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Joint statement: We Stand in Solidarity with Iranian Women and Protesters

Joint statement of 162 regional and international organizations:

We Stand in Solidarity with Iranian Women and Protesters

We, undersigned feminist and human rights organizations stand in solidarity with the courageous women in Iran who have taken to the streets to peacefully protest the death-in-custody of Mahsa Amini and to demand their bodily rights. 

We also express our profound sympathy to the families of the incredible Iranian protesters who have lost their lives to the ongoing brutal police crackdown in response to peaceful demonstrations. We urge all feminists and women human rights defenders, their organizations in different countries and particularly in the MENA region, to stand in solidarity with Iranian women and amplify their voices, through all means possible, especially now that Iran’s government has severely limited internet access across the country. 

The weeks have witnessed unprecedented scenes of protesting in Iran. For the past four decades, the Iranian government has violently imposed mandatory hijab and other laws to limit women’s social and economic participation in society and force them out of the public space. Yet, despite violent crackdowns against women who have consistently and peacefully expressed demands for change, we are now witness to the Kurdish motto of “Women, Life, Freedom!” being chanted by Iranians across the country. 

Protests broke out in Iran following the September 16 death of Mahsa (Zhina) Amini, a 22-year-old woman, in police custody three days after she was arrested by “morality” police for allegedly wearing her headscarf loosely. Mahsa was on a family trip to Tehran, but within a few hours of going out with her brother, she was in a coma on a hospital bed due to sustained brain injury and never recovered. Despite threats by intelligence forces for a quick burial in silence, Mahsa’s family refused to succumb and took her body  to Saqqez, her hometown. Women at her funeral took off their headscarves and widespread protests in Kurdistan province were ignited. This collective mourning of a life lost so soon and so unjustly, escalated into countrywide protests with women at the forefront of every demonstration. 

In recent months, Iran’s government has ramped up arbitrary arrests and judicial harassment of civil society activists, especially women’s movement activists, in a blatant attempt to silence those who speak up against systematic discrimination and repression. At the same time, we have witnessed increased violence from the so-called “morality” police patrols toward women. The case of Sepideh Rashnou from July of this year was a vivid example of these often violent encounters. Sepideh was arrested soon after her verbal argument on a bus with a mandatory hijab enforcer went viral. Sepideh was violently arrested, kept in solitary confinement for weeks, and released after she had to make a forced televised confession where she clearly had a bruised face and was in poor health.

Iran’s recent protests are referred to as a feminist revolution. Young, fearless women in the streets are taking off their headscarves and setting them on fire right in front of massive line-ups of riot police forces and demanding freedom. These protests have now gone beyond all divides, and men in large numbers are supporting these fierce women. Even in small cities with more traditional beliefs, everyone is chanting “Women, Life, Freedom!” 

Many women are sharing videos of themselves cutting their hair to protest Mahsa’s killing. Several female Iranian artists and celebrities forced to comply with mandatory hijab have joined the movement by posting videos in which they take off their hijab despite the repercussions that this might have on their careers. Celebrities and athletes are among others who are supporting Iran’s first-ever feminist revolution by stepping down from their sports teams or supporting protestors in interviews. 

As the protests continue, the government has escalated its massive crackdown and scores of women human rights defenders, journalists, students, human rights lawyers, and ordinary protestors have been arrested. Based on recent reports from human rights groups, over 100 protesters have been killed by security forces. The government has also imposed another internet blackout to block people’s access to social networks and messaging apps to suppress the protests. This is similar to the pattern used in the 2019 uprisings, which blocked communication in social networks and messaging apps to stop people from sharing images from protests and the violent and bloody police crackdowns. However, the voice of women and feminist groups are amplified by their sisters and peers in many countries. They have stood up in solidarity by organizing protests and publishing videos supporting the movement in Iran. 

We, the undersigned, stand in solidarity with Iranian women who are protesting the unjust killing of Mahsa Amini and who are demanding democracy as well as rights to bodily autonomy and fundamental freedoms all over Iran. Furthermore, we urge our feminist sisters in international organizations and regional groups to show their solidarity in any way possible. 

  • We urge UN Human Rights Council to condemn the violent actions of the Iranian government against women and hold them accountable for the suppression and killing of protesters. 

  • We urge UN member states to support calls for a UN led investigative mechanism on Iran through the adoption of a resolution during an urgent session of the ongoing 51st regular session of Human Rights Council.

  • We urge the UN Working Group on Discrimination against Women and Girls, the Special Rapporteur on Elimination of Violence against Women, the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, the Special Rapporteur on Peaceful Assembly and other UN mandate holders to investigate and report on the systematic violation of the rights of Iranian women and protesters by the Islamic Republic of Iran. 

  • UN and member states should work with the government of Turkey and Kurdistan Regional Government to ease border crossing restrictions for those rights defenders fleeing to safety and work to ensure the safety of HRDs in their respective countries.  Governments and the UN should facilitate and expedite refugee status and repatriation processes of Iranian HRD and especially WHRDs in neighbouring countries who are at risk of extrajudicial retaliation by Iranian authorities. 

