Revolution #83 Online Edition


From A World to Win News Service

The Hague: Report on the International Women’s Day Demonstration

The following are excerpts from an article sent out by A World to Win News Service:

March 12, 2007. A World to Win News Service. The chants “No to U.S. imperialist war, No to the Islamic Regime of Iran!” echoed through the streets of The Hague (Netherlands) as some 700 protesters who had travelled from all over Europe took part in the central demonstration organized by the “Women’s Campaign for the Abolition of all Misogynist, Gender-Based Legislation and Islamic Punitive Laws in Iran” (Karzar) on the occasion of March 8, International Women’s Day.

As the march started, Dutch women and men drummers beat harder and harder, in a build-up of excitement and also to express their solid support for the second successive year of this event. The demonstrators first marched to the U.S. embassy to convey their opposition to American imperialism that might use women’s oppression as an excuse to invade Iran. There they chanted in English “Down with U.S. imperialism, Hands off the Middle East, No to war in the name of Iranian women!” They also shouted “U.S. out of Iraq and Afghanistan!”, declaring their solidarity with Iraq and Afghanistan’s women and people. A slogan on a banner signed by supporters of the Communist (Maoist) Party of Afghanistan, said, “The occupation has worsened the situation of women in Afghanistan.” Then the demonstrators—Dutch, Turks, Kurds, Afghanis, Germans, Nepalese and others—headed towards the embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran to protest that regime’s 28 years of oppression of Iranian women. They chanted, “Banish anti-female laws, Come and join us in our cause,” “Down with tyranny and the forced veil, Women’s freedom will prevail” and “A woman’s body, a woman’s right!” ...

As the march approached the Iranian embassy, the cries of “Down with Islamic regime of Iran!” grew louder and louder. Street theater featured women covered in black with white masks and a heavy chain on their shoulder, symbolizing women’s situation in Iran. On the podium set up in front of the embassy, the revolutionary singer and Karzar activist Gisoo Shakeri sang her song “This is the time to launch the campaign” as excitement among the demonstrators reached its highest point. Then Leila Parnian read a statement by Kazar emphasizing the need to struggle against imperialism and reaction and build a new world where not a single woman suffers gender-based discrimination. Ania Merlanberg, a well-known leader of the women’s movement in the Netherlands, gave a speech praising Iranian women for fighting on two fronts, against the Islamic Republic of Iran and against anti-immigrant laws in countries such as Holland. Women from Afghanistan, Turkey, Germany also gave solidarity messages. Mina Asadi, also a Karzar activist, read some of her powerful poems, condemning the Islamic regime of Iran. At the end Azar Shaibani from London read the resolution of the campaign.

This year’s Karzar demonstration was supported by many women’s and other political organizations in Europe and elsewhere, including 33 Dutch groups and personalities and many others in Iran, Turkey, Germany, Belgium, the UK and Sweden. Mary Lou Greenberg of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, who participated in last year’s march, sent a solidarity statement.

The fact that March 8 fell in mid-week made coming to The Hague more difficult. Immigrant women also faced visa and other restrictions. However many who couldn’t make it to The Hague had the opportunity to raise their voices and protest in their countries of residence in the 3 March activities Karzar organized in many European cities and Toronto…

After the Hague action, about 150 demonstrators who stayed in the city met to celebrate their success and advance their struggle. The evening’s highlights included a message from the “March 8 Organizing Committee in Iran,” a reading by the young poet Ziba Karbasi, Mitra Sarve’s “Dance of Freedom,” songs by Gisoo Shakeri and revolutionary music. While expressing different views, most of those who participated that evening emphasised the role that Karzar has played as the voice of the radical section of a women’s movement in Iran. The meeting finished at around 11 p.m. but the discussion went on until early morning among those who spent the night in the building.

Karzar stands out as an alternative for the women’s movement, opposed to both imperialism and the Islamic regime. This is all the more important at a time when the women’s movement is taking on increasing importance in Iran and different class forces are trying to mislead it in the direction of exactly those two reactionary poles.

As part of what was openly called an effort to prevent March 8 actions, the Islamic regime arrested 33 women, including some of Iran’s most prominent women activists, as they demonstrated in front of a Tehran courthouse March 4. Large numbers of anti-riot and plain clothes police were stationed in front of the Iranian Parliament on International Women’s Day itself, attacking some women as they attempted to gather despite the repression. This is an indication that the Islamic regime is unwilling to compromise on women’s issues, since a basic component of their ideology is what is at stake.

Yet dozens of demonstrations were held on the occasion of International Women’s Day in different parts of Tehran and other cities. There was hardly a university that did not see a demonstration on that day to protest women’s oppression, especially the compulsory veil.

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