Open letter of Collective Action of Independent Iranian Women Groups and Organizations to Code Pink organization.
June 6, 2022
Dear Code Pink
We, the undersigned Iranian independent women groups and organizations in diaspora, are sending this letter regarding your meetings and engagements with the official representatives of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Most recently, your meeting (1) in March
2022 with the official delegation of the Iranian government to the UN Commission on the Status of Women coincided with Iranian women being pepper-sprayed in the Mashhad soccer stadium after they were told they could not attend the game.
Two years ago, we, the independent Iranian women groups and organizations came together in Collective Action to raise the voice of Iranian women for democracy, freedom, and gender justice. Collective Action embraces the values of peace, gender
equality, and justice and believes the future of Iran is in the hands of the Iranian working masses and people who have suffered for 43 years under the rules of the regressive and anti-democratic government of Iran. We strive for political, economic, and social
freedoms for all, and we believe that such freedom is severely compromised by war, the threat of war, and militarism.
Collectively, we stand against violence, religious extremism, and militarism and stand for peace, social justice, and gender equality for Iran and the countries we reside in.
As feminist and equality activists, we know too well that the burden of war and conflicts is on women's and girls' shoulders. We define and claim the identity of being "Independent "as not being affiliated with any Iranian political party, and not receiving
funding from, or being affiliated with any government agency. The Collective Action has organized events including but not limited to March 8th, the International Women's Day, November 25th, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and the 16 Days of Global Activism Against Gender Violence in 2021.
We believe the Islamic Republic of Iran is a misogynistic regime and the constitution of Iran, particularly regarding family laws, is not protecting Iranian women's fundamental human rights.
We are also very proud of Iranian women's heroic resilience and struggle for more than four decades. They have always spoken truth to power and kept on moving forward, never turning back.
According to the Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA), during the last 5 years, 131,000 children under the age of 15 were forced to marry and 20,187 domestic violence cases were reported. Hundreds of women lost their lives due to honor killings, and the country still lacks legal protection for victims of violence. And, under Article 19 of the UDHR, Iranian women's freedom of expression has been violated by compulsory
hijab for more than four decades.
The most recent Amnesty International report ( 2 ) published in 2021 states, "Thousands of people were interrogated, unfairly prosecuted and/or arbitrarily detained solely for peacefully exercising their human rights, and hundreds remained unjustly imprisoned. Security forces unlawfully used lethal force and birdshot to crush protests. Women, LGBTI people, and ethnic and religious minorities faced entrenched discrimination and
violence. Legislative developments further undermined sexual and reproductive rights, the right to freedom of religion and belief, and access to the internet. Torture and other ill-treatment, including denying prisoners adequate medical care, remained widespread and systematic. Authorities failed to ensure timely and equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines. Judicial punishments of floggings, amputations, and blinding were imposed.
The death penalty was used widely, including as a weapon of repression. Executions were carried out after unfair trials. Systemic impunity prevailed for past and ongoing crimes against humanity related to prison massacres in 1988 and other crimes under international law."
We question Code Pink’s relationship with the government of Iran, where thousands of Iranian people inside Iran dare to take a stand against it. As a feminist and a women-led grassroots peace organization, we ask you to be in solidarity with women of all ages who are at the forefront of all the civil society groups who are demonstrating and holding the government accountable for a whole host of issues including but not limited to gender discriminations, feminization of poverty, lack of economic and political participation.
As a women-led peace organization, we question your engagement with the official representatives from the Islamic Republic of Iran, one of the militaristic countries in the region. According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), "No state has been as active or as effective as Iran in regional conflicts in modern times. The total cost to the Iranian economy of its activities in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen is $16bn (£12bn)." Of course, Lebanese Hezbollah receives $700m annually from Iran. Most recently, on April 25, 2022, the report of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute noted, “In 2021 Iran’s military budget increased for the first time in four years, to $24.6 billion. Funding for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps continued to grow in 2021—
by 14 percent compared with 2020—and accounted for 34 percent of Iran’s total military spending.”
As Code Pink’s goal is "redirect(ing) our tax dollars into healthcare, education, green jobs, and other life-affirming programs." We, as Iranian-born gender equality activists
and feminists, share the same feelings. We would rather the military budget of Iran be divested from Iran's active engagement in regional conflicts and be invested in social and economic support of the economically marginalized communities of people
shouldering the pain of economic sanctions, street children, women single parents, and millions of Iranian people below the poverty line. In May of 2022, a member of the parliament revealed, "Around nine million Iranian families are living below the poverty line." But, the practice of the Islamic Republic of Iran has proven that there is no political will to respond to the social, political, and economic needs of the Iranian people.
In the end, we, the Collective Action of independent Iranian women groups and organizations, while sharing a number of your positions against racism, militarism, occupation, and for peace, object to your engagement with the misogynistic and anti-democratic government of Iran and welcome your response to our letter.
