pay tribute to all women and men who went on hunger strike to put pressure on those who are responsible for the safety of residents of Camp Liberty and Camp Ashraf.
Last year we also saw the appearance of new president in Iran, Rouhani. Well, I am not deceived by this president Rouhani, the moderate. While the western governments are in a hurry to sign trade deals or business contract with the mullahs, they should be reminded that human rights violation and public executions under Rouhani cannot be compromised for Iranian oil. Our governments must not close their eyes to the repression in Iran.
Now more and more knowledgeable and scientists claim that if we want the world in peace and prosperity for all we have to trust and rely on women. So, today let’s start and call women all around the world to join us in solidarity to end the siege of Camp Liberty where around 900 women are held in inhumane conditions and threatened with attacks and killing every day. Despite the difficulties they are determined to continue their struggle and they keep a very high spirit and morale. I salute them all and I salute all women inside Iran and around the world who stand up against dictatorship in any way or form.
Christine OckrentFrench Journalist and writer and renowned TV presenter
I am hoping for the day when this very great country called Iran that has been one of the cradles of civilization will finally get out of this regression, out of this cultural impediment that today has caused this country to become one of the worst places in the world regarding women’s rights. You know that the Davos publishes a gender scale every year. It seems that this year Iran ranked 127 amongst 137 countries on women’s rights. This gives a picture of the way the Ayatollahs’ regime, by abusing law, continues to block the advancement of a progressive nation.
Iran is still a country where girls can marry at age of nine, where the testimony of a woman is worth half a man, a woman inherits half a man, and where as one of these Ayatollahs called Yazdi -- if I remember correctly he was head of the judiciary for a long time -- put it, women are your property or your slave.
However, what is really on all our minds here is what is unfolding in Iran. This distance between the regime and the society and this young generation that despite everything skirts the sanctions and listens to the media. Foremost, this young generation and girls are impatient to participate in this global effort. This conference held every year at the request of Mrs. Rajavi is important because once again the messages voiced here will encourage them and of course those in camps Liberty and Ashraf to continue with their struggle."
Anissa Boumedien - Lawyer and former Algerian First Lady
Madam President, ladies, dear sisters, men. We have gathered here to commemorate March 8th, known for the women’s movement.
Allow me to bring your attention to the subject that all women who are fortunate enough to live in progressive countries with democratic infrastructures, where political choices are fully free, where elections are transparent, where the will of the majority rules, let me reiterate that they live in a place where the breeze of liberty blows.
Let us today think of these women, of these men, and these children that in many countries risk their lives at any moment.
Let us think of these sisters, these brothers that all over the world who are suffering and they think that they have been abandoned and ignored by us human beings and that they have become captive of this shameful conspiracy of silence. Our sisters and brothers in Camp Liberty are live examples who are deprived of food since their food stockpile is finishing up. They are forced to breathe the fumes of sewage, condemned to bear infectious and numerous diseases since they are deprived of medical services. Is this not a hidden genocide? A programmed genocide that is implemented with the acquiescence of the United Nations and U.S. officials; those who had given explicit commitments when these people were transferred from Ashraf to Camp Liberty. Let us also not forget the six women and the man who are victims of abduction. Until this day we have no information about their place of detention. Are they alive or have they been killed? Where are they held? There is no information about their place.
We abhor this disgusting treatment of defenseless human beings. Today, we stand with you Mrs. President. We revive our hopes in you that the agonies of Liberty prisoners who according to the Geneva conventions are refugees; we hope that finally their agonies will be taken into account by those who are in responsible positions."
Mariane Pearl - Mariane Pearl is an award winning French journalist and writer. She is currently the managing editor of Chime for Change global journalism platform focusing on Women and Girls in partnership with the International Herald Tribune and the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Mariane was five months pregnant when her husband, Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was kidnapped and brutally murdered by a militant Islamic fundamentalist group in Pakistan in 2002.
"When the twin towers attack happened there were a hundred and three women who were pregnant and whose fathers had died in the attacks. Some of these women wrote to me and said so how do we find hope now. How are we going to talk about hope in the world to our children? It was a good question where do you find hope?
I set to look for hope, search for hope for them on their behalf. I decided that hope cannot be based on religious nature. It would have to be rooted in the actions of people and their behavior as human beings so needless to say that I found hope on the actions of women worldwide. The resilience, the emotional intelligence, the bravery that it takes to change the world is repeatedly brought into actions to life by women everywhere and I witness that every day. So extremism is a plague that is affecting us all. I think that we agree that it has nothing to do with Islamic fundamentalism, has nothing to do with Islam, has nothing to do with being Jewish, with the gender or skin color. I think we all agree or I hope that we all agree that it is all about power.
My own experience has brought me to believe that the only way we can really win that fight is to assert the value that they are trying to destroy such as liberty and equality. Who is going to lead that fight? With all due respect to all the politicians present here I have always witnessed situations where politics comes in the way of justice and human rights.
Mrs. Rajavi had talked about one of her friends whose determination the way that she looked at the people who were going to shoot her scared them and they were right to be scared because she had mustered more determination even than an extremist which is a lot. So I want to tell you today also myself I didn’t encounter extremism because I am a woman I encountered it because I am a journalist. My husband Danny was actually a big lover of the people of Iran and had started to learn Farsi and actually a lot of people here have met him when he was doing his reporting we had what I believe our very strong values and for us bridging gap between people meant really something telling the true really meant something and looking for authentic justice meant something and was the main force driving our action so when we were investigating the 9-11 attacks in Pakistan Danny was kidnapped by Al-Qaeda he was brutally murdered I was pregnant with our son. The murder was filmed and posted on the Internet and I was in Karachi with him and I tried everything I could to save him but they killed him and they did that though they knew he was an innocent man. I was left with the same question how do I give hope now?
