Reporting by PMOI/MEK
March 7, 2021—A global online conference held on Monday, March 8, marking International Women’s Day co-hosted by the Women’s Committee of the Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), The International Committee for a Democratic Iran, and the British Committee for Iran Freedom discussed the plight of Iranian women in their struggle for freedom and equal rights.
The event featured speeches by politicians, women’s rights activists, and members of the Iranian opposition.
Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the president-elect of the NCRI and the keynote speaker of the event. “The outcome of the significant gender gap in Iran is the imposition of extreme poverty on women and the denial of many of their most basic rights,” Madam Rajavi said. “The misogynous regime wants to preserve its rule through repression. However, Iranian women play critical roles in challenging the regime and pushing the situation towards overthrowing the mullahs.”
Madam Rajavi discussed the leading role of women in the struggle for freedom in Iran, especially in recent protests in Iran and in the ranks of the Iranian opposition. “Iranian women have put the responsibility to end the catastrophe caused by the ruling theocracy on their shoulders and are prepared to make it happen,” she said.
Madam Rajavi also stressed that any policy toward Iran must consider human rights and women’s rights as one of its core components.
“Efforts to contain and control the regime’s nuclear program will not succeed unless they are coupled with firmness against violations of the human rights of the people of Iran. Call on your governments to make economic and political ties with the criminal mullah regime conditional upon respect for human rights in Iran, especially women and prisoners’ rights,” she said.
Maryam Rajavi in IWD conference
Other speakers at the event echoed calls for a firm policy toward the Iranian regime, one that takes into account human rights and women’s rights.
“The relation with the regime in Iran must be contingent on improvement of human rights conditions and especially women’s rights. We have to recognize that the NCRI is our ally because peace and stability in the Middle East can only be achieved and maintained when the malign activities of the regime in Iran are stopped, and this can only be achieved by supporting the efforts of the Iranian Resistance to establish freedom in Iran,” Baroness Eaton, member of the House of Lords, said in her remarks.
Lord Alton of Liverpool, Member of the House of Lords, underlined the need to take concrete measures to punish the regime’s human rights abuses. “Victims of the regime demand justice and they demand accountability for officials and leaders in Iran who are responsible for the extra judicial killings of their children and the use of widespread torture and cruelty. And we stand with them,” he said. “We do so by calling on the United Kingdom government and European Union governments to impose sanctions on these perpetrators, including the judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.”
Ranjana Kumari, Director of the Centre for Social Research (India) and senior professional in Gender Equality at the UN, highlighted Madam Rajavi’s platform, the ten-point plan, as a roadmap for achieving equal rights. “Women of all nationalities and religions and social classes should enjoy equal rights with men. And this is what Madam Rajavi’s ten-point plan represents,” she said. “I’m confident that it is the women of Iran who will defeat the misogynist regime of Iran. Where does the courage of Iran’s women come from? The resistance is led by a woman, Madam Maryam Rajavi. We are all inspired by your leadership.”
Some of the speakers spoke to the plight of political prisoners in Iran, especially female political prisoners, who are under additional pressure by regime authorities.
“The West and international community should pressure Iran to release all foreign nationals taken as hostages. The women of Iran are already committed in a struggle to achieve women’s rights,” said Baroness Cox, Crossbench Member of the House of Lords.
“The UK and international community must decide which side of history they will stand with. I ask the UK government to put pressure on the regime to release political prisoners, especially the women. The regime fears the empowerment of women,” Theresa Villiers, British MP and former minister, said in her remarks.
British MP Sir David Amess stressed that the flip-side of the policy for containing Iran’s nuclear ambitions and terrorist activities is addressing its human rights abuses. “It is time for the UN Human Rights commissioner to set up a commission for human rights abuses in Iran. Iranian authorities must be held accountable for their human rights violations,” he said.
David Jones, British MP and former Secretary of State for Wales, stressed that dialog and diplomatic relations with the regime will further embolden it in its illicit activities. The real solution is to open the dialog with the Iranian people and their legitimate representatives, the Iranian Resistance.
“We must consider reducing diplomatic relations with Iran. The regime abused its diplomatic privileges by trying to bomb an NCRI rally in France. We need a new uniform and robust approach to the regime of Iran,” he said. “To succeed, this policy must include dialog with the NCRI and its President-elect Madam Maryam Rajavi. Iran stands on the brink of change. Western nations must be ready to show their support for a free Iran now, where the role of women is recognized.”
The sentiment was echoed by Bob Blackman, British MP, Co-Chairman of the International Committee of Parliamentarians for a Democratic Iran.
“The UK, Europe and US need to listen to the people of Iran and apply maximum pressure,” he said. “Supporting the Iranian people and the NCRI to free Iran from the grip of this brutal regime is the only long-term sustainable solution to secure and advance human rights, democracy and equality in Iran. This must be the center and ultimate goal of UK policy on Iran. Women are standing up to the regime to realize the democratic aspirations of the Iranian people, which today, in my view, converges with both the economic and security interests of the UK and Europe at large.”
Struan Stevenson, coordinator of the Campaign for Iran Change in Iran and a former MEP from Scotland, praised the women of Iran for not backing down in face of the regime’s repression and brutality and for joining the Iranian Resistance in growing numbers.
“Today, Iranian women are at the forefront of the resistance to the theocratic dictatorship. Indeed the main democratic opposition movement, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), is led by a woman, the charismatic Maryam Rajavi. Brave women are now routinely joining their brothers to demand regime change and an end to the misogyny and repression which has terrorized not only the Iranian people for the past four decades but a vast part of the Middle East as well,” he said. “The women of Iran are no longer prepared to be silenced. They will be heard and their cry for freedom and democracy will resonate around the world.”