On March 11, 2010, Maryam Rajavi attended a meeting entitled “Finnish solidarity with Iranian women” at the Conference center of the Helsinki.
She addressed the situation of women and their role at the forefront of the
struggle for Freedom and Democracy against the religious fascism ruling Iran.
The meeting was chaired by Mrs. Pia Noora Kauppi with the participation of jurists, women members of the Finnish parliament, members of NGOs and women activists.
Ms. Anissa Boumedienne, Jurist, Scholar in Islamism and former first lady of Algeria, and Lady Odile Slynn also attended.
After introducing the program of the meeting, and while expressing her sincere support for the Iranian
women in the challenge they face in changing the regime in Iran, Ms. Ms Kauppi read the declaration of the parliamentary European Solidarity with Women for a free Iran.
Here are excerpts from the intervention of Maryam Rajavi:
Dear friends and sisters,
It is a pleasure to be among you today. On Monday, we celebrated International Women’s Day. I congratulate my sisters across the world on this occasion.
This year’s International Women’s Day is identified with Iran’s courageous women.
These women have the lead role in the uprising to overthrow the most barbaric dictatorship in the world.
In a society under the rule of a fundamentalist regime, the leading role of women shows that Iran is ready for change.
I must also pay respect to women who were imprisoned in recent months and resisted all forms of torture.
And this is why the 27-year-old Neda became the symbol of the Iranian people’s uprising. Her picture inspired respect for the Iranian people across the globe.
Some analysts have been so affected by the role of women in the uprising that call it a women’s revolution.
They ask about the reasons why Iranian women assumed such an impressive role in the struggle for freedom.
Clearly, this has not been achieved overnight. To respond, therefore, I would like to discuss several aspects of the status of women:
– First: History of Iranian women’s struggle;
– Second: The status of women under religious dictatorship;
– Third: Women’s unique role in the organized Resistance and;
– Fourth: Future prospects.
As to the first aspect, I must recall that women have been active in the struggle against repression since 150 years ago. Women have played an extensive role in the three major movements of the 20-Century Iran, namely the Constitutional Revolution, the movement to nationalize the oil and the anti-monarchic revolution.
In 1979, when mullahs came to power, they could not tolerate the activities of women because it was contrary to their backward mentality.
They resisted 174 forms of torture in prisons. In addition, tens of thousands of women were executed in the struggle against religious dictatorship. Most were between 20 and 30 years old when they were executed. Some were high school students, as young as 13, 14, 15 and 16. In fact, Iranian women have suffered more than men under the mullahs’ rule.
The mullahs have increased suppression of women as much as they could, through different forms of impositions, including forced veiling forced marriage, and ban on travel without permission from a male guardian as well as many privations and discrimination.
The mullahs’ civil code rests on discrimination against women. Their criminal law states that women are worth half of men. Individuals’ rights are based on various religious decrees. According to the mullahs’ Sharia law, activities of women, including the right to ownership, travel, leaving the house and even performing certain prayers are made conditional on men’s rights.
Similarly, it has legitimized the misogynist culture, through such customs as polygamy, temporary marriage and allowing honor killings.
I must emphasize here that although the fundamentalists justify the suppression of women and society as a whole under the name of Islam, none of those practices has anything to do with Islam.
The edicts in the Sharia law and horrific punishments such as cutting off limbs, gouging out eyes and stoning to death are all against the real Islam.
In the first years after the arrival of Islam, 14 centuries ago, when newly-born girls were being buried alive, Prophet Mohammad granted women the right to own property, receive inheritance, the right to divorce and vote.
The Prophet recognized women’s independent political choices.
In the Quran, women and men are addressed the same. Gender is not basis on which to evaluate human beings, nor is the color of the skin, ethnic background or wealth. The Quran stresses that human freedom is the most important value. The message of Islam is manifested in compassion and mercy.
Let me say again that an Islam which advocates democracy and equality is not simply an ideal. It has been put in practice. The People’s Mojahedin follow an Islam which rejects gender distinctions.
