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We condemn the execution of Reyhaneh Jabbari

Letter of Condemnation to the Iranian Consulate 

Nari Diganta, Naree Chetona, Eritrean Women’s Network, European Bangladesh Forum, Jubo Union, Communist Party of Bangladesh and Udichi Shilpi Gosthi condemned the execution of Reyhaneh Jabbari, an Iranian woman who was brutally executed by Irani government on 25 October, 2014. Reyhaneh Jabbari was accused of being involved in planning the killing of a man by whom she was sexually harassed. The allegation against Reyhaneh has not been proved and the Iranian court did not accept her statement that she was forced to be involved in a killing that she did not mean to be involved in.

 

On 30 October 2014, in a statement addressed to the Iranian Embassy in London, the above organisations have stated that the execution of Reyhaneh Jabbari was brutal, immoral and politically motivated. The execution of Reyhaneh was so brutal and horrifying that we felt unsafe to come in direct contact with the Iranian Embassy. Therefore, our letter has been sent by post to the Iranian Embassy. Reyhaneh’s execution have shivered many of us and left harmful psychological effect by which many other women in other communities were disturbed.

 

This brutal execution has once again demonstrated how religious law was employed against women and humanity. Reyhaneh’s execution shows how law in Iran has been misused, and how law is used for victimisation of Iranian women. This execution exemplified the brutality of the theocratic government of Iran in which women and their families are oppressed. While law is supposed to ensure security of people, the verdict of Iranian court shows that Muslim law has been used for violence against women and to support or legitimise sexualised violence against women in particular.

 

Our statement conclude by supporting the views of the International Committee against Execution. We condemn the brutal execution of an innocent woman who was forced to get involved in a violent act in order to defend her personal safety. We share the views of International Committee against Execution 25 October, 2014. We express solidarity to Jabbari’s family. Shame on the fatal Islamic regime in Iran. It has been a particularly brutal act of not informing the family before the execution was publicised. We condemn both the act of execution of Reyhaneh Jabbari and the failure of the Iranian government to inform the family.

We request the Iranian Consulate to acknowledge the receipt of our letter of condemnation in due course.

Sincerely,

Rumana Hashem, PhD. Executive Committee Member, Nari Diganta
Khedija Ali, Founder, Eritrean Women’s Network
Ansar Ahmed Ullah, Founder, European Bangladesh Forum, UK.
Ajanta Roy, Founding Member, Extradite Chowdhury Muin-uddin Campaign
Shikha Ahmed, Founder, Naree Chetona
Syed Enam, Member Secretary, Communist Party of Bangladesh, UK Branch
Zobaida Nasreen, President, Jubo Union, UK.

Read also:

Reyhaneh Jabbari was executed

http://freethoughtblogs.com/maryamnamazie/2014/10/27/reyhaneh-jabbari-was-executed/

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Press Release: When a Law Legitimises Violation of Human Rights

• Community and Women’s Rights Organisations Condemned the Law Society’s Practice Note about Sharia Succession wills
• Solidarity to Reyhaneh Jabbari’s Family and Condemnation of Reyhaneh’s Execution

women activists at Nari Diganta, the panelists and representatives of eight women's organsiations expressed solidarity to Reyhaneh Jabbari at Monteforio Centrre on 15 Oct 2014 by Golam Rabbani of Diamon Studio

Women activists at Nari Diganta with the panelists and representatives of eight women’s organsiations at Montefiore Centrre on 15 Oct 2014. Courtesy: Diamond Studios

Seeking to achieve equal rights and a bigotry-free secular society in Britain, the secular Bengali women’s organisation, called the Nari Diganta – Women in Movement for Equal Rights, Social Justice and Secularism, has hosted a timely dialogue between the community activists and experts. The meeting, ‘When a Law Legitimises Violation of Human Rights of My Sister: Screening of Naree and Discussion about the Trouble with and Irrelevance of Sharia Succession Training in the UK’ was held on 15 October, at the Montefiore Centre in East London.

