CHRI: More than 170 members and supporters of Iran’s women’s movement have signed a statement strongly opposing sanctions and threats of war on the country. Most of the signatories are based inside Iran, and the statement was originally published in Persian. Following is a translation provided by the independent “Iranian Women” website.

We a group of Iranian women’s movement activists and women’s rights defenders strongly condemn US efforts to stoke yet another war in the Middle East, this time against Iran. The Trump administration’s maximum pressure campaign, its bellicose posturing and sanctions, hurt the Iranian people most, especially women, children, minorities, refugees, the chronically ill and those with disabilities.

Today sanctions and the threat of war have worn down peace loving Iranians, who struggle merely to survive. While sanctions proponents claim to care for the Iranian people, their policies have left an entire nation, weary, depressed and hopeless. Sanctions, and economic pressure, target the fabric of society and the heart and soul of an entire nation, and cannot be contained to only government entities. It is clear that sanctioning the main channels of the Iranian economy, such exports of oil and metals, as well as Iran’s central bank, will inflict irreparable damage on related industries and services, including the private sector its hard working employees and workers as well as their families. While the independent business sector is destroyed, powerful unaccountable mafia like groups and interests, which are able to evade sanctions, grow wealthier and more powerful.

In 2015 the peace loving Iranian people as well as the international community were pleased when a deal on Iran’s nuclear program was reached. They had hoped that the accord would end their isolation and reduce the economic pressures brought about by sanctions. The unilateral withdrawal by the Trump administration from the Iran Deal was coupled with renewed and intensified sanctions and a maximum pressure campaign that despite its claims hurts innocent Iranians. The resulting tensions have recently intensified and threats are being made on social media, which promise war and the “end of Iran.”

As multiple experiences in the region have demonstrated, US wars have consistently resulted in increased instability, violence and the emergence of terrorist and extremist groups, while strengthening the hands of the most regressive and authoritarian forces in the region. We remind all those who support war and contribute to ongoing and increased tensions, that another conflict in the war-torn Middle East, will destabilize the entire region and yield horrific destruction and suffering.

It is worth noting that Iranian civil society has been striving for over a century to ensure transparency, accountability, democracy, peace and equality. The constant threat of conflict, the ongoing economic war and regime change rhetoric and efforts, have resulted in increased closure of social and civic space domestically. As a result, the state has increased its efforts to crack down and repress civil society and social movements. To this end the Iranian women’s movement as well as the workers and teachers movements, journalists and human rights activists have consistently demanded that pressures and limitations on civil society and citizen’s be lifted so they can organize around issues of concern. Today, as Iranians, we see not only our livelihoods targeted by sanctions and war, but our civil freedoms and rights curtailed by our own government at a time when the state should be easing pressures on citizens. It is in the absence of the voices of genuine civil society inside the country, that opportunistic groups can speak in our stead, to advocate for isolation, sanctions and war.

These groups based outside of Iran, misguidedly defend and legitimize Trump’s maximum pressure campaign, which seeks to dismantle Iran’s economy, in the name of opposing the Islamic Republic of Iran. They defend sanctions and pressure against Iran, purportedly in the name of pressuring Iranian authorities and supporting the Iranian people.

Those advocating sanctions in the name of human rights, hope the pressure on the Iranian public will bring about a popular uprising or revolution but fail to grasp the reality that weakening the government does not automatically result in strengthening citizens or civil society. In fact, civil society is one of the main victims of these policies. In an environment where people are working primarily to survive and feed their families, human rights and defense of civil society become luxury demands.

Of particular concern to feminist activists are opportunistic celebrity activists, who have claimed fame in the West for speaking about women’s rights or human rights, though online campaigns or other efforts. These individuals are taking positions in support of sanctions and cozying up to warmongers, in the name of women’s rights, Iranian women and the Iranian women’s movement. Make no mistake about it, Iranian feminists and the indigenous Iranian women’s movement, like sister movements around the world, have steadfastly supported peace and opposed sanctions. We believe that positive change for women and society can only happen from within Iran and in an environment of calm and peace.

As such we insist on our right to establish organizations and engage in collective action, so that women’s rights and other civil society activists can engage in collective action, make demands and speak up in these critical times to raise the domestic as well as international concerns of Iranian citizens.

We Iranian women human rights defenders, who are either currently working in Iran or have worked to support women and vulnerable groups in practical ways call on the international community, the United Nations, European governments and international civil society alike, to take all steps possible to stop this unnecessary and completely preventable march to war. We also call on the US to end its maximum pressure campaign against Iranians and to live up to its obligations under the Iran Nuclear Deal.

Most important we urge the international women’s movements and organizations, peace and human rights groups to help amplify our voices in spaces we have been systematically excluded from as a result of state repression and sanctions. We strongly urge them to stand in solidarity with us and speak up against war and sanctions and the continued restriction of our civic space. We however caution them to be vigilant in calling out those who shamelessly and in the name of Iranian women coopt our legitimate demands while cozying up to and strengthening warmongers and proponents of sanctions >>> signatures