Sexual apartheid, political Islam and women’s rights

A seminar in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day
Monday, March 10, from 6:30-9:30pm
Conway Hall, London

Speakers:
Mina Ahadi, Spokesperson, Council of Ex-Muslims of Germany and Equal Rights Now; 2007 NSS Secularist of the Year
Louise Couling, Chair of Unison’s Regional Women’s Committee and member of the National Executive Council
Houzan Mahmoud, Spokesperson, Organisation for Women’s Freedom in Iraq
Maryam Namazie, Spokesperson, Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain and Equal Rights Now, National Secular Society Honorary Associate
Joan Smith, Novelist, columnist and human rights activist

Chair: Hanne Stinson, Chief Executive of the British Humanist Association

The event is free of charge; donations are welcome.

The seminar is organised by Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain and Equal Rights Now, Organisation against women’s discrimination in Iran, and endorsed by the National Secular Society, the British Humanist Association, the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association and the Organisation for Women’s Freedom in Iraq.

For more information, please contact Maryam Namazie or call 07719166731.

The Council of Ex-Muslims will be launching its No to Sharia Campaign at a March 10 evening seminar commemorating International Women’s Day at Conway Hall in London.

Also, support us by signing a declaration proclaiming this IWD a day of protest against sexual apartheid.

Help the people of Iran get rid of the Islamic regime!

To the people of the world!
To trade unions, student unions, human rights and women’s rights organisations!

On 16 and 19 February three labour activists by the names of Seddigh Amjadi, Faares Gaviliaan and Habibollah Kalekaani were flogged in the city of Sanandaj. Eight others have also been sentenced to flogging.

Their crime? Taking part in the May Day rally in that city last year!

This is a grave political incident in Iran. With this appalling act, the Islamic Republic has taken one more step against the working class and all the people in Iran. This incident should shock the world and arouse utmost outrage and revulsion. This flogging strikes all the people. It strikes a humanity that does not want the status quo. Its aim is to silence, crush and dehumanize. It is what the slave driver did to his slave some 20 centuries ago. This time, however, they are dealing with a working class that has no intention of submitting; a working class whose struggles and leaders are known to the whole world.

Let’s have a look at the other recent actions of the regime:

· Over 50 students have been arrested and tortured. Their crime? Taking part in student demonstrations in a number of universities in support of workers, against sexual apartheid, for the freedom of political prisoners and in support of freedom and equality;
· According to official figures, in the past ten months, around 1 million women have been arrested, fined and/or flogged. Their crime? Being a woman, not being dressed as demanded by the Islamic government and for courtship with the opposite sex;
· Mahmoud Salehi, a labour leader, is in prison, gravely ill. His crime? Taking part in the May Day rally in the city of Saqez in May 2006;
· Teachers have been sentenced to prison terms. Their crime? Going on strike and holding protest rallies to ask for better pay and conditions and freedom of expression;
· Two sisters by the names of Azar and Zohreh Kabiri have been sentenced to death by stoning. Their crime? They are accused of sex outside marriage;
· Up to 300 people in Bandar Torkeman, in northern Iran, have been jailed or exiled. Their crime? Protesting at the murder of a fisherman by the security forces;
· 5 people in the city of Zahedan, in eastern Iran, by the names of M. A. Jalali, A. B. Reegy, A. Reegy, A. R. Roudini and D. Pahlevan, have had their right hands and left feet amputated for alleged kidnapping and armed attacks;
· Two men by the names of Tayyeb and Yazdan in the Fars Province have been sentenced to be thrown to their deaths from a height for alleged sodomy;
· Scores have been hanged in recent months;
· Many are on the death row; some are to be stoned to death.

The list is endless…

This is only a fraction of the horrific record of the Islamic Republic in recent months; only a fraction of its gory violence against the people.

This murderous policy has been going on throughout the life of the regime. There is hardly a family which does not have either a loved one buried in unmarked graves or jailed in the regime’s dungeons. This is a regime which has executed around 100,000 people – political activists, labour activists, women’s rights defenders, secularists and dissidents.