· Association of Iranian Women in Florence, Italy
· Association of Iranian Women in Montreal
. Maanaav - LGBTQ Community - Sweden
· Dallas Iranian Women Association (DIWA)
. Everyday Feminism
. Women for Sustainable Freedom & Equality
. Orange County Women Study Group
. Women Committee Against Stoning – Paris, France
· Frauen Tribunal - Hannover, Germany
· International Coalition Against Violence in Iran (ICAVI)
· Iranian Circle of Women for International Networking (ICWIN)
· Iranian Women Activist in Exile – Berlin, Germany
· Iranian Women Association of Partow, Germany
· Iranian-German women's association
· IWIN Iranian Women In Network
· Left Unity of Women
· No to hijab Campaign Iran- Women- Solidarity
· Stop Honor Killings
· The Organization for Emancipation of Women
· Women and Anti-discrimination Committee of The Union for
Secular Republic in Iran
· Women of Iran for Sustainable Equality
· Zanan Group in Northern California
. IKWRO-Women Rights Organizations
. Together for Women’s Health
. Iranian Women Group - Frankfurt
As of 11/16/22 CODEPINK has not answered the letter
Their position on Iran can perhaps be determined from their website. Their call is to end sanctions on Iran and that this is the best thing than can be done to support Iranian women
So, according to CODEPINK our first and only priority on Iran is to get rid of the sanctions
However, Iranian exile Sina Zekavat wrote this about the sanctions and the Iranian regime:
" The truth is that with or without the US sanctions, the Iranian regime is neither capable nor interested in prioritizing the well-being of its citizens and managing the country's affairs in a normal way. Since its violent inception in 1979, the counter-revolutionary regime has manufactured crisis after crisis and war after war to distract from its main crisis at home, namely the crisis of political legitimacy. "
Read the full 2020 article here on the Open Democracy site
This is the statement from the Center for Human Rights in Iran on sanctions.
Of course we have to oppose Trump's war measures against Iran. Trump is a perfect hypocrite. If he wanted to help Iranians he would allow Iranians into the U.S. He would not be levying sanctions that harm everyday Iranians. He just want Iran's ruin.
On the other hand we offer no sympathy or apology to the Iranian regime. Iran is a theocratic tyranny. It executes hundreds each year and laws have the death penalty for things like "waging war against God". In this way it's just like reactionary Saudi Arabia. The Iranian regime smashed the Left in 1979 and massacred those in its prisons ten years later. There are no labor rights. Arabs in Iran are sorely mistreated. Ahvaz, an Arab majority town in Iran, is a militarized zone and it may be the most air-polluted city on earth.
People are smart enough to oppose two things at once. Only opposing Trump and Netanyahu and ignoring regime repression of Iranians in the name of clarity or of criticizing only those things close to home would properly expose us as hypocrites.
War Resisters League Statement January 8
Dan Fischer in PeaceNews "No War with Iran. No Tears for Soleimani"
The Anarchist Era Collective, based in Iran and Afghanistan, "Statement on the Assassination of an Iranian State Terrorist"
The Worker Communist Party of Iran, "Qasem Soleimani, hated commander of the Islamic Republic's Quds Force has been killed"
"Iraqi protesters denounce twin occupiers US and Iran", Yahoo News
"Iranian-American Organizer Sina Moravej Discusses Current U.S.-Iranian Political Climate"
Black Rose/Rosa Negra Anarchist Federation (U.S.-based), "The Greatest Purveyor of Violence"
Jan. 5, 2020
A Kurdish feminist writes:
" You can cheer the end of Sulaimani and still be anti-war. You can condemn the way Sulaimani was executed but still be relieved that he is no longer around to terrorize people. You can be anti-US imperialism and anti-Iranian dictatorship and brutality."
Sina Zekavat (Iranian in Germany) On Facebook:
To assume that all Shias in Iraq are mourning the death of Suleimani is not only false but is simply racist and orientalist, because you assume they are a block of people without diversity of thought and agency.
Let's go back a couple of months, you know where the popular Iraq protests were most brutalized and killed? southern/central Iraq, Najaf and Karbala, holy Shia cities predominantly working class. So let's review again, Qasem Suleimani was a commander of Iran backed sectarian militia in Iraq (and Syria), who ordered and master minded the violent repression and shooting of Shia and non-Shia young protesters in Iraq. would you mourn the death of the killer of your loved ones? I doubt you would, you would celebrate it, regardless of the grand geopolitical games of the situation.
Alliance of Middle East Socialists 1/3/2020
"The most worrisome aspect of these developments is that they might lead to catastrophic consequences and full-scale war. That would in turn overshadow the wave of uprisings that have broken out in the Middle East and North Africa region in 2019, from Sudan and..."
Oppose U.S. and Iran War by Showing Solidarity with Uprisings in the MENA Region
"We socialists must stand against U.S. diplomatic, economic, and military pressures or attacks on Iran...Within Iran, we stand on the side of the movement for democracy, for political pluralism, for civil rights, for freedom"
Adam Shatz in the London Review of Books "Trump Declares War" Jan 3
From Stanley Heller
Danger of a major war? First, there’s no “danger of a major war”. There’s already been major war in the Middle East for years. Syrians have been bleeding in immense numbers since 2011 and Gen. Suleimani has been a major sponsor of the killing. There is a major danger that “white” people of the West will be dying in a war starting in the Middle East. Be honest, that’s what a lot of the concern is about in the U.S.
