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23 Feb 2010

Maryam Rajavi at European Parliament: “Women are vanguard of democratic change in Iran”

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Maryam Rajavi at European Parliament: “Women are vanguard of democratic change in Iran”

On February 23, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi met with the officials and members of the European Parliament at its headquarters in Brussels to discuss the current situation in Iran and the need for the European Union to adopt a new policy in support the people’s uprising for democratic change.

Upon her arrival at the European Parliament in Brussels she was welcomed by a delegation of Euro MPs headed by Dr. Alejo Vidal-Quadras, EP Vice President, Edit Bauer of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, Sari Essayah, the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, Mariya Nedelcheva of the Committee on Petitions. Struan Stevenson, Chair of the Friends of a Free Iran Intergroup, Jan Zahradil, Vice-Chair of the European Conservatives and Reformists, Potito Salatto and Tune Kelam.

Mrs. Rajavi then participated in a meeting attended by some 150 MEPs and their assistants who were invited by Ms. Eva-Britt Svensson, President of the EP Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality. The meeting was organized in the run-up to the International Day of women. The following is the text of Mrs. Rajavi’s speech at the meeting:

Madam Chairman,
Dear Friends,

It is indeed a great pleasure to take part in this session and speak about International Women’s Day on the fifteenth anniversary of the Beijing Conference, particularly since this year’s Women’s Day is identified with Iran’s courageous women.

These women are the forerunners in the uprising to topple the most barbaric dictatorship in the world today. They are mothers who gather in different parts of Tehran and urge the citizens to continue the uprising for freedom. They are young girls who have been imprisoned in recent months and are waging a resistance against the henchmen’s tortures, insults and assaults. They are women who are leading the people in the course of the uprising.

It is no coincidence that Neda [Agha Soltan] became a symbol of the Iranian people’s uprising and that her image inspired respect for and solidarity with the Iranian people around the world.

Iran observers have been so impressed with the role of Iranian women since the beginning of the uprising that some have called it a women‘s revolution. This situation was not created overnight; it is rooted in the 150 year old struggle and sacrifices of Iranian women on the one hand and the nature of the ruling regime on the other.

After the fall of the Shah’s dictatorship, women faced a reactionary regime whose principal attribute is misogyny.

The tragic suppression of women by the regime, the brilliant resistance waged by women in torture chambers and execution grounds, and their presence in the organized resistance movement have all had a profound impact on the developments in Iran over the past three decades.

The struggle of Iranian women against religious dictatorship has matured in an organized resistance movement, such that the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI), which is the principal movement in our resistance, is led entirely by women. Moreover, women comprise half the membership in the Resistance’s parliament.

Similarly, Camp Ashraf, located in Iraq, where thousands of PMOI members are based, is led by pioneering women, despite facing tremendous pressure and conspiracies instigated by the regime.

The perseverance of Ashraf, and particularly the leadership of women, has been an inspiration for women and youth inside the country.

Recalling these experiences, I would like to impress upon several important facts.

The first concerns with women’s participation in leadership positions which supplies the dynamism and vitality for this resistance’s perseverance and progress.
Second is the impact of women’s active presence in rejecting any capitulation to the dictatorship.
Third is the influence that women’s presence has on creating a new humane culture and set of relations as well as on growing solidarity.

The fourth reality concerns the decisive role of women in bringing down the ruling regime

And finally, the role of women as a guarantor for lasting democracy and development in tomorrow’s Iran.

Allow me to repeat what I said years ago in a major gathering of Iranians in London when addressing the mullahs ruling Iran: “You have done your utmost to humiliate, suppress, torture and slaughter Iranian women. But rest assured that …. your system of oppression will be eradicated everywhere by the same enlightened, liberated and emancipated women.”

Dear Friends,

As the uprising continues, it is necessary for me to point out the attitude of the Iranian Resistance toward the defeated faction of the regime, which was declared from the outset of the protests. We have consistently condemned all assaults against them by the ruling faction. Moreover, the Resistance’s leader, Massoud Rajavi, has stressed, “We welcome any attempts by the defeated faction to distance itself from velayat-e faqih [absolute clerical rule]. This is not merely a desire but a patriotic duty to prove our sincerity and commitment to the overthrow of the regime.”

The leaders of the defeated faction are siding with part of this movement. Nonetheless, they diverge with us on many different areas. At the start of the uprising, they only called for re-election. They want to see the nuclear program continue and they defend the constitution of the velayat-e faqih (absolute clerical rule). This constitution is misogynous and violates popular sovereignty.

As far as women’s issues are concerned, they have distanced themselves greatly from the demands of Iranian women.

Iranian women, of course, seek the overthrow of the religious dictatorship. But, I can raise a very simple yardstick: abolishing of forced veiling, which was ratified by the National Council of Resistance of Iran in 1987. As far the regime is concerned, due to its inability to reform, it can never accept this demand.

But, if anyone is truly seeking freedom for Iran, they must at least defend the minimum freedoms, including the minimum freedom for women to choose their own clothing.

Thirty one years ago, the mullahs instituted their dictatorship by imposing forced veiling on women under the pretext of Islam.

Inspired by the genuine Islam, we emphasize freedom, including women‘s freedom in choosing their clothing and attire and we reject any compulsion or obligation in this respect. This is what the Quran means by stating “there is no compulsion in religion.”

Let any woman to be free in choosing what to wear or not to wear.

This is the minimum freedom for Iranian women as human beings.

