Iranian Women's Associations in Europe and North America hold annual conference

The annual conference of Iranian Women's Associations in Europe and North America, who support the Iranian Resistance, was held on Saturday, February 20 in Stadthalle, Bad Godesberg in Bonn, Germany. Over 1,500 women from 12 associations in nine countries attended the conference.

The conference was held in two parts. The first was devoted to workshops, dealing with the situation in Iran, especially problems facing women, women's resistance in Iran, the extensive presence of women in the ranks of the National Liberation Army and in political and international scenes, the achievements of women's associations in the past year and the prospects for their activities next year.

The second part of the conference was devoted to speeches. The speakers were Ms. Ingrid Holzhuter, member of German Federal Parliament from the Social Democratic Party; Ms. Sarvnaz Chitsaz, Chairwoman of the NCR's Women's Committee; Ms. Elizabeth Sidney, from Britain's Liberal Democratic Party; Ms. Fariba Hashtroudi, writer, journalist and NCR member; Ms. Zinat Mir Hashemi, central committee member of the Organization of Iranian People's Feda'i Guerrillas, editor of Nabard-e Khalq magazine and NCR member; Ms. Nahid Hematabadi, opera singer and NCR member; Ms. Laurie Wiesberg, President of the Human Rights Internet-Canada, Dr. Beverly Allen from the United States and Ms. Inge Lise-lien, a member of the International Front Against Fundamentalism (IFAF), from Norway.

This section began with a message by Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the Iranian Resistance's President-elect. Offering her best wishes for the success of the conference, Mrs. Rajavi said: "At a time when the Iranian people and especially women are involved in a life and death struggle against a misogynous regime, your efforts to expose the evil visage of this medieval regime is very necessary and of paramount importance."

The keynote speaker, Ms. Chitsaz, said in part of her speech: "Any effort to seriously change and improve the plight of women in Iran and endeavors to attain equality, inevitably passes through the overthrow of the misogynous regime ruling the country. So long as the clerical regime stays in power, misogyny, suppression and discrimination against women continue. Thus, one can be effective on the path to realizing women's rights to the extent that one is working to topple the theocratic regime ruling Iran."

Ms. Chitsaz added: "Two decades of Resistance against the mullahs' bloody regime was accompanied by the birth, progress and maturity of a generation of Mojahedin women who undertook the greatest responsibilities in this resistance by eliminating all reactionary restrictions. In theory and practice, they succeeded in removing historical obstacles, which many were even afraid of thinking about them."

In the conference, a manifest was adopted which presented the most important outlines of the political line and activities of these associations for next year. The manifest read in part: "The realization of Iranian women's rights is possible only with the overthrow of the clerical regime and the establishment of a democratic system. Any effort aimed at attaining women's rights and equality is realistic only through joining or supporting the nationwide Resistance. Disseminating any illusion about 'improvement in the situation of women' under Khatami, calls to work within the 'framework of the regime's laws' or talk of a 'legal women's movement' are actions totally against the Iranian people and especially against women. We strongly condemn them. Those who deliberately or unconsciously promote such propaganda are in fact in the service of the ruling clique."

A large number of parliamentarians, distinguished human rights personalities and activists in the women's movement, unable to attend the conference, sent messages to declare their support for this conference and its outcome.

Secretariat of the National Council of Resistance of Iran
February 21, 1999

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