Maryam Rajavi: Women, Voice of the Oppressed
Speech to Iranians’ rally at Earlscourt Hall, London, June 21, 1996
I wish to thank you all for your generous sympathy and kind support. Greetings to my dear fellow-Iranians attending the meetings honoring June 20 in different countries who are listening now. I am very happy to see you all and take part in this magnificent event.
Each year, on this occasion, we speak of June 20 and of a cry for freedom that will reverberate forever in the history of Iran. It is only fitting for me to begin by honoring the 15th anniversary of this turning point.
June 20 was the day the Iranian people cried out against the suppression of freedoms. It is the day the full-fledged and tortuous resistance against religious tyranny began.
June 20 was when the Iranian people’s willpower materialized in the form of the National Liberation Army and the Day of Iranian Martyrs and Political Prisoners, those shining stars who pierced the night of oppression with their enormous sacrifice to the cause of freedom and people’s sovereignty.
In the beginning of my speech, I also wish to pay tribute to the women the world over who have striven for equality and emancipation, and to salute the oppressed women of my homeland, Iran, from whose ranks tens of thousands have fallen in the struggle for freedom.
Please allow me to pay my special respects to the memory of Ashraf Rajavi, a woman and a pioneer in our nation’s Resistance, who endured much torture under the shah’s regime. She lost hearing in one ear under torture and bore many scars on her body. Under the mullahs’ rule, however, Khomeini and Lajevardi killed her (in February 1982) and did not abandon even her lifeless body. Before the eyes of other detainees in Evin prison, her murderers desecrated her body. We salute Ashraf and all standard-bearers and martyrs to the cause of freedom.
Gender discrimination, history’s longest-lasting oppression
Indeed, suffering and sacrifice are the price of freedom. This is the essence of the relentless tug-of-war, which gives meaning to humankind’s existence. Therefore the song of freedom has never been silenced by the tyranny of despots, and why the flaming rage of the oppressed shall overturn the foundations of oppression.
Women are history’s first victims of oppression. Besides having to endure political and socio-economic pressure, they are penalized for the sin of being women.
Yet half of the human beings on this planet are women, and inevitably gender oppression and the culture inherent to it directly affect and enchain the other half of humanity, the men. Hence, genuine freedom for the individual and society is ultimately attainable solely through the emancipation of oppressed woman. In other words, gender discrimination and oppression transcend and affect all other domains of human existence.
Sa’di, the great 12th century Iranian poet, has put it eloquently:
Of one body are the children of Adam
All created from a single gem
If fate afflicts one with great pain
How can others rest calm and sane.
History often tells us of slaves and celebrates their freedom, but so little is said about “the slaves of slaves,” the most tormented and oppressed members of human society. Today, we have assembled here so that their voice, lost in the chilling silence of centuries, may be heard: The voice of women, the voice of the oppressed.
Voice of women, voice of the oppressed
The history of humankind is the history of human beings’ glorious quest for freedom, and at the same time a wretched chronicle of oppression. While man gradually succeeded in freeing himself from the absolute dictates of nature, he soon found himself in the fetters of his fellow man. And thus, history began with the oppression of man by man. Slavery, that great tragedy of human history, was directed by the likes of Nero and Pharaoh. The voice of the oppressed was drowned out by the cracking whips of their masters. All that remained was the rattling of the shackles, and the dark age of slavery prevailed.
Was mankind to remain forever at the mercy of this blind destiny?
One answer came on that fateful day near Nazareth, when Jesus Christ proclaimed, “He sent me to cure the broken-hearted … and to free the down-trodden.”
The message of Jesus was a clear statement on human destiny — “one can and must rebel against bondage and slavery.”
The revolt by Spartacus was doubtless rooted in the belief that slavery was not forever and that freedom could ultimately be achieved. Spartacus and his fellows, however, knew that for them, at least, freedom was inconceivable, unless upon a cross.
