WASHINGTON — Inspired by Iranian human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi’s brave promise last week to represent in court the family of Neda Agha-Soltan, murdered by Iranian militia during last weekend’s demonstrations in a rally in Tehran, the peace group CODEPINK has created a letter addressed to Ebadi for women worldwide to sign, a pledge of solidarity to the courageous women of Iran who have led the revolutionary demonstrations there for the past two weeks despite increasing threat of government retaliation.
Agha-Soltan, Ebadi, a 2003 Nobel Peace Prize winner and contributor to CODEPINK’s 2005 book, “Stop The Next War Now,” and Effat Hashemi, the wife of former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani who was among the first to call for public protests, represent the incredible strength of Iranian women and their hunger for justice. Demanding reform, regime change, more social freedoms and a fair election, women have sometimes outnumbered men at the demonstrations, and they’ve also fought back police and militia.
“Shirin and all Iranian women taking to the streets inspire us all with their courage and strength in the face of a kind of suppression that many of us will never know,” said Jodie Evans, co-founder of CODEPINK. “This letter to Shirin proves that we stand in solidarity with them and support their work for human rights and a more democratic Iran.”
CODEPINK, founded in 2003, has dedicated much of its work to stop U.S. sanctions on Iran and improve relations between the two countries. Since 2005, it has led a “Peace with Iran” campaign, which included a delegation of women to Iran to establish face-to-face ties between Americans and Iranians as well as a “Mayors for Peace” initiative, an effort to have mayors nationwide sign a resolution to oppose military intervention in Iran. This past September in New York City, CODEPINK women joined other American peace activists in a meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to promote open dialogue, and in November, Evans and retired Col. Ann Wright led a citizen’s diplomacy trip to Iran and met with Iranian parliamentarians and women’s groups.
Iranian women have been longtime leaders in political efforts and have struggled to regain their legal rights for years, explained former first minister of women’s affairs Mahnaz Afkhami in the Nation on June 24. Iran’s mass protests around its recent election have given Iranian women a new platform.
“This battle between women and the government just keeps going on,” Afkhami said. “Right now it shows itself vividly."