In the PMOI, who believe in a democratic and tolerant Islam women have assumed the leadership of the movement against religious dictatorship.
The third issue I’d like to address is the status of women in the organized resistance.
Women comprise fifty-two percent of the parliament of the resistance;
The leadership Council of the PMOI, the main force within the resistance is all women.
Camp Ashraf, in Iraq, home to thousands of members of the PMOI, is led by women.
The experience of our movement was that if more importance is given to the ideal of equality and women’s active participation in leadership, the struggle against fundamentalism will advance further.
Fundamentalism is based on misogyny. So women hold its life-line.
At the same time, by advancing in the field of equality, this movement has succeeded in promoting democratic set of relationships within itself.
The struggle for equality has removed important barriers and false assumption such as disbelief and lack of trust in ability of women as well as considering women as being fragile.
Women overcame these barriers. In their place, self confidence, courage, belief in women’s abilities and a new perspective on women based on their human character set it.
Therefore, men, influenced by women’s vanguard role, succeeded in changing their views on women.
The implementation of the principle of equality in our movement we are witnessing a new generation of men who truly believe in gender equality.
I spoke of women’s decisive role in the movement for change in Iran. But what are the prospects for that change?
We want to establish a republic based on the separation of church and state, pluralism and respect for human rights. We are committed to the abolishment of death penalty in Iran after the fall of the mullahs as well as a nuclear-free Iran.
Gender equality plays an important role in our vision and program for tomorrow’s Iran. Details of those plans are at your disposal.
In tomorrow’s Iran, all individual freedoms for women will be recognized, including the right to choose one’s wearing, freedom in belief and religion, marriage and divorce, employment and travel. We believe in complete gender equality in social, political, cultural and economic fields. We particularly emphasize that women must have equal participation in the country’s political leadership.
At this moment, I want to hail my sisters in Finland for their outstanding position in achieving equality.
Forming a government, with women in majority, women’s impressive share in the Parliament and their effective role in other decision-making posts is a good example of women’s active participation in political leadership.
This position makes it essential that women in Finland actively assist their sisters in Iran in their struggle against the ruling fundamentalists.
The mullahs pose a danger to the whole world. Fundamentalism is threatening achievements of women across the globe. This is a regime on the verge of obtaining nuclear weapons. By supporting terrorists and fundamentalist groups, it has created a permanent war in the Middle East.
The Iranian people, particularly women, have suffered enormous pain in the struggle against the evil of suppression and terror. Yet, there is no doubt that the victory of the Iranian people is a victory for the whole world.
To carry out this mandate, Iranian women extend their hands toward their sisters in the world.
How can they be helped?
– First, compel Western governments to make relations with Iran conditional on stopping repression;
– Second, end appeasement of the mullahs and recognize the main opposition, namely the National Council of Resistance of Iran;
– Third, defending the rights of 3,400 opposition members, including 1,000 pioneering women in Camp Ashraf.
They are the inspiration to the struggle of Iranian women and youth for freedom. The European Parliament resolution adopted on 24 April 2009 regarding Camp Ashraf must be implemented.
Last July, the Iraqi government, at the request of the mullahs, attacked Camp Ashraf, killing 11 and wounding 500.
In the past months, the pressures on Ashraf have continued in the form of an inhumane blockade.
In addition, following the demands made by the mullahs, the Iraqi Prime Minister announced that it intends to send the residents of Ashraf to a location near the Saudi border. This relocation is clearly preparing the grounds for the massacre of Ashraf residents.
In the face of the threats by the Tehran regime and its Iraqi proxies to destroy Ashraf, If the international community does not act quickly, a humanitarian catastrophe, larger than the one in July, is about to happen.
Therefore, the United Nations must assume the protection of Camp Ashraf.
The Iranian people and Resistance specifically ask that Finland take the initiative to encourage the United Nations to assume responsibility for the protection of Ashraf.
Thank you all very much.