So I would like to dedicate to all these women that we talked about today an introduction that I wrote for Danny I want to say Danny because that is how I wrote it but really you can put the names of all these people. This is when I wrote a book called “Mighty Heart” in Pakistan. I write this book for you Danny because you had the courage of this most solitary act to die with your hands in chain but your heart not defeated. I write this book to do justice to you and to tell the truth. I write this book to pay tribute to all those people who have supported us through terrible times creating an emotional bridge to stand on. I write this book for you Adam, Adam is our son, because I want you to know that your father was not a hero he was an ordinary human being an ordinary man with a mighty heart. I think that all the women that we talked about today are those ordinary women with a mighty heart and they can defeat terrorism. The other thing is that they also know that we have no choice but to win that fight."
Rita Süssmuth - President of German Bundestag (1988-1998)
"Let’s work for democracy. Those people we as women living in democratic countries sometimes I have the impression we ignore we don’t know what is the importance and the relevance of freedom. Sometimes people may be in eastern Europe may be in the Middle East, may be in Iran they have much more courage than we have. So don’t say we can do nothing we are more powerful compared to our belief.
So it is difficult? Yes but never give up that is my conviction as long as we can move we will not stop so it is important for me to have such persons we need them going forward showing us ways to bring change. I will stop my short speech when I come back to the message from you Mrs. Rajavi. I am convinced when she said women will take us to another future.
I have this message also from the UN and UNHCR but let me insist that still we are merely objects and not subjects.
The power of dictators fear us and therefore they pressure to torture us to give us no rights in their own uncertainty. So why should we fear them any longer?
They are powerful and in so far we need on one side confidence interrelationship cooperation instead of confrontation but believe me we also need clear perception clear conviction not only rational approach but emotional and social approach.
I hope you will make your first step when you are at home to say now to our governments and when they don’t answer the second and the third time, we go forward, and as we stay together we have to learn more solidarity from those who are suffering in a very very difficult situations."
Phumla Makaziwe Mandela - Head of Industrial Development Group (IDG), engaged in enhancing women’s role and empowerment in changing South Africa. She is a daughter of the late President of South Africa Nelson Mandela.
“I stand here humbly as a child of the African soil, as a child of the struggle. I know what it is to fight oppression. I know how to have parents that are locked up in jail and to grow with other parents and each time you pass a fountain to throw money into a fountain and wish your parents would be released from jail. So if I stand here today I want to say I empathize with women in Iran those who are outside of Iran those who are inside Iran and fighting for freedom.
I am reminded of the apartheid days in South Africa because if you glean at the constitution of Iran today and see all the laws that have been passed they remind me of the apartheid laws which were racist and sexist in nature but very similar. In Iran the constitution considers women to be inferior to men.
While these women in Iran majority of them are in university we know that they are now being prevented from access to about 70 courses in university. Yet for all their success and their numbers in university they are still severely marginalized in all spheres of society. They are still subjected to severe discrimination. A number of women who had demonstrated peacefully against the lack of human rights and repeal of unjust laws have been harassed tortured and imprisoned and at times been killed. Women in general are not free their lives are decided by their brothers their husbands and their fathers. Women do not have the right to travel or wed without the permission of their husbands. Everything is like the situation to the apartheid in South Africa.
And the customary law in South Africa women were perpetual minors under the guardianship of their father before marriage of their husbands upon marriage and of their male relative on the dissolution of their marriage or the death of their husbands. A women could not marry without the consent of a guardian and had no contractual capacity. The same id true in Iran if you look at the civil code of Iran article 1105 to article 1170 indicate that women basically have no voice in Iran they have no rights in Iran.
African women in South Africa just like women in Iran have always been at the forefront of the struggle for liberation. Today I can be proud to stand here and say that in our parliament we have over 55% women represented. I can be proud to say today in South Africa we have had a Minister of Defense past and now who are women.
We know that struggle is not easy that struggling for freedom is not an easy road there is no doubt that women in South Africa have achieved a lot but I can tell you even today as I am standing here we women in South Africa are still struggling against violence of women.
I want to say we have a lot of energy. We have a lot of initiative as women we need to solidify that energy and initiative to promote change amongst us. Through all the passion and promise that we have struggled that we have talked about women’s emancipation for all its excitement and collective achievements South African women realize that it is their right to achieve total freedom but having said that I do not believe that we should surrender that we should be silent we should be brave enough courageous enough as Mrs. Rajavi has done to stand up for the truth that we know.
I would like to take this opportunity to remind all of us that are present here today that my father who I called DADA, Nelson Mandela passed away in December …but today he lives so that liberty, freedom, justice might not perish anywhere in the world. Those who can hear me he is not here today please listen to him that cold morning in 1994 when he said the time to build is upon us we have at last achieved our political emancipation we pledge ourselves to liberate all people from the continued bondage of poverty, deprivation, suffering, gender and other discriminations. We succeeded to take the last steps to freedom in conditions of relative peace we commit ourselves to the construction of a complete just and lasting peace. We triumphed in an effort to implant hope in the breast of millions of our people. We entered into a covenant that we shall build a society in which all South African people black and white will be able to walk tall without fear in their hearts and are assured of their inalienable right to human dignity and raise a nation at peace with itself and the world.
We dedicate this day to all heroes and heroines in this country and rest of the world who sacrificed in many ways and surrendered their lives so that we could be free. Their dreams have become a reality. Freedom is their reward we are both humbled and elevated by the honor and the privilege that you the people of South Africa have bestowed on us to lead our country out of the darkness.