A steady creep to World War III is possible, but more likely is that the brave movements in both Iraq and Iran that have stood up to incompetent and corrupt leadership at a cost of perhaps 2,000 lives will be forced into the shadows by sectarian state-sponsored “defend the homeland” movements.
Obviously Trump is no liberator. Remember all the "anti-imperialist" claptrap about him being an "isolationist" and secret "anti-war" figure. The Democrats are no better. Their leadership folded over Yemen and Iran in the last months NDAA negotiations. They put no limits on Trump's warmongering at all in exchange for a few Family Leave benefits. They even allowed billions for Trump's wall. We need protest, but not the same old dumb "anti-imperialism" that glorifies Middle East tyrants not the the good graces of the U.S.
Little mention is being made of jolly old Israel. For years Netanyahu has been demanding war on Iran. He's not a puppet-master, but Israel is hugely important in U.S. politics.
Remove Sanctions on Iran, "yes", but a One Word Answer Doesn't Settle the Manner
Shiyam Nabila Ghalyoun of the War Resisters League and
Sina Zekavat (A War Resisters League video)
Oppose War Measures, Solidarity with the Iranian People
Criticism of the Prashad/Ting/Wolff Panel on China of 9/20/21
By Stanley Heller
These words were never mentioned by anyone in their remarks: Uighur, Hong Kong, labor unions, billionaires, coal plants, exploitation, Taiwan.
The tone of the talk was that everything about the China was wonderful and that only the US government was doing bad things.
1. The moderator introduced Vijay Prashad elaborately, but did not mention that Prashad is senior non-resident fellow at Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China. I would point out Chinese universities are not well known for their academic freedom.
Prashad was the first speaker. I didn’t find anything objectionable in the first ten minutes or so of his talk. The Biden pivot for a Cold War with China isalarming. Now around 13 minutes in, Prashad strayed for a while to talk about Russia. Prashad talked about how the US provoked Russia and how Russia then went to defend its only two major warm water ports, Sevastopol (he doesn't mention the word Ukraine) and Tartous in Syria. He doesn't deign to mention that Syria is a separate country. But Tartous is a Russian warm water port, according to Prashad. He claims that the U.S. “provoked” Russia to intervene in Syria. That they were doing this to prop up their allied tyrant Assad against an apparent successful Syrian revolution is not mentioned. No, it’s all about defending “their port”. With the real background of horrific warfare by Putin and Assad forces against mostly civilian Syrians I find Prashad’s statement repulsive
Prashad is all about geopolitics, but he did not mention any of China’s de facto alliances with authoritarians around the world and its use of “techno-authoritarianism”.
2. The second speaker was Tings Chak, “a Shanghai based researcher” and along with Prashad is part of the Tricontinental Institute for Social Research. She talked about the Chinese government raising people out of poverty and mentioned a whole host of social programs and a program where what sounds like the equivalent of Chinese social workers live in Chinese poor villages to help people. She mentioned programs that were making repairs to China environmental misdeeds which she said were large. She wasn’t specific, but I got the sense she was talking about things like destroying villages with dams. She did not mention China’s overall environmental policy (see below).
3. The third speaker was US economist Richard Wolff who marveled at Chinese leaps in GDP which far outstripped that of the US. He criticized capitalist economists who never mentioned it or explained it away flippantly. Why use this GDP as the be-all-and-end-all of economic progress? Wolff did not talk about what the overall plan of the Chinese communist party which includes a rapid industrialization based on creating coal-burning power plants at a rate higher than anywhere else in the world. Image what this is doing to the world’s climate and to the health of Chinese people (2017 estimate, one million Chinese deaths per year). The world is approaching tipping points in 2030 and China is not only the leading builder of coal plants, but is the leading producer of automobiles (more than double US production). China is the world’s leading emitter of greenhouse gases in absolute terms, twice that of the US. (yes, I realize China has a much large population and the US is #1 in historical terms, but that’s not going to mean anything if climates collapse).
Wolff claimed China doesn’t want to compete with the US militarily, but wants to compete “where its strength lies” in “eradicating poverty and decreasing as a matter of policy inequality…which the Common Prosperity and the other programs, attacking the tech giants, moving wealth from the profit category and moving it to the wage category”… “one of the greatest innovations in great power competition”. I’m not qualified to comment on the last assertions. I never heard about the Common Prosperity program. I do know that supposedly socialist China has more billionaires that the USA.
4. A fourth speaker was Grayson Lanza’s of the DSA International Committee. He talked about Biden/Pelosi legislation concerning China which no doubt is bad.
I’m not saying everything in the presentations was bad. Certainly, the point that China has lost 4,000 to COVID while the US has lost 700,000 needs to be mentioned again and again. And AUKUS should be condemned. But those points are obvious to anyone on the Left.
The event was sponsored by the DSA International Committee. I'm a DSA member.