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08 March 2007

Happy International Women's Day!

Please join us in an ongoing electronic vigil in
solidarity with women's rights activists in Iran at:

On Sunday, 4 March 2007, the police and security forces violently
attacked and arrested 33 women's rights activists as they stood in
peaceful protest outside the Revolutionary Court in Tehran. The
activists had gathered in solidarity with the five women who were
being tried in connection with demonstrations held on 12 June 2007 to
demand equal rights for women.

As of this writing, (8:49 a.m. GMT, Thursday, 8 March 2007), three
of the activists who were arrested on Sunday remain in detention in
section 209 of the infamous Evin Prison - one of the main sites of the
execution of thousands of political prisoners in the 1980s.

The vigil pages link you to Iranian and international information
sources and a number of electronic solidarity actions that you can
participate in. Help send a strong message to the Iranian authorities
to demand the immediate and unconditional release of all detainees,
and support women's campaign for change in Iran.

Refuse to Choose:
Reject US Intervention!
Support Local Action!

This vigil is organized by Sirens of Solidarity.


IWD 1979

A day before International Women's Day, on March 7, 1979, less than
a month after the formation of the Islamic Republic, large numbers
of Iranian women took to the streets in many cities across Iran
to protest Khomeini's edict to the Transitional Government to bar
unveiled women from working for the government or entering government
buildings. This was the first post-Revolution attack by Islamists,
one of many to come, against women's rights. And women's spontaneous,
decentralized and self-organized protests during March 7th, 8th and
9th, as they were about to celebrate International Women's Day for
the first time in over 25 years since the US-backed coup d'etat that
brought Shah back to power in 1953, were the first popular acts of
resistance against the Islamic regime.

In 1979, women's movement was on the one side attacked by the
Islamic militia armed with knives, daggers, acid, brass knuckles,
clubs, flails and chains while they were deserted from the other
side by Islamo-liberal, nationalist and Marxist-populist parties
whose ideological sexism and political shortsightedness led them
to the theory that women's rights were of lesser significance to
the nationalist, anti-imperialist and/or class struggles. Both the
Islamic fundamentalist forces and their organized political opponents
- before the latter were violently eliminated in wave after wave from
the stage by the former - labeled women's protests and resistance as
"westoxicated" and "bourgeois" in their socio-cultural orientation.
Within a very short time, the Islamic regime enshrined in the
constitution and in the country's legal code a set of discriminatory
laws that reduced women's social and legal status to that of

IWD 2007

Over the past 28 years, these laws and their corollary ideological
social and cultural practices have had innumerable tragic effects
on the lives of more than half of the Iranian people across class,
ethnic, religious and generational lines. The view that women's issues
are secondary to larger and more urgent national concerns - such as
current threats of US intervention and war - is as wrong today as it
was in 1979. Today, it is clear that in 1979 women were the vanguard,
the first line of popular resistance against the dehumanizing and
repressive Islamic state. Women are the vanguard again. Currently.

Over the past few years in particular, women's rights activists have
mounted a strong de-centered and multivocal force for changing the
Iranian constitution and laws. They have initiated a highly creative
grassroots campaign, "One Million Signatures Demanding Changes to
Discriminatory Laws," ( which demands changes
to discriminatory laws against women. This campaign is an outgrowth
of and a follow-up to a peaceful protest with the same aim that took
place on June 12, 2006 in Haft-e Tir Square in Tehran. The security
forces violently attacked the protesters and arrested over 70 of them.

On Sunday, March 4, 2007, 33 women's rights activists were arrested as
they gathered in a peaceful vigil in front of the Revolutionary Court
in Tehran. The police and security forces again violently attacked and
arrested these activists outside the court, where they had gathered in
solidarity with five women who had been charged and were being tried
in connection with the demonstration held on June 12, 2006.

As the global Bush block prepares for opening yet another war front,
this time in Iran, it is imperative for the progressive international
anti-war, feminist and social justice movements to keep informed of
the political dynamics inside Iran and support local initiatives
for change at the same time as we campaign against U.S. imperialist
interventions. The current moment/movement in the struggle for equal
rights in Iran is both radical and relevant: The women's campaign
has clearly-articulated demands that have wide appeal to diverse
demographics, its organization is de-centralized thus flexible
and resilient, and its activities are fully public thus forcing a
bottom-up democratic change in Iranian political discourse.

As the cases of Afghanistan and Iraq have clearly established by
now, US-led interventionist war does not bring 'democracy' to the
invaded land. That is the given. What is also established is that
under a puppet regime the social conditions and/or the legal status
of women will not significantly improve (as in Afghanistan) or will
drastically deteriorate (as in Iraq). While the US government covertly
and overtly supports, funds and arms an array of conservative and
regressive political players outside Iran - from the Shah's son to
the Mojahedin - in preparation for a regime change in Iran, it is
crucial that we support Iranian women's indigenous, self-organized
resistance movement. A campaign for equal rights is not a by-product
of an independent democratic movement but the very foundation of
democracy and self-rule.

On IWD 1979, international progressive voices and forces failed to
raise and stand in solidarity with Iranian women. We cannot allow
ourselves to remain uninformed or silent again.

The Electronic Vigil in Solidarity with Women's Rights Activists in 
Iran will be ongoing until further notice.

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