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Solidarity statement by the Iranian Writers Association

Nothing could possibly be added to what fearless people are shouting out, not only with their voices, but also with their lives in the streets. Nonetheless, it is the duty of all writers and artists, workers’ unions and cultural organizations, and freedom-loving and independent institutions to declare their support, decidedly and far from the common conformism, for the people’s liberation movement; a movement that needs solidarity more than anything to continue.

This movement that has now seized almost the entire country is the result of forty years of anger. Since its establishment, the Islamic Republic of Iran has attempted to suppress and censor art and literature, the reflection of the fluid spirit of contemporary human being, by using coercion and spending huge sums of money from the country’s public budget on the so-called cultural and ideological projects. In so doing, it has particularly deprived the country’s young generation of the natural right to live freely and has attempted to mold them in its oppressive forms. And of course the smoke of such an oppressive policy falls mostly on the eyes of the women, who have suffered from all kinds of gender discrimination and have protested at every opportunity. From the very first years of mandatory hijab on the eve of the 1979 revolution, progressive and informed women of Iran rightly understood it not only as the imposition of a kind of covering. It also was an insult to their dignity and showcased “the covering of the essence of freedom”. Thus, the Iranian women’s equality movement has always been an important part of the Iranian people’s freedom movement in the last few decades. A movement that this time is tied to the name of a young woman and the loss of her precious life. 

From the starting point of this movement—the murder of Mehsa (Zhina) Amini—to the universal slogan of “Women, Life, Freedom (Gen, Zhian, Azadi)”, groups of women that were suppressed and scattered in various ways gathered and continued the women’s protest. They were the first to call for street protests after the start of the unrest in Saqqez and Sanandaj [two cities in Kurdistan]. They chose Hijab Street [name of a street in Tehran] to expose this known symbol of domination and anti-freedom. The hijab, which was a tool of systemic violence of the Islamic Republic against the lives of half of the Iranian population for forty years, became a symbol of domination and oppression of all Iranian people. 

The large presence of people in the streets, joining in the burning of scarves and repeating progressive chants, negated the government’s attempt to reduce the people’s desire to dismantle the moral police and showed that the path to society’s freedom passes through women’s freedom.

The unbridled violence of the Islamic Republic against the protestors and the denial of the natural right of the people to express their demands once again turned the street into an arena for a massacre of the most noble and brave of Iranian youths. In response, people increased the number of gathering points, came to the squares from neighborhood to neighborhood, opened the doors of their houses to the protestors and injured ones, and organized their forces from street to street with empty hands. A great force that is rooted in freedom and democratic demands.

The first principle of the Iranian Writers Association Charter has been the point of connection between the Association and the freedom movements for more than 50 years. In these years, Iranian Writers Association has been pressing hard on the right to freedom of speech, “for everyone, without any limitations and exceptions”. Freedom of speech is not just an organizational issue for writers. Freedom of speech is the basis for the formation of organizations and movements and the main artery of their survival. The government kills and kidnaps protesters in the streets, enabled by years of systemic suppression of freedom of speech, its media monopoly, comprehensive censorship, and a control and limitation of the virtual space now reaching its peak.

But people who have lived in this suppression have followed every beam of light in the heart of darkness and destruction. They have brought their voices and wishes to the public arena.

The Iranian Writers’ Association declares its solidarity with the freedom movement of the Iranian people and calls on writers and artists—whose professional lives are tied to freedom of speech—as well as aligned organizations and institutions around the world, to be the voice of the freedom movement of the Iranian people.

23 September 2022

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