Thursday, March 09, 2006

International Women's Day Backlash in Iran

Doug Ireland has been one of the stalwart chroniclers of the struggles lesbians, gays, bisexual and transpeople across the globe, and in particular the critical situation LGBT people face under the current Islamicist regime in Iran. He also has focused on the threat to liberal and liberatory politics there and across the globe.

Today he covers the vicious, brutal backlash that some participants in International Women's Day experienced there yesterday by posting commentary by Iranian feminists living in Iran (pictured at right, photo © and courtesy, via author and Purdue University-based scholar, Iranian native and exile Janet Afary.

An excerpt:

The peaceful gathering of women's rights activists, women's groups and human rights defenders who had gathered in Park Daneshjoo (Student Park) yesterday, in commemoration of March 8th, International Women's Day, ended in violence, when they were attacked and assaulted by plain clothes militia, special anti riot forces of the Revolutionary guards, soldiers and police.

Approximately 1,000 women had gathered in Park Daneshjoo on the occasion of the International Women's Day to emphasize their stance in support of women's human rights and peace. The ceremony which started at 4:00 pm, and was scheduled to last one hour, was charged by security forces shortly after it began, who relentlessly beat the protesters, in an effort to disperse the group.

The sit-in, which was organized by independent women's groups and activists, was supposed to be carried out silently, with protesters holding signs reading some of the following statements and slogans: discrimination against women, is an abuse of their human rights; women demand their human rights; women oppose any form of forced aggression or war; Iranian women demand peace; injustice means discrimination against women, etc.

Ten minutes into the protest, after security forces had managed to fully film and photograph the protesters for follow-up and interrogations at a later time, the women were asked to disperse, on the grounds that their assembly was illegal and did not have a permit. At this point, the protesters started singing the anthem of the women's movement, which again calls for changes in their human rights status. At 4:20 the final statement of the sit in was read, during which the security forces dumped cans of garbage on the heads of women who were seated in an effort to prevent easy dispersal. The security forces then charged the group and began beating the protesters. Even after the protesters had dispersed many were followed by the security forces and beaten. Some of the female protesters were beaten repeatedly with batons, and some male protesters were beaten severely by security forces who administered the beatings in teams.

The Iranian women ask that international women's groups and supporters, and in particular women's groups and supporters in the region and in Islamic countries, stand with them and protest the violent actions against the women's rights activists and supporters in Iran.

In the US, as far as I could tell, this important day and all that it symbolized met with indifference from the mainstream (and much of the left) media. Or was there coverage that I simply missed?

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