British MPs call for end to suppression of women in Iran

In an early celebration of International Women’s Day, a cross party group of MPs highlighted the systematic discrimination and marginalization of women in Iran at a conference in the House of Commons on Tuesday, February 28, 2017.

The president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, thanked MPs for their cross party support for the Iranian women’s struggle for democracy and equal rights.

“The mullahs’ aggressions in the Middle East and its nuclear and missile programs have drawn much attention. However, we must highlight these vital realities in Iran; a deep political and social crisis, a society ready for change, and an organized movement in which women have an important role”, she said.

“In fact, women are the force for change in Iran… I call on the world community, particularly the women of Britain and the Houses of Parliament to support the Iranian women’s struggle against the misogynist regime”, Mrs. Rajavi concluded in her video message to the meeting.

Rt. Hon Cheryl Gillan, the Conservative MP for Chesham and Amersham, said, “I look forward to an Iran where all people can be treated equally and women play a full part throughout civil and political life.”

Linda Lee, former President of the Law Society of England and Wales, who chaired the conference highlighted the plight of several women activists in Iran including Maryam Akbari Monfared, Narges Mohammadi and Mansoureh Behkish.

“These prisoners of conscience are being punished with long-term prison sentences either for their activities against capital punishment or for demanding those responsible for the mass killings during the 80s to be held accountable, including the known perpetrators of the massacre of 30.000 political prisoners in the summer of 1988”, she said in her opening remarks and she joined the other participants in calling for their immediate release.

Speaking on behalf of her constituent, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who is held prisoner in Iran on made-up charges under appalling conditions, the Labour MP for Hampstead and Kilburn, Tulip Siddiq, said, “The way this British mother is being treated in the Iranian prison system is inhumane and totally unacceptable. The government must step up its pressure on the Iranian authorities for her immediate release so that she and her daughter can be reunited with their family in West Hampstead.”

Panelists from both Houses of Parliament were also joined by solicitors, women’s rights activists and members of the Anglo-Iranian Community who called on the British government to take the lead on the international scene to pressurize the Iranian authorities to “eliminate, in law and in practice, all forms of discrimination and other human rights violations against women and girls”, as demanded by the international community in the latest UN resolution on human rights in Iran.

Ms. Dowlat Nowrouzi, the NCRI UK Representative said, “A new era has begun. Appeasing the religious dictatorship ruling Iran with their brutal ‘Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)’ responsible for execution of tens of thousands of women in Iran and sponsoring terrorism in the region, proved to be counterproductive. The world leaders must start firmness and make the regime accountable for its crimes.”

“Women in the Iranian resistance have challenged the misogynist regime on all fronts … They played a crucial role to lead our movement to become a serious and strong alternative against the godfather of Islamic extremism and terrorism”, said Safora Sadidi of NCRI Women’s Committee.

Baroness Harris of Richmond DL, Liberal Democrat member of House of Lords; Rt. Hon Theresa Villiers, Conservative MP for Chipping Barnet; Jess Phillips, Labour MP for Birmingham, Yardley; Mrs. Louise Ellman, Labour (Co-op) MP for Liverpool, Riverside; Lady Valerie Corbett, prominent human rights and women’s  rights  activist;  Margaret Owen OBE, Director  WPD and Human Rights Lawyer;  Sue Willman, the Law Society  Human Rights Committee;  Azadeh Hosseini, president of the Anglo-Iranian teachers  association;  and Farzaneh Hosseini, lawyer and human rights activist, were among the participants in this meeting.