The Islamic Republic regime must be condemned internationally for flogging labour activists and for all its crimes. We must demand that it frees jailed students and workers. We must demand that it ends torture, flogging, stoning, execution and all forms of Islamic punishments. We must support the movement for equal rights for women in Iran…

But this is not enough!

The struggle of the people of Iran should be supported so that they put an end to this regime and, thereby, to all its atrocities. The people of Iran are overwhelmingly against this regime and are yearning to get rid of it, which is a most legitimate demand and right. As long as this regime exists, there will be no improvement in the lives of the people of Iran. There is no other way forward for the people of Iran except the revolutionary overthrow of this regime. People have experienced this bitterly over the years.

This regime cannot be reformed. Your support is needed so as to throw this regime out of international bodies. Pressure should be brought upon Western governments to end their political and diplomatic ties with it. They must not be allowed to conspire with that government against the people of Iran. Neither war, nor “critical dialogue”, nor letting the Islamic Republic into international organisations is the solution. These only strengthen the regime and undermine the people in Iran.

The struggle of the people of Iran should be supported. An international solidarity movement by progressive and freedom-loving people of the world must take shape. At the time of the Apartheid regime in South Africa, a massive solidarity movement built up everywhere with the people of South Africa against that racist regime. Now it is the turn of the Islamic regime in Iran, which should be rejected and isolated by an international protest movement of the people, and finally overthrown by the people of Iran. Then a whole world will be free of this regime.

Long live international solidarity with the people of Iran for the overthrow of the Islamic Republic.

Asqar Karimi
For the Executive Committee of the
Worker-communist Party of Iran
21 Feb 2008

Urgent appeal to trade unions and human rights organisations around the world to join our protest

From the National Union of Dismissed and Unemployed Workers of Iran:

A summons for the administration of a flogging and fine sentence has now been issued for Mr Tayyeb Chatani, another of the workers arrested for participating in the May 1st event last year. Mr Chatani is an employee of Par Rees factory, where he is an active shop steward.

Eleven of the workers arrested for taking part in the May 1st event last year in Sanandaj, Iran, were sentenced to 91 days in prison and 10 strikes of the lash. Following widespread protests against these sentences by the workers concerned and the National Union of Dismissed and Unemployed Workers, the Appeal Court changed the prison sentences to monetary fines, but upheld the sentence of 10 lashes. So far, the lashing and fine sentences have been carried out in the case of three workers by the names of Seddigh Amjadi, Habibollah Kalekaani and Faares Gaviliaan. The only crime of these workers is having participated in the May Day ceremony in Sanandaj.

Following the verdict of the Appeal Court and the administration of the medieval sentences of lashing in the case of three of the workers, the National Union of Dismissed and Unemployed Workers widely disseminated the news of this incident, and via a letter to the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), registered its complaint with the ILO, expressing its strong protest at the medieval sentence of flogging. Also, since the execution of the lashing sentences, public opinion [circles], lawyers and many personalities in Iran have protested at the flogging of these workers.

Nevertheless, the judicial authorities of Iran are persisting with the execution of these sentences, and, as mentioned, have now issued a summons for Tayyeb Chatani.

Mr Chatani and the seven other workers do not intend to report to the court for the execution of the sentence; so they may be arrested and the sentences may be carried out at any moment.

Members of the National Union of Dismissed and Unemployed Workers in Sanandaj, as well as workers of Shahoo Factory, along with their families, have decided to assemble outside the court should these workers be detained for the sentences to be carried out.

Fellow workers, labour and human rights organisations around the world!

We appeal to you, to your conscience and humanity, to join our protest. We call on you not to let workers be flogged for taking part in May 1st events. The issuing and execution of the sentence of lashing for workers in Iran for taking part in May Day celebrations is a lash on May Day; a lash on the honour of this day; a lash on the honour of worker.

Please join us and do not let the honour of May Day be trampled on by the official sentence of lashing by the judicial authorities in Iran. Join us and demand, on a world scale, the immediate revoking of the sentences of lashing for workers in Iran.

National Union of Dismissed and Unemployed Workers of Iran
25 Feb 2008

Let’s turn this International Women’s Day into a day of protest against sexual apartheid

The hundredth anniversary of March 8, International Women’s Day, is on its way. On this momentous occasion, we proclaim 2008 as the year against sexual apartheid. We call on people everywhere to condemn sexual apartheid and the political Islamic movement that perpetrates it, and to support egalitarian movements that courageously challenge it.

