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Speech by Najat Vallaud Belkacem at Paris Conference on International Women’s Day

A significant conference took place in Paris to honor International Women’s Day. Former French Minister of National Education, Higher Education, and Research, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, expressed admiration for the unwavering courage of Iranian women who have endured decades of repression under the current regime.
Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, Former French Minister of National Education, Higher Education, and Research

A significant conference took place in Paris to honor International Women’s Day. Former French Minister of National Education, Higher Education, and Research, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, expressed admiration for the unwavering courage of Iranian women who have endured decades of repression under the current regime.

She said, “The resistance that is that of Iranian women, their absolutely heroic courage, the sacrifices, the staggering resilience over these four decades of oppression by a religious dictatorship operating under the guise of Islam, all this seems so exorbitant, so extraordinary to me that I almost have a feeling of illegitimacy in addressing them, in glorifying them, in applauding them.”

Mrs. Vallaud-Belkacem highlighted the atrocities committed by the regime, including the execution of political prisoners and the systematic discrimination against women. She underscored the urgent need for political action to address gender inequality and human rights abuses in Iran.

The former minister praised the resilience of Iranian women who continue to resist despite immense challenges. She called for solidarity and support from the international community in their quest for freedom and democracy. Mrs. Vallaud-Belkacem emphasized the importance of women’s voices in political leadership and stressed the need for gender equality in all spheres of society.

She concluded, “Strength, strength to Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the NCRI, strength to the PMOI activists, strength to all those who fight at the risk of their lives, who resist against Islamist fundamentalism. Strength to the men who accompany them and support them and also pay a very heavy price. Strength to all those who refuse to let silence and indifference cover the atrocities that are still happening today in Iran.”

Najat Vallaud Belkacem

A translated version of Mrs. Belkacems’s speech follows:

I’ll speak in French, so you won’t be surprised… poem:

You say it’s futile to hope!

Dispel this absurd dream from the depths of your minds,

That resigning ourselves to silence, or exiling ourselves from our lands, our cursed destinies, is better!

But if it’s said that salvation is won in the trenches of a dirty war, let’s arm our bruised arms!

We want what you once had, a land where being born a girl doesn’t condemn you to mere existence. The dried tears and blood of the sisters we still have to avenge will be the sole purpose of our lives.

And if that means forsaking the comfort of orderly lives, those things that seem easy amidst the sounds of gunfire.

If it’s said that salvation is won in the trenches of a dirty war, without respite and without mercy,

We’ll return to you your treasures of yesteryear,

Hair in the wind, shutters open, a world of infinity.

Mom, why are you out of breath trying to call me back?

I’m not a child anymore. From bullying and barbed wire to repressed insouciance, age here has so little reprieve.

Understand that salvation is won in the trenches of a dirty war, without respite and without mercy, and that the fate of all humanity hangs in the balance, echoing to the four winds: Woman, Life, Freedom!
My dear friends,

I chose to start with this text, which came to me the last time I attempted to address Iranian women, my Iranian friends, and I’ll be frank with you: words failed me, tears were there, but words are more complicated…

The resistance shown by Iranian women, their absolutely heroic courage, their sacrifices, their astounding resilience over four decades of oppression by a religious dictatorship operating under the guise of Islam, all this seems so exorbitant, so extraordinary that I almost feel illegitimate to address them, to glorify them, to applaud them.

Who are we, who live in a democracy, in peace, in freedom, to intervene and hand out good points, to urge people to hold on, to keep fighting, not to give up at the risk of their lives.

So I preferred to imagine this dialogue between a mother and her daughter – or should I say a grandmother and her daughter, given that the battle has been going on for decades now – a daughter who was determined to fight like so many others before her and like so many others around her today, and a mother who was worried, and rightly so.

How can we not be concerned when we know the atrocities committed by the mullahs, when we know that throughout their tyranny, more than 120,000 people, mainly members and sympathizers of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran, have been executed, and that thousands and thousands of these victims were women?

When we consider the prison conditions and the ferocious torture endured by those who persist in challenging this regime.

How can we not be concerned when we know the atrocities committed by the mullahs, when we know that throughout their tyranny, more than 120,000 people, mainly members and sympathizers of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran, have been executed, and that thousands and thousands of these victims were women? When we consider the prison conditions and the ferocious torture endured by those who persist in challenging this regime.

The steadfastness of these women who remain imprisoned today, often despite facing enormous health problems, their unyielding commitment to the cause of freedom and equality, and the messages of inspiration and challenge they send out to the outside world, all of this does nothing to alleviate the horror of their conditions, which must be remembered again and again.

But at the same time, I return to this imaginary dialogue. Is it really better to continue without rebelling?

To live in this archaic society that labels women as sources of sin, the embodiment of evil, which relentlessly discriminates against them in all areas of life, confining them to the domestic sphere with the sole horizon of obedience to husbands and procreation?

A society that denies them the right to guardianship, to legal custody of their own children, that allows them to marry and invokes their criminal responsibility from the age of nine, that halves their inheritance, that deprives them of the very possibility of choosing how they dress?
Dear friends,

Iranian women, who have been fighting the regime for over 40 years, know that their demands will go unheeded as long as this misogynist regime remains in power. They understand that gender equality and the quest for freedom and democracy are closely intertwined.

They recognize that the problem is political, and therefore the response must also be a political struggle. So, they are determined, as we have heard once again, to overthrow this regime and establish a democratic republic. A republic in which women will finally have the right to occupy high-level political positions, including the presidency, the judiciary, and of course, achieving parity in Parliament.

A republic in which the voice, testimony, and action of women are as powerful as those of men.

Yes, ladies, as each of us knows, it can be summed up in one simple phrase: when women aren’t around the table, they’re on the menu! Strength to Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the NCRI, strength to the militants of the PMOI, strength to all those who fight at the risk of their lives, who resist Islamist fundamentalism.

Strength to the men who accompany and support them and also pay a very heavy price. Strength to all those who refuse to let silence and indifference cover up the atrocities still taking place in Iran today. Because it’s a matter of the whole of humanity that, in the four corners of the world, women, life, and freedom continue to resonate. Thank you.

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