London's Ahwazi Arab community marked International Women's Day today with an event that included talks and films on the experience of Ahwazi women under the Iranian regime.
The event was organised by the Ahwaz Community Association of the UK, which represents Ahwazi Arabs and organises community events and religious festivals.
An Ahwazi woman told the audience: "The International Women's Day is the story of the struggle of half of society to obtain equal rights with the other half. Women's history is about their desire to participate with men on an equal footing to build the community and fight against sexual discrimination alongside the fight against ethnic discrimination. This is what the Ahwazi woman suffers and she has not yet been rescued from discrimination.
"Although the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Shirin Ebadi, an Iranian women, she has made no mention of the suffering of Ahwazi Arabs in general and Ahwazi women struggle in particular. But despite this, Ahwazi women alone break social, economic and politics system's barriers which were put in their way by successive Iranian regimes on the one hand and customs and traditions on the other hand. This has meant that Ahwazi women are fighting on different fronts, which has exposed them to horrific levels of pressure.
"The international community should shoulder its responsibility towards Ahwazi and non-Persian women rights in Iran and should not remain indifferent, silent and ignorant about their oppression. They are subjected to racial and sexual discrimination under the Iranian regime due to its belief that women are second-class and that Ahwazi Arabs are second degree citizens. The international community should not be in collusion with this regime by focusing on the nuclear program while remaining silent on other human right violations, especially women's rights and the issues of non-Persian nations in Iran.
"Today is an opportunity to evaluate the role of Ahwazi women. It is also an opportunity to remember Ahwazi women right activists who sacrificed their lives, their sons, fathers and their husbands for struggle of our just cause."
Click here to download a leaflet on Ahwazi Arab women