An historic 8 March in Iran
People in Iran welcomed 8th March this year by organising many events well ahead of the actual day in different cities all over the country. It culminated in major gatherings on Thursday, international women’s day. People were passionate about the day, had prepared manifestos, resolutions and banners demanding equality, condemning gender apartheid and women’s oppression. As usual the Islamic regime tried everything to halt and prevent these events. Despite massive paramilitary and secret police presence, many pickets and gatherings took place.
Several thousand people gathered around Tehran University by 4 pm Tehran’s time to start an 8 March rally which was called by 8 March organising committee, endorsed by OWL. However, this gathering was prevented from commencing by the security forces. Islamic Republic had decided to stop any 8 March event to take place. The presence of massive force by Tehran University and in and around Daneshjoo Park, where the rally was to end, and also by Vali-e -asr square, a close by busy shopping area prevented any meetings to take place. Any person who tried to shout slogans was attacked and taken away. Eye witnesses have reported to OWL’s 8 March headquarters that around 25 people were arrested by Tehran University and Vali-e-asr square.
Some of the demonstrators then decided to move to another location. Around 6 pm there was report of a large gathering in Mohseni square north of Tehran. The security forces attacked that gathering, as well.
Another 8 March meeting was organised to take place by the Parliament around 2 pm. Around 200 people tried to attend this meeting who were attacked by the security forces, few people were arrested. The organisers managed to read their resolution. The crowd had gathered to demand the release of women activists who were arrested Sunday 4 March.
Tehran University, 8th March 2007
About 1000-1500 people gathered at the university to protest against gender segregation and apartheid, dictatorship and police state. People chanted “socialism rise”. A few people made speeches about women’s demands and read a resolution clarifying these demands. Pictures of Mansoor Hekmat, the leader of Worker-communist movement were held high and the participants ended the ceremony by singing the “International” song.
About 3000 people gathered in Vali-Asr square. They were prohibited from starting the 8th March celebration by the secret services that had a massive presence in the crowd. The participants were waiting to find an opportunity to read their resolution but were stopped.
Allameh University, 4th March 2007
More than 700 people gathered to oppose the new dress code introduced to female students at the university. The students chanted slogans condemning the fascist method of controlling the university. A woman student said “we will not let you to turn the university into your reactionary and fascist arena”. A male student said “this new more restricted dress code is not just against females it is against us and all humanity too”. The main protest was against limitations of individual freedoms.
While singing protest songs, the students marched out. The slogans chanted were “No to reaction”, “they want to cloth us in black again”. Paramilitary forces were in the crowd all the time and filmed the event. Some tension occurred.
Cinema and Theatre faculty, 5th March 2007
Students gathered at this faculty to protest against limitations imposed on them regarding their dress code during registration. Despite the conditions put on female students that unless they observe the new more restricted dress code, they would not be registered, the students managed to resist it. They wore their usual clothing to university.
Sharif University, 4th March 2007
The event at this university was loud and full of banners. The protestors sang progressive songs and held banners saying “Freedom, Equality” “Women’s freedom is the freedom of society”, “women are the main victims of war, poverty and violence”, “No to gender apartheid”, “we defend teachers’ and workers’ struggle” and “Students’ movement in unity with women’s and workers’ movement”.
Speeches were made by female and male students about the danger of war and the importance of uniting with other social movements for a free and equal society. The ceremony took place despite the pressure by the police. The secret police in the crowd tried to interrupt the speeches but they were isolated. One of the organisers said to them that they can not turn the clock back to the 1980’s when hundred thousands were executed.
A manifesto in defence of women’s rights was read at the end and 150 years of international struggle for women’s rights and freedom and liberation was celebrated.
Esfahan, 8th March 2007
Two events took place in the city of Esfahan: one in Boostan Park and the other in the main library. Women took their veils off for a few minutes to demonstrate their hatred of Islamic rules. They read out their resolution demanding freedom of clothing and condemning gender apartheid.
Sanandaj, 8th March 2007
Historically, Sanandaj is known as the red city because of its progressive and radical movement. Every year people organise 8th March seminars. This year, the police and the secret police attacked the ceremony and arrested many people. A gathering in the main city centre was attacked by the Islamic guards, some people were arrested and a few injured. The names of those arrested are: Asoo Saleh, Peyman Nemati, Akoo Kord-Nasab, Sooran Hoseini, Voorya Tdayon, Parviz Poorrezaee, Fateme Zamani, Soraya Mohamadi, Sima Alikhani, and Salah Zamani.
It was reported to OWL’s 8 March headquarter that all arrested yesterday, except Peyman Nemati and Salah Zamani were released today.
Kamyaran, 8th March 2007
In this city too, the presence of police was evident. Tens of people celebrated the day, gathered by the grave of those women who were either victims of honour killing or had committed suicide and read out their resolution in defence of women’s rights.
Sagez, 8th March 2007
This is another city in Kurdistan where many people celebrated the International Women’s Day. Women made speeches about their situation and the need to change it. A struggle for women’s rights and abolition of gender apartheid was the main theme of all ceremonies.
