Saturday, March 11, 2006

Iranian Police Violent Crackdown on International Women Day

Maryam Kashani, Rooz Online:
The gathering of Iranian women on International Women’s Day turned violence when, according to Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh “Everyone present, even Iran’s prominent poetess, Simin Behbahani who has been losing her eye sight, was blessed with the touch of the police’s baton”, and beaten up. Simin Behbahani who is an acknowledged poetess and activist has vowed to stand firm with other women until they get their rights. READ MORE

Shadi Sadr, a lawyer and social activist who participated in the solidarity gathering said the gathering formally began at 4pm when speeches were read out. The police repeatedly asked women to break up their meeting as soon as people began gathering. When the speeches began, the police went into action and physically attacked the women with their batons and began beating them. Sadr said that their commander openly said “beat them up, beat them up, and they followed their instructions diligently not sparing any one.

They used two types of batons, electric and regular which they used while cursing women with the most vulgar terms,” she continued.

Simin Behbahani said that even while being beaten up, women chanted couplets denouncing discrimination and calling for justice and freedom, which she described as something she would never forget. When an agent came towards me, one of the young women shouted that if he touched me, she would put herself on fire, and the man showed his bravery with his baton and by kicks, amid the women’s calls for freedom, liberty and salvation, Behbahani described.

When the beating intensified, the chants stopped and women began to flee. “There were young men and women who resisted and confronted the police, but eventually they retreated”, Sadr said, adding that the police outnumbered the participants by 3 to 1. Abbasgholizadeh said,The police acted as if they belonged to a street gang, using the same language and the same techniques. When we told the police agents that we were like their sisters or mother, and that why did they beat us, some of them stopped, but their training had taught them to attack, and so they did,” she continued.

Bystanders and passers-by were caught by surprise as well and some would stop and ask why the women were being beaten, to which the women replied that it was the international women’s day and that they were asking for their rights.

Despite the violence, the women participants expressed satisfaction that just getting the group together was a success when a military junta ruled the country. Their had prepared a declaration

In a country that is run by an Islamic theocracy, children born out of non-married couples are denied identity cards, the government looks the other way as thousands of women are literally sold to the rich across the Persian Gulf, women are regularly inhumanely and publicly flogged, and men treat their wives as their possessions.

So, on March 8th, the day that women around the world are celebrated and are given flowers and gifts as tokens of appreciation, in Iran too women received “appreciation”: In the form of batons.