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“Free Iran” women’s conference in Ashraf 3

Women in the Iranian Resistance, Defying the Misogynist Regime Paying the Price of Freedom

Women’s conference in Ashraf 3 in support of a free Iran - July 14, 2019 - Tirana, Albania
Women’s conference in Ashraf 3 in support of a free Iran - July 14, 2019 - Tirana, Albania

Reported by PMOI/MEK


Albania, July 14, 2019 - Women’s rights activists and dignitaries from across the world attended a conference in Ashraf 3, home to members of the Iranian opposition group People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) in Tirana, Albania. These prominent figures voiced their support for women of Iran, who have been leading the struggle for freedom in the past decades. The attendants also expressed support for the ten-point plan for a free Iran, presented by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).



Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, president-elect of the NCRI, at the women’s conference in Ashraf 3, Albania, July 14, 2019


The first and keynote speaker of the event was Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the president-elect of the NCRI.


“The common answer to all these problems, ranging from poverty and discrimination to lack of free choice, lies in freedom and equality. Not just equality and not just freedom. But both freedom and equality,” NCRI President Maryam Rajavi said. 


“Discriminations against women in Iran and in any society, at any juncture of history, have meant to subjugate the people, to suppress them, to plunder them and to strip them of their political rights,” she added.


“You might have heard claims that if the mullahs were to be overthrown, Iran would experience chaos, disasters, and destitution. But aren’t Iranian women living in conditions even worse than war-torn countries? Aren’t they suffering from poverty, unemployment, and homelessness?” Mrs. Rajavi asked.



Women’s conference in Ashraf 3 in support of a free Iran - July 14, 2019 - Tirana, Albania


“You can see 1,000 pioneering women at this place coming from various cities of Iran, from Khomeini’s prisons, or from universities in the U.S., Europe & Iran. You see three generations side by side. They are members of the Central Council of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran,” she continued.


“Most of the victims of rampant poverty and destitution in today’s Iran are women. Over 62 percent of women above the age of ten are housewives. The average economic participation of women in the Middle East is 22 percent, but only 12 percent in the cities of Iran,” NCRI President Maryam Rajavi explained.


“To be a woman and not surrender, to be a woman and persevere in the struggle, to be a woman and instead of thinking about yourself, think about the liberation of your enchain people, this is something that has driven the mullahs crazy,” she added.



Iranian opposition NCRI President Maryam Rajavi at the women’s conference in Ashraf 3, Albania, July 14, 2019


I would like to salute Iran’s political prisoners especially my sisters who have been resisting and defying the regime in Khamenei’s jails across Iran,” Mrs. Rajavi continued. “Inspired by the 1,000 women of Ashraf, this is a tradition that Iran’s enlightened women and rebellious girls are following, which is an emancipating struggle.” 



Women’s conference in Ashraf 3 in support of a free Iran - July 14, 2019 - Tirana, Albania







NCRI Women’s Committee Chair Sarvnaz Chitsaz


NCRI Women’s Committee Chair Sarvnaz Chitsaz at the women’s conference in Ashraf 3, Albania, July 14, 2019


“Every activity you did meant a lot to us. We are very grateful. You are members of the large family of resistance. At the exhibition and testimonies, you heard part of the stories. Each of their experiences adds to the history of perseverance. Every woman in the resistance has made her own choice. They have set examples with their resistance in the dungeons of the mullahs. This is an unprecedented phenomenon in the history of the Iranian women,” said NCRI Women’s Committee Chair Sarvnaz Chitsaz.


“This is why women are at the forefront of the battle against the regime and leading protests in Iran. They see the history of the women in Ashraf and they are inspired by their resistance. This is why the regime targets Iranian women to such an extent,” she added.


“The mullahs’ incessant savagery toward women is the driving force of the regime in its suppression of the Iranian society,” Ms. Chitsaz concluded.


Sen. Ingrid Betancourt, former Columbian presidential candidate


Sen. Ingrid Betancourt, former Columbian presidential candidate, at the women’s conference in Ashraf 3, Albania, July 14, 2019


“When you will be in Tehran, and it will happen soon, you will face a tremendous challenge. You are the only real organization where women are consistently at the top. You will be confronted by the fact that taking power in a country like Iran, with 80 million inhabitants, a big country in the Middle East—it’s not a small challenge. Whatever you do will reflect in the whole world,” Sen. Ingrid Betancourt, former Columbian presidential candidate.