On the eve of the last battle, Spartacus cried, “My friends, we have come a long way and fought many wars together, longing to return to our land and live free. But tomorrow, we have to fight again. Perhaps there is no peace for us in this world. But I am confident that we are free.”
The next day, 6,000 slaves were crucified along the road from Rome to Capua. That was the price of freedom. But the day came when the thunderous voice of the oppressed resonated everywhere and put an end to the age of slavery.
Indeed, the pages of history may abound in oppression, pain, and blood, but in the end, it will evolve into the sweet and magnificent story of liberation.
There was a time when such tyrants as Attila, Genghis Khan and Hitler roamed the earth. Now, in the new age of global communications and information, the interdependence of civilizations and the new relationships among nations inhibit such roguish aggression.
History has never ceased to move on. By relentlessly challenging all obstacles to liberty, humanity has liberated itself from the fetters of antiquated social and political relationships, and charged forward.
But one cry, and one cry alone, has remained unanswered, stifled in the depths of history: It is the cry of “the slaves of slaves,” the cry of women, the voice of those enduring the ugliest of all oppressions.
Gender-oppression ran so deep that no one believed it even existed. Gender oppression was not considered as oppression at all, as only natural life form for women.
A woman I am
My bare feet
Pacing the parched Earth
Since the First Day
In search of a drop of water…
Women were doubly enslaved, once as all other slaves and all other oppressed people, who have been subjugated and exploited in every age of history, and once as women. Yes, the footprint of women can be seen in all shackles of bondage, and the voice of the oppressed can be heard in their smothered cries.
Extracting the history-long root of oppression from the dusty pages of oblivion, Simone de Beauvoir said: “All subjugated social classes did not exist at some point. They came to exist later. But women have always been there. They are women due to their physiological traits. But, spontaneously, the very word “woman” has an insulting ring to it in a man’s ears and produces in his mind a mixture of sexual exploitation and humiliation.”
The story of women is the tale of a latent oppression woven into the depths of their lives and their very existence. The bonds that tie women to their omnipresent oppressors are unique. Not even in their dreams do these first slaves on the face of the earth reject and annihilate their masters. When they themselves assume that their bondage is eternal, the tragedy is complete.
The mullahs’ misogyny
But there exists an even more painful story: The tragedy of women in my fettered homeland, Iran, under the reign of the inhuman mullahs, who not only consider woman as eternally a slave, but also negate her humanity.
Can one speak of women and the movement for equality without exposing the misogyny and barbarism of the fundamentalists who rule Iran?
About which aspect of this bitter, unbearable tragedy should I tell you? Should I speak of the hundreds of women who are assaulted in the streets every day? Or of those arrested and lashed? Or of the respectable women forced to sign confessions that they are prostitutes, just because of the color of their dress or a lock of hair showing from beneath their scarves? Or of the women ruthlessly stoned to death?
Or should I tell you the tragic story of nine-year-old girls, who, according to the mullahs’ laws, must be wed? Or about the 12 or 13-year-olds who are sold to 50 or 70-year-old men? Innocent children who wither away under physical and psychological stress. Or should I speak of the many victims of self-immolation and other forms of suicide?
In early 1992, the state-controlled media wrote that in the impoverished regions in northeastern Khorasan and southeastern Sistan-and-Baluchestan, small children are sold for $60 to $70. In North Khorasan alone, 1,700 such girls had been abandoned.
You have probably heard of the tragedy of millions of girl carpet weavers in Iran, who labor in damp, filthy workshops, where they contract paralysis, tuberculosis, and scores of other diseases. These children irretrievably weave the prime of their youth into the fabric of the carpets they make.
Or should I tell of the multitude of women office employees, teachers and workers who were expelled from their jobs simply because they were women? According to official statistics by the national census bureau in 1986, only nine percent of people with jobs were women. The situation has only deteriorated since.
Or should I recount the untold tales of suffering of the millions of homeless widows, women and children who fell victim to the unpatriotic war? The pain of homelessness, slander and humiliation; the pressures of destitution, rape and suppression?