We understand that there is no easy way to freedom we know all well that it is not one person acting alone to achieve success you have to work with other people to achieve success. I know that we have to hold each other's hands as women across the world, across rivers, across borders, across mountains to support each other in the struggle for emancipation. So today sisters, I want to say do not despair for today there is momentary darkness but when you think about the vision that my father Nelson Mandela had of a brighter future, we should know that although he sleeps today he lighted a candle for all of us to take forward and never look back to fight for freedom even if we are jailed, even if we are killed, even if we are degraded freedom is ours today if we don’t lose the spirit. It is the spirit of standing up to injustice, it is the spirit of fighting discrimination where ever, it is we cannot look at ourselves in the mirror and be concerned about that injustice and not this injustice. Injustice is injustice discrimination is discrimination, wherever committed."
Elisabetta Zamparutti - Former Member of Italian Parliament
"Dear President Maryam Rajavi, dear all, I am very pleased to be here with you today in such an important occasion, and I would like to talk about the situation in Camp Liberty and the brave women residents. Throughout the years, the camp residents have faced many challenges. Behind all the threats, the killings, cruel siege and pressure one can see a strong determination for freeing Iran and bringing democracy to this country.
Behind this strong determination one can see the brightness of women’s leadership. Brave women who have shown that the resistant women and men will not surrender to Iran’s dictatorship, a dictator who is always the same.
As a human rights activist and member of the non-violent radical party I would like to tell you that since Rouhani took power last August more than 500 people were executed in Iran including women and juveniles. But we know that there are these 1000 women in the Iranian Resistance who are so courageously leading the camp with a bright torch while the plots of the mullahs have failed one after the other. They have killed more than 120 of the residents. They have injured more than 1000 of them. They have imposed the cruelest siege including medical siege on them. They have ruined their properties. But they did not succeed in making them surrender. They did not succeed in destroying their determination in the struggle for freedom in Iran.
Now, what is the message that these women have sent to all women of the world and what are their demand for us? The message is that women can create such strength, courage, determination and relentless efforts even under the most difficult condition. Their demand from us is to provide our support and make their voice be heard by the world and stand on their side.
In the end, allow me on this women’s day even to praise Mrs. Rajavi for her leadership and for her decision to call for and promote democracy in Iran through political dialogue without violence which is also a point of hope for all of us as women. Mrs. Rajavi we will all be with you. Look at the audience at this conference. You all these women on your side and we have no doubt that you will succeed. Iran will be free and Iranian women will get rid of the misogynous mullahs."
Gianna Gancia - Governor of Italian city of Coneo
"In the Province of Cuneo there is a town that is twin-city of Ashraf City and we, Cuneo residents, have the deepest feeling towards Liberty residents and their suffering. We would like to express our deepest solidarity with the residents in the camp who are still suffering and facing grave dangers.
They have to know that the people of Cuneo share their pain, are on their side and support them.
I would like to let them know that we adopted several resolutions so far on Liberty residents' security and we will continue to do it.
Their suffering distressed us particularly, when we learned they are protected persons, o should be protected persons, under the Fourth Geneva Convention and therefore United Nations, the Government of United States and European Union have both legal and moral obligations regarding their protection.
But unfortunately, these obligations were not fulfilled and this is unacceptable.
However, in this special occasion for all women, we want to salute especially the brave women in Camp Liberty and all women, our friends, of the Iranian Resistance and tell them: “We are with you, so be brave and strong!”
Ragnheiður Ríkharðsdóttir - The chairwoman of the Independent party's parliamentary group and former Deputy Speaker of the Icelandic Parliament
"Promoting gender equality is a priority in Iceland development cooperation and specific object of the parliamentary resolutions on the strategy of Iceland international development cooperation from 2013 to 2016.
This is based on the conviction that gender equality is human rights and equality is in fact one of the core principals of the concept of human rights.
Madam Rajavi, ladies and gentlemen, today it is a fact that the Iranian regime is one of only three countries that is not a signatory to the convention on elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and we could say that this is the first sign that the Iranian regime does not believe in women’s rights.
This is the basis for realizing the equality between women and men through ensuring women’s access to and equal opportunity in political and public life. Including the right to vote and stand for elections as well as education health and employment. So while women can enjoy all the human rights and fundamental freedoms when these do not exist the Iranian regime has an open hand in oppressing women in Iran.
I along with all female members of the Parliament in Iceland declare support to put an end to shocking stories we hear about daily these stories deserve a strong international support. The forefront line of this movement is in camp Liberty now with 1000 brave women. They deserve international support and attention.
Therefore I a Parliamentarian of Iceland call for the UN the US and the EU to prevent the killing of the camps residents and act to guarantee the safety and security."
Ásta Ragnheiður Jóhannesdóttir - Former President of Parliament of Iceland
"Iceland was one of the first countries to grant women the right to vote and run for parliament. It was following constitutional changes in 1915 that women got their rights and next year we will celebrate 100 years of women right to vote.
Breaking point was the election of the first female president of Iceland in 1980. Now nearly 30 years later in the elections that took place in 2009 Icelander women broke the sealing. Over 43% of members of parliament were women. Other milestones were important to reach where half of the government were female ministers and the prime minister was a woman for the first time in Iceland and the head of all three branches of state power, the legislative, executive and judiciary were women.
At the end I just want to say that the ten-point plan of Mrs. Rajavi is a reality to the women in Iceland. It is also a reality to the women in the Nordic countries and the western world. Dictatorship and women oppression should never be tolerated. Fight on, we will support you. You will win."
Nontombi Naomi Tutu - Human rights and women's rights activist from South Africa
"It is a great honor to be with you once again Madame President Rajavi and to be among women who remind me so much of the women of my country. Because when the struggles of apartheid was happening it was the women who took the lead and standing and taking that struggle to the street. It was the women of South Africa who told the apartheid government: Now you have struck the women, now you have struck a rock.
And now I know that the mullahs regime are terrified because they know they have struck the women of Iran and that they have indeed struck a rock. So I am honored to be sharing a podium with young women such as Elham who showed us by her continued commitment and struggle, even after she suffered such devastating injury. That there are more women who are like her, who gave up life of comfort to be part of the struggle to liberate their country.
