Support Iranian Women: Oppose War!
URGENT: Amnesty have put a page on their site about this event, go take action!
There was a protest in Iran yesterday, at which 32 women were arrested for speaking out against draconian rules denying them liberty and equality. Women and men the world over should stand in solidarity with these brave few who dare to speak out against one of the most draconian regimes on Earth, particularly as we approach International Women’s Day. But will bombing them help?
I last encountered the issue of Iran in particularly worrying circumstances. Last September, at a protest in Manchester, I saw (mainly Muslim) anti-war protesters nearly getting violent towards a small group who wanted to differentiate their views on Iran from those of the Stop the War coalition.
The group in question were very clear that they too were anti-war, but that they demanded the release of Iranian prisoners, and the kind of rights for Iranians that we take for granted. I signed their petitions, I read their stories; once again I was horrified by what the Ahmadinejad is capable of, but with them, I still don’t want to see that nation being bombed. They tried whatever they could to continue standing witness to the horrors of Iranian rule, yet dozens of people shouted back at them, even demanding the British police arrest them for insulting the Iranian flag that was suddenly raised in front of them.
Tragically, the Stop the War Coalition is incapable of dealing with the pressure from some Muslim groups, who want it to declare unyeilding support for the Tehran government, somehow justifying this as being more valid than condemning both Iran and America. I’d prefer to say the following: that I oppose what the Iranian government stands for, and I oppose bombing Iran, because that would cause even more suffering to those I want to support.
Its not that I don’t believe there’s a role for Internationals in supporting the Iranians; I’d love to go protest at the Embassy in London or better still, find some way of getting to Iran to help, but bombing is no help whatsoever. Look at Iraq, where women live in even greater fear now than they did before war broke out. The unjust stability, the negative peace of the Saddam regime, has been replaced with even less freedom for women. Its not safe for them to go out, and when they do they must cover up their faces for fear that extremists will attack them. If we officially rid Iran of its religious police, do we honestly believe those who support them wouldn’t enforce their ‘rule’ through direct and violent action?
America wants to exert its force to show it is still world leader. Israel wants to exert its force in the region against what it sees as an ideological threat. No matter what is said about the rights of Women in Iran by people defending attacks against Iran, or what is said about standing in total solidarity with Iran, we must not loose sight of the fact that, Ahmadinejad or Bush, the Iranians still won’t be free. Instead, we should seek to support peaceful movements for change that oppose Islamisation head-on, and seek to transform Iranian society into a just and safe place to live.
Victory to the Women of Iran! And Happy Women’s Day for this Thursday!