Thursday, March 22, 2007

Joy of Resistance, Multicultural Feminism at WBAI on Women's Movement in Iran

March 22, 11:00 am
Joy of Resistance, Multicultural Feminism @ WBAI

Supporting the Iranian people's struggle against the Clerical State in Iran, while being against the US Imperialist designs on that country--THE THIRD WAY

In Iran today there is a powerful women's --and people's resistance movement --that is fighting the Islamic State. This past International Women's Day, thousands were in the streets in cities across Iran demonstrating against the regime. This movement is feminist AND anti-imperialist; and it is reaching out for solidarity. But many on the U.S. Left won't recognize it because they think that supporting it will give aid to a U.S. govenment planning to invade Iran. For these Leftists, just as for their brothers on the Right, women's rights are easily jettisoned when they "complicate" national conflicts.

On March 22, at 11:00 am, join the Joy of Resistance, Multicultural Feminist Radio @ WBAi as we speak with two Iranian women who are fighting for the rights of women in Iran. One is Mina Ahadi, Chairperson of the Committee to Stop Stoning and the Committee Against Executions in Iran. She will be interviewed by Priya Reddy. The other is Nazanin Rafshin Jam, who was recently instrumental in freeing Nazanin Fetahi, a teenager who was slated to be executed by the Iranian regime for fighting back against--and killing--a man who was trying to rape her.

We will look at the courageous struggle of activists in Iran and find out about the "Third Way", a position that supports the fight against a fundamentalist State while at the same time condemning the US threats and war-mongering by George Bush and company.

We'll be playing original music of resistance that this movement is generating, have a report on IWD demonstrations in Iran, a report from NOW-New Jersey by Maretta Short and our usual International Feminist News Wrap-Up.

Joy of Resistance: 4th Thursday of every month: Cutting edge feminism you won't want to miss!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

A Report on March 8th Celebrations in Iran

A Historic March 8th in Iran
Security forces attacked International Women’s Day gatherings
A report by Organization of Women's Liberation 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, March 8, 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, March 4, 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, March 5, 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, March 4, 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, March 8, 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, March 8, 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, March 8, 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, March 8, 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, March 6, 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”.

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 are denied the most basic human rights in our own society.

March 8th Celebration in Iranian Universities

" Stoning is barbarism"

"End gender based quota in the unversities!"

March 8th poster: "End execution!"

Human Rights Organizations Condemn Islamic Regime for Suppressing Women's Protest

"Are you enjoying March 8th in the solitary confinement?"

Friday, March 09, 2007

Iranian Students Celebrate IWD

" The freedom of any society is measured by the freedom of women"
"End mandatory veiling!"
"Students, unite against discrimination!"

"Another world is possible"

Iranian Students Celebrate March 8, 2007 International Women's Day

"End gender discrimination"
"Freedom and equality"
"Emancipation of women is the emancipation of society"
"Women's movement is in solidarity with workers' movement"

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Response from Venezuela to Chavez Critique/ Fasulo Rebuts

The following is an email exchange between Matilda Corral of Caracas, Venezuela and Jennifer Fasulo regarding Falulo's article, Chavez's Shameful Embrace of Ahmadinejad. Corral sent her response to Women's Enews where a revised version of the article appeared.

Mahmood Ketabchi

On Chavez from Caracas, Venezuela
by Matilda Corral
Sept. 29, 2006

To the editor,

Jennifer Fasulo's critique of the Venezuela's record on women's rights under President Hugo Chávez raises several important issues worthy of debate, not the least of which is the proper response we should have to President Chávez's warm relationship to Iran's President Amadinejad. However, the piece contains one serious error and fails to fully recognize the accomplishments of the Bolivarian Revolution in relation to women's issues.

Fasulo is wrong to say that President Chávez has a strong anti-abortion stance and initially advocated for making abortion unconstitutional. During the 1999 deliberations on the Constitution President Chávez initially supported but ultimately backed away from a constitutional right to abortion. The lack of a provision in the Venezuelan Constitution for legal abortion is an obvious void in what otherwise is a groundbreaking document. Criticism may be warranted on this issue, but keep in mind that Chavez also resisted pressure from the Catholic Church to make abortion unconstitutional.

However, a full appreciation of Chávez's record should acknowledge the following impressive accomplishments as well:

• During President Chávez's administration a woman (Adina Bastidas)served for the first time as vice-president. Current, Tibisay Lucena serves as president of the National Electoral Council.