  • We urge the governments of countries with diplomatic ties to Iran, especially Global South and non-aligned states, to summon the ambassadors of Iran and express their concerns over the violence being used against protesters and the widespread arrests of human rights defenders. 

  • Donors should consider expanding and urgent support funding for human rights defenders, especially women human rights defenders, facing threat and risk, including fellowship and respite opportunities, that are more flexible and easy to access.

  • We ask international and regional human rights organizations to take a stance on the recent events in Iran, to follow up on the situation of those detained, press for their release, and demand that Iranian authorities ensure their safety and health while in detention.

  • We ask the journalist associations and unions to condemn the arrests and arbitrary detention of Iranian journalists in recent days, especially female journalists who have been at the forefront of reporting on recent developments. 

  • We ask feminist groups and organizations to continue supporting Iranian women’s rights and their demands for bodily autonomy through protests, peaceful gatherings, statements, production of artwork, and other means.

Signatories:

  1. Abdorrahman Boroumand Center for Human Rights in Iran, US

  2. Advancing Knowledge in Democracy and Law Initiative, Malaysia/Southeast Asia

  3. Afghanistan Women Protesters, Afghanistan 

  4. Aliansi Perempuan Bangkit / Emergence Women Alliance Indonesia

  5. All Women’s Action Society (AWAM), Malaysia

  6. Arab Digital Expression Foundation, Egypt – Regional Mandate

  7. Arab Watch Coalition, MENA Region

  8. Article 19, Global

  9. Artistic Freedom Initiative, United States

  10. Arts for Women Indonesia, Indonesia

  11. Asfari Institute for Civil Society and Citizenship, MENA Region

  12. Asociación Ciudadana ACCEDER, Costa Rica

  13. Association el-Karama, Tunisia 

  14. Association for Monitoring Gender Equality, Turkey

  15. Association of Women Lawyers Sel & FT, Malaysia

  16. Association Suisse pour les Droits des Femmes, Switzerland

  17. Association Tunisienne des Femmes Démocrates , Tunisie

  18. Assocition d Environnement et Developpement Durable , Tunisie

  19. AWID (Association for Women’s Rights in Development), Global

  20. Balance Promoción para el Desarrollo y Juventud, Mexico

  21. Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), India-South Asia

  22. BMMA, India 

  23. Cairo Foundation for Development and Law, Egypt

  24. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS), MENA Region

  25. Canadian Council of Muslim Women (CCMW), Canada

  26. CCMW Niagara Chapter, Canada

  27. Center for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance, Egypt 

  28. Center for Human Rights in Iran, United States

  29. Center for Human Rights Studies, University of Surabaya (CHRS Ubaya), Indonesia

  30. Center for Reproductive Rights, Global

  31. Centre for Feminist Foreign Policy, Germany

  32. Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ), Malaysia

  33. Channel Foundation, United States

  34. CIVICUS, Global 

  35. Coalition for Sexual & Bodily Rights in Muslim Societies (CSBR), Indonesia

  36. Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, Global 

  37. Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, Canada

  38. Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, U.S. Provinces, United States

  39. Congrgacion Del Buen Pastor , Chile 

  40. CREA, Global

  41. Culture Action Europe, Europe

  42. Daraj Media , Lebanon

  43. Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), MENA Region

  44. Demokratik Emekliler Sendikası (DEM-SEN) , Turkey

  45. Deutscher Frauenring e.v, Germany

  46. Dorothy Njemanze Foundation (DNF), Nigeria 

  47. Ecumenical Community for Contemplative Engagement 

  48. Equality Fund, Global

  49. Equality Watch Women’s Group – Eşitlik İzleme Kadın Grubu (EŞİTİZ), Turkey

  50. ERA – LGBTI Equal Rights Association for Western Balkans and Turkey 

  51. Erktolia, Turkey

  52. Fe-Male Feminist Collective, Lebanon

  53. FEDERA, Poland

  54. FEMENA, MENA Region

  55. Femmes et Droits Humains, Mali

  56. FIDH-MENA, MENA Region

  57. Forum Tunisien pour ls Droits Economiques et Sociaux , Tunisie 

  58. Foundation Innovation Social Development, Sri Lanka 

  59. Free Women Writers, Afghanistan, USA

  60. Fund for Congolese Women, Democratic Republic of Congo

  61. Fundacion Justicia y Genero, Latin America

  62. GAMCOTRAP, Gambia

  63. Gender and Democracy Centre, Indonesia

  64. Gerakan Perempuan Peduli Indonesia [Indonesian Women Awareness Movement], Indonesia

  65. Good Shepherd International Foundation, Italy

  66. Good Shepherd Mission Hub, Malaysia

  67. GreeneWorks, United States

  68. Hawaa Organization for Relief and Development, Iraq

  69. Human Rights Activists (in Iran), United States

  70. Human Rights Sentinel, MENA Region

  71. Human Rights Watch, Global

  72. IFEX, Global

  73. Indonesian Legal Aid Association for Women (APIK), Indonesian

  74. Inkyfada/Alkhatt, Tunisie

  75. Institute of the Third Space, Indonesia

  76. International Alliance of Women (IAW), Global

  77. International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), in the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, Global