Or should I tell you about the epic resistance of tens of thousands of women who were savagely tortured or executed for their defiance of the ruthless, despotic theocracy and for joining the ranks of the Resistance for freedom?
Or should I tell of the brutality and cruelty of the clerical regime’s executioners, who sent elderly grandmothers, pregnant women and little girls before firing squads without even establishing their identities?
Or should I tell you the shocking stories of young women who were crushed under vicious tortures, raped and their blood drained on the eve of their execution, all in accordance with the mullahs’ official decrees?
Let me stress that neither the people, nor history nor God will ever forget these atrocities. These criminals will be held accountable for destroying so much talent and potential. As the Quran says in condemning the murder of girl children: “For what sin were you murdered?”
Hail to these martyrs and heroines in chains, who despite all the savagery, never surrendered, but continued to resist for freedom and liberation. They rushed headlong in search of freedom, guiding lights in the quest for liberty. Indeed, as Ashraf Rajavi said: The world has never known what the Iranian people, and particularly the women of my homeland, have gone through in these years.
The head of the regime’s Judiciary, Mullah Mohammad Yazdi, has officially proclaimed, “A woman needs her husband’s permission to leave her home, even to attend her father’s funeral.” (Friday prayers, Nov. 27, 1992)
Mullah Ahmad Azari Qomi, one of the regime’s ideologues, says: “The Vali-e Faqih (the regime’s supreme leader) can forcibly marry girls against their own and their fathers’ wishes.”
Mullah Mohammad Sadoughi, who was Khomeini’s representative in central Iran, once said during a meeting of the Assembly of Experts, “It would be a shame and an utter disgrace for us to have a woman as President or Prime Minister.”
In their theological teachings, in a bid to justify their astronomical lies, the mullahs stress that three groups of people must be lied to: “Women, infidels and hypocrites.”
But what makes the inhuman mullahs so sinister is that they attribute their misogynous atrocities and reactionary stances to Islam. In truth, all these crimes and demagoguery are only to maintain power.
Thus, the Quran warns, “Woe to they who write up things and then attribute them to God in order to achieve their own ends.”
Iranian women have risen up against this monster, a monster, which has emerged from the depths of the Dark Ages, whose very survival depends on misogyny and gender apartheid. This beast is not just the enemy of the Iranian people; it is at war with humanity.
The global threat of fundamentalism
From Tehran, the beating heart of theocracy, the octopus of fundamentalism has extended its blood-drenched tentacles into Islamic states and Muslim societies around the world, turning into the first threat to regional and global peace.
Exploiting the religious beliefs of more than one billion Muslims, the mullahs ruling Iran promote expansionism, while exporting crisis and discord. Their foreign policy consists of meddling in the affairs of Islamic countries, issuing fatwas to murder foreign nationals, and launching terrorist operations abroad. Other aspects of this policy include spending huge sums on procurement of armaments of all kinds, especially weapons of mass destruction such as biological, chemical and nuclear weapons.
Such a foreign policy is inherent to the fundamentalists’ nature. The theocracy ruling Iran thrives on crises. It is hostile to the most important global peace initiative in the Middle East and its policies and actions only nourish warmongering extremists and fundamentalists, for the very survival of this regime depends on the continuation of crisis and conflict.
These realities demonstrate how the ominous specter of religious fascism haunts global peace. The world community, for its turn, has a moral duty to confront and overcome this phenomenon.
I again emphasize here that the reactionaries who suppress the Iranian people and particularly Iranian women, and export fundamentalism and terrorism under the cloak of religion have nothing to do with Islam. They are the peddlers of religion and exploit the name of Islam to enhance their sinister and inhuman objectives.
Islam is the religion of peace, freedom, liberty, equality, love, mercy, and liberation. The mullahs’ fundamentalist mindset, however, rests upon vengeance, enmity and ignorance and is at war with human values and world peace.