We invite all to sign the below declaration and call for an end to sexual apartheid.

Declaration

We, the undersigned, unequivocally oppose sexual apartheid and the subjugation of millions of women living under Islamic rules and laws.

We condemn regimes and the political Islamic movement that perpetrate sexual apartheid, including in Iran.

We support the legitimate struggle of millions of women and men for freedom, equality and universal rights.

Sexual apartheid, like racial apartheid, has no place in the 21 century.

Warmest regards

– Mina Ahadi; Spokesperson of Equal Rights Now; Coordinator of the International Committee against Stoning; Spokesperson of the Council of Ex-Muslims in Germany

– Mahin Alipour; Coordinator of Equal Rights Now; Coordinator of the International Campaign in Defence of Women’s Rights, Sweden

– Maryam Namazie; Spokesperson of Equal Rights Now; Producer of TV International English; Spokesperson of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain

Send your name, organisation (if any), city and country via email so you can be added to our list.

Sentences of lashing for workers participating in May 1st actions in Iran

From: The National Union of Dismissed and Unemployed Workers of Iran
To: International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC)

18 Feb 2008

Dear Friends,

As you are aware the police and security forces assaulted last year’s peaceful May 1st rally in the city of Sanandaj, battered workers, and arrested 13 of them. Among them were Mr. Shays Amaani and Mr. Seddigh Karimi, President and Executive Committee member of our union, respectively. They were released on a $50,000 bail each after 42 days in detention. The court sentenced them to two-and-a-half years’ imprisonment. We appealed, but the Court of Appeal has not yet given its verdict.

Mr. Khaaled Savaari, Vice President of the union, was also among the detainees, the majority of whom were members of our union. This group were released after 9 to 12 days in detention, and the Lower Court sentenced each to 91 days’ imprisonment and 10 lashes. Our union strongly protested against this verdict, and did so too in writing. It addressed its objection to, among others, the Judiciary and Members of the Islamic Majles (National Assembly), asking for the verdict to be overturned by the Court of Appeal. The Provincial Appeal Court of Kurdistan, however, on 8 Dec 2007 returned a verdict in which the prison sentences of our friends were changed into fines, but the lashing had been upheld. This verdict has been referred now to another court in charge of execution of the sentences.

On 14 Feb 2008 the latter court issued an unofficial summons ordering Mr. Seddigh Amjadi, one of the 11 convicted workers, to appear before it on 16 Feb, with which he complied. The court both forced his family to pay the fine and executed the 10 lashes on him on the spot.*

It goes without saying that in today’s world lashing workers for participating in May 1st actions is an utmost inhuman attempt to annihilate the achievements of the world working class; achievements for which millions of workers from across the world have gravely suffered and even paid with their lives. Issuing and executing the mediaeval verdict of lashing in the case of the workers in Iran should sound the alarm for the world working class as a whole, and we expect you, dear friends, as well as all workers of the world, to respond to it with all possible might.

It should be noted that all this is transpiring against the background of Islamic Republic’s continuing to hold Mr. Mansoor Osanloo, despite his recent eye surgery, and Mr. Mahmood Salehi, despite his grave ailment and frequent passing-outs in prison, thus violating all international standards both within the framework of the ILO, of which the Islamic Republic is a member, and outside it. Iranian authorities, who have so far totally ignored all requests by international human rights and labour organizations in regards to their conditions as well as their innocence, now hand down and execute sentences of lashing in regards to other workers for taking part in the International Workers’ Day rallies!

While we are truly grateful for what you have done so far for the Iranian workers, we also expect you, dear friends in the International Trade Union Confederation, to vehemently protest against the execution of the lashing sentence in the case of Mr. Seddigh Amjadi. We request that you urgently act to demand the ILO and all concerned bodies that the mediaeval verdict of lashing, as well as fine, in the case of Sanandaj workers for participating in May 1st rallies must be overturned immediately. Please register this letter with the ILO as our official complaint, and demand the banning of self-appointed labour representatives of Iran from that organization.