Shamima Hena, the Chairperson of Nari Diganta, thanked everybody on 15 Oct 2014. Courteasy: Golam Rabbani of the Diamond Studio

Shamima Hena, the Chairperson of Nari Diganta, thanked everybody on 15 Oct 2014. Courtesy: Golam Rabbani of the Diamond Studio

In a packed room, with an estimated 60 people of mixed backgrounds and with representatives from 15 organisations, the event kicks in by the screening of the film Naree –The Divine Stone by Hasan Mahmud. The screening was followed by a critical discussion about how religious law legitimises women’s oppression and promotes racism, sexism, patriarchy, and cultural relativism. A panel of three guest speakers and campaigners for secularism and human rights in Britain have discussed how the Law Society’s latest practice note about Sharia Succession wills can go against equality and secularism in Britain. They explored how this practice note of Law Society could violet human rights, and how non-Muslims and adopted children will be discriminated by Sharia Succession wills in UK.

The speakers who formed the panel include Advocate Sultana Kamal, Director of Ain o Salish Kendro, Bangladesh, Pragna Patel, Director of Southall Black Sisters, and Fariborz Pooya, Founder of Iranian Secular Society and Director of Bread and Roses TV. The event was co-ordinated and facilitated by Dr Rumana Hashem, Co-ordinator of the event and a founding member of Nari Diganta.

Audiences of mixed ethnicities 15 oct 2014 by S Enam

Part of the audience at Montefiore Centre on 15 Oct 2014. Courtesy: S Enam of Bangladesh Communist Party, UK.

The event was endorsed by several community organisations including AWAAZ,  Jubo Union, Jago Naree, Naree Chetona, Network of Eritrean Women, and Udichi Shilpi Gosthi. Speakers and participants at the symposium said that Sharia Law is a bigoted law in which millions of women across the Muslim world have been oppressed, exploited and victimised. This law must not be introduced in the UK.

Advocate Sultana Kamal, the lead panelist has spoken about the situation in Bangladesh. She said, ‘Sharia is a codification of several laws and it discriminates women in particular.’ She said, ‘there is no such law called Sharia Law in today’s Bangladesh’. She said, ‘Bangladesh’s history shows also that there was no such law in ancient Bengal’. She argues that it is some fundamentalist men who introduced the Sharia Succession wills which discriminate women. In providing a historical background of the situation in Bangladesh, Sultana Kamal said, ‘there are too many versions of Sharia law’ and that ‘none of this can be proved as authentic’. She added, ‘While a whole lot of progress has been made by women in Bangladesh generally there are also lots of threats, insecurities and violence against women’. She said, ‘as social fabrics, political atmosphere in Bangladesh has become more conservative the state has become nervous and is unable to take bold steps in favour of women’.

Pragna Patel denounces Law Society's guidance 2014. Courtesy: S Enam

Pragna Patel denounces Law Society’s guidance 2014. Courtesy: S Enam

Pragna Patel, the Director of Southall Black Sisters, explained the practice note of Law Society and identified its racist aspects. She explains that the LS’s guidance does not only discriminate Muslim women but also many men and children of other ethnicity. Patel said that despite its long-disputed and discriminatory aspects, the Law Society in the UK, which represents solicitors in England and Wales, issued a practice note with details of how to draft “Sharia compliant” wills. She argued, ‘if Muslims are allowed to follow Sharia then other groups such as Sikhs and Hindus will also follow this discriminatory law’. She stipulated, ‘state and religion cannot be mixed up. Religion is a private matter. State and religion must be separated’. Pragna Patel denounced that a secular state cannot have two laws in one state. ‘We want one law for all’, she said.

 

Fariborz Pooya, the Founder of Iranian Secular Society, said that he was surprised by seeing the banner of Nari Diganta which declared that there is ‘No Human Liberation Without Women’s Liberation’. He questioned the Law Society, and condemned them for not consulting the women who are to be subjects of discrimination by the Law Society’s practice note. He said that it is illegitimate to recommend any guidance for best practice without prior consultation with relevant people and the groups of women and men to whom this law would have jurisdiction. Pooya added, historical documents show that none of us have interpreted the versions of Sharia law. He questioned, ‘so who did interpret Sharia law’?

