03/06/2007, 00.00
IRAN
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International Women’s Day, another day of repression for women

by Dariush Mirzai
The trial of five women accused of demonstrating against stoning and in favour of equality begins just a few days before March 8, International Women’s Day. Spring ‘public morality’ campaign also begins.

Tehran (AsiaNews) – For years the Iranian regime has feared March, 8, International Women’s Day. It has handled the issue different ways.

On its own initiative it began celebrating Iranian Women’s Day in late July on the anniversary of Muhammad’s daughter, Hazrat Fatimeh. This non controversial day is often used by the regime to claim that women’s rights are fully compatible with Islamic rules. International organisations like UNICEF have cooperated with Iranian authorities in cultural events and meetings on this occasion.

Another approach has simply been repression. Last Sunday, just a few days before International Women’s Day, five women went on trial for taking part in a peaceful protest in downtown Tehran on June 12, 2006. Almost all of the 40 or so women who took part in the demonstration were brutally arrested.

All elements, including the symbolic date, are there for a political show trial. The five women on trial were almost all activists for the full repeal (not just a moratorium) of lapidation, i.e. stoning, from Iran’s law books. They also demonstrated demanding equality between men and women. Under Iran’s Islamic law women are worth half of men so for example compensation for causing death is half in case the victim is a woman.

The trial’s date also coincides with the arrival of spring. This year as in previous years, spring marks the start of the Iranian authorities’ ‘public morality’ campaign whose rules target especially women.

Since President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’ came to power campaigns aimed at women in public spaces have become more aggressive and repression harder as police and basijis (the regime’s volunteers) cooperate more closely.

Similarly, snitching is used as tool of repression and self-censorship (by the press for example) is the regime’s best friend.

The trial that began on Sunday thus promises to be exemplary . . . .

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