Respectfully,

National Union of Dismissed and Unemployed Workers of Iran
E-mail

[Translated by the International Labour Solidarity Committee of the Worker-communist Party of Iran]

* Two other workers – Fares Gaviliaan and Habibollah Kalekaani – were flogged on 19 February – Translator’s note

Two more workers whipped in Iran

Union complains to the ILO
WPI’s International Labour Solidarity Committee
21 Feb 2008

A further two workers, who were arrested at last year’s May Day ceremonies in the city of Sanandaj, have been fined and whipped, according to a report by the National Union of Dismissed and Unemployed Workers in Iran (Ettehadiye e Sarasari e Kargaran e Ekhraji va Bikaar).

Fares Gavilian and Habibollah Kalekani were detained and whipped on Tuesday when they attended the Court of Administration of Sentences in Sanandaj, following a summons.

Last Saturday, Seddigh Amjadi was beaten with ten strikes of the lash when he attended the court.

The sentences of lashes and fines come in a ruling by the Appeals Court of the Kurdistan Province against 11 worker activists arrested in last year’s May Day in Sanandaj. The workers are:

1- Seddigh Amjadi
2- Abbas Andaryani
3- Tayyeb Chatani
4- Fares Gavilian
5- Habibollah Kalekani
6- Eghbal Latifiollah
7- Tayyeb Mollaee
8- Yadollah Moradi
9- Mahiyoddin Rajabi
10- Khaled Savari
11- Seddigh Sobhani

In a letter to the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), the National Union of Dismissed and Unemployed Workers requested the ITUC to lodge a formal complaint with the ILO. It said:

“Whipping workers for taking part in May Day ceremonies is a most inhuman action aimed at destroying the gains of the world working class, for which millions of workers around the world have given up their lives and endured much hardship. The issuing and carrying out of the medieval sentence of whipping for workers in Iran is a warning to the world working class, and we expect that you dear friends and workers of the world will strongly and firmly react to it”.

In a statement yesterday, the union said the remaining sentenced workers had decided not to heed the summons for appearance at the Court of Administration, and will instead, together with their families, assemble outside the Court should they be threatened with detention by the security forces. It called on its members to join the families of the sentenced workers in protests.

ACTION REQUESTED:

Please publicise, as widely as possible, the news of this outrageous brutality by the Islamic government in Iran, condemning it in the strongest possible terms. Letters of protest may be sent to any or all of the following offices of the Islamic Republic government. Please forward a copy to International Labour Solidarity Committee of the Worker-communist Party of Iran (ILSC-WPI)

Supreme Leader:
Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei Office of the Supreme Leader
Islamic Republic Street
Shahid Keshvar Doust Street Tehran, Iran
Email

The President:
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad The Presidency
Palestine Avenue,
Azerbaijan Intersection
Tehran, Iran
Email

The Head of the Judiciary:
Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi Office of the Head of the Judiciary Pasteur St.,Vali Asr Ave., South of Serah-e Jomhouri, Tehran, Iran
Email

Free Abdul Kareem Nabil Now

Join a demonstration in defence of Egyptian blogger, Abdul Kareem Nabil, who was sentenced 1 year ago for 4 years for insulting Islam and the president.

Friday, 22nd of February, 2pm-4pm
Egyptian Embassy,
26 South Street,
Mayfair W1K 1DW

Nabil was a Law student at Al-Azhar University. He started writing on blogs promoting secularism, women’s and minority rights, and also criticising the Al-Azhar University as a university of terrorism that stifled free thought. This eventually resulted in him being expelled from the University. Not content with that, the University authorities pursued him for prosecution, which they won.

Since his imprisonment, he has spent time in solitary confinement, as well as deliberately put in cells with Muslim Brotherhood and violent prisoners, beaten, humiliated, and consistently persecuted to abandon his secular beliefs and accept Islam again. His family have disowned him, with his father saying he will happily see his apostate son be killed.

The London division of the worldwide campaign is organised by a pair of London School of Economics students. We are looking forward to receiving all the support people can offer to this campaign.

For more information visit Free Kareem website.