Tafrash University, 6th March 2007
A gathering was held at Electrical engineering faculty where many students took part. A female student talked about the limitations facing women in society especially at university. The assembly issued a statement demanding the following: “Freedom of society is measured by the freedom of women”, “we will continue 8th March tradition until all discrimination is abolished”, “I am a human before being a woman”, and “freedom and equality”.
Organisation for Women’s Liberation
Live Satellite TV programmes
OWL had live satellite TV programmes broadcast to Iran for 3 days in celebration of International Women’s Day. In these programmes, hosted by Ali Javadi and Azar Majedi, many aspects of women’s situation in Iran and their struggle for a better, just and equal world were discussed. People in Iran have had enough of political Islam and Islamic Republic of Iran. This sentiment was clearly demonstrated by the phone calls to the programme from Iran and all over the world. Many people called and criticized the immense social, cultural, political and economical pressure women are under in Iran. They talked about gender apartheid imposed on them for 28 years and the need to abolish it once and for all.
The 8th march events organised in Iran were reported on the programme which helped to publicize the celebrations. In a country where freedom of speech and assembly is illegal, many people use the latest technology to make links and try to overcome all limitations and dictatorship.
OWL had a team of dedicated members who well before 8th March and especially on the day, were in contact with many activists in Iran, getting the latest news and publishing news letters by the minute. Thanks to Nasrin Ramazanali, Sharareh Noori, Parvin Kaboli, Karim Noori, Shahla Noori, and Azar Majedi who made up the team and worked hard.
Swedish radio 4 broadcaster went to OWL’s office in Gothenburg interviewed Parvin kaboli on 8 march in Iran and taped some of the phone conversation with OWL’s activists in Iran.
Teachers’ strike and workers’ demonstration in Iran
International Women’s Day in Iran this year was held at a time when the whole society is going through many changes and upheavals. Teachers’ strike for better wages and working conditions was one of the main changes which helped the women’s movement and other social movements.
On Monday 5th March, about 100,000 teachers went on strike. On 8th March 10000 teachers staged a picket outside the Parliament building in Tehran demanding justice and better wages. All along the regime has refused to meet their demands. On 8th March, many students and the women’s movement showed their solidarity with the teachers. Many 8 march leaflets were distributed among the demonstrators. There were talks among the demonstrators to join the 8 March demonstration by Tehran University.
On Monday 5 March, several thousand factory workers also joined the teachers to demand their unpaid wages. Many workers’ committees have issued 8 March messages to commemorate International Women’s Day.
Once again we are witnessing the intensity of social movements in opposition to the regime and for better world for all.
8th March this year in Iran marked a new wave of progressive and passionate desire for radical change, against poverty, inequality, against gender apartheid. It shouted clearly “NO to women’s Oppression!”
Women’s liberation movement entered a new phase. 8 March began a new chapter in women’s liberation movement in Iran. A clear NO to Islamic restrictions, the veil and gender apartheid was wide spread. The call for abolition of all discriminatory laws against women and for freedom and equality was heard in all gatherings. Women’s liberation movement in Iran became stronger and more mature. This fact sent shivers down the Islamic Republic’s spine. The effect of this movement will not be confined to Iran, it will affect the whole region under the rule of Islam.
This year the whole society was affected by 8 March events. A whole week of ceremonies and meetings in commemoration of 8 March, the demonstrations, the live TV programmes broadcast on satellite TV, which have millions viewers in Iran, Many web logs which started their 8 march preparation from several months ago, posting 8 March manifestos, slogans, posters, video clips and women’s news added to this vibrant 8 march mood in the country. Universities around the country staged a clear commitment to women’s rights and freedom.
Islamic Republic reaction itself is enough to show the scale, intensity and spread of women’s liberation movement and its preparation for a large and vibrant 8 March.
Organisation for Women’s Liberation is proud to announce that it worked very hard for 8 march events in Iran and played an influential role in both organising and reporting it.
We reproduce here one of the main 8 march resolutions:
To all participants in 8th March 2007, International Women’s Day gatherings
Today we have gathered to protest against gender apartheid and violation of women’s rights in Iran; and to defend the struggle of women’s freedom movement for its rights.
We celebrate 8th March at a time when, tens of events and celebrations have already taken place all over the country during the past few days. These events have reflected the demands of women’s movement for liberation.
8th March Resolution read by organisers of the 8th March rallies in Iran
- United and in unison, we, women and freedom loving people declare: No to women’s oppression!
- We protest against gender apartheid which has become institutionalized in Iran; and demand the abolition of all anti women laws
- We support the struggle of people for equal rights between men and women
- We condemn any compulsory dress code
- We demand the immediate banning of capital punishment and stoning
- We strongly condemn any humiliation and violence against women
- We condemn domestic and state violence
- We demand the immediate release of women political prisoners
- We support the teachers’ and workers’ struggle
- We demand the immediate stop to the arrest and deportation of all Afghan residents and declare that all immigrants in Iran must enjoy equal civil rights.
- We strongly believe and declare NO to economic sanctions; NO to war; NO to nuclear bombs; Long live freedom, equality and welfare for all
We urge all organisations and supporters of women’s and human rights to translate our resolution and show to the world that these are women’s demands in Iran. Tell the world that we do are denied the most basic human rights in our own society.