And I say what chance does the Iranian regime have when there are young women like Elham? We are ready to stand, resist and to travel the world to support the liberation. What chance does the Iranian regime have when there are 1000 women in Liberty? They continue to put their lives on the line day after day. What chance does the regime stand when there are young women inside Iran leading protests on college campuses? What chance does the regime stand when the opposition is led by a women named Mrs Rajavi? No chance! No chance!
"They can continue as much as they like. They can continue oppressing, they can continue imprisoning, they can continue torturing, they can even continue killing. But the truth is that they know that the regime is the one that will die."
Aude de Thuin - Founder and President of Women's Forum for the Economy and Society in France
"I ask myself shouldn’t we call women’s day the day of freedom or perhaps the day of resistance? In any case, we can dedicate this women’s day to the women trapped in Camp Ashraf and Liberty. Something happened last January in Davos regarding women that has affected me. Last January a French delegation of businessmen went to Davos because they consider business a priority. It is understandable that business is important. But business is much better when it is done in a democracy and with a democracy. When we witness how they welcome a president and how they treat the Iranian regime in Davos, we may be surprised and say to ourselves that the world is not turning on a right wheel. I am surprised and think will always be as long as women are not allowed to talk more and as long as women are not given freedom of speech not just in conferences like today’s which brought together women.
Women have really won when they attend all international conference by 50%. Equality is not enough because equality in most cases is a legal matter and quota. But quota is never a good thing. The conscience and intelligence of women should be considered first before quota is applied. So, there are many things in this world that are not turning on their wheels properly. I want to quote two sentences for you. First is: “The one who has confidence will guide others.” I think she is Mrs. Rajavi and I hope you keep this confidence because we need you. The second sentence is by a French poet who said: “There are only two approaches towards life. We either wish it or implement it.”
Najima Thay Thay Rhozali - Former Moroccan Minister
"I have come from Morocco, but there are voices along with me too from Morocco. All those voices have joined these voices and these hands that Ms. Shakeri spoke of. When she said each hand makes power with another hand, I say too that voice makes a great power with hand.
My lady, you succeeded as you are able to gather at this place the eminent, political and powerful activities of women. I consider this a success at this extent. Because each one of the women, each voice, and each hand will be followed by hundreds of other voices and hands. These hundreds of thousands of hands and voices will add up to the thousands of women in Ashraf and Liberty to say a word, not with violence, not with despotism, not with disgust and reluctance and not with cruelty.
I used to see in in my villager family that my grandmother fasts and prays; and my father fasts and prays. I was brought up in a family with pure bred Islamic methods; but I do not know and I don’t belong to the Islam that is shedding the blood of the innocent, which is the terrorist Islam. And all Moroccan women and men don’t belong to it, neither do all of my Muslim sisters.
My lady, the Moroccan women really played a big role in motivating Morocco after the Moroccan independence and thanks God that I had the honor to be the first woman member of the government and in charge of fighting against illiteracy and untiring education and also to be a parliamentarian.
We in Morocco understand you and your sisters in Iran and Liberty.
My lady, my sisters and brothers, I finish with this: “With Maryam, we shall make one, two, three, one hundred and one thousand other Ashrafs.”
Na'ayem Al Ajarema - Chair of the Women's committee and a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Jordanian Parliament
"Jordanian women live in a very positive condition and have taken great steps forward. The women are not waiting for an agreed gift; on the contrary, they have achieved their rights with tireless efforts and have strengthened their position in all aspects. The goal is approaching a rare situation that is the utmost dreams of human; it is very instructive both regionally and internationally.
As far as the case of Iran is concerned, my colleagues and I in parliament of Jordan have obtained signatures of the majority of the parliament in support of a statement demanding defense for the rights of Camps Ashraf and Liberty’s residents. We express our solidarity with Iranian women’s struggle in their way to achieve freedom, democracy and equality in Iran. We continue urging international community and governments to put pressure on Maliki’s government to release seven hostages, six of whom are women. We demand a guarantee for protection of Camp Liberty residents particularly one thousand women."
Jilan Jabar - Writer and Journalist from Egypt
"First of all in memory of Zohreh Ghaemi and all the other ladies who sacrificed their lives for others, in camp Liberty. Iranian history has not witnessed many people like them. I have been studying your history closely and have written about them passionately. The Iranian nation has paid a very high price and is bound to succeed.
First of all I like to pay my respects and gratitude for inviting me to this great conference and pay my respects to this lady who has been able to gather us all in this conference and make us focus our time and energy towards a having a better country. After experiencing the Arab spring I can understand the goal that Maryam Rajavi is trying to attain. Do you realize what you are fighting for? They have not only stolen the country and the leadership but they have managed to steal the Iranian identity. Yes the Iranian identity and DNA has been hijacked. She is trying to take back the Iranian identity. As soon as the Brotherhood took power (in Egypt) they decided to change the constitution and remove women’s rights from the constitution.
They refused the right of a woman to become a judge in their point of view this was a mistake and in 2013 they surrounded the courts and forced their view points. The Egyptian women had a strong presence in the revolution. During the January 25th revolution the stood their ground amongst the youth and the men you could see the presence of women in the streets. Egypt was able to reclaim her DNA we reclaimed our identity and paid the price that it deserved with our lives and through our demonstrations. Mrs. Maryam Rajavi continue your struggle because you will be victorious we did not surrender, you will not surrender as well. We will defeat them because our people and country is our identity. No government regardless of their agenda, if they steal people’s identity should not remain in power.”
Dr. Kristin Snow - Women's rights advocate from U.S.
"As an American woman I'm fortunate to live under democracy, I can't imagine what it's like to live in a country like Iran where gender inequality is the actual law.