May Day activist fined and whipped in Iran

10 others await a similar fate
18 Feb 2008

Seddigh Amjadi, one of the workers detained at last year’s May Day ceremonies in the city of Sanandaj, has been fined and whipped, according to a report by the National Union of Dismissed and Unemployed Workers in Iran (Ettehadiye e Sarasari e Kargaran e Ekhraji va Bikaar).
On Saturday 16 February, while reporting to Branch 2 of the Court of Administration of Sentences, Seddigh Amjadi was detained on the order of the judge and given 10 strikes of the lash on the spot. His wife was ordered to pay 65,000 Tomans in fine.

In a statement, Worker-communist Party of Iran strongly condemned this barbaric act and called on people in Iran and around the world to protest in the strongest possible terms against this medieval savagery.

Amjadi has already spent 9 days in prison following his arrest last year.

The sentence against Amjadi came in a ruling by the Appeals Court of the Kurdistan Province against 11 worker activists arrested in last year’s May Day in the city of Sanandaj. All but one of the workers were sentenced to fines and lashes. Abbas Andaryani was ordered to pay fines. The 11 workers are:

1- Seddigh Amjadi (fine and lashes)
2- Abbas Andaryani (fine)
3- Tayyeb Chatani (fine and lashes)
4- Fares Gavilian (fine and lashes)
5- Habibollah Kale Kani (fine and lashes)
6- Eghbal Latifiollah (fine and lashes)
7- Tayyeb Mollaee (fine and lashes)
8- Yadollah Moradi (fine and lashes)
9- Mahiyoddin Rajabi (fine and lashes)
10- Khaled Savari (fine and lashes)
11- Seddigh Sobhani (fine and lashes)

Following the brutal whipping of Amjadi, it is feared that the sentences against the other workers may be carried out any time soon.

To condemn the sentences and stop this outrage, please send your letters of protest to the Islamic Republic government in Iran:

Supreme Leader:
Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei Office of the Supreme Leader
Islamic Republic Street
Shahid Keshvar Doust Street Tehran, Iran
Email

The President:
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad The Presidency
Palestine Avenue
Azerbaijan Intersection
Tehran, Iran
Email

The Head of the Judiciary:
Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi Office of the Head of the Judiciary Pasteur St.,Vali Asr Ave., South of Serah-e Jomhouri, Tehran, Iran
Email

Please send a copy to WPI’s International Labour Solidarity Committee for info.

International Labour Solidarity Committee of the Worker-communist Party of Iran (ILSC-WPI)
Head office:
Co-ordinator: Shahla Daneshfar
Public Relations: Bahram Soroush

Join solidarity night with the jailed students in Iran

YOU ARE INVITED TO JOIN US
On the solidarity night with the jailed students in Iran
Saturday 16th February from 6:00 PM
Westonrise Community Centre
187 Pentonville Road, N1 9NZ

Nearest tube stations: King’s Cross and Angel

The programme is organised by the Committee for the Freedom of Political Prisoners in Iran and includes speeches, slide shows, photo exhibition and music

Speakers:
– Shahla Daneshfar: Committee for the Freedom of Political Prisoners in Iran
– A speaker from National Union of Students (NUS)
– Bahram Soroush: Worker-communist Party of Iran
– Fariborz Pooya: Iranian Secular Society-UK

Admission: £2 Food and beverage are available for purchase.

For more information please contact: Shiva Mahbobi: 07984445278
Jalil Jalili: 07950 924 434

Sharia law, Secularism, and the future of civil society

Maryam Namazie will be speaking on Sharia law, Secularism, and the future of civil society at Oxford University Secular Society, Saskatchewan Room in Exeter College (on Turl Street), February 15, 2008, Oxford.

She will discuss the recent comments made by the Archbishop of Canterbury and its challenge to secularism, universal rights and civil society at 7:30pm.

Another chance for Behnam Zare

According to Stop Child Executions

Faced with the worldwide condemnation of imminent execution of Behnam Zare, Iran’s head of judiciary Ayatollah Shahrudi ordered Behnam’s file to be sent back for negotiation with the family of the alleged victim.

This is the second time that Shahrudi is sending the case for mediation. Iran’s Islamic sharia law leaves the final decisions of life or death of those condemned to death to the family of the victims (Ghisas). The file was sent to division of enforcements for execution after Shahrudi’s final permit to execute, however faced with the international outrage Ayatollah Shahrudi retracted his initial execution permit and ordered another mediation.

