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One year after the movement of women, life, freedom

One year after the movement of women, life, freedom
In a meeting with the Iranian group in the European Parliament

European Parliament

Cornelia Ernst the head of the Delegation for Relations with Iran

Frederick Coulomb

Sep 06, 2023

From Coalition (Hamgami)

Arsen Nazarian – Iran United Front - Europe

Jamsheed Khun-Joosh – United Republicans of Iran

Roza Roozbehan - The Left Party of Iran

Roza’s contribution to the Delegation of the European Parliament.

Today's note has been divided into three sections. First section, I will provide a brief report about the aftermath events of the ‘Women, Life, Freedom’ during the past year. The second section is dedicated to the current state of the movement and our forecast of Iranian women’s struggle for freedom in the near future and in the last section I will provide our requests to you and the European Parliament as to the best ways to support the movement.

In the month of September 2022, people in hundreds of cities in Iran took to the streets to protest Mahsa Jina Amini’s death and demand equal rights for Iranian women under the unifying slogan of ‘Women, Life, Freedom’. The Islamic oppressive regime, as usual, opposed peaceful demonstrators with lethal force. According to the human rights organizations inside the country and abroad, at least 537 demonstrators including 68 children were killed by security forces. It must be noted that the actual figures are higher since many families have not revealed the killing of their loved ones for the fear of regime’s retributions. Hundreds of demonstrators have sustained life-lasting injuries including the loss of their eyes while thousands more have been detained. In the absence of independent journalism in Iran, unfortunately, those statistics are not presented in exact numbers. Currently, we do not have the number of detainees who are yet to be sentenced. Those protesters are kept in swarming prisons and in most cases they are imprisoned alongside criminals.

In the past year, at least 7 detainees have been executed after a hasty trial and without the presence of their defense lawyers in the court. There are, at least, 7 other political prisoners who have received death sentences and the lives of tens of prisoners such as Tomaj Salehi and Saman Yasin are in serious danger. The above-mentioned prisoners are imprisoned merely for singing songs in support of the movement. The fragile economy of the country as a result of widespread corruption, incompetent authorities, and the US sanctions got weaker. During the past year mainly due to the internet interruption from the regime for the fear of reporting the struggle of Iranian people abroad, has resulted in the bankruptcy of many businesses. On the other hand, many businesses were shut down by security forces for resisting the government mandate to service customers deemed to not following the forced hijab. As an example, in the last week of April alone, more than 500 shops and shopping centers were forcibly closed throughout the country. The weakening of the economy was more evident in the ethnic minority regions of Iran. In the August of 2022, the province of Kurdistan ranked 18th in regards to inflation rates but the same province ranked 5th in May of 2023. During the past year, several prisoners either committed suicide or lost their lives under suspicious circumstances. In addition, several other detainees either murdered or died while in custody. Recently, Mr. Javad Roohi died in prison for the lack of proper medical treatments. Throughout the year, those lawyers who were brave enough to defend the political prisoners were under constant pressure by the regime and at least 3 female lawyers lost their lives suspiciously. Their deaths were never properly investigated by police and most certainly they were murdered by the security forces. The Iranian security forces continued their threat against the lives of political activists abroad, especially in countries such as Turkey where thousands of demonstrators fled for fear of imprisonment and death.

Several developments and trends in relation to the ‘Woman, Life, Freedom’ movement are happening at the moment in Iran. As we approach the anniversary of Mahsa Amini’s homicide, tens of women rights activists have been detained especially in the provinces of Gilan and Kurdistan. The families of the killed protesters have been arrested or threatened by the government to avoid any gatherings to mourn their loved ones. Tens of University professors and at least 122 University students have been banned from attending classes for their support of the movement and their students. While the Friday popular protests in the province of Baluchistan are ongoing, the government forces recently detained two influential clergies and they have threatened to arrest or murder Maolavi Abdolhamid, the grand cleric opposing the government and supporting ethnic, human, and women rights.

Recently, the Islamic Parliament has introduced the so-called ‘Hijab and Chasity Bill’. The bill in its 70 segments prescribes sentences such as imprisonment, fines, a ban on leaving the country, passport confiscation, and denial of Citizenship rights. In addition, the bill considers several measurements of gender segregation in places such as Universities, Parks, Offices, and Hospitals. However, despite all the pressure, the movement has achieved its primary goals. For the first time in the last 4 decades, Iranian women are present on the streets of every single city of Iran without any regard for mandatory hijab and with full awareness of government vengeance. Tens of Iranian cultural figures such as singers, movie stars, and sports celebrities continue their support of the movement in spite of losing their jobs and livelihoods and imprisonment. Just in the last couple of weeks, Mr. Jaefar Riahi, an Iranian singer has been imprisoned for singing a track labeled ‘Your Scarf’ in support of women's rights.

Considering the dire situation of the economy, the continuation of oppression policies, the persistence of the nuclear agenda, the hostile foreign policies, etc. we believe the coming wave of protests in Iran at this time, will be more popular and more widespread. We have seen this trend during the past two decades.

What we are asking from the European Parliament is to support the movement as you have done already. Recently a number of famous present and past members and leaders of the ‘United Nations Human Rights Council’ labeled the above-mentioned ‘Hijab and Chasity Bill’ as a sign of gender apartheid. We are expecting you to do the same. Throughout the past year, a number of European Parliament members sponsored Iranian political prisoners. Please continue to do so. If it wasn’t for the civil resistance of the Iranian people and the pressure from outside, the number of executions would have been way more than 7 people. We ask you to bring up human and women's rights in every single meeting and correspondence with Iranian authorities as it is the most important aspect of this movement. We ask you to not sacrifice those rights for the sake of economic or security gains. We ask you to force the Islamic government to stop oppression against all types of minorities including gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and religious minorities. Most importantly we are asking for a stop to the execution in Iran.

The government of Iran must change its hostile policies in the region and you can play an important role in this matter. We ask you to put pressure on the Iranian government to free all political prisoners and put an end to pressure on activists and the families of killed protesters. The Islamic regime continues arresting Iranians with dual citizenship and even citizens of other countries. They use them to bargain for freeing criminal Iranians imprisoned in Europe and North America. Unfortunately, we have seen several countries enter such bargains with the Islamic regime during the past year. This trend should be stopped. It only serves one purpose and that is to let the regime oppress its opponents inside and outside the country.

Thanks again for another opportunity to speak about the ‘Woman, Life, Freedom’ movement, and my best wishes for the success of this movement in the near future.


Roza Roozbehan

International Relations, Left Party of Iran

International Group of Hamgami

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