We are 52% of the population and in America less than 17% of the people who represent us are women and it's pathetic.
This brings me to the Iranian women who are at Camp Liberty. I'm absolutely astounded by their courage, by their fearless defense of their sisters in Iran and each one of these women who live in Camp Liberty is a lioness. Regardless of how difficult their circumstances in Iraq they grow stronger by the day and they refuse to be broken. As well as joining the resistance from Iran, there are many people from North America, Europe and Australia who have done so as well. In a world where we are constantly encouraged to think only of ourselves, imagine the heart of a women who thinks only of others, who sacrifices her own wants, her own needs, her own ambitions and desires to help free Iran and her people from three decade old shackles, that sounds to me a lot like Madam Rajavi.
My message to the brave women in Camp Liberty is to say how fortunate the women of Iran are to have you fighting for their rights. Together with the women of Iran you are a powerful force that no regime can silence nor break. We salute you and we stand with you in your struggle for a democratic and free Iran."
Meredith Bergman - Former President of the Senate in New South Wales, Australia
"Madam President and sisters from all around the world, I bring greetings from very very far away I represent a group called the Australian supporters of democracy in Iran. This group includes both state and Federal members of Parliament such as myself and I have been involved with this group for the past ten years. In that time I have learned how important women are in the struggle for a democratic Iran. Even in Australia there were three women in the recent international hunger strike that we also held in Australia.
We know that there are a thousand women in Camp Liberty and they hold leading positions within the camp. In fact of the captured seven hostages six of them were women and we are particularly thinking of their plight at this time and our group is in constant contact with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs about the plight of those hostages.
Whenever I am asked why our organization supports the National Council of Resistance of Iran I say because the NCRI is democratic, non-violent, secular and most importantly it is led by a woman. While the mullahs regime in Iran is continuing its misogynist policies towards women it is really important to continually tell the rest of the world that there is a strong opposition that believes in equal rights for women.
In Australia we have been so impressed by the way that the National Council of Resistance has been so steadfast in its pursuit of its non-violent and non misogynist policies that our organization has made the decision to nominate Madam Maryam Rajavi for the Australian equivalent of the Nobel peace prize."
Jahan Mashal - Lawyer, Women's Rights and Human Rights activists from Syria
“The people want the government’s overthrow.
This is the motto all the heroes of Deraa and the cry of Deraa’s children that was responded by Syria. This is the very same phrase that scares the dictator and shakes its pillars and forces him to resort to blind actions: he kills and destroys and sets ablaze, arrests and rapes and does all filthy actions. Assad has done as many crimes as been done throughout the history in just three years in Syria.
I am a lawyer from Syria. I feel whatever I tell you and explain things to you, and all the catastrophes you watch on TV, or whatever you read in the news, yet nobody can depict exactly what Syria is now experiencing. It is very tragic and very painful when one hears the news of Syria, the news about the children, women and the youth of Syria, and yet considered as an ordinary news. Once I wrote in one of my stories that annihilation of a woman means annihilation of a city and annihilation of a city means a long column of young girls and slave. Whenever a woman is destroyed, a country is destroyed, When we struggled for the freedom of women, either in Syria or elsewhere, and when we struggled against violence we well knew that we had two options before us which were in fact only one: an oppressive dictatorship with its brutal laws, or the traditions that are imposed against women. Dictatorship and violence are formed only in a similar ground and condition, and they always come together. I therefore do not consider whatsoever the women’s struggle for freedom separate from struggle as Syrian revolutionary women."
Sara Chandler - President of Human Rights Committee of European Federation of Jurists and Human Rights Committee of British Law Society
"Dear Madam Rajavi, dear sisters in Ashraf and Liberty and in Iran, thank you to invite me to speak and I feel very honored and privileged to be here. I bring you greetings from the Law Society of England and Wales of which I am a council member and together with my fellow council member the former president of the Law society. We both represent solicitors and our part of profession of 165 thousands UK lawyers. We support all of the residents of Ashraf and Liberty and we salute your courage in the face of continuing murderous attacks and assassinations. We admire you with respect to your steadfast commitment to a better future when you are free. In celebrating international women’s day we remember the struggle of women all over the world. During centuries of liberation struggles, we celebrate the gains and rights that many women enjoy. While this is not the case for all our sisters, there is much to be done and we dedicated our strength to the ongoing struggle and struggle to come. We are together in the long path to freedom for our sisters in Iran and especially for our sisters in Ashraf and Liberty.
As members of the law society, we do what we can as lawyers. We condemn publicly through the statements in the press the attacks upon Ashraf and Liberty and the terrible injury, kidnapping and taking hostages and the violation of human rights. The law society has for many years supported your struggle. We call for the protection of all the political refugees, residents in Ashraf and Liberty, and for safe relocation to the third country of protection. The law society acts together with our UK parliamentarians, members of House of Lords and honorable members of the parliament to call upon the UK foreign secretary and the British government to use their role in the UN Security Council to end the attacks by the Iraqi government on Ashraf and Liberty. The law society condemns the failure to respect the rule of law and the constant violations of human rights. We call upon our UK government to ensure the protection, safety and security of the residents of Ashraf and Liberty and the return of seven hostages. The UN Security Council must ensure that measures are implemented to ensure humanitarian standards and protection in Liberty.
In conclusion, dear sisters in Ashraf, Liberty and Iran we stand with you as long as you need us and in hope that we stand beside you in freedom in the near not distant future."
|Performances by Iranian singers and artists at International Women's Day 2014|
Famous artist & popular singer
Member of NCRI
Soprano-Solist of talar-e Rudaki and Tehran Opera
Political activist & Resistance singer
Zinat Mir-Hashemi - Member of NCRI, Member of central committee of the Iranian People's Fadai Guerrillas, Chief Editor of Nabarde Khalghe publication
"I congratulate all those involved in tireless efforts for freedom and gender equality, and I hail all the women that with their heads high are saying no to dictatorships and segregation.