Nazanin Afshin-Jam and Stop Child Executions wish to thank Behnam’s attorney Mohammad Mostafaei, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights for their immediate response and their efforts through the Geneva office, Amnesty International and its members, president of European Union, authorities in India, international news agencies, international committee against executions, internet websites and bloggers, SCE volunteers and supporers and 100’s of human rights advocates inside and outside Iran for the letters sent to Ayatollah Shahrudi and Iranian authorities.

Together we will abolish the inhumane and illegal practice of child executions in Iran and worldwide once and forever.

There is no place for sharia in Britain

The Council of ex-Muslims of Britain condemns the comments made by the Archbishop of Canterbury suggesting that Sharia law is ‘inevitable’ and may be welcome in civil cases.

The distinction that he makes between civil and criminal cases does not exist within Sharia law. Sharia law encompasses all aspects of the life of those deemed Muslim. Suggesting that the UK would not, of course, allow the more barbaric aspects of Sharia law, such as amputation or stoning, ignores the fact that it is the family/civil areas of law in the Sharia that are some of the most iniquitous.

In the discriminatory personal family law, particularly in the areas of marriage, divorce, child custody, inheritance and so on, a Muslim woman cannot even contract her own marriage; the marriage contract is between her guardian and husband. A man can have 4 wives whilst a woman cannot. A man can divorce his wife without reasons by simply saying ‘divorce’ thrice, albeit with a gap in time, whereas a woman must give reasons, some of which are extremely difficult to prove. A woman only receives half that of a man under inheritance rules, and so on.

Clearly, Sharia law contravenes fundamental human rights, such as equal rights for women, and relegates those deemed to be ‘Muslim’ to culturally relative rights and at the mercy of regressive imams and kangaroo courts.

In order to safeguard the rights and freedoms of all those living in Britain, there must be one secular law for all and no Sharia.

London protest calls for the release of Parwiz Kambakhsh

Criticizing Islam is not a crime
Free Kambakhsh now!
Iranian Secular Society
February 9, 2008

On Friday 8 February 2008, protestors picketed the Afghanistan Embassy in London to call for the immediate release of Parwiz Kambakhsh. The protest, organised by the Iranian Secular Society, was in response to the arrest, jailing and death sentence imposed on Parwiz Kambakhsh for downloading and discussing the plight of women under Islam.

Officials of the Afghan embassy met outside with protestors to state that the death sentence against Kambakhsh will be commuted. Protestors insisted upon his immediate released saying he had committed no crime. They also expressed their concern regarding Kambakhsh’s physical and emotional safety as he has been left at the mercy of and beaten by other common prisoners, including Taliban prisoners, who had been told by prison guards that he has ‘blasphemed’ against Islam.

The Iranian Secular Society will continue to campaign for Kambakhsh’s release and calls on groups and individuals to keep the pressure on the Afghan and British governments.

To see more pictures from the demo, click here.

Join Demo to demand Kambakhsh’s freedom

Join demonstration on
Friday, February 8, 2008, 12.00 to 2.00 pm
Afghanistan Embassy, 31 Princes Gate, London, SW7

Since October 2007, Parwiz Kambakhsh, a 23 year old Afghan journalist, has been in prison in Balkh province, Northern Afghanistan and sentenced to execution for blasphemy by a local Sharia court in Mazar-e-Sharif. His ‘crime’ was distributing articles downloaded from the internet that questioned the condition of women under Islam. The Afghan government has supported the Islamic court’s ruling.

On Thursday, January 31, 200 people demonstrated for his freedom in Kabul. International public opinion and pressure must join them to save his life.

The Iranian Secular Society calls upon groups and individuals to join the protest against this barbaric sentence and demand the immediate and unconditional release of Kambakhsh, including by joining the London protest, organising protests in various cities, writing letters of protest and more.

Fore more information, contact:
Fariborz Pooya
Telephone: 077 191 66731
Iranian Secular Society

The demonstration is endorsed by: Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, National Secular Society, the Worker-communist Party of Iran – UK Committee.