March 05, 2010 – On the occasion of March 8, International Women’s Day, a solidarity conference with women in the Iranian Resistance and uprising was held at the residence of Maryam Rajavi in Auvers-sur-Oise, northern Paris on March 5. It brought together women’s rights and equality movement activists from Italy, Spain, Greece, Algeria, Palestine, Australia, the United States, Canada, England and France.
The conference was organized by the Women’s Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran.
My Dear Friends and Sisters,
It is my pleasure to welcome you here.
As we commemorate March 8th, International Women’s Day, I would like to hail my sisters all over the world, especially those who have struggled and made sacrifices for the sake of advancing the causes of equality and freedom over the past year.
Let us also express endless praise for:
The courageous women of the uprisings in Iran,
The pioneering women residing in Camp Ashraf,
Those who organized thousands of protests all over the world last year,
Women who participated in a 70-day hunger strike in support of Camp Ashraf,
Heroines slain in recent months by the bullets of the regime’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, such as Neda, the symbol of Iran’s uprising,
As well as women, who as we speak, are held captive in the regime’s prisons and placed under tremendous torture and abuse.
And, last but not least, I express my warmest and most heartfelt greetings to you honorable women who have risen up to support women in Iran.
Indeed, our global commemoration, is not only in response to women’s pain and suffering, but it also relies on solidarity. It is a call which bears the promise that human progress is only made possible through the acknowledgment of equality for women.
My Dear Sisters,
On the occasion of March 8, I am more eager than anything else to thank you.
This is a gratitude from the bottom of my heart.
It is not the usual note of thanks that you may hear at every meeting or in every speech.
It is not even because of the years of friendship that bonds us.
This is the expression of years of friendship and profound respect from the Iranian people and Resistance for your valuable efforts in support of this Resistance and Iran’s pioneering women.
With the recent flourishing of uprisings in Iran, everyone has now realized the absurdity of the claims proffered by appeasers with regards to the regime’s stability or public support in Iran. In the years past, their boisterous propaganda campaign in support of the mullahs was deafening, as was their shameful campaign of accusations against the Resistance.
Despite all this, you continued to remain on the side of this Resistance.
Each time we encountered difficult situations, every time we fell victim to the mullahs’ attacks and plots, you were there on the side of the Iranian Resistance:
During the struggle to remove the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) from the lists of terrorist groups in Britain and the European Union,
In opposition to the June 17th attack against the Resistance in France,
During the campaign to defend the rights of Camp Ashraf residents,
In opposing the murder of Ashraf residents over the past year and your attempts to free the 36 hostages,
In support of hunger strikers in Ashraf and around the world,
And, in recent months, in defense of the Iranian people’s uprising.
During all these difficult challenges, you were at the forefront of our supporters.
And your endeavors eventually paid off and bore fruit;
All the protest actions organized,
All the letter writing campaigns,
The interviews with media, writing of articles and books,
Participation in gatherings,
Meetings with and referrals to government and humanitarian institutions,
And, organizing women’s associations in this regard.
Perhaps, initially these attempts may have looked inconsequential. But, with the passing of time, their importance was proven. Each time you drew solidarity from other people, especially women, around the world, you generated success.
My Dear Sisters,
Your collective effort was the key to your success. These days, some claim that women’s movements will no longer lead anywhere. But, your work has proven otherwise. You advanced and influenced policies through your collective endeavors, solidarity, sympathy, sisterly cordiality, perseverance, patience and tolerance.
Ten days ago, the formation of a women’s committee in support of the Iranian Resistance was announced at a session at the European Parliament in Brussels. The formation of this committee is an achievement in itself.
I am of the view that this is an example that can be modeled in national parliaments as well.
International Women’s Day shines once again this year through the Iranian women’s struggle during the ongoing freedom-seeking uprisings.
On this occasion, I would like to recall the fact that without women’s role, the uprisings would not have reached this level of growth. On the other hand, women’s overwhelming role has steered the uprising towards removing the entire system of velayat-e faqih (absolute clerical rule).
In recent months, some have asked, ‘How did women obtain such a status in the Iranian people’s struggle?’
Two factors are involved in shaping this status:
The first is the 150-year-old women’s struggle against dictatorship in Iran;
The other is the nature of their current confrontation with a misogynist regime.
You are well aware that the mullahs have made life hell for women in Iran through their brutal suppression, systematic degradation, gender apartheid and deprivation of the most fundamental rights and freedoms.
What results in virtue of this backward system is, on the one hand, women’s poverty and anguish, with the following consequences:
• One-fourth of Iranian women are depressed or experiencing psychological trauma;
• Women’s share of the country’s economy amounts to just 12 percent;
• More than two million extremely impoverished women are also the breadwinners for their families;
• And, there are three hundred thousand victims of prostitution in the Iranian capital, Tehran, alone.
Additionally, this system results in a brutal suppression, to the extent that thousands upon thousands of female opponents have been hanged to date, tens of thousands of female opponents have undergone torture, and millions have been expelled, purged or forced to live in exile.
All this is in parallel to the immeasurable anguish resulting from the daily control and inquisition and a variety of humiliations and insults, all of which are intangible.
In fact, there is no particular or unique example of injustice carried out against women. It is an indescribable injustice the beginnings and ends of which is unclear. One example of it is the systematic rape of women in prisons.
Another is the issue of “mal-veiling,” which is neither the subject of a written law nor does it have any established criteria. Rather, everything from the kind, size, and color of women’s clothing up to and including their behavior and way of talking is a target.
You can grasp the state of Iran’s society through the prism of what women have experienced. The oppression of the Iranian woman defines social life in its most inhumane form. That is why the liberation and advancement of society would be triggered only when the oppression of women has ended.
Therefore, the resistance of Iranian women in opposition to the regime has the goal of obtaining their right to live as human beings.
That is why, their struggle is a struggle for uprooting the regime.
Over the past 30 years, women have played a key role in the organized resistance.
You are aware of how viciously the regime responds to the vast participation of women in protests.
In recent months, they have arrested scores of women and placed them under torture. Many have even been subjected to rape.
Nonetheless, women have courageously reappeared at the forefront of the uprisings.
Their participation in these uprisings with the intention of changing the regime signals the triumph of a path paved by the pioneering women of this struggle, particularly the women of Camp Ashraf.
During the past seven years, they have ably guided Ashraf under a barrage of attacks by the regime meant to destroy the camp.
They summoned enough courage and embraced their faith and fortitude to persevere in an extremely trying and demanding turf of struggle.
Their determination has been an inspiration for women and youths of Iran for their struggle to obtain freedom.
Today, Camp Ashraf is under an inhumane siege by the mullahs’ regime and its Iraqi allies.
They even prevent the delivery of pharmaceutical drugs, fuel and food products into the camp.
In recent weeks, a number of agents of the regime’s Qods Force have gathered at the main gate of Ashraf, threatening the residents repeatedly with renewed deadly attacks.
As such, I would like to invite you to participate in the international campaign to end this siege and to ensure that the protection of Ashraf is accepted by the United Nations.
I thank you all.