Women’s rights and human rights are two intertwined issues, meaning that human rights activists cannot close their eyes to gender inequality and violence against women, and they cannot close their eyes on human rights. These two subjects are so associated that one means nothing without the other, and it cannot become practical. This is a big lie that we can reach human rights without gender equality.
I am specifically talking about the conditions of women in Iran. Women in Iran are under the crackdown of a religious dictatorship.
Therefore, the struggle of women for gender equality is linked to the struggle against dictatorship and against human rights violations.
As long as Sharia law is enforced, with any faction or clan being in power the issue of women will not be resolved. Human rights and women’s rights can only improve in developments and positive prospects that come from democratic and developed relations. As nothing was achieved for women during Ahmadinejad’s tenure, rest assured that under the cloak of the Hassan Rouhani women in Iran will gain nothing. Hassan Rouhani has participated in all the crackdowns during the past three decades imposed on Iranian women and he has had a role in the most senior positions. Factional disputes inside the regime are the result of increasing rows between the people and the state. Iranian women like all women across the globe want to be free. Free to choose their clothing, free to choose their occupation and enjoy rights equal to men. Although gender equality and freedom can only be fully achieved under social justice, however, freedom, democracy and separation of church and state will pave the path for this important development. How can we remain silent in the face of women being enslaved by patriarchal states in various countries across the globe? How can we remain silent in the face of religious fundamentalism that has nested in Europe right next to us? Our silence increases their power and provides breeding grounds for these backward minded elements. The pain of women is our mutual pain, and we are the voice of labor women, women in prison in the Iranian regime’s dungeons, and imprisoned women in Liberty prison, and all the women that are being repressed. Only, and only our union against this mutual pain can alter the conditions in favor of ending segregation that is a part of human rights."
Mina Ahmadi - Iranian Women’s Society in Southern California
"I have come from California; I am the head of Women’s Society in southern California. I’ve bachelor and master degree in computer- software and communication. I am also studying in general health science and currently I am programing director and also finance director in a company.
As you know, the religious fundamentalist regime in Iran denies simple and daily rights of women. I am the victim of discrimination that Ms. Chaves mentioned, choosing branch of education and racism. When I decided to study engineering, Iranian regime did not allow me, I wanted to study Law, but this regime prevented me.
Regrettably, in Iran women have no outstanding and high ranking position in the government because Velayat-e- faqih considers the women as second class citizens. Where the vote of two women counts as one and the heritage of a woman is half of a man, where the leaders of this regime acknowledge that the women are despised, is there space left for resolving the issue of equality between men and women in this regime? Of course not.
Fortunately, there is another perspective to look at the world of beauties and that is the resistance. Resistance means: power and persist.All speakers have already said everything, but let me tell you some about the resistance of the women. The women of the resistance that their power to resist is amazing in regime’s prisons, despite severe suppression, could express their opposition to the regime by various means. The fundamentalist regime slams them by the harshest ways; the women in Mojahedin organization and also in the resistance have proved themselves. They are a beautiful symbol for us. However I do not think it has been as easy as I said. Many of you, distinguish women, are the symbols of approaching your great achievements. I should say among PMOI and these warriors this way has been much harsher. In first step they had to accept in their minds and then exercised it among the men. In this moment there should be an individual who began this journey and became a vanguard to execute this idea. This individual was nobody but Mrs. Maryam Rajavi. I salute her. "
Shirin Nariman - Women’s Alliance for change Iran - United States
"There is a firm presence of women in this struggle and the fight opposing the dictators of Iran which itself has gone through major shift change and revolution. A revolution that you Madam Rajavi has a major role in it and it started years ago. Something that changed the meaning of fight. Women choosing to fight full time and professionally believing in themselves and self confidence is the most important element of this fight for everyone particularly women. You introduced women in this struggle to the notion of “You can and you must”. Specially when the struggle against Iran’s dictators had become complicated and especially they needed a special kind of devotion you championed a new way of thinking. In choosing a path particularly for women choosing this fight they had to become professional fighters and break many set stone rules. They had to choose to become professional fighters and overcome many obstacles in their lives. Believing in themselves that they can do anything and there is no shortage of what they are capable of and how far the can jump. A new wave started a new generation of women entered this complicated struggle. The fight was serious and required a new commitment accepting all giving and sacrificing dedicating 100% to the cause. The fight was not a classic fight it was a modern way of struggle with women having a strong and leading role in a very long journey.
In our struggle women broke traditional and historical rules an instead of playing a supporting role to the men, they took the leading role wholeheartedly. This change didn’t only affect the PMOI women but also affected any women who came to know this opposition.
If the mullahs put suppression of women in their agenda, you instead focus and placed women at the top asking them to take more responsibility believing themselves in this fight against mullahs. This wasn’t an opposition against men in this struggle, on the contrary, it was taking the responsibilities regardless of gender and solely based on capabilities and willingness. You created a new way of thinking and a new culture for women to believe in themselves and for men to accept women equal to themselves in the daily struggles and work in the fight against the totalitarian regime. You proved your dedication to democracy, practiced it in the worst periods. It wasn’t only a slogan and hollow words."
Azadeh Alemian - Association des femmes pour un Iran libre - Val d'Oise
"Marking international women’s day, I want to talk to you about a woman, a woman that I have known since I opened my eyes to this world and have spent every moment of my life with, though I haven’t seen her since 17 years ago. Where should I start from?
