Call For Women Worldwide to Support Women’s Rights in Iran

Inspired by Iranian human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi’s brave promise last week to represent in court the family of Neda Agha-Soltan, murdered by Iranian militia during last weekend’s demonstrations in a rally in Tehran, the peace group CODEPINK has created a letter addressed to Ebadi for women worldwide to sign, a pledge of solidarity to the courageous women of Iran who have led the revolutionary demonstrations there for the past two weeks despite increasing threat of government retaliation.

Agha-Soltan, Ebadi, a 2003 Nobel Peace Prize winner and contributor to CODEPINK’s 2005 book, “Stop The Next War Now,” and Effat Hashemi, the wife of former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani who was among the first to call for public protests, represent the incredible strength of Iranian women and their hunger for justice. Demanding reform, regime change, more social freedoms and a fair election, women have sometimes outnumbered men at the demonstrations, and they’ve also fought back police and militia.

“Shirin and all Iranian women taking to the streets inspire us all with their courage and strength in the face of a kind of suppression that many of us will never know,” said Jodie Evans, co-founder of CODEPINK. “This letter to Shirin proves that we stand in solidarity with them and support their work for human rights and a more democratic Iran.”

CODEPINK, founded in 2003, has dedicated much of its work to stop U.S. sanctions on Iran and improve relations between the two countries. Since 2005, it has led a “Peace with Iran” campaign, which included a delegation of women to Iran to establish face-to-face ties between Americans and Iranians as well as a “Mayors for Peace” initiative, an effort to have mayors nationwide sign a resolution to oppose military intervention in Iran. This past September in New York City, CODEPINK women joined other American peace activists in a meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to promote open dialogue, and in November, Evans and retired Col. Ann Wright led a citizen’s diplomacy trip to Iran and met with Iranian parliamentarians and women’s groups.

Iranian women have been longtime leaders in political efforts and have struggled to regain their legal rights for years, explained former first minister of women’s affairs Mahnaz Afkhami in the Nation on June 24. Iran’s mass protests around its recent election have given Iranian women a new platform.

“This battle between women and the government just keeps going on,” Afkhami said. “Right now it shows itself vividly.”

A Message to Our Sisters in Iran

Over the past several weeks, hundreds of thousands of Iranians – led by large numbers of women – have filled the streets in protest of the recent presidential election there. The Iranian government forbid the protests and responded with force. Despite the violence, protesters have continued to take to the streets. On June 20th, a young woman known as Neda – which means “voice” or “calling” in Persian – was shot in the head and died in the street. As video of her horrific death spread across the internet, Neda became the voice of the movement as people cried, “We are All Neda.”

As appalled by the use of force and violence toward people protestors, we are also in awe of the strength and courage of those Iranian women who continue to stand up for freedom, equality, and justice. For decades, Iranian women have been at the forefront of the movement for greater rights.

Today we stand in solidarity with our sisters in Iran who have been speaking out by signing this message to human rights advocate and lawyer Shirin Ebadi, who has agreed to represent Neda’s family. You can also leave a personal message of solidarity that we will pass onto our sisters organizations in Iran.

We are ever inspired by Shirin Ebadi’s words, featured in our 2005 book Stop the Next War Now: Effective Responses to Violence & Terrorism:

“If one country sincerely wants to support democracy in another country that is under dictatorial rule, the only thing to do is to support the freedom fighters who stand for the democratic institutions of that country. Done this way, the sapling of democracy will bear the flower of freedom.”

Don’t forget to leave a personal message via the link below for CODEPINK to pass onto our sister organizations in Iran.

See also: Iranian Nobel Laureate Urges European Union to Condemn Post-Election Violence


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