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8th March Celebration Prevented In Tehran, Arrests Made

By Syma Sayyah, Tehran

Today, 8th March was supposed to be a day of celebration for women by women in Tehran's Laleh park. We all thought it would be another peaceful day for solidarity among women, this time about violence against women. The meeting was originally organized by Women Cultural Center (WCC) and many other women groups including: Kanoum Hastiya Andish, Iranmehr Group, Tehran University Students Cultural Society, Pendar Cultural Organization, Roushdiye Research Center, Women Solidarity Group, and Women Independent Society, among other well wishers and supporters.

photos: Syma Sayyah

We got there about quarter to five as the meeting was to start at 5.00 p.m. To our great surprise we saw many of our friends, who were involved in organizing the event and had previously obtained official permission from proper authorities, were inside the open amphitheater where they were surrounded by many policemen and plainclothesmen.

photos: Syma Sayyah

We were not allowed to join them; neither were the hundreds of other supporters who were there, who had come from far way places to attend this gathering and show their support and solidarity. The policemen kept telling people to go away as the meeting had been canceled by Tehran's Governor office verbally, the same organization which had given the organizers the permission previously in writing. The organizers' request for a written cancellation notice went unheard and they never received it, although the police referred to the cancellation order repeatedly.

photos: Syma Sayyah

As the organizing group could not possibly inform everybody in time, they were there to let people know what had happened and it was agreed between them that would stay on until 6.00 p.m. and then they would all go home and request that the crowd be dispersed.

photos: Syma Sayyah

However, the crowd they would not go away, and everyone was wondering why they would not let a few hundred women to say and hear what they had come there for, to hear speeches on violence against women. At some point a placard that was carried by a young lady was taken away from her by one of the policemen, and suddenly people started to clap and carried on. After a while they started to sing 'Aye Iran Aye Marze Pour Gohar..." for a long while. A few women from WCC thanked everyone for coming, their support and solidarity and congratulated them all for the International women's day, and one of the ladies went up the stand and informed all that the meeting had been canceled and that everyone should go home. At this stage, all the organizing committee, in order to avoid any further troubles, thanked the crowd again, explained that the meeting had been canceled and then left, but people did not!

photos: Syma Sayyah

After a while the crowd managed to take up their seats at the open amphitheater and carried on singing the national song, and continued clapping their hands. These young women can not easily be dissuaded from what they think is right, even though their social background may vary as anything you can imagine, yet they, as well as their male brothers, colleagues, friend and co-students, have many things in common among them; their zest and thirst for being free as they were shouting Protest is a right and does not require official permission: [they were referring to violence against women] and others.

Unfortunately later as the crowd would not leave, the police arrested some of those who had attended the meeting and by late evening a few were still in their custody.

One can only wonder why such a sad state of affairs would be allowed to take place and hope that everyone will not suffer more than they already have. One thing is for sure, violence does not necessary have to be physical or tangible to be cruel and painful!

Related Article:

Announcement by Women Cultural center

... Payvand News - 3/9/04 ... --

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