For how long must women be persecuted and tortured because of the type and color of what they wear? Or be subject to sexual assault?

Interrogating women because of the color and type of clothing and make-up and even the manner in which they walk or talk as well as the guidelines on veiling represents a blatant breach of Iranian women’s right to freedom and security.

Sentencing women to imprisonment or 74 lashes because of the type of their clothing is a barbaric law.

These cruel laws and insults against Iranian women must be dispensed with forever.

Therefore, we say to the defeated faction that if you are sincere in your demands for people’s freedom, then the first step would be to agree with the abolishment of forced veiling.

Any government, too, that comes to power after the mullahs must respect the principle that women’s choice of clothing lies with themselves and not the state.

We seek the establishment of a republic based on the separation of church and state, pluralism and respect for human rights. We are committed to the abolishment of the death penalty in Iran after the fall of the clerical regime and want a non-nuclear Iran.

Gender equality occupies a significant place in our viewpoints and programs for tomorrow’s Iran. Details of these viewpoints are at your disposal. In tomorrow’s Iran, all individual freedoms for women must be recognized, including freedom in choosing one’s clothing, freedom of belief and religion, and freedom to marry and divorce, as well as freedom of choosing an occupation and travel. We believe in complete equality in social, political, cultural and economic rights between women and men. We particularly emphasize that women must have equal participation in the country’s political leadership.

Maryam Rajavi at European Parliament: "Women are vanguard of democratic change in Iran"

Dear Friends,

The clerical dictatorship has stepped up its policies of suppression and terrorism in all arenas in an attempt to forestall its overthrow.

Inside Iran, it has resorted to widespread arrests and increasing pressure and torture on political prisoners. Simultaneously, it has dispatched teams of agents from the Intelligence Ministry and the terrorist Qods Force agents to the gate of Camp Ashraf, embarking on an abhorrent psychological warfare to set the stage for carrying out another round of massacre against the residents of Ashraf.

In Iraq, it has attempted to highjack the upcoming parliamentary elections in March. It has also accelerated its nuclear weapons program and extended the range of its missiles to Europe.

The truth is that today, the sweeping aside of the main obstacle to democracy and freedom in Iran and the elimination of the grave danger to global peace and security have both merged into a single issue.

In the face of this danger, we all know that the European Troika talks in recent years, the policy of offering packages of incentives by the P5+1, and the US attempts at rapprochement over the past year, have all failed to produce any results other than emboldening the regime. They also failed to prevent the mullahs from getting closer to the nuclear bomb.

We have declared since long ago that in order to contain this danger there is one and only one option: the option of regime change, which implies democratic change by the Iranian people and the Iranian Resistance.

We have for many years emphasized the need to impose oil, trade, arms and technological sanctions against the regime.

Regrettably, owing to their passing short-term interests, Western governments have ignored this ominous threat. Even worse, they appeased the evil of absolute clerical rule and in a bid to mollify it, they even participated in the suppression of the resistance.

Fortunately, there are now growing calls being heard for imposing sanctions on the regime and blocking of the Revolutionary Guards.

But, these calls will only be taken seriously if the European Union and the US undertake specific and serious measures. These measures do not even rely on Security Council approval. They can be launched from right here in Europe.

Therefore, on behalf of all the arisen people of Iran, especially Iranian women, I call on the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union to:

1. Undertake effective and practical measures to confront the wave of suppression, arrests, show trials, sentencing of opponents on the charge of Moharebeh [“waging war against God”] and executions of political prisoners.

To this end, I propose that the European Parliament form a special committee to address the flagrant and systematic violations of human rights in Iran, including the conditions of prisons, political prisoners, the families of prisoners and political activists and the families of the residents of Ashraf.

2. Conduct a comprehensive investigation into the circumstances of female political prisoners in Iran, especially the systematic and premeditated crime of rape against the prisoners.
3. In order to counterbalance the suppression of the Iranian people by the Revolutioanry Guards, shut down its extensive and active back-up institutions operating right here in Europe. The Guards has numerous front companies in Europe, which are active in France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Italy and are involved in procurement of equipment and material for the suppression of the Iranian people as well as for the development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. We expect the Council of Ministers to shut down all these companies.
4. Prevent the growth of the influence of the Revolutionary Guards in Iraq is an imperative in every respect. It is common knowledge that after occupying Iraq, the United States committed an even greater blunder by giving a share of Iraq’s leadership to the mullahs’ proxies and a part of the Qods Force.

Today, the most senior US commander in the region admits that the committee which eliminated the leaders of Iraq’s nationalist parties from the list of election candidates is affiliated with the Qods Force. Nevertheless, the US continues to engage the very same Qods Force elements in Iraq.

5. Shut down the intelligence network of the mullahs’ regime operating in various EU countries. They are actively engaged in espionage against the opposition and limiting of the Iranian society’s breathing room. Western services are profoundly aware of the details of their activities. The religious dictatorship’s spies are sleeper cells for terrorism against the people of Europe. The time has come to uproot them.

In order to implement the April 24, 2009 resolution of the European Parliament, I call on the Council of the European Union to urge the United Nations to take over the protection of the residents of Camp Ashraf so as to thwart the intensive campaign by the Iranian regime and its Iraqi proxies to destroy Ashraf. It should also guarantee such protection and provide the UN with the necessary means to so implement it.

Thank you all very much

Maryam Rajavi

President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran

The President-elect of the NCRI for the period to transfer sovereignty to the people of Iran

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