The first image I have of her was when I was only 3 years old. In the prisons of the Khomeini regime, moments when my mother was under torture, and her friends were trying to play with me and help me think of something else. Or afterwards when she was still in prison and I was not longer with, and I would go and visit her. I remember how hard she would try to hide her feet from me, which no doubt were torn apart from lashes. I can also say of the moments that we chose the path of exile together. Immediately after her release, she went to Ashraf to join the Iranian Resistance. I clearly remember that moment when in the snowy mountains of Kurdistan we were riding a horse and the smuggler warned that we might fall into an ambush, therefore, we had to remain completely silent. My mother whispered into my ears, “My beautiful girl, if we get arrested, be strong. Don’t be afraid and especially don’t worry. It won’t be anything. You will go to your grandmother again, but I will be arrested again and this time I will most definitely be executed.”
Or the last time when at six in the morning the phone rang and I woke up and heard the news of Maliki’s mercenaries launching rockets at Camp Liberty, where my mother and 1,000 other strong women are stationed in. Harsh and shocking images are not few. However, I prefer to express the feelings that I have deep down, the feeling of pride. The fact that I am the daughter of a woman that like 1,000 other woman that seek freedom for a country that has been taken hostage by a misogynous regime, and with each of her steps she has been able to pave the path for other woman and influence them, to a future full of honor, for their being to become symbols for future generations. Naturally, pains will never be healed. However, during the course of my entire life, I have been privileged to live alongside this generation of women and I have this chance to take a few steps with them.
Now I understand why the mullahs are only a reflection of all of humanity’s history of fanaticism and dogmatism. They are terrified of these women, women that in their fundamentalist eyes are not even valued as objects, let alone human beings, and they have not let them be all these years. In their will they have been steadfast to uproot the mullahs’ regime from Iran, and I believe their goal is not far to reach. Today, on the one side is this generation, influential, experienced, invincible that is more determined than ever before to advance forward. On the other side, is the fundamentalist front of a desperate regime slipping and crumbling that has drunk the last sip of its poison.
Therefore, you definitely agree with me that this generation of women will certainly succeed, and I am convinced that in the near future, these women will reach their true position. The position of leadership and building tomorrow’s society in Iran."
Simin Nouri - Association des Femmes Iraniennes en France
"I am honored to represent here the Iranian Women Association in France, which has had a long record of human rights activities since its foundation in 1994 by several Iranian volunteers.
On the eve of March 8th, on behalf of the Iranian Women Association in France, I wish a beautiful and weighty day for all women, particularly for those who suffer because of being woman. Also, let us think of our hostages, let us think of Ashrafis in Liberty prison and especially of our mothers, sisters, and daughters in Iran, those who are daily facing a characteristically misogyny and stand bravely against the Islamic fundamentalism of Mullahs who are in power over three decades.
For a woman, fighting against such a misogynist regime and in a deep patriarch society seems impossible but for the first time in the history of our country a generation of women is present in the heart of the resistance movement. These thousands of women who are present here and in Liberty and also Iran have become the professional fighters against the Mullahs’ regime. They include full time political activists, who have come along different parts of the country, either graduate or not, married or single, having child or not, they are all determined and serious with their hearts full of loving Iran, are driving this ship ahead side by side with their Mojahed brothers that we hope will reach soon to Iran’s coast and opens up the path of real democracy."
Dorna Moaser - Berlin Students Association
"Today we’ve all come together in order to voice our protest against Iranian regime which has written misogyny into law and systematically suppresses women.
The brutal torture, execution and intimidation especially of young women for a choice of clothing and living have turned into a mere reality. Above all, rape is the most common way to set a woman. Khomeini even gave an official decree authorizing the rape of the young women or girls in general before their execution. Despite the barbaric repression, the women in and outside Iran have never given in and continue to stand up for their rights. One thousand brave Iranian women who have risen up their voice against Islamic fundamentalism ruling Iran are now in camp Liberty in Iraq. One third of them are ex-political prisoners who have been imprisoned and suffered the cruelest form of torture physically and mentally.
After several military and missile attacks on defenseless residents in camp Ashraf and camp Liberty which has led to the murder of over 130 persons and the abduction of 7 hostages, 6 of whom are women, they did not break and have continue their struggle against Iranian regime. Today was an even stronger conviction than before. Ladies and gentleman,these women are our source of hope, inspiration and motivation for millions in Iran and the rest in the world.
Ladies and gentleman, in the struggle against the regime whose image of women resemble of the middle ages, nothing is more powerful than women and the leadership of the position movements. Maryam Rajavi is the living proof that Islam and gender equality including women taking leadership roles do not necessarily rule out one another. Her unique contributions to the encouragement of women to hold leading positions in the resistance, has strongly influenced the PMOI on its way to become a pioneer regarding the women’s right movement in the middle east.
After all, the repression of resistance by the Iranian regime needs to be answered with an even stronger resistance. If we all believe in the world that women and men are equal and their rights and possibilities to participate in society, we have to join forces to fight all sorts of fundamentalism. Last year on international women’s day the United Nations emphasized its commitment to women’s rights by pointing out the following motto: “A promise is a promise, time for action to end violence against women”. So I appeal to all governments from Europe to the United States to stop believing in the change of the current system. Supporting the Iranian regime is equivalent to the support of women suppression. So keep your promises and it is time to for action to end violence against women."
Vida Nik-Tale'an - Frauenverein für Demokratie im Iran - Germany
"The brave women of my nation such as Zohreh and her brave colleagues who made the Ashraf soil clean with their blood became symbol of the brave women who carried on the heaviest responsibility on their shoulder at the most serious and sensitive period of freedom of Iranian women, to teach us and upcoming generations the path of liberty and freedom and to escape us from the claws of the reactionary misogynist mullahs’ regime. And now let the United Nations, United States and the other appeaser governments stand and watch in the silence and not fulfill their commitments while our seven hostages, six of them women, are still kept hostages.