As we approach the end of the twentieth century, fundamentalism’s brazen enmity toward human values and world peace has spilled onto issues of international concern. In 1993, during the International Conference on Human Rights in Vienna, the Iranian regime opposed the principle of the universality of human rights. In 1994, during the World Conference on Population Control in Cairo, it opposed women’s right to contraception. In 1995, during the World Conference on Women in Beijing, it opposed the principle of equality between women and men. And in 1996, adamant in its pursuit of terrorism and enmity toward peace, it rebuffed the Sharm al-Sheikh summit.
Women lead the united front against fundamentalism
The international community has so far failed to demonstrate enough sensitivity to the dangers of appeasing the religious, terrorist dictatorship ruling Iran. Hence, the mullahs still find opportunities to take advantage of such conciliation. Through terrorist blackmail, they take hostage the policies and even the moral principles of governments.
Events in recent months confirm that the clerical regime always takes advantage of its diplomatic facilities to interfere in Middle Eastern countries and engage in assassinations in the West. Two months ago, the mullahs declared for the umpteenth time that the issue of the fatwa against British Novelist Salman Rushdie can only be settled by his murder.
Faced with such a regime, decisiveness is the only policy option. It is not only a moral and humanitarian obligation, but a political and historical necessity as well. The future of democracy, development and peace on a global scale depends on such a policy.
Here, the issue of women and the movement for equality join with the fight against fundamentalism. Not only are women the standard-bearers of the movement for equality, but they are also the driving force behind development, peace and social justice. In this context, the documents of the World Conference on Women in Beijing unequivocally underscore that “without active participation of women and without taking into account their views in all decision-making levels, the goals of equality, development and peace cannot be realized.”
Yes, in my view, humanity will be rid of the foreboding specter of fundamentalism only when women take on their leading role in this global campaign, and use every democratic means to block appeasement of the misogynous, inhuman mullahs of Iran. This is particularly the case because the issue of fundamentalism is at the same time the key political problem confronting Islamic nations, and the most critical foreign policy problem facing many other countries.
Allow me, therefore, to call upon my sisters, women throughout the world, to arise and form a united front against fundamentalism. Such a front would comprise all humanitarian, progressive women and men, who will doubtless rush to the assistance of Iranian women, the prime victims of the mullahs’ oppression.
A united front against fundamentalism serves the interests of global peace. It will preclude a repeat of the bitter experience of appeasing fascism on the eve of the Second World War.
Trailblazing the equality movement
I wish to underscore here that women’s leading role in the fight against fundamentalism doubly serves the movement for equality and the effort to uproot sexual discrimination. The only way to propel that movement forward is to link it with a progressive political movement.
If women have no share in political power; if they are not part of the leadership and the decision-making processes on social issues; if they do not have a serious, equal role in economic management; and if they are not actively and visibly involved in international politics; all the talk about equality between women and men rings hollow.
Real equality only comes about when women take on key roles in tackling the primary challenges of the day.
Women’s leadership is essential
In order to overturn the system of gender discrimination and bring about fundamental change, women must predominate political leadership for a specific period of time. The objective of such a predominant role in leadership is to guarantee equality and uproot sexual oppression, not to replace patriarchy with matriarchy. Thus, all the prerequisites and consequences are liberating in their essence. Once the oppression has been eradicated, the energies thus set free will break through the impasses currently confronting human society and will help to establish a new system of human relations, both within a community and on a global scale.
Now, in the great era of women’s emancipation, the victims of centuries of the most dreadful historical oppression will echo the voices of all oppressed peoples.
Today, the voice of women is indeed the voice of the oppressed, those whose cries reach no one: the voice of the children denied all rights and means to grow; the voice of the poor and destitute, who moan not just for lack of bread, but for lack of compassion.
Now it is the turn of women to rebel against all forms of oppression, to rise and end gender-based oppression and inequality, to unite women and men in their true human identity. They must rebel and give a new lease of life to human society, rise and topple the pillars of all oppression, tear asunder the status quo and chart a new course.
