Uniting for Freedom, Democracy & Equality

Mrs. Rashida Manjoo at MEK’s annual Free Iran rally

On Saturday 13 july 2019, a large crowd gathered in Ashraf 3, Albania, home to Iranian opposition group People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), to hold the annual Free Iran rally of the Iranian resistance. The event was the fourth installment in a series of events held at Ashraf 3. Mrs. Rashida Manjoo gave a speech in this gathering.

Mrs. Rashida Manjoo – UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women (2009-2015)

Mrs. Rashida Manjoo: Distinguished delegates, colleagues, and friends. It is an honor for me to address you today and I would like to thank the sponsors and the organizers, Ashraf3 and the NCRI Women’s Committee for inviting me to participate at this meeting. I’m extremely grateful to all of you for the work that you do and I thank you for the contributions you make in working towards a democratic and peaceful world.

With the rise of authoritarian and undemocratic regimes in parts of the world, the promotion and protection of human rights, fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law demand greater and more urgent attention. The activism and advocacy for a free and democratic Iran is being fought on many fronts by many individuals and organizations. Two examples that resonate today include amongst others the struggles of people from Camp Ashraf and the leadership of many, including Mrs. Maryam Rajavi. It is humbling to hear about the struggle to escape from all forms of violence and oppression, but also affirming to see how people who have been resettled in Albania continue to strive for a life of dignity. Thank you for including us in your continuing struggle for a democratic Iran.

Mrs. Rashida Manjoo stressed: During my tenure as the UN Special Rapporteur communications were received frequently about Camp Ashraf and Liberty. To keep the UN informed of developments and also requests for action by the international community, the challenges of international diplomacy and the consequent delays in protection and prevention measures is an indictment in many instances. However, the responsibility to protect has led to the relocation and resettlement of Camp Ashraf residents to Albania and is a consequence of local level activism and international interventions underpinned by human rights and humanitarian goals. It is important to acknowledge that women have been instrumental in the struggle, including in leadership positions. Mrs. Rajavi and her team reflect the crucial role that women continue to play.

Mrs. Rashida Manjoo underlined: The use of international laws, norms, and institutions as part of a wider strategy for freedom, equality, and dignity in a democratic Iran is also visible in the work of women and men. Challenging the use of religion as a justification for curtailing the human rights of women and girls has been an integral part of the work of the larger political struggle of Iranian women in the social justice and liberation movements. For the women of Iran, your struggle against all forms of oppression continue to be supported by many people around the world. Solidarity and support is an asset that one cannot put a monetary value on and many of us identify with your struggles.

Your experiences of human rights violations resonate and reinforce the need to continue solidarity and support. You are not alone.

Mrs. Rashida Manjoo continued: It is timely today to talk about the right to peace as a human right. In 2016, the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Right to Peace. The negotiations and the drafting process reflected that states generally agree on the common goal of promoting peace but have different views about the concept of the right to peace as a human right in and of itself.

Mrs. Rashida Manjoo ended her speech saying: My view is that we do need to start thinking about peace as a human right in and of itself. In addition, Sustainable Development Goals 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions calls for promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, for providing access to justice for all, and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. This is a goal that must be supported ad implemented in Iran with the regime change as the right to peace and development are crucial to the realization of human rights, democracy, and the rule of law. There can be no peace without justice and no justice without accountability. Thank you.