The Seminars That Were Once Again Not Permitted to Take Place

Azadeh Forghani

Wednesday 20 September 2006

Sunday, 5th of Shahrevar 1385, (August 27th, 2006), was another attempt among many others throughout the past few years, where we were kept behind the gate. It was such a bizarre sight! Since the early hours in the morning we were getting telephone calls and being told: "The event does not have a permit, so it cannot take place." Why? Didn’t they know from before? Couldn’t they let us know about a forced cancellation last week? Isn’t the Non-profit Raad organization a private one? Isn’t it a community and charity organization? Is it not run with the funding of the very people that are kept behind its gate? Is the Raad organization not founded by the exact same people that are standing outside its door today? Are not peaceful events legal? If it is legal than why are we being treated in such a manner?

The pleasant atmosphere that was to be in the Raad community center was lost, but the air behind its gates matched the intended ambiance just as well and had a character all on its own. About 15 minutes shy of the time set for the event people were trickling in slowly, adding to the number of participants. The crowd was large, definitely much more than that anticipated by the organizers of the seminar. The speeches for the gathering did not take place until 5:45pm, due to the hope that the doors of the Raad community organization would be opened. People chatted amongst themselves and were exchanging pleasantries. The weather still had a warm summer air to it, but even the heat failed to stop our crowd from brimming with energy and determination. The weather was reassuring and it was so wonderful when we saw friends and acquaintances gathering together. People are not shocked and bewildered anymore about being kept outside these shut doors, about these injustices and humiliations hurled upon us, and about these neglects of our desires for our Human Rights. A new atmosphere has been created where these unfair occurrences and harsh treatments have become pedestrian, mundane and perceived as permanent and has lost its capacity to create a wave of pressure and anxiety. Everyone knows that no center, office or department is required for women to say they are, can be and want to be equal and want to have the same standing with men. Above all, we know that our desires are legal and are our birthright and more importantly have been long overdue since the last century. Why should we stay half and incomplete?

Standing behind the doors, we were amongst the company of the same people as our last attempt. I saw Dr. Naser Zarafshan again. He was simple and unassuming. The minute he came to the gates the crowd circled around him until the very last moment of our gathering. A man that has spent so many precious years of his life unjustly behind the bars of Evin prison had come to our event. He is generously taking time out of the scant few days that have been given to him as a medical break from life in prison, to stand by our side, probably because he knows very well how unjustly and unfairly the rights of women are trampled upon. I look around and I see other familiar and well known faces: Dr. Nekooee, Alireza Jabari, Dr. Raees Dauna, Amran Salahi, Babak Ahmadi, Saeed Habibi and many more. My recounting of the above names is not due to their male gender nor is it due to their stature in society, but only because I feel that this group of individuals hears our cries. Our century old cries are tired of harshness but full of energy and courage. A group of friends are busy collecting signatures. If we can’t have the entire event take place, having any part of it occurring is a godsend. Signatures with complete and indisputable personal information such as name, age, gender, education, residential county are clear and unquestionable!

But I look sadly in the crowd and I search for a face that is not with us today. That is a face that has been in our midst in previous events and was supporting us with the same fierce determination of the other men in this crowd. Ali Akbar Moosavi Khoeni is missing.

Azadeh Forghani
The Farsi Version of the Article


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