Monday, February 25, 2008

Seminar in London on 8 March international women's day

Sexual apartheid, political Islam and women's rightsA seminar in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day Monday, March 10, from 6:30-9:30pm at Conway Hall, LondonSpeakers:

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 at or 07719166731 or visit and

Monday, February 18, 2008

Solidarity with Iranian students in Jail

Please sign this appeal to free jailed students in Iran:

To: Iranian Government

Campaign to free all detained student activists in Iran! To all students’, labour, women’s and human rights organisations and activists worldwide: put pressure on the Islamic republic of Iran to free all jailed students now! Student activists struggling for freedom, equality and social justice need our immediate solidarity! We at the Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI) learnt about the recent wave of suppression and arrests by the Islamic Republic of Iran against student activists. They have arrested a number of student activists prior to and during mass demonstrations, which are held annually in commemoration of the December 7th Students Day (16th Azar solar calendar) in Tehran and other cities across the country. Traditionally, 16th Azar has been the scene of large public demonstrations, and protests against repression and in defence of freedom, equality, and humanity and against gender apartheid in Iran. A vibrant youth and student movement has always existed alongside Iran’s women’s and workers’ movements in the face of enormous adversity. However, the current climate of threats of war by America has allowed the Islamic Republic to intensify its oppression of these movements. The students are determined to oppose such an atmosphere of repression and continue to demand freedom while opposing any potential war by the USA or its allies.

According to the latest news posted on a pro-student websites such as, the following students are detained:

Mehdi Gerailoo - University of Tehran, Nader Ahsani - Ex-student of the University of Mazandaran, Anoosheh Azadbar - University of Tehran, Victoria Jamshidi - University of Azad Tehran-south, Behrooz Karimizadeh - Expelled student of the University of Tehran, Saeed Habibi - Ex-student of the Sharif University of Technology, Ali Salem - University of Polytechnic , Yoones Mirhosseini - Bahonar University, Shiraz , Milad Omrani - University of Rajayi , Abed Tavancheh - Expelled student of the University of Polytechnic , Sadra Pirhayati - Shahed University Roozbeh Safshekan - University of Tehran, Saeed Aghamali - Art University of Yazd Roozbehan Amiri - University of Tehran, Nasim Soltanbeigi - University of Allameh Mahsa Mohebbi - Sharif University of Technology, Keyvan Amiri - Sharif University of Technology, Hadi Salari - University of Rajayi, Amir Aghayi - University of Rajayi Fashid Farhadi Ahangaran - University of Rajayi, Saeed Aghakhani Okhtay Hosseini - University of Azad, Soroosh Hashempoor - University of Chamran , Ahvaz, Mohsen Ghamin - University of Polytechnic, Hamed Mohammadi - University of Mazandaran arrested a week ago, Arash Pakzad - University of Mazandaran Milad Moeeni - University of Mazandaran, Hassan Maarefi - University of Mazandaran, Behrang Zandi - University of Mazandaran.

OWFI gives full support to the student activists and all progressive movements in Iran and call upon all of you to take urgent action to demand the immediate release of all detained students. International solidarity is the duty of all activists; support your brothers and sisters in Iran against the Islamic Republic and the threat of war!

Campaign initiators:

Yanar Mohammed, president of OWFI and Houzan Mahmoud, Representative Abroad of OWFI

The Undersigned

What Honour in Killing?

By Houzan Mahmoud published on 21/12/2007 on The New Statesman:

The co-founder of the Iraqi Women's Rights Coalition writes on a spate of 'honour killings' in Iraqi Kurdistan and BasraFor decades women in Kurdistan have been subjected to all kinds of discrimination and suppression. Falling in love with the 'wrong' person can cost you your life. Sex outside marriage may bring a death sentence.

The price of bringing 'shame' upon family honour can be a woman’s life.The breakdown of law and order in Iraq following the 2003 US-led invasion has exacerbated the situation – earlier this month Youssif Mohammed Aziz, the regional minister for human rights in Kurdistan reported that at least 27 women had been murdered in the region over the last four months in 'honour killings'.

There have been many cases of brutal killings, but this is only one side of the story. Many women and young girls have taken or attempted to take their own lives as a way of resisting the social control and subordinated role imposed upon them.For example, Kurdistan’s Hawlati newspaper published a report carried out by a hospital in Sulaymania recording more than 7000 cases of women setting fire to themselves between 2000 and 2007.Only after the stoning of a seventeen-year-old Yazidi girl, Dua Khalil Aswad, did the Kurdistan Regional Government issue a statement condemning so called 'honour killings' and violence against women. But soon after the statement was issued more than seventy women were killed for similar reasons and to this date none of the killers have been arrested.Most Middle Eastern governments base policy and law upon a strict interpretation of Islamic teachings and codes of conduct. The notions of shame, honour, guilt and sin are then imposed on women through a conservative patriarchal culture. War, occupation, corrupt government and the existence and growth of Islamic and traditional conservative parties have all contributed to the formation of a hostile, anti-women environment in Iraq.

Women are considered by many to be the possessions of men - it’s as if we only exist because men wish it so!In a society where violence and sexual abuse towards women is a widespread cultural phenomenon it can be hard to see where any improvement in the conditions and rights of women can be made.In the northern Kurdistan region of Iraq the systematic abuse and suppression of women is bad enough, but in the south the situation is much worse. Under the occupation women have been subjected to all kinds of attacks: beheadings, rape, abduction and trafficking. Political Islamists have formed various armed militias and groups that target women in particular. They do this to further their long term aim of a creating a conservative Islamic society in Iraq governed by their interpretation of the Shari'a, the Islamic law that already prevails in countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran.In the last three months more than 40 women have been killed by the Islamists in Basra alone, murdered because of their 'un-Islamic' dress, according to Iraqi police.

It is believed that many more deaths go unreported for fear of reprisals. In others cities where the Islamists have a stronger hold on power, the situation is even worse.More violence and oppression against women unfolds with every new political twist and turn in the region. Our rights – the rights of women – have been taken away again and again.

But there is a glimpse of hope in the form of courageous women taking up the fight and speaking out against male chauvinism, misogynistic Islamic ‘values’ and the traditional norms of society that relegate and subjugate women. The battle for equality dignity and liberty is well overdue. In the 21st Century no woman should be treated like an unchained slave – it’s time to turn this world upside down.

The New Statesman