I can’t find any other words but shame, shame on you; do you know where the story of Ashraf started? It started where the misogynist fundamentalists did not recognize least and any rights for women, it started when they wanted us women to stay at home and since we were after our rights they tortured, stoned and executed us. Ashraf started when the daughter of Iran Fatemeh Mesbah was executed at the age of 13; when the mother of Iran, Mother Zakeri was tortured and executed in the most calamitous manner, Ashraf started when Ashraf Rajavi was killed at the eyes of her minor child. But it didn’t end. It continued and propagated. The propagation of Ashraf was carried out by Maryam Rajavi, who raised the flag of Iranian women, and dominated everywhere by the most noble, most conscious women of my country and undoubtedly will continues until the overthrow of the misogynist regime. Undoubtedly Ashraf will not come to an end. Ashraf is not a place with some buildings. Ashraf is the determination of the Iranian woman for the overthrow of the anti-human, anti-woman and exploiter regime. If they took a Zohreh from us today, thousand Zohreh will blossom in the nation’s sky.
We, the Association of Women for Democracy in Iran, ask the appeasers to take the hands off the trade of blood with oil and don’t deal the ideals of a nation with the perishable economic profits. A free and non-nuclear Iran based on justice and gender equality and equality of all various sectors of society is accessible with the powerful hand of Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the Iranian Resistance not only for Iranians but for the people of the world."
Farzaneh Majidi - Association of Anglo-Iranian Women in the UK
"I am a member of the Iranian Women Association in London. Women’s Day is an important event for women across the globe. Unfortunately, today in my country women are faced with increasing repression and arrests because any event where human beings call for their rights is unacceptable for the mullahs’ and becomes an excuse for further crackdown. Five of my family members, including my brother, aunts and uncles have been murdered by this regime. My husband was a former political prisoner in this regime. My husband and I came to the UK 14 years ago. However, during these years the suffering of our people, and especially the women of my country, has always been before our eyes. Women that are tortured and raped in this regime’s dungeons; women that set themselves ablaze and commit suicide due to the cruelty and social injustice; women that remain silent until death under the misogynist and institutionalized segregations in Iran. If it weren’t for the PMOI and a resistance that fights so tirelessly and persevere to fulfill the Iranian people’s rights, men and women, rest assured that after receiving all this news and all this desperation in Iran, continuing with life for all of us in exile would be very difficult. However, the presence of such an organization in which women have serious and important responsibilities gives all of us energy, inspiration and hope to rid Iran of the filthy mullahs.
The Iranian Resistance movement is not a one-pillar organ. It moves forward on both of its feet, both men and women. It revives both women and men, and this is what the mullahs’ regime just cannot understand, and it attempts to raise allegations against the women leading this movement to cover up its own inability. However, to this day it has failed and it will continue to fail."
Shaheen Sanghori - Tomorrow’s Iran Hope Association - Canada
"Tomorrow’s Iran Hope Association, consisting of freedom-loving women, has come to understand for years that the Iranian Resistance, PMOI and NCRI have chosen the most correct objectives to advance towards freedom and democracy for the Iranian women and all people, and of course they are the only hope of women and youths that everyday are under the mullahs’ regime and their inhumane laws.
We Iranian women, including our association, are more than ever indebted to this resistance and especially the leadership of Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of this resistance, because in the Iranian people’s anti-fundamentalism struggle, she has been able to open a way for us Iranian women, especially the women taking part in the resistance, to take the position that a woman deserves as an equal human being. Today, the Iranian woman sees a bright future for itself in a free Iran, which is not just in theory or agendas. In fact, we see this bright future in our sisters in the PMOI, either in Liberty, or in the scenes of political and international activities that they have been able to, shoulder to shoulder with their brothers, take the highest responsibilities in the political and even ideological leadership, and also managing all the affairs. "
Fatemeh Eghbali - Internationale Stichting Voor Vrouwen
"My name is Fatemeh Eghbali from the International Women’s Association in the Netherlands, and I am happy to be here in this gathering today marking March 8th, International Women’s Day. In this day and age where the backward-minded and criminal mullahs are ruling Iran, and see no limit in conducting massacres, how can we remain silent? Thus, we must fight against this regime with all our might, especially us women who are under additional cruelty from this regime and it is exactly for this reason that we must enter the struggle against this fanatically backward-minded regime. Fortunately, we Iranian women have a symbol in our path for reaching our freedom-loving goals. She has always been a path-finding element such as a very glamorous sun shining light upon all. She is none other than Iran’s sunshine, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi. All the members of the International Women’s Association in the Netherlands, and I myself, are proud to commit ourselves in the same path of the 1,000 Ashrafi women, and by setting the heroic Ashrafis in Liberty as our examples, we stand alongside other Iranian associations to do our duty, and pledge ourselves to advancing the objectives of this resistance to free Iran and make it into an oasis. And we pledge to work very hard with all the women in this path."
"My message is going to be very brief but important because I am hoping that all my sisters and brothers in Camp Liberty right now are able to hear it.
I know not firsthand but from the stories that I have shared with many them that are still there and from the stories that I have heard from many of you what struggle has been. But like marathon the hardest is the end of the race that when you are the most tired and don’t know if you can make it to finish but there is a finish line and at some point soon you will be at that finish line and you will be liberated from Liberty.
Madam Rajavi has ignited a spark in every one of you.
I have a spark but I am not a delegate, I am not a politician, I am not a governor, I am not a president, I am an average person and how can I make a difference.
Well, let me tell you that with my phone tonight I have reached over 150 people personally. I had likes, shares, comments, posts all through Facebook. Everyone here should have received one of these cards. We had some really interesting comments here one of our delegates from India talks about getting billions of lights on Twitter. It is possible. We have to address like here in a way to have our sisters in Liberty and to share that information because if we hold it inside we can make a difference so share it.
Thank you very much and Madam Rajavi thank you for being the rock solid strength that is uniting us all together at this international conference."