Gita Sahgal, the Founding Director of the Centre for Secular Space and a panelist who was unable to make the event physically, has sent a message of solidarity which Pragna Patel read out for the audience. In her message Sahgal noted, ‘the struggle for One Law for All is an important part of the secular struggle. It is essential to ensuring the rights of women. It is particularly important for minority women. In so many countries, where there are religion based personal laws, women are treated as inferior. They are not full citizens with the right to constitutional protection by the law. No-one wants to interfere with the minority. So women are left at the mercy of so called leaders, acting in the name of God.’

Part of the audience on 15 Oct 2014. Courteasy: Golam Rabbani of Diamond Studios

Part of the audience on 15 Oct 2014. Courtesy: Golam Rabbani of Diamond Studios

She notes further, ‘In Britain women from minorities have the same rights in theory but may not in practice. Illegal sharia councils are spreading. They claim to find solutions to women’s problems, and often provide divorces to women, especially those having a nikaah and not a registered marriage. As Pragna will no doubt explain the decisions of these councils are not legal. The pieces of paper they issue are worthless. Men posing as judges should be prosecuted. Yet they survive and are spreading with the tolerance and maybe encouragement of the authorities.’

 

Throughout the meeting speakers and participants explored discriminatory aspects of Sharia Law. Both participants and experts have agreed that the Law Society’s recommendations for cultural relativism and bigotry in Britain cannot be tolerated. One participant, who appeared as confused about the title of the meeting, was accused of being Jamat-e- Spy by the audiences. Participants and community activists have strongly protested her comments, and some have demanded her expulsion from the meeting. But the kind co-ordinator has disapproved this demand of the audience and handled the situation prudently. Dr Hashem said, in warning the participant, ‘I hope that you have got the answer to your comments and questions. Please be seated and do not try to interrupt others’.

Sultana Kamal is responding to the participant who was confused about the title of the meeting on 15 Oct 2014. Courtesy: Diamond Studios

Rumana Hashem and Sultana Kamal responded to the participant who was confused about the title of the meeting on 15 Oct 2014. Courtesy: Diamond Studios

Dr Hashem and the panelists have explained how a religious law does legitimise human rights violation of women. Sultana Kamal said, ‘what Rumana was saying is that Shariah Law has certain aspects which created spheres in which women are often victimised’. She and other panelists called upon the community representatives being present in the meeting to take a stand against such law. Pragna Patel said, ‘we need to understand that law and religion cannot be mixed up. […] Sharia Council is illegal in this country.[…] Sharia law discriminates women’. She called upon the participants to defend their human rights and said, ‘there will be street protests against Law Society’s practice note, please do come and join us’. The forum has accepted Patel’s call for protest and condemned the Law Society’s guidance. The facilitator, Rumana Hahsem, has confirmed that she will be keeping in touch with the campaigners for One Law for All, and will update the forum. She assured the forum that Nari Diganta will organise a follow up meeting in near future.

The meeting ended with a solidarity message to the family of an Iranian woman, Reyhaneh Jabbari, due to be put to death for killing a man she said was trying to sexually abuse her. In response to the call for solidarity by Fariborz Pooya, all participants in the meeting have waived their hands to express solidarity to Reyhaneh’s family. The forum condemned the execution. Rumana Hashem said, ‘we will soon be sending out a letter of condemnation from this forum to the Iranian Embassy’.

The event was opened by Nasima Kajol, the Secretary of Nari Diganta, by a welcoming speech and brought to an end by Shamima Hena, the Chairperson of Nari Diganta, with a vote of thanks. In her vote of thanks, Hena acknowledged that it is not only the women at Nari Diganta, who made this meeting happen but also a significant number of men have extended their support to Nari Diganta to  take place this discussion at the Montefiori Centre. Both Hena and Hashem concluded by noting that this dialogue with community will continue and the campaign for a secular law and a secular state in Britain will be a success. ‘It is just a beginning of the campaign’, says Hena. The women at Nari Diganta are committed to work to resist the problematic practice note of the Law Society in the UK.

