Women’s Forum Against Fundamentalism in Iran
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Iranian Women Rally for Freedom on March 8, 2006
Women’s Forum Against Fundamentalism in Iran declare its full support for the courageous women of Iran and applaud their call for change. To this end, we present a complied report by rally organizers, participants and eyewitnesses.
BOSTON, MA- Hundreds of women, from all walks of life, took part in a rally to commemorate international women’s day in Iran. Although an hour-long rally was to take place at 4 PM, women began to form large gatherings at 3 p.m. (local time) in Park-e Laleh and Park-e Daneshjoo both in central Tehran, north of Tehran University. Female university students joined the crowd with prepared banners and signs.
Eyewitnesses report that as the crowd grew presence of security forces in plain clothing and official uniforms became more noticeable. As they begin to force the crowd to disperse, about 400 women staged a sit-in to defy security forces. At 4:07 PM, security forces reacted with unprecedented brutality and attacked the crowd with clubs, electric batons and cable. Women held up their signs and chant slogans for “equality is our natural rights”, “era of slavery must end”, “violence against women must end”, and “we want justice, we want peace”.
Hell bent on suppressing women’s peaceful rally, security forces brought cars to the scene to arrest people, particularly those with cell phones and cameras reporting from the scene.
Sara [no last name given for security reasons], participated in the rally and said: “All we wanted was to have a gathering to read out a statement, but it seems that regime agents were waiting for us. They attacked us with such hatred and brutality.” In her report, Sara said, “You have no idea what we face in Iran. On daily basis we see nothing bur harassment and discrimination.”
Reporting from Tehran, Ms. Mehri Amiri, an activist from Women Rights Association of Iran, characterized the rally as a courageous “message from Iranian women” to the international community. “Even the most basic rights of women are not recognized in Iran, so we have no choice but to fight back and stand up for our rights” she said. “Iranian women have no future so long as this regime is in power. This regime rejects women and that is why we want our voice to be heard by the world community. We want the international community recognize that our resistance and demonstrations will continue until we change this regime. We see no other options”, she added.
Amiri described the rally as women’s “latest showdown” to demonstrate that Iranian regime is “not capable of changing its behavior”. She explained, “We want the western governments to understand appeasing this regime is futile.” She added, “Countries around the world celebrate International Women’s Day. However, our peaceful gathering today was faced with brutal attacks by government agents and security forces. This regime can not even tolerate one hour of our peaceful rally, so how can it be capable of changing its behavior and observing international norms”. Amiri concluded her report by saying:” The price of freedom is high and women are willing to pay. We are suffering but we are not disempowered. We believe in change and it is possible. Our only demand from world community is to isolate this regime and recognize our voice for change.”
A male eyewitness said “if the organizers had permit and regime would have tolerated their rally, only for an hour, there would have been at least 100,000 people in these locations. I commend and support these brave women”.
Latest count from Iran indicates that at least 20 women were arrested in various gathering points in Laleh Park, Daneshjoo Park and 16-Azar Street in central Tehran.
Women’s Forum Against Fundamentalism in Iran (WFAFI) calls upon the world community to hear the voice of change in Iran and support women’s agenda for democracy. WFAFI also appeals to women’s organization, human rights community and the United Nations to press for immediate release of those arrested on International Women’s Day in Iran.
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