“The impact you will have because you have a woman leader because it’s in a country that has been ruled by a misogynist regime, the impact will be like an atomic bomb. This is a very serious responsibility,” she continued.


“One of the dangers we have as women is we want to be part of this world with men. We don’t want to enter a gender war. To have the intelligence and emotional skills to use the right words and attitudes to make it understood this isn’t about taking the place of anyone, it’s about cooperation with the world—that’s a big challenge,” Sen. Betancourt continued.


“Another challenge is religion. When religion is involved, it becomes very personal to women. One of the things that we have to be aware of is that this system of patriarchy, it’s a mind frame that we all have in ourselves, man and woman. We have to be conscious about it and we have to fight it in ourselves and others. You will have to deal not only with the clergy but also with women and men who are not ready for this change,” she highlighted.



Sen. Ingrid Betancourt, former Columbian presidential candidate, at the women’s conference in Ashraf 3, Albania, July 14, 2019


“The third challenge is the need to embrace and bring to work this labor force, half of the country. It’s an amazing opportunity… One of the challenges we need to face is how to give women the confidence to embrace their capacities, to be different than men but be equally capable. You are different. I’ve never seen an organization that combines military discipline and philosophy, and aim to put an end to a dictatorship that is a misogynist regime. You have achieved something that is very unusual,” Sen. Betancourt further stressed.


“If we look at what women have done in politics today, in order to climb the ladder, we women tend to become like men, in the way we dress, the way we cut our hair and how we talk, but also in the way we build relationships with others,” she explained.


“But Maryam is the epitome of femininity. This is a woman who hasn’t lost her femininity, and this gives her patience and strength. This makes us admire her and admire through her. Men need to have the other side of humanity, the feminine side. We need to find that balance,” Sen. Betancourt said, expressing her firm belief in the NCRI President Maryam Rajavi.


“I’m humbled from what you have achieved. And I’m in gratitude for all the things I have learned from you in the past years,” she concluded.


Dr. Ranjana Kumari, Director of the Centre for Social Research


Dr. Ranjana Kumari, Director of the Centre for Social Research, at the women’s conference in Ashraf 3, Albania, July 14, 2019


“I have been with you for years and I’ve written about your struggle. I’m sure that you are going to get there. The time is coming. However, something that is very important for us in the women’s movement and gender equality, when you see all that you’ve explained in your exhibition and everything you’ve gone through, it’s really moving. You have my full admiration for that,” said Dr. Ranjana Kumari, Director of Centre for Social Research.


“Whenever we’ve seen these struggles, one thing that is important to keep in mind is that women are in the line of fire. So many struggles where women have fought in the front lines. However, when the power came, women were made to go back to the kitchen. I’m so happy this is a unique organization where women are in top positions. You’re already involved in different levels of governance, you know how to exercise power,” she added.


“Women rights are human rights. I’m very happy to see your leadership has underlined there will be no compromise on gender equality… When women take leadership, they can move mountains,” Dr. Kumari concluded.


Maria Candida Almeida, Deputy Attorney General of Portugal


Maria Candida Almeida, Deputy Attorney General of Portugal, at the women’s conference in Ashraf 3, Albania, July 14, 2019


“We must thank Mrs. Rajavi for finding the solution to save the members of the movement, and thank yourselves for keeping the flame of the movement alive. Let’s not forget those who are fighting inside Iran for freedom, democracy, and women’s rights. You are my example,” said Maria Candida Almeida, Deputy Attorney General of Portugal. 


“The ones who must defend the people’s rights have uptaken killings, massacres, and suppression. Horrible things are happening in Iran today, such as the killing of pregnant women. The international community must not accept this. This is why your cause is my cause. I am with you,” she continued.


“Your movement is an example to all of us. Your leader is courageous and strong. She is an example for all people and for me. In the past few days, I was encouraged to work harder for you when I return home. I hope you accept me as your messenger,” Ms. Almeida added. “Our next goal is to see all of you—and me too—in a free Iran.”


Maria Ryan, Ph.D., CEO of Cottage Hospital


Maria Ryan, Ph.D., CEO of Cottage Hospital, at the women’s conference in Ashraf 3, Albania, July 14, 2019


“I’ve never seen misogyny as a culture as it is in Iran. It is systematic. You also have oppression that is happening to all people. Since I’ve come across this, I’ve tried to understand it. But until this time in Albania, where I talked to you and observed, you’re regimented and organized,” said Dr. Maria Ryan. 