 

The organisers have acknowledged that Udichi Shilpi Goshti, the Rainbow Film Society and Diamond Studios have supported the event and provided with logistics and technical supports. Mustafa Kamal of Rainbow Society has expressed wish to assist with Nari Diganta’s future campaign work on secularism through his film society. The management of the Montefiore Centre has waived the fees for the venue for the extended time and have offered to hold future dialogues about this issue at the Montefiore Centre at free of cost. In commenting on this, Rumana Hashem said, ‘this shows that British Bangladeshis are not conservative, nor merely religious. They care for progressive, secular and bigotry-free society’.

Press release: Ansar Ahmed Ullah, Community Activist and Collaborative Partner of Nari Diganta.

Photo credits: Diamond Studios, Syed Enam and Paul Dudman


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When a Law Legitimises Violation of Human Rights of My Sister


Screening of Naree and Discussion about the Trouble with and Irrelevance of Sharia Succession Training in the UK

When?                  15 October, Wednesday, at 6-9pm

Where?                Montefiore Centre, Hanbury Street, London, E1 5HZ

Who?                    Nari Diganta – the Women in Movement for Equality, Social Justice and Secularism

Nari Diganta – the Women in Movement for Equality, Social Justice and Secularism would like to invite you to a symposium, ‘When a Law Legitimises Violation of Human Rights: the Trouble with and Irrelevance of Sharia Succession Training in the UK ’, to be held on Wednesday, the 15th October between 6-9pm at Montefiore Centre, Hanbury Street, E1 5HZ.

Sharia Law is a bigoted law in which millions of women across the Muslim World have been oppressed, exploited and victimised. Despite its long-disputed and discriminatory aspects, the Law Society in the UK, which represents solicitors in England and Wales, issued a practice note with details of how to draft “Sharia compliant” wills. As experts clarify, practice notes are best guidance for solicitors on specific areas of law. Earlier this year, several anti-racist, feminist and human rights groups have called upon the Law Society to withdraw their practice note. Many women and men from across the UK have rallied in front of the Law Society in London and hundreds of people have signed the open petition for One Law for All. But the Law Society is unwilling to review their practice note. At this juncture, Nari Diganta hosts a symposium to critically discuss the associated troubles with and irrelevance of Sharia Succession Training in the UK. Starting with the screening of a film called, Naree –The Devine Stone, the symposium seeks to open up a discussion through engaging in a dialogue between community activists, experts, and women’s rights advocates. Our aim is to explore the discriminatory aspects of Sharia Law and to come across an understanding of how best to resist Law Society’s recommendations for cultural relativism and bigotry in Britain. You are cordially invited to this symposium.

Confirmed speakers:      

Advocate Sultana Kamal, Director, Ain o Salish Kendro, Dhaka

Fariborz Pooya, Founder, Iranian Secular Society

Gita Sahgal, Director, Centre for Secular Space

Pragna Patel, Director, Southall Black Sisters

Maryam Namazie, Spokesperson, One Law for All & Founder of Fitnah – Movement for Women’s Liberation

Discussants:

Community Activists, East London’s Councillors, Women at Nari Diganta &

Secular Academics and Researchers in London.

The event is free for all but a RSVP is needed as spaces are limited. Please reserve your place by emailing naridiganta@gmail.com. For further information about the event please feel free to contact our event co-ordinator, Rumana Hashem, at rowshonrumana@gmail.com or naridiganta@gmail.com

Please check out the facebook page of the Nari Diganta www.facebook.com/naridiganta for updates and for further information about who we are.

Come and join us for an interactive discussion between activists and experts. Bring along your friends and families to tell us yours and theirs stories. We look forward to meet you there!

Nari Diganta – the Women in Movement for Equality, Social Justice and Secularism

Please also download our flyer for the event – Download Flyer.