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Women’s rights in Iran – sign EDM 1143

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I was in London yesterday to see John Pilger’s new film (watch it tonight on ITV – more on this later). Hurrying into Waterloo, I was stopped by a young Muslim woman asking me to sign a petition arguing for an end to misogyny in Iran.

Unsurprisingly, I stopped.

“I’m a student in Manchester. I’ve come here today to tell people about the plight of women in Iran under a very misogynist government.”

She went on to tell me that Iranian women have been highly active in the resistance against what the Women’s Committee of the National Council of Resistance in Iran (NCRI) describe as “the misogynist regime ruling Iran.”

Example of the devastating impact of the regime on women are plentiful, including:

  • the hanging of 22 year old Delara Darabi in May 2009 despite the granting of a stay of execution pending the presentation of new evidence
  • the violent arrest of lawyer, journalist and women’s rights activist Shadi Sadr in July 2009
  • the ongoing campaign for the release of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani following her narrow escape from being stoned for alleged adultery, which we’ve covered extensively here at WVoN

In February 2010, Amnesty International released an analysis paper ahead of a review of Iran by the UN Human Rights Council that stated:

“(The regime)…discriminates against women from top to bottom. Women are absent in any of the senior, decision-making posts, while a woman’s testimony in court is worth only half that of a man’s…”

The NCRI is a ‘broad coalition of democratic Iranisan organizations, groups and personalities’, and is committed to the equal representation of women.

Women comprise 50% of the council’s members and all members have one vote. The work of the Women’s Committee of the NCRI is centred on raising awareness of and working against the continuing abuses against women under the existing regime.

After introducing me to the work of the NCRI, the young woman asked me to take action by writing to my MP to ask him to lend his support to Early Day Motion (EDM) 1143.

The motion – which my MP has already signed – urges the UK govt to take action concerning  the “oppression of 3,400 members of the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI), including 1,000 women residing at Camp Ashraf in Iraq as protected persons under the 4th Geneva Convention.”

For those of you who don’t know anything about Camp Ashraf,  (and until yesterday, I was in your number), it’s an Iranian refugee camp in Iraq controlled by the Iraqi government. The camp houses members of the PMOI, regarded under the Geneva Convention as “protected civilian persons in times of war.”

Amnesty International has campaigned against the violent and inhumane treament of the camp’s residents, including the murder of at least nine refugees and the torture and detention of 36 others. You can read more about this in an AI report released earlier this year.

“My father was arrested and imprisoned in this way, you know,” the young woman told me as she wrote the EDM details for me, “I remember it very well, although I was very small.”

Read the EDM for yourself and check if your MP has signed it, here. If you can, do so now, as the young woman told me the deadline is 21st December.

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