“As we move the regime out from Iran, it’s going to take a lot of work. This is where your strength becomes significant. I learned from you and your optimism. It’s impressive that you can overcome adversity and look to the future and what needs to happen,” she added.


“You are part of the living history. Fifty years from now, books will speak about you and President Rajavi. I put Madam Rajavi up with the forefathers of my country,” Dr. Ryan concluded.


Italian MP Giuseppina Occhionero


Italian MP Giuseppina Occhionero, at the women’s conference in Ashraf 3, Albania, July 14, 2019 (File Photo)


“Your struggle for civil rights is an honor for all the world, especially for me since I’ve been with you in the past few days. Mrs. Rajavi, your deep views for human rights—we will take the same responsibilities,” said Italian MP Giuseppina Occhionero.


“Today, we see that we can unite and we can struggle against inequality. You women are the force of change and it is very important that you are not part of the inequality. We all have to take responsibility and work in different fields. And we have to keep our femininity. You are the answer. To all the women who have paid the price of freedom, I thank you for this,” she added. “Change will come through the fulfillment of women’s rights.”


Zinat Mirhashemi, NCRI member and Central Committee member of the Cherikhay-e Fadaii Khalq Org. of Iran


Zinat Mirhashemi, NCRI member and Central Committee member of the Cherikhay-e Fadaii Khalq Org. of Iran, at the women’s conference in Ashraf 3, Albania, July 14, 2019


“I’m proud of the generation of PMOI women who have shown their determination. The achievement I see today is the achievement of Mrs. Rajavi, and I praise you,” NCRI member Zinat Mirhashemi said. 


“I want to tell you about three PMOI generations. I have had the opportunity to become familiar with different PMOI generations. Before 1979, there were many women who were my idols. I had the honor to be in contact with PMOI women who opened the way in those days, such as Mrs. Ashraf Rajavi. The mutual experience we had in our separate organizations was that, when women were imprisoned, it wasn’t simple. Families couldn’t understand that we were taken from school desks to prison. The families felt ashamed,” she added.


“But now, women who are in prison, we are proud of them. The freedom fighting women and the women of PMOI opened the way in those days. And now, many doors are open,” Mrs. Mirhashemi continued.


“In the 120 years of struggle for freedom in Iran, women have had an important role. In previous generations before the revolution, the face of the struggle for freedom and equality was not just the face of men. They showed to the world that women have a significant role in this fight,” she explained.


“And now we have reached a time when we see women’s roles in the highest ranks in such a struggle. This is the assurance of this organization’s future and that women’s equality will be fulfilled because these women are leaders,” Mrs. Mirhashemi stressed.


“In this movement, men and women are fighting together for a common cause. Where women have a significant role, victory is insured. The future is ours… The women who are in prison are our pride. Our movement for justice in Iran has a wealth of women from across Iran,” she concluded.


Moroccan MP Khadija Diyani


Moroccan MP Khadija Diyani at the women’s conference in Ashraf 3, Albania, July 14, 2019


“Today I’m here and I believe in you more than I did before. You have shown who you are. The world will remember you for what you have shown as women who strive for freedom. What you’ve accomplished in 18 months is something that we are proud of. If you were in your own country, you would have achieved a lot more,” said Moroccan MP Khadija Diyani.


“I’m very optimistic that you will reach freedom, not for power and with power, but with hearts that don’t give up and are determined. You have high human values,” she added.


“I believe you will reach what you are fighting for because you have high determination. I’ve never seen such determination as I’ve seen in Mrs. Rajavi,” the Moroccan MP concluded.


Tunisian MP Olfij Juwaynihttps://lh4.googleusercontent.com/T4b_g9femPD03JNSyZ6mZGA4uNaEmhdoV5Uc9wPKxRlNWgw8GGEizOVq_l8LMFaJnGnMR8tUG5qikKfM6OPGxGz0HGGkxuHmEuyh_B4Z_ABCU4UR7e-MB_rxSMwCKL6xBABe8Avh

Tunisian MP Olfij Juwayni at the women’s conference in Ashraf 3, Albania, July 14, 2019


“Mrs. Rajavi has the role of being a symbol of women in resistance against the corrupt and misogynist mullahs. I wish you all success,” said Tunisia MAP Olfij Juwayni.