Women’s experience in the Iranian Resistance
Please allow me to speak of the achievements of women in the Iranian Resistance, achievements that in reality belong to all women in the movement for equality. To enhance our gains, we look to our sisters’ ideas and experiences the world over.
After a century of active participation in the social struggle, Iranian women came face to face with the onslaught of religious, terrorist dictatorship, namely the fundamentalists ruling Iran. As the reactionary beast awakened, the mounting difficulties had only one message for our women: All-out resistance. Capitulation and submission were impossible.
Women took part in the political struggle and rose up to resist the reactionaries and defend democratic freedoms. Now, they convey the cries of an enchained and oppressed, yet proud and resistant nation.
After 15 years of struggle against the reactionaries, these pioneering women occupy key positions as leaders of the Resistance movement. Fifty-two percent of the Resistance’s Parliament are women. The General Command of the National Liberation Army of Iran is made up essentially of women, and the Leadership Council of the Mojahedin, the pivotal force within the Resistance, is comprised entirely of women.
Women also command and manage at different levels in the combat, technical and specialized units of the army, in the movement’s political structure and in organizational affairs. Under their directorship, the male-female division of labor has become outdated.
A leap forward in women’s liberation
But how did we manage such achievements?
Twelve years ago, locked in a life-or-death struggle against the mullahs’ rule, the Resistance movement realized that women must take on greater responsibilities. At that juncture, our women played a prominent role in the fight against the clerical regime, but one thing was blocking the gates to change: doubts about women’s capabilities.
Ironically, in the story of women’s liberation, tragedy and heroism are entwined. This is my constant feeling in my dealings with the women’s struggle.
See for yourself how well-entrenched male-dominated thinking is, in the roots and veins of society and culture. All the heroism of women and the sacrifice of tens of thousands of women martyrs were still not enough to make us believe in their equality, to break the barriers of sexual oppression and discrimination.
Women had historically brought about many wondrous achievements; the crux of the matter was their lack of faith in themselves. Hence the need to rebel against such misgivings.
It was then that we reached the conclusion that gradual change would prove useless, that the missing element and the real solution to break this mindset was women’s participation in leadership.
Indeed, in our confrontation with the ruling reactionaries, we needed to rid ourselves of the residue of their thinking and values. Inevitably, we had to crush the heart of the reactionary misogyny, which negates women’s human identity and ability to lead the society.
In this way, women could break through the barriers of historical degradation and oppression embedded within their own thinking and believe in themselves. It was also necessary to convince the men that they need no longer question the capabilities of the women who had fought alongside them on all the battlefields of the struggle for freedom.
Once these changes had overturned the mindset of all the Mojahedin in the form of an internal revolution, our women broke the spell of self-doubt. Not merely as isolated examples, but as a generation of emancipated women, they ably assumed key leadership responsibilities.
A revolution in thinking
What stood out the most among these women, was their sense of responsibility, their willingness to learn, their commitment to discipline, their impressive decisiveness, and most important of all, the selfless devotion which emanated from their human qualities.
In this course, they believed in themselves; that they were free and equal human beings; that they were not created for men and not identified with them; that they were no one’s possession; that they owned their own body, life and emotions. They overcame the world of “the weaker sex,” a world of subordination and irresponsibility, and were reborn in their true human image.
The first signs of this birth were the newly created relationships among women. They realized that they first had to like the women around them, if they were to act in solidarity with one another and accept each other’s command.
It is perhaps appropriate for me to speak, beyond the many new values that blossomed in the revolution in our thinking, about the role of these women in maintaining a healthy relationship between women and men. It was only in this way that a mixed army of pure human relationships and enormous combat capability took shape, arousing the admiration of many observers.
And finally, one of our greatest achievements was that our women’s emancipation immediately affected the liberation of our men, and improved their capabilities. Those men who rushed to welcome this change, despite its hardships, were proud to forge ahead in the path to equality.
