Revolution, Solidarity with Women

MFI Stands with Iranian Women on International Women’s Day, and Every Day

Mission Free Iran stands with Iranian women to commemorate International Women’s Day, to demand gender equality, and to defy the gender-apartheidist policies of the Islamic Republic.

We are organizing a protest in soldarity with women in Iran, and against the gender apartheidist Islamic Republic of Iran:
Sunday March 6th, 2011 at 1pm
2209 Wisconsin Avenue NW
Washington DC
(in front of the Iran Interests Section of the Pakistani Embassy (Daftar))

This revolution is the Women’s Revolution.
Women around the world stand with the women of Iran.
The possibilities for our freedom are caught up in yours.

Transcript from film (transcripted by MFI):
Thousands of women across Iran came together to celebrate International Women’s Day in 1979. We were 4 French women who spent a week with Iranian women in their marches, sit-ins and meetings. Many of us in Paris, Lyons, Bordeaux and Marseilles did as much as we could to introduce the movement of Iranian women to the world. We reflected the women’s movement on a daily basis.

We members for the Movement for Liberation of Women in France declared that when Iranian women come to the scene of movement, it indicates freedom and emancipation for women around the world.

Chants of women are:
“I say it every moment, I say it under the torture, either death or freedom!”
“Freedom is not eastern nor western: it is universal!”
“Death to censorship!”
“In the dawn of freedom, the place of women is empty: revolution is meaningless without women’s freedom – we do not want hijab!”

The police tried to disperse the crowd by firing bullets in the air. In response, women chanted: “We are not scared!”

March 8 1979: women around Tehran were discussing the new events of imposition of hijab ordered by Ayatollah Khomenei.

A woman said, “Demonstration against hijab is an opportunity for women to be in solidarity with each other. Hijab is peoples’ issue – it is unbelievable, always men defending hijab.” The woman in the black lace veil said, “We participated in the revolution like men did, we were killed, we fought for our freedom – if Khomeini behaves like this, I as a Muslim will come out of my religion.”

The other veiled woman said, “We want equal rights as men do. Our children are educated and want to be free. If this continues, I will become a kaffar – a heretic. I have been wearing the veil for years. I did not come to this demonstration to say that I don’t want the veil. I have 6 daughters. I don’t want my daughters to wear veil. I don’t want men to force them to wear veil. I came here to defend my daughters against the veil.”

Around the hospital, demonstrators say “Salute to nurse: independence, freedom, REAL republic.” Islamic fanatics insulted the demonstrators, attacked and beat them. A girl said, “Last week, I felt threatened in the streets; some men told [asked] me why I was not wearing a veil. I was not feeling safe at all. Every car passing me insulted me. But I know that I should resist and defend myself. We were demonstrating before. At that time, the army was in the streets and we were not scared and we fought back. Now, why should we be scared of these few men?”

Slogans of women say: “Our women are hardworking and they are liberated.”

Woman in red said: “The government raised the issue of hijab. We were part of this revolution. We studied and worked in the hospitals. We treated the wounded during the revolution. After the army surrendered and the revolution triumphed, we were in the streets. Then Khomeini said enough of demonstration, you go back to your homes. We did that. Since Thursday we came back to streets again: We do not want hijab. If you wanted to impose hijab, you must have told us before. We had the revolution to have equal rights for women and men. Women in law were the first to react against the new action. We followed them. We want to fight back. We have to speak up right now for our rights. Otherwise, when they write the constitutional laws, it will be too late. First they impose the hijab, and then other discriminations will come. They’ll impose restrictions on marriage and divorce and finally will force us to stay at home. As nurses, we cannot wear too much clothing. Our clothes must be comfortable. We cannot work properly with that hijab, and the kind of dress code they are asking us. It prevents us from serving our patients in the best possible way.”

Interview with Kate Millet, a women’s rights activist from US: “I have never seen anything like this. 10-15,000 women demonstrating. In US, any protest like this requires so much work. Here, they write on a piece of cardboard and everybody will come to the rally. These women were under oppression for many years and went through a revolution. They’re not scared of this. They stood up in front of tanks and won. I have never heard feminists speak this way.”

School students demonstrate: “Dictatorship is condemned in any shape. Women’s Freedom is not eastern nor western, it is universal.” Merzhkan said: “I want to be free and say what I want and do what I want. I will not bear this pressure. I want to write about anything that I was not allowed to write about. My mom thinks like me, and she defends freedom.”

After the glorious March 8 demonstration, Iranian women continued their path: Saturday March 9, rally in universities; Sunday March 10, sit in in front of the Palace of Justice and giving their written demands. On Saturday, Khomeini backed off and declared that hijab is not compulsory. This was the first victory for women. On March 12, University of Tehran and Freedom Square was again the scene of women’s demonstrations. Thousands of women demonstrated and said, “We are awakened! Our demonstration is not just about hijab, but it has a wide range. We want equal pay, the right of employment for women, freedom of speech, association and organization. Before we had nothing. Iran had 4000 female political prisoners. Women politicized with the movement against the Shah. These demonstrations after the revolution are a continuation of that struggle. We will continue our struggle until the complete emancipation of women. Without freedom for women, no real revolution can exist.”

Here women are protesting in front of the tv station in Tehran which is run by fanatic islamists. We have no voice in tv. Only the Islamic government has the right to speak. 15,000 women deomnstrated and they did not say anything about it. Because [unintelligible] did not like it. They only said that a few women with knives came in front of the tv building. We were demonstrating to say that the government has no right to boss us around. We the women ourselves have to make decisions and to choose.”

The slogans are:
“People join us – our demands are your demands!”
“Freedom is not eastern nor western – it is universal!”
“Without and with hijab we fought against Shah. Without and with hijab, we will guard freedom!”
“We did not have a revolution to go back!”

This film was made by Iranian women and women who stood up by them in their struggle.
~des femmes filment

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