“The role of women in the Iranian resistance and their struggle against the fundamentalist and corrupt regime of Iran, and the price they’ve paid for freedom has turned Iranian women into a phenomenon that can change the society,” Juwayni said.


Former Romanian MP Maria Grecea


Former Romanian MP Maria Grecea at the women’s conference in Ashraf 3, Albania, July 14, 2019


“I hope in the near future, I will meet you in the fourth Ashraf in a free Iran. We are at a critical and sensitive moment in Iran because the mullahs’ regime is at a political and social dead end and we the supporters of the resistance must help the people. History has proven to us that some things will change and the fascist dictators of Iran must change,” said former Romanian MP Maria Grecea.


“This is important not only for the people of Iran but for the world because an exporter of terrorism will be eliminated. Your persistence as the PMOI has built international support for Iranians, especially for the uprising of the people in 2017. The international pressure and the ongoing protests have put the regime in a difficult situation,” she added.


“The future prospects are very positive. Mrs. Rajavi has a 10-point plan for the alternative to the mullahs’ regime and for building a democratic Iran,” the former Romanian MP concluded.


Edit Bauer, former MEP from Slovakia


Edit Bauer, former MEP from Slovakia, at the women’s conference in Ashraf 3, Albania, July 14, 2019


“As a woman, what makes your resistance special to me is the key role played by women in the struggle for freedom in Iran. Mrs. Rajavi has educated and trained a generation of women who are capable of leading Ashraf residents through ups and downs, but also a generation of men who can cooperate with women in building their nation,” said Edit Bauer, former MEP from Slovakia.


“You have confronted fundamentalism in a way that no other movement has. You have proven the failure of the mullahs’ ideology in practice. I’m seeing the strengthening of the support for your movement around the world,” she added.


“Mrs. Rajavi, I stand by your side and you have my support until the women of Iran have equal rights in every field,” the former MEP concluded.


Dr. Somaya  Al Jowder, former Bahraini MP


Dr. Somaya  Al Jowder, former Bahraini MP, at the women’s conference in Ashraf 3, Albania, July 14, 2019


“From you, I learned about being patient and giving to others. I learned from you that endurance is the answer to everything, and how we can add to our belief and our faith,” said Dr. Somaya Al Jowder, a former member of the Bahraini Parliament.


“I have seen the perseverance of your men. They don’t fight to be first. We hope that our men in our country will do the same. I saw in Ashraf things I did not believe. I went to Iran in 2008 and saw Iran who was suffering so much. I said that Iranian youth have to make the change,” she added.


“In 2014, when I saw Iran again, I was surprised to see that the situation had become worse. Iran’s uprising and rebuilding of Iran will be done by you, the PMOI women. I’m sure that next year, all of us will be celebrating democracy in Iran,” Dr. Al Jowder concluded.


Flor Raam


Flor Raam at the women’s conference in Ashraf 3, Albania, July 14, 2019


“When Mrs. Rajavi called for national solidarity, I felt that I had found something important, and I joined along with my husband [Emad Ram],” said Flor Raam.


“When I was young, I couldn’t leave my country without the permission of my husband. If a father died, the mother didn’t have the right to raise the children. When the mullahs came to our country, they ruled like ISIS. They imprisoned and raped women. There was nothing for the people of Iran. But against that is the Iranian Resistance and the PMOI women,” she continued. 


“Mrs. Rajavi has been digging out this cancerous tumor out of Iran. I’m very proud of you. I wish everyone could get to know you as we know you. This is the reality,” Miss Raam added.


“This ten-point plan that you have shown to the world is a declaration that will be something of a very big change for Iran. With this ten-point plan, there will be 100 percent equality between men and women. I’m sure during this time, anyone who wants to fight for freedom and wants to get rid of this regime will join us,” she concluded.


Concetta Giallombardo, Attorney, President of the Association of Female Jurists from Italy


Concetta Giallombardo, Attorney, President of the Association of Female Jurists from Italy, at the women’s conference in Ashraf 3, Albania, July 14, 2019


“Struggling for the equality of men and women is something that we must pay the price for. In your struggle and resistance, this has been reviewed. There’s a mindset that is different about the relationship between men and women. The relationship is about knowledge and understanding,” said Concetta Giallombardo, Attorney, President of the Association of Female Jurists from Italy.


“I would like to congratulate you on your mindset and how you view the relationship between men and women. I hope that under your viewpoint, we will see a new society,” she concluded.