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#Iran

Whilst the world has not been looking, the Iranian regime has increased execution. This must stop.

In this Q&A, Shiva Mahbobi, former political prisoner and spokesperson for the Campaign to Free Political Prisoners in Iran (CFPPI), sheds light on the urgent need for global attention to the surge in executions and repression by the Iranian regime. Join CFPPI for a week of global action from January 13-20, 2024, to delve into the often overlooked crisis, discover reliable sources, and unite in unwavering solidarity with those courageously fighting for freedom.

Image credit: Peopleimages.com
Shiva Mahbobi
12 January 2024

Shiva, can you tell us about the latest appeal?

Thousands of protesters have been abducted and imprisoned during the 2022-2023 protests following the death in custody of Mahsa (Jina) Amini. These political prisoners have faced physical, psychological, sexual and pharmacological torture, with many dying as a result of torture. Many others, were arrested in previous protests in recent years. Hundreds of these prisoners are sentenced to or in danger of being given an execution sentence. The families of those who lost their lives in the protests or are imprisoned have been threatened or arrested by the IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps), the regime’s main security force. Tens of thousands of women face harassment, torture and imprisonment by the IRGC for defying the Hijab law and openly opposing the regime, some even lost their lives in confrontations with security forces. 

We have been focusing on the political prisoners and death penalty in Iran. We are also publicising the plight of women protesting against wearing the Hijab. We are working to draw attention globally and urge governments and international organisations to take action. Additionally, we appeal to people worldwide to show solidarity with those in Iran.

We, along with other rights organisations, are calling for a week of global action from 13-20 January 2024 to raise awareness of execution sentences in Iran. Iranian groups and activists globally will engage in various activities, including rallies and meetings with Western parliaments, urging an immediate halt to executions. Our goal is to lobby governments worldwide to pressure the Islamic regime in Iran to stop executions.

With Iran being in and out of the news, how can organisations continue to raise awareness of the executions that are largely out of the public eye?

While Iran may not be in the news, the situation has not improved. In 2023 alone, rights organisations documented at least 600 executions, a 30% increase from the previous year, making Iran the country with the world’s highest execution rates per capita. Executions have risen while the world’s attention is on the war in Gaza, allowing the regime to execute prisoners daily.

The Iranian regime has seized the opportunity of reduced international attention to intensify executions, increase torture, issue lengthy jail sentences, and use flogging as punishment for activists and women not adhering to the Hijab law.

Rights organisations and individuals can pressure the regime through letters, petitions and communication with European foreign offices to support the fight for freedom in Iran. People can show their solidarity by using their social media, using the names on this list to hashtag the name of those sentenced to execution and the hashtag #StopExecutionsInIran to show their support.

If organisations and people want to learn and understand more about this issue, which news sources or evidence are reliable?

Reliable news sources outside Iran and organisations like the Campaign to Free Political Prisoners in Iran (CFPPI) share daily updates and analyses. To follow the situation of political prisoners, visit our website: www.cfppi.org. Social media hashtags such as #StopExecutionsInIran, #IranRevolution, #WomanLifeFreedom, #MahsaAmini, #FreeIranPoliticalPrisoners, and #IranProtests help find reliable information.

What gives you hope?

The courage displayed by the current generation, particularly women, in Iran is remarkable. Their unwavering determination to overthrow the Islamic regime and put an end to dictatorship is truly inspiring. I have been an advocate for freedom and women’s equality, and now witnessing the succeeding generations fight even more fearlessly and confidently gives hope to all of us.

For 44 years, the regime in Iran has employed torture, imprisonment, and execution to suppress the people, attacking every aspect of life and livelihood. They have imposed and implemented legalised, systematic misogyny and gender apartheid. This ongoing struggle fills me with inspiration and hope. The revolution in Iran, centred on the principles of Woman-Life-Freedom, should serve as a beacon of hope for people worldwide, especially women. Our interconnectedness means that the success of the revolution in Iran will have a profound impact on the region and the world.

