Dear Ms. Mogherini,
For nearly forty years, the Islamic Republic of Iran has repressed women by forcing them to wear compulsory hijab. The right to choose was taken away by decree and mandatory hijab remained in force all this time as a sign of religious power over Iranian women.
The Islamic regime in Iran has sought to convince the world that wearing the veil is a part of Iranian culture and tradition. Although more than three million women are stopped on streets, harassed, arrested or sanctioned each year, nobody talks about forced veiling. Practicing one’s own culture and tradition should not require compulsion and special police force.
Despite our protests, many Western women politicians visiting Iran feel obligated to wear headscarf as a sign of cultural respect. Who do they respect? The Iranian women who resist, or the regime that oppresses these women?
For two months, the women’s protest movement, known as the "Girls of the Revolution Street" movement, has taken bold new steps to abolish compulsory veiling. These peaceful actions are spreading throughout the country. More than thirty women and two young men have been arrested in the wake of these protests. The crackdown has not stopped yet.
These women express only a simple demand that they do not want to wear hijab. They climb on roadside heights and benches, hang their headscarves on wooden poles and wave in silence. Various videos show policemen forcefully knocking these women down, beating and arresting them.
According to Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh, a lawyer and human rights activist who was also jailed for her activities, the arrested protesters are sentenced to one to ten years’ imprisonment. These women risk their lives for self-determination and human dignity.
That’s why we, Iranians women in exile, have started a campaign to help them. We call on all freedom-loving people to express support and demand the immediate release of protesters, the abolition of compulsory hijab and the removal of its special police force.
Iranian women living in exile
Simin Nasiri, Golroch Jahangiri, Shahin Nawai, Mihan Rusta, Parwin Ebrahimzadeh, Aghdas Shabani, Monireh Baradaran, Monireh Kazemi, Mahshid Pegahi, Fateme Tadjdini, Hellen Nahid-Nosrat