Needless to say, in the world of discrimination, men, too, are enchained and enslaved by a domineering and authoritarian attitude. Truly, to deny the humanity of those human beings closest to him – his mother, sister and wife, must not a man first negate his own humanity? How else can a human being accept such oppression with a clear conscience?
We have seen a generation of men regain their lost human identity in the movement to reject gender oppression, men who displayed the ultimate form of freedom and emancipation by accepting the leadership of women.
Yes, we were witness to the birth of a generation of liberated women and men, shining beacons in an auspicious transformation of human relationships. This transformation came about through the leadership of Massoud Rajavi. Because of it, our generation and our Resistance movement were thrust forward on the road of human evolution and advancement. Of course, this generation, under this leadership, was tempered in an all-out anti-fundamentalist resistance. Its most important trait has been that in the political arena, it submitted to no compromise with the fundamentalists. This was a generation that arose on June 20, 1981, to protest the suppression of liberties and, by continuing its endeavor after offering 100,000 martyrs, it demonstrated that it will not relent until it achieves – at whatever cost – the Iranian people’s fundamental rights, namely freedom and national and popular sovereignty.
This generation crushed the mullahs’ demagoguery about the war and obstructed the export of fundamentalism by campaigning relentlessly for peace in and out of Iran.
This generation broke the spell of the inhuman mullahs’ posturing about religion through sacrifice and selflessness. It charted a Resistance that has today emerged as the democratic, progressive, and popular answer to fundamentalism, and is recognized as the antithesis of fundamentalism. Along this path, the Mojahedin and combatants of Iran’s freedom had to forsake everything to guarantee the liberation of their beloved people and homeland. They had to cleanse themselves of all the pollutants of the ruling reactionaries’ mindset. They had to arise and eradicate concepts based upon gender discrimination and ensure women’s emancipation and acceptance of responsibility.
Key points for the equality movement
Please allow me to mention the most important points of our experience in this brief opportunity:
First, to begin the process towards eradicating relationships based on gender oppression, women must enter the field of political and social activity.
Second, to this end, women must occupy positions of political and social leadership. Within the movement for equality itself, at least 50% of key positions of responsibility must be held by women. Through a policy of positive discrimination for a certain period of time, women’s historical deprivation must be compensated for. Accordingly, a system of quotas is needed, that favors ever-greater assumption by women of social responsibilities. The spirit, essence, and hallmark of such privileges are a greater sense of responsibility by women and men and an end to exploitation and sexual oppression.
Third, women’s emancipation is a prerequisite to the liberation of men and must lead to it. Solutions, which aim only to swap the places of women and men, will result in aggravating the alienation of the sexes and the conflicts between them. Obviously, that will not bring about women’s emancipation either. On the other hand, there is nothing unrealistic about creating a new set of human relationships and equality between the two sexes, given their monistic human essence.
Fourth, contrary to the misogynous reactionaries, we must underscore the principle that women’s rights are human rights. These encompass all individual and social rights stipulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. On this basis, a woman’s body and emotions are her own, and she has the right to contraception.
Fifth, the conflicts between the family and social and political responsibilities are common, erosive problems for all women. We believe that it is the right of all women, particularly combatant women and those who struggle in the movement for equality, to choose freely. This right must be fully recognized, so that they can choose to give priority and precedence to political and social responsibilities, whenever necessary.
Women’s rights and freedoms in a free Iran
Women’s participation in the Resistance movement has prepared the cultural and ideological grounds for eliminating sexual oppression. Such active, painful, and blood-drenched participation that is at the same time abundant with sacrifices is the most credible document of equality and recognition of Iranian women’s rights.
Iran’s ruling religious tyranny treats women as slaves, and its Constitution unequivocally bans women from becoming judges, presidents, or leaders. In contrast, the platform of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, its transitional government, and the NCRI Plan on the Rights and Freedoms of Women recognize Iranian women’s rights.
