09 June, 2010

Iran: one year on

This weekend one year will have gone by since the Iranian people took to the streets in droves to protest at the fraudulent elections that returned Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the presidency. These peaceful demonstrations were met with extreme violence carried out by the Iranian regime. Since that day, the people have not backed down and continue to fight peacefully for basic human rights. Meanwhile, the government continues its crackdown on any opposition or dissent with ever increasing brutality.

Just a few weeks ago, on 9 May, the lengths to which the regime will go to crush its opponents came to light. Five political prisoners were executed in secret. Not even their families or their lawyers were notified.

Shirin Alam Holi, a 28-year-old Kurdish woman, was executed along with four men. In letters from Evin prison, Shirin wrote of being tortured to confess to charges of terrorism. She refused to confess, sealing her fate. At least 25 other men and women await the same fate on death row.

However, as we see time and time again, the harsher the repression, the stronger the movement grows. And as the story of Shirin Alam Holi demonstrates, women are at the forefront of the struggle for human rights in Iran.

But it is interesting to observe that this powerful feminist movement was not born out of the elections. It has been gaining strength and momentum since the Islamic revolution of 1979 – when the regime began imposing laws that were discriminatory against women – and even predates the revolution. Women in Iran have enjoyed the right to vote for nearly 50 years, since 1963. Today, under an even more repressive regime, they are flooding the ranks of doctors, professors and chief executives. Women now constitute more than 63% of university students. Is it any wonder that they refuse to stand idly by and accept that their lives are not worth as much as that of a man? (read more here)

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