On February 17, Paris hosted women from 23 countries and 5 continents, where speakers encouraged women to stand together and support each other, as well as the women of #Iran who are standing up against the fundamentalist regime, which is based on misogyny.
The key speaker was #Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), spoke about the current protests and the historical impact of women fighting against the repression of women by the regime. She noted that the regime fears women, and thus attempts to take away all rights, even the right to choose what to wear. Rajavi pointed out that the compulsory veil is not based on Islam, but a fundamentalist misogyny.
“We need new perspectives,…and to learn from the old ones,” said Rita Suessmuth, former president of the Bundestag and humanitarian. “Together we are strong.”
Speakers throughout the event pointed out that women in Iran are dealing with arrests, detention, and torture, but that this is not stopping women from continuing to stand up and protest. “They are demonstrating courage in standing up to the state and the authorities,” said Rashida Manjoo, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, its Causes and Consequences from 2009 to 2015 and a professor in the Department of Public Law at the University of Cape Town. She noted the link between women’s political activism and their arrests and long imprisonments.
“Violence has a disproportionate impact on incarcerated women,” said Manjoo. She pointed out that women are being raped and tortured while in prison. She also noted that solitary confinement is used as a form of punishment when women don’t act as the regime feels they should behave.
Delegations from the Middle East were also part of the event, including from #Egypt and Palestine. Other delegates from Morocco and Spain showed that this was truly an international event.
Speakers noted how #international human rights law is being violated by the Iranian regime and they are doing so with impunity. Calls went out for the international community to stand up to the regime and its human rights record. The challenge is the silence of the world, noted Manjoo, and it allows this to go on.
“Iran’s uprising is not only for the overthrow of a political regime but is a revolt against religious fundamentalism. This would be a blissful dawn not only for the people of Iran but for all the peoples of the region and the world,” said Rajavi.
Other speakers gave their support for Rajavi, as she continues to lead the resistance of the #Iranian regime. “Women are victims in several countries throughout the world, in particular Iran. Women who won’t back down are increasingly at risk…but they are fighting for their freedom and they overcome all hurdles,” said Aude de Thuin, entrepreneur and founder of Women in Africa Initiative France. She noted that the media doesn’t talk about the real role of women in the uprising.
A variety of speakers with various backgrounds were present, including human rights advocates, judicial members, and political advocates. There were multiple calls for support of the Iranian people, particularly the Iranian women and their rights to live normally and their right to have freedom.
There was also plenty of praise for the actions of the women of Iran to date and calls for the international community to stand up for these women. Martyrs were also honored and remembered for their contributions.
Thuin pointed out that women are half the population, but the mothers of the other half. She encouraged women to teach their sons about the value of women and make the 21st century the century of women.
Ruma Yade, former Minister of Human Rights in France, noted that the nuclear agreement in 2015 did not solve the problems of Iran. However, she noted that the world will remember that Iran woke up due to the efforts and sacrifices of women in Iran.
Senator Ingrid Betancourt, former presidential candidate in Columbia in this conference stressed, “The brave young women of Iran who dare to challenge the Iranian regime. They face prison. They have no right to defense, to visit their families, because they dared to think differently. #Women are demanding basic human rights, the abolition of the death penalty and the compulsory veil, they say no to nuclear program. Iranian women’s fight is a fight against a criminal regime.
The event included video presentations, as well as standing ovations by the crowds in support of the speakers’ calls for freedom for Iran and Iranian women.