Accordingly, I reaffirm the recognized rights of women in the future Iran:
1. Women’s social, political, and economic rights will be completely equal with men’s;
2. Women will enjoy the right to free political and social activity, social intercourse, and travel without the permission of another person;
3. Women’s associations will be recognized, and their voluntary organizations supported nationwide;
4. In order to eradicate inequality and dual oppression, special privileges in various social, administrative and cultural arenas will be considered;
5. Women will have the right to elect and be elected in all elections, and the right to suffrage in all referendums;
6. Women will have the right to employment and freedom of choice of profession, the right to hold any public or government position, and the right to serve as judges in all judicial bodies;
7. Discrimination between women and men in hiring and during employment is banned. Women and men will receive equal pay for equal work. They will receive identical retirement pensions, disability payments, children support and alimony and unemployment insurance;
8. Women will have the right to use, without discrimination, all instructional, educational, athletic, and artistic resources, and will have the right to participate in all competitions and artistic activities;
9. Women will be completely free to choose their clothing and covering;
10. Women will be completely free to choose their spouses, to marry and divorce, and will enjoy the same rights as men.
11. Legal inequalities regarding testimony, inheritance, and guardianship of children will be eliminated. During pregnancy, childbirth and child rearing, women will enjoy special rights and accommodations. Widowed or divorced women and the children under their care will be supported by the country’s social welfare system;
12. Any sexual exploitation of women, under whatever pretext, is banned. Any coercion or imposition on women in family life, as well as marriage before legal age, is forbidden;
13. Polygamy is banned;
14. Employment of minor girl children is banned, and they will enjoy special educational privileges.
Ladies and gentlemen,
What I have enumerated are the natural expectations of women. They are rights that for centuries have been ignored and denied. And the women trying to attain these very minimums have been suppressed. They are the common demands of our sisters around the world.
My homeland, however, tells a different story, because:
– The mighty resistance of Iranian women and the pain and blood of tens of thousands of martyred and tortured women have given new meaning to these words, and have colored them with a brilliant courage, seriousness, love of life and hope of construction.
– The women of Iran have defied the mullahs’ humiliation and proudly challenged the guardians of inequality.
– Women and mothers forsook their marriages for the freedom of their people and country, and bid farewell for an indefinite period to their beloved children.
– Women undertook the heaviest and most complex responsibilities in the battle against the misogynous and inhuman fundamentalists.
My sisters, you women who have rebelled against inequality,
My brothers, you men who chose to follow your conscience rather than opt for the special privileges of male domination,
I call upon you to come to the aid of our Resistance movement against the most evil religious tyranny in history. I ask you to rise up and join hands to form a united front against fundamentalism.
The misogynous, inhuman mullahs are intent on destroying the rights and freedoms of women and trampling upon their human dignity in order to bolster the pillars of their despotic regime.
But to the mullahs, I say, you are gravely mistaken. Not only will you not achieve what you want, but your fate will serve as a lesson to all who think of enslaving and oppressing people.
If you think that, you can reach your goals because the yearning to live freely and think freely has died in the world, you are gravely mistaken.
You have done your utmost to humiliate, suppress, torture and slaughter Iranian women, but rest assured that you would receive the blow from the very force you discounted, the very force whom your reactionary mindset cannot allow you to take into consideration.
Rest assured that these knowledgeable and free women will dismantle your oppression everywhere.
On the eve of the 21st century, the enlightened people the world over, proud Resistance of Iranian people and the combatants of freedom will not allow you to abuse religion.
In closing, I call upon all my sisters here, across Iran and gathered in other countries in the June 20 meetings, I wish to stress:
The women of the past, who endured a history of torment and oppression, and the women, children and men of the future, turn their eyes to you. They ask you to rise to the occasion and assume your historic role.
It is you who will propel human history into the golden age of equality, peace, democracy, and development.
I salute all free-thinking women and men everywhere, who are paying the high price of liberty. Victory lies before you, belongs to you and awaits you.
Indeed, the oppressed of today are the victors of tomorrow. Their voice will resonate throughout eternity.