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Jeff Weintraub tells us that there are people who doubt the repressive nature of the Iranian regime regarding women's rights. Policies vary over time, but there is no doubt that this regime is repressive, and uses force to uphold the most reactionary ideas. Anyone who read "Reading Lolita in Tehran" knows the general attitude of the regime and of the Pasdaran guards who are the power base of President Ahmadinejad to women. Arrest, rape and murder of desirable women may not be occurring any longer, but the values are probably about the same. The reports of the demonstrations give hope that there is a real democratic reform movement in Iran, but it is hard to gauge its importance and popularity.

Let's let Weintraub tell the story.

Ami Isseroff

Women's-rights activism in Iran

This is an open letter to Monthly Review, a once-serious Marxist journal whose on-line version has increasingly become a sadly predictable mouthpiece for knee-jerk defenses of Stalinist, fascist, theocratic, racist, sexist, homophobic, genocidal, or otherwise repressive regimes around the world as long as they are anti-American and/or anti-Israel. (See here for another recent example.)  MR no longer really deserves much attention.  The main interest of this open letter (passed on to me by Michael Pugliese) lies in its picture of women's-rights activism in Iran, which apparently has managed to continue even in the face of very difficult and repressive conditions.  It is hard to know how widespread and vigorous it is, given the general shipwreck of Iranian opposition and reform movements over the past few years, but the fact that it has been able to carry on to any significant extent is impressive.  It is not at all far-fetched to believe that this represents the future of Iran (not immediately, but in the long run).

--Jeff Weintraub
Via Yassamine Mather- Center for the Study of Socialist Theory and Movements- Glasgow University, UK.
Concerning, "What Really Happened in Tehran on June 12? Did Human Rights Watch Get It Wrong?"

Open Letter to Monthly Review Editors

Dear friends,

In a recent posting on your web site, Rostam Pourzal uses an anonymous email by a 'witness' in Tehran to deny the extent of the repression of women demonstrators by vigilante Islamic police on 12 June 2006 (http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/pourzal180606.html [JW: Here is a report by Human Rights Watch.]

Pourzal tries to portray president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a 'popular', 'radical' figure, and tries to underestimate, justify and excuse the brutal, repressive nature of the Islamic regime in Iran; in doing so he makes various assumptions and claims that we will deal with in a another posting. However as far as the events of 12 June in Tehran are concerned, contrary to the claims of the anonymous 'observer', the extent and intensity of the brutal attack on the peaceful women's demonstration was far worse than that portrayed by the BBC and the international media.

It is sufficient to refer to comments and reports by organisers and participants, most of whom have no fear of giving their real names, despite the fact that they were arrested and imprisoned by the regime's security forces. In an effort to stop the protest, several prominent women's rights activists were issued summonses in the middle of the night on Saturday and on the days leading up to the protest.

Since then, others have been summoned for interrogation by phone or in writing. The women summoned include Noushin Ahmadi Khorasani, Parvin Ardalan, Sussan Tahmasebi, Farnz Seify and Fariba Davoodi Mohajer. Only Fariba Davoodi Mohajer received her summons in person. Others were not at home or at their offices when agents arrived to issue summons. Fariba Davoodi Mohajer was issued a summons in person at 11:00pm on Saturday, and subsequently spent 10 hours in interrogation on 12th June. On Monday morning, the day of the protest, another women's rights activist who had endorsed it, Shahla Entesari, was arrested in her place of employment.

Prior to the protest, a massive campaign of harassment against those who had endorsed the protest was carried out by security forces. Scores of women were summoned to court and interrogated, including women's rights activists, student activists and webloggers, who had spread word about the protest.

In refuting the superficial content of the anonymous email quoted by Pourzal, we refer you to the photographs of vigilante/policewomen attacking the demonstrators on 12 June, and to the testimony of Parvin Ardalan and Noushin Khorassani, labour activists from Vahed bus company who participated in the event. They wrote:

The principal demands were as follows:

Abolition of polygamy
The right of divorce by women
Joint custody of children for mothers and fathers
Equal rights in family law
Increasing the minimum legal age for girls to 18 (currently it is 15)
Equal rights for women as witnesses in courts of law

According to official reports including that of the Ministry of Justice 70 people (42 women and 28 men) were arrested by 13th June 2006, while several women's rights activists have been summoned to appear in front of the Revolutionary Court and others have been sent to Evin Prison in Tehran. In an interview with the daily 'Shargh' , the minister for Intelligence, Mohsen Ajheii claims that the women's demonstrations for equal rights endangers 'national security'. Police attacks before and during the protest were widely reported in dozens of blogs, they more or less agree on both the level of attacks and methods used by women police officers armed with batons:
Continued at Women's Rights Activism in Iran http://jeffweintraub.blogspot.com/2006/07/womens-rights-activism-in-iran.html

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