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Open letter of the Collective Action of indep. Iranian Women Org. to Code Pink organization

Friday 15 July 2022

All the versions of this article: [English] [فارسى]

6/22/2022


Dear Code Pink

We, the undersigned Iranian independent women groups and organizations in diaspora, are sending this letter regarding your meetings and engagements with the official representatives of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Most recently, your meeting in March 2022 with the official delegation of the Iranian government to the UN Commission on the Status of Women coincided with Iranian women being pepper-sprayed in the Mashhad soccer stadium after they were told they could not attend the game.

Two years ago, we, the independent Iranian women groups and organizations came together in Collective Action to raise the voice of Iranian women for democracy, freedom, and gender justice. Collective Action embraces the values of peace, gender equality, and justice and believes the future of Iran is in the hands of the Iranian working masses and people who have suffered for 43 years under the rules of the regressive and anti-democratic government of Iran. We strive for political, economic, and social freedoms for all, and we believe that such freedom is severely compromised by war, the threat of war, and militarism.

Collectively, we stand against violence, religious extremism, and militarism and stand for peace, social justice, and gender equality for Iran and the countries we reside in. As feminist and equality activists, we know too well that the burden of war and conflicts is on women’s and girls’ shoulders. We define and claim the identity of being "Independent "as not being affiliated with any Iranian political party, and not receiving funding from, or being affiliated with any government agency. The Collective Action has organized events including but not limited to March 8th, the International Women’s Day, November 25th, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and the 16 Days of Global Activism Against Gender Violence in 2021. We believe the Islamic Republic of Iran is a misogynistic regime, and the constitution of Iran, particularly regarding family laws, is not protecting Iranian women’s fundamental human rights. We are also very proud of Iranian women’s heroic resilience and struggle for more than four decades. They have always spoken truth to power and kept on moving forward, never turning back.

According to the Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA), during the last 5 years, 131,000 children under the age of 15 were forced to marry and 20,187 domestic violence cases were reported. Hundreds of women lost their lives due to honor killings, and the country still lacks legal protection for victims of violence. And, under Article 19 of the UDHR, Iranian women’s freedom of expression has been violated by compulsory hijab for more than four decades.

The most recent Amnesty International report published in 2021 states, "Thousands of people were interrogated, unfairly prosecuted and/or arbitrarily detained solely for peacefully exercising their human rights, and hundreds remained unjustly imprisoned. Security forces unlawfully used lethal force and birdshot to crush protests. Women, LGBTI people, and ethnic and religious minorities faced entrenched discrimination and violence. Legislative developments further undermined sexual and reproductive rights, the right to freedom of religion and belief, and access to the internet. Torture and other ill-treatment, including denying prisoners adequate medical care, remained widespread and systematic. Authorities failed to ensure timely and equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines. Judicial punishments of floggings, amputations, and blinding were imposed. The death penalty was used widely, including as a weapon of repression. Executions were carried out after unfair trials. Systemic impunity prevailed for past and ongoing crimes against humanity related to prison massacres in 1988 and other crimes under international law." We question Code Pink’s relationship with the government of Iran, where thousands of Iranian people inside Iran dare to take a stand against it. As a feminist and a women-led grassroots peace organization, we ask you to be in solidarity with women of all ages who are at the forefront of all the civil society groups who are demonstrating and holding the government accountable for a whole host of issues including but not limited to gender discriminations, feminization of poverty, lack of economic and political participation.

As a women-led peace organization, we question your engagement with the official representatives from the Islamic Republic of Iran, one of the militaristic countries in the region. According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), "No state has been as active or as effective as Iran in regional conflicts in modern times. The total cost to the Iranian economy of its activities in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen is $16bn (£12bn)." Of course, Lebanese Hezbollah receives $700m annually from Iran. Most recently, on April 25, 2022, the report of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute noted, “In 2021 Iran’s military budget increased for the first time in four years, to $24.6 billion. Funding for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps continued to grow in 2021—by 14 percent compared with 2020—and accounted for 34 percent of Iran’s total military spending.”

As Code Pink’s goal is "redirect(ing) our tax dollars into healthcare, education, green jobs, and other life-affirming programs." We, as Iranian-born gender equality activists and feminists, share the same feelings. We would rather the military budget of Iran be divested from Iran’s active engagement in regional conflicts and be invested in social and economic support of the economically marginalized communities of people shouldering the pain of economic sanctions, street children, women single parents, and millions of Iranian people below the poverty line. In May of 2022, a member of the parliament revealed, "Around nine million Iranian families are living below the poverty line." But, the practice of the Islamic Republic of Iran has proven that there is no political will to respond to the social, political, and economic needs of the Iranian people.

In the end, we, the Collective Action of independent Iranian women groups and organizations, while sharing a number of your positions against racism, militarism, occupation, and for peace, object to your engagement with the misogynistic and anti-democratic government of Iran and welcome your response to our letter.

· Association of Iranian Women in Florence, Italy

· Association of Iranian Women in Montreal

. Maanaav - LGBTQ Community - Sweden

· Dallas Iranian Women Association (DIWA)

. Everyday Feminism

. Women for Sustainable Freedom & Equality

. Orange County Women Study Group

. Women Committee Against Stoning – Paris, France

· Frauen Tribunal - Hannover, Germany

· International Coalition Against Violence in Iran (ICAVI)

· Iranian Circle of Women for International Networking (ICWIN)

· Iranian Women Activist in Exile – Berlin, Germany

· Iranian Women Association of Partow, Germany

· Iranian-German women’s association

· IWIN Iranian Women In Network

· Left Unity of Women

· No to hijab Campaign Iran- Women- Solidarity

· Stop Honor Killings

· The Organization for Emancipation of Women

· Women and Anti-discrimination Committee of The Union for Secular Republic in Iran

· Women of Iran for Sustainable Equality

· Zanan Group in Northern California

. IKWRO-Women Rights Organizations

. Together for Women’s Health

. Iranian Women Group - Frankfurt

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