• The language of the new constitution is consciously gender neutral(e.g., "venezolanos y venezolanas"), something the president himself triesto practice in public speeches. This doesn't seem like such a big issue for English speakers, but by having to constantly say "ellos y ellas" instead ofjust "they" really raises the equality of women up again and again.

• The constitution has several progressive clauses on women's rights. For example, article 88 "guarantees the equity and equitable treatment ofmen and women in the exercise of the right to work. The state recognizeswork at home at an economic activity that creates added value and produces social welfare and wealth."

• Although some women's organizations have rightly criticized the government for failing to adequately respond to issues of violence against women, the Chávez government has established a National Institute for Women (Inamujer) that promotes education about abuse and also social and economicinclusion of women. Several other new laws, available at the Inamujer website, promote gender equality. A development bank for women (Banmujer) is an important part of this effort.

• The great majority of participants in the Misiones (social programs for education, culture, new cooperatives) are women. Likewise, those working to organize the "consejos comunales" in their communities are mostly women. For the first time, many women are getting out of their homes in the barrios, participating, organizing, leading and getting involved.

We welcome debate over Venezuela's record in regard to women's rights, but we hope that accomplishments as well as shortcomings will be taken intoaccount.


Matilda Corral
Actress and Theater Directress
Caracas, Venezuela

Jennifer Fasulo responds:
October 04, 2006

Dear Ms. Corral,

I believe I did recognize the merits as well as short-comings of Hugo Chavez's presidency. ("He has pushed economic initiatives for women and has recognized the financial contribution of women's unpaid labor in the home. Recently, he initiated an signed a bill that would compensate women for their unpaid housework, something that socialist feminist have been fighting for several decades.")

I think it's accurate to say that Chavez takes a strong anti-abortion stance when he has repeatedly made public statements to this effect (referring to himself as a " 'pro-life' Catholic," stating his "abhorrence" for abortion and his agreement with Canon Law that those who practice abortion should be ex-communicated, etc) If he privately feels differently than I hope he will remand the statements he's made to the contrary and take some public action. Venezuela's lack of provision for legal abortion is more than a void-- it's a major cause of death for young women ages 15 to 19. 200-to-300 deaths by botched abortions per year are registered in Venezuela. When women are demanding reproductive rights and justice world-wide, including in many Latin American countries, I see no reason why in revolutionary Venezuela, Chavez should be given a free pass on this issue from feminists and leftists around the world.

I am not anti-Chavez-- I have been a supporter of the Bolivarian revolution. I have closely followed its gains and victories, and reported favorably on its pro-feminist initiatives for international feminist news. But frankly, Chavez's public lauding of Ahmadinejad was completely appalling to me and has caused me to call into question his commitment to women and revolutionary politics. I would like to know why so few others are outraged by this. Have we so little solidarity with the women's rights struggle in Iran? Where is our support for the women who have tirelessly and fearless fought the Islamic Republic's persecution of them for 27 years? On International women's day, Iranian women once again set an example for the women of the world-- turning out by the thousands to demonstrate for their rights, despite prohibitions and threats from the Islamic Republic. Whose side was Chavez on when Ahmadinejad and his religious police ruthlessly beat the women protesters, including an 80 year old feminist poet? What does he think of his friend Ahmadinejad's brutal suppression of the transit workers strike in Tehran this past December-- the arrest and illegal detention of not only hundreds of bus workers, but their wives and children as well! Is he really unaware of the tens of thousands of communists and radicals who have been jailed and executed by the theocratic regime that he calls "heroic'?

Venezuela has so much more to gain from uniting with the vital women's and workers' movements in Iran than with the virulently right-wing forces that oppose them. I can't make that point any more clear. I wrote the article because I believe that Chavez should be confronted on this-- I think it's up to all feminists and leftists of conscience to demand that he get on the right side of the fight in Iran.

Yours in Struggle,


Below are links to sources documenting some of the Islamic Regime's recent repression of women and workers in Iran.

"I want to live!" Open Letter from Kobra Rahmanpour

July 11, Worldwide Anniversary Day Against Stoning.
Six women on the verge of being stoned in Iran

Iran's Brutal Assault Yesterday on Women Celebrating International Women's Day

Iran: Amnesty International Calls for Release of Bus Workers

Iran: Release Workers Arrested for a Strike
Hundreds Detained for Planning Protest

Even children are not spared! Interview with Mahdiye Salimi, 12 year old daughter of union member who was beaten and arrested.