  78. International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific (IWRAW AP), Malaysia

  79. Intersection Association for Rights and Freedoms, Tunisia 

  80. Iraqi Women Network, Iraq

  81. IRIS Women Watch, Turkey

  82. Isha Lisha- Haifa Feminist Center, Haifa

  83. Islamic Development and Relief Agency, South Sudan 

  84. Jamaity, Tunisia

  85. Jeunes femmes pour la démocratie , Marocco

  86. Jurnal Sang Pemula, Malaysia

  87. Justice for Iran, Iran-UK

  88. Kaos GL, Turkey

  89. Kawaakibi Foundation, Norway

  90. KEDV, Turkey

  91. Khalil Sakakini Cultural Centrem, Palestine 

  92. Kirmizi Biber Dernegi, Turkey

  93. KPI-LJSP Cabang Jember , Indonesia

  94. Kun Organization, Libya

  95. League for the Defence of Human Rights in Iran (LDDHI), Iran

  96. Legal Dignity, Malaysia

  97. MADRE, Global

  98. MAJU, Malaysia

  99. Manushya Foundation, Southeast Asia

  100. Marta Abrantes Mendes, Marta Abrantes Mendes

  101. MenEngage Global Alliance, Global

  102. Mesoamerican Initiative of Women Human Rights Defenders, Mesoamerica

  103. Miaan Group, United States

  104. Musawah, Malaysia

  105. Muslims for Progressive Values, United States

  106. Mwatana for Human Rights, Yemen

  107. National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, United States

  108. National Observatory to Defend the Civility of the State, Tunisia

  109. No Peace Without Justice, Global

  110. No Sanctions on Iran, United States

  111. Noor, MENA Region

  112. Open Society Foundations, Global

  113. Organisation Contre la Torture en Tunisie , Tunisia 

  114. PASS Foundation- Peace for Sustainable Societies, Yemen

  115. Passon Legal Organization, Afghanistan 

  116. Peace Track Initiative, Yemen-Canada

  117. Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor, Malaysia

  118. Persatuan Warisan Wibawa , Malaysia

  119. Political Well-Being, Turkey

  120. Programme Against Custodial Torture and Impunity (PACTI), India

  121. Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED), MENA Region

  122. Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, United States

  123. Realizing Sexual and Reproductive Justice (RESURJ), Global South

  124. Réseau National des Jeunes Filles et Femmes Rurales du Mali ( RENAJFFERM), Mali 

  125. Rosa Women’s Association, Turkey

  126. Rumpun Indonesia, Indonesia

  127. Saiamak Pourzand Foundation, Iran-US

  128. Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies, Yemen 

  129. Secularism Is A Women’s Issue, Global

  130. Sekolah Damai Indonesia (SEKODI) Bandung, Indonesia

  131. Sisters in Islam (SIS), Malaysia

  132. Sisters of the Good Shepherd-New York/Toronto Province, United States

  133. Sisters of the Good Shepherd, New Zealand, Australia

  134. Society for the Improvement of Rural People, Nigeria

  135. Society for the Promotion of Human Rights (Proham) , Malaysia

  136. Sonke Gender Justice, South Africa

  137. Southern and Eastern Trade Information and Negotiations Institute, Uganda

  138. Sukaar Welfare Organization, Pakistan

  139. Suluh Perempuan Indonesia , Indonesia 

  140. The Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (ARROW), Asia-Pacific

  141. The Association for Struggle Against Sexual Violence, Turkey

  142. The Awakening – A Member of Men Engage Alliance Pakistan, Pakistan

  143. The Freedom Initiative, United States

  144. The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR), MENA Region

  145. The Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation , Global

  146. The Munathara Initiative, MENA Region

  147. Turkish Council of Women, Turkey

  148. United for Iran, Iran-US

  149. Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights, United States

  150. Väter Aktiv, Italy

  151. Vigilance for Democracy and the Civic State, Tunisia 

  152. Virtual Activism, United States

  153. WHRD MENA Coalition, MENA Region

  154. Women for Human Rights, Single Women Group (WHR), Nepal

  155. Women for Women’s Human Rights (WWHR) – New Ways, Turkey

  156. Women’s Rights Center, Montenegro

  157. Women’s March Malaysia, Malaysia

  158. Women’s Council Denmark, Denmark

  159. World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), in the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, Global

  160. Yayasan Penghapusan Kekerasan Terhadap Perempuan “Mitra Perempuan” [The Foundation For Elimination of Violence Against Women “Mitra Perempuan”], Indonesia

  161. Yayasan Perlindungan Insani Indonesia, Indonesia

  162. Yemen Future for Media and Culture Development, Yemen