Our correspondent Mahmood Ketabchi writes for his Hammer & Broom blog:
Thousands of women and male supporters came together on June 12 in Haft Tir Square in Tehran, Iran to protest against anti-women Islamic laws and gender apartheid. A similar rally was held last year on June 12, where participants declared their determination to follow up their just struggle for equality and women’s liberation.
Ever since the Islamic Republic, with its barbarous acts, has imposed its ominous rule on Iranian society, women have occupied the center stage of struggle for freedom and equality. Despite twenty seven years of suppression and the imposition of medieval Islamic laws designed to make women subhuman, women have refused to stay silent. They have resisted the Islamic brutality by any means they could. They have fought for their freedom, that is, the freedom of the entire society.
In Monday’s action, women protesters demanded the abrogation of Islamic Sharia laws. According to Islamic laws: 1) men are allowed to have four wives at the same time and as many “temporary wives” as they want, 2) the right to divorce is for men only, 3) women are deprived of child custody, 4) in inheritance, brothers are awarded twice as much as their sisters, 5) women are legally deprived of certain jobs such as being a judge, 6) women’s testimony in court only counts for half that of a man, 7) financial punishment for killing a woman is half what it is considered for a man, 8) girls as young as 9 years old can be forced into marriage, 9) women cannot travel outside of the country without the permission of their husband, 10) women must observe Islamic dress codes and are segregated from men, etc.
Several days before the protest, many women’s rights activists were harassed by the Islamic regime and summoned by the security forces. They were told that they had to call off the protest, but women refused and vowed to go head with their plan.
As usual, the government-controlled media and heavily censored press provided no coverage of women’s plan to hold a rally. However, organizers used their independent resources to put together and publicize their event. People came from all over Tehran to show their support for women’s rights and indignation toward the Islamic misogynist laws. They brought signs and posters to announce their demands.
Like other women’s protests this year, the rally in haft Tir Square became the target of brutal suppression. Islamic security forces, including female police, occupied the location of the protest, hours before it was to begin. They also patrolled the adjacent streets to prevent people from going to the rally. Despite the show of intimidation and force by the police, many people gathered in the square, held up their signs and posters, raised their fists and chanted “we are women, we are human beings, but we have no rights!” Female police, draped in dark veils from head to toe, carried batons and along with other security forces and plain clothed Islamic hooligans attacked and beat up the women protesters. Many protesters were injured. Blood was seen in many parts of the square. Approximately a hundred people were arrested and driven to unknown locations. As the police attacked and savagely beat up protesters, they verbally abused women and insulted them with filthy sexist slurs. They also called the protesters “agents of foreigners and imperialism”; the customary manner in which the Islamic regime attempts to suppress every form of dissent by using such labels. But with utter determination, women continued their protest and were able to walked around the square. Police attacked the rally with pepper gas and dispersed the crowed. As people were forced out of the square, they continued chanting their demands and condemning the police violence and brutality.
Since International Women’s Day in March, this was the second largest women’s protest in Tehran. On March 8, hundreds of women celebrated by protesting against the Islamic regime and anti-women laws in Iran. That demonstration was also suppressed by the security forces, an act that brought international condemnation against the Islamic government.
The Islamic regime is being encircled by mass protests of workers, students, unemployed youth, and women. The specter of mass rebellion and revolution has always hovered over the the Islamic government in Iran since it came to power in 1979. That is why the Islamic security forces try to crush any protest that can potentially trigger the unstoppable roller-coaster of rebellion.
The masses of people in Iran are lusting for freedom and equality. They have fought and will continue to fight the barbaric Islamic regime to build a better world.
BBC has more.