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Shiva Mahbobi

Shiva is a psychotherapist, Women’s rights activist, former political prisoner and is spokeswoman for Campaign to Free Political Prisoners in Iran (CFPPI) which she co-founded in 2006. Shiva was a student activist in Iran where she was arrested twice at the age of 12 and later when she was 16 for over three years. She later fled to Turkey in 1992 and worked with the International Federation of Iranian Refugees in Turkey. Shiva then went to Toronto Canada where she coordinated the Action Committee in Defence of Women’s Rights in Iran. She moved to the UK in 2001, and as a women’s rights activist, she campaigned to stop the stoning of women. 

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Melissa Torres

VICE-PRESIDENT

Prior to being elected Vice-President, Melissa Torres was the WILPF US International Board Member from 2015 to 2018. Melissa joined WILPF in 2011 when she was selected as a Delegate to the Commission on the Status of Women as part of the WILPF US’ Practicum in Advocacy Programme at the United Nations, which she later led. She holds a PhD in Social Work and is a professor and Global Health Scholar at Baylor College of Medicine and research lead at BCM Anti-Human Trafficking Program. Of Mexican descent and a native of the US/Mexico border, Melissa is mostly concerned with the protection of displaced Latinxs in the Americas. Her work includes training, research, and service provision with the American Red Cross, the National Human Trafficking Training and Technical Assistance Centre, and refugee resettlement programs in the U.S. Some of her goals as Vice-President are to highlight intersectionality and increase diversity by fostering inclusive spaces for mentorship and leadership. She also contributes to WILPF’s emerging work on the topic of displacement and migration.

Jamila Afghani

VICE-PRESIDENT

Jamila Afghani is the President of WILPF Afghanistan which she started in 2015. She is also an active member and founder of several organisations including the Noor Educational and Capacity Development Organisation (NECDO). Elected in 2018 as South Asia Regional Representative to WILPF’s International Board, WILPF benefits from Jamila’s work experience in education, migration, gender, including gender-based violence and democratic governance in post-conflict and transitional countries.

Sylvie Jacqueline Ndongmo

PRESIDENT

Sylvie Jacqueline NDONGMO is a human rights and peace leader with over 27 years experience including ten within WILPF. She has a multi-disciplinary background with a track record of multiple socio-economic development projects implemented to improve policies, practices and peace-oriented actions. Sylvie is the founder of WILPF Cameroon and was the Section’s president until 2022. She co-coordinated the African Working Group before her election as Africa Representative to WILPF’s International Board in 2018. A teacher by profession and an African Union Trainer in peace support operations, Sylvie has extensive experience advocating for the political and social rights of women in Africa and worldwide.

WILPF Afghanistan

In response to the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban and its targeted attacks on civil society members, WILPF Afghanistan issued several statements calling on the international community to stand in solidarity with Afghan people and ensure that their rights be upheld, including access to aid. The Section also published 100 Untold Stories of War and Peace, a compilation of true stories that highlight the effects of war and militarisation on the region. 

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WILPF Germany (+Young WILPF network), WILPF Spain and MENA Regional Representative

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Demilitarisation

WILPF uses feminist analysis to argue that militarisation is a counter-productive and ill-conceived response to establishing security in the world. The more society becomes militarised, the more violence and injustice are likely to grow locally and worldwide.

Sixteen states are believed to have supplied weapons to Afghanistan from 2001 to 2020 with the US supplying 74 % of weapons, followed by Russia. Much of this equipment was left behind by the US military and is being used to inflate Taliban’s arsenal. WILPF is calling for better oversight on arms movement, for compensating affected Afghan people and for an end to all militarised systems.

Militarised masculinity

Mobilising men and boys around feminist peace has been one way of deconstructing and redefining masculinities. WILPF shares a feminist analysis on the links between militarism, masculinities, peace and security. We explore opportunities for strengthening activists’ action to build equal partnerships among women and men for gender equality.

WILPF has been working on challenging the prevailing notion of masculinity based on men’s physical and social superiority to, and dominance of, women in Afghanistan. It recognizes that these notions are not representative of all Afghan men, contrary to the publicly prevailing notion.

Feminist peace​

In WILPF’s view, any process towards establishing peace that has not been partly designed by women remains deficient. Beyond bringing perspectives that encapsulate the views of half of the society and unlike the men only designed processes, women’s true and meaningful participation allows the situation to improve.

In Afghanistan, WILPF has been demanding that women occupy the front seats at the negotiating tables. The experience of the past 20 has shown that women’s presence produces more sustainable solutions when they are empowered and enabled to play a role.

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