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Remembering Dr. Parsa Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Ardavan Bahrami, United States May 9, 2005
Human Rights   Opinions
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Remembering Dr. Parsa A quarter of a century ago, on May 8th 1980, the Islamic Republic executed an Iranian woman whose only crime was educating her compatriots and setting an example for so many who gained their rightful place in our society. She was to face the firing squad for having provided the opportunity for Iranians to study, train and therefore, render their expertise for the betterment of our people’s lives and society.

None of the above however, was stated on Dr. Farrokhrou Parsa’s sentence nor appeared on her death certificate. She was condemned to death like thousand of others, on the charges of “spreading vice on earth and fighting God.”

The two phrases that brought a sudden end to the life of so many in summary executions, was a sentence loosely defined by representatives of Allah on earth who had chosen Iran as their platform to spread their revolution and their God’s justice.

When Farrokhrou was born, Iran was a weak country with its nation ravaged by poverty and disease. Her mother, Fakhr Afagh was among the first Iranian women who believed in equal educational opportunity for boys as well as girls. When she published two articles on the subject in a magazine she ran, Jahan-e Zanan or Women’s World, the mullahs of the time had raised their objections.

Under the clergy’s pressure on Qavam-ol Saltaneh’s government, her husband finally was forced to relocate his pregnant wife to a rented accommodation outside the religious city of Qom. It was there, under house arrest, that Farrokhrou was born minutes after Nowrouz New Year in 1922.

She was sent to school and encouraged by her parents to become an educated woman. As the situation in the country had changed for better under Reza Shah the Great, Farrokhrou had the chance to enjoy equal rights, at least as far as education was concerned. With her parents’ eagerness to educate their children she continued her studies even after she was married and bore children.

Years later, when Madam Parsa was a biology teacher at Tehran Jean D’Arc high school, Farah Diba, who later became the Empress of Iran, happened to be one of her students. Her dedication to her job as well as to women’s rights (after school hours, she used to visit and teach female criminals in prisons) promoted her to the school’s principal position.

In a letter in the early 60’s to the Shah, requesting His Imperial Majesty to consider the right for women to vote, the late Shah had replied to her: “I will seek my nation’s vote on the matter, my people are not only consisted of men.”

Dr. Parsa became a member of the Iranian parliament – Majlis, in 1963, when she pushed for legislation amending women and family laws. Two years later she became the first woman to fill the position of deputy minister for education. Finally on 27th August 1968 she became the first Iranian woman minister.

The fundamentalist clergies’ dislike of Parsa did not finish with her mother’s house arrest, but in the years that followed brought her at times face to face in conflict with the same black reactionaries who opposed her efforts in modernization and improvement in schools’ text books.

Twenty-five years on, Dr. Parsa’s murderers are still grazing carelessly in the country, while the world believes appeasement could be a new taming method. As much as it is perplexing to witness European countries’ policies of “let’s try to understand these people” or “let’s establish a dialogue” approach with the dictators, it is horrifying to see these countries taking similar attitudes as those who in the 1940s searched for moderates within the Nazi establishment, while thousands were sent to their early graves.

Dr. Parsa’s execution in the height of the Islamic revolution while they were basking in their glory was only the beginning of a systematic killing that since has been the official procedure by the religious rulers of Iran to silence any opposition. On the face of such atrocities - only comparable to genocides in Turkey, Germany and Rwanda – the free, democratic and so to speak, civilized world has chosen to remain indifferent.

Their behavior was well described in an article by Reza Bayegan on July 11th, 2003 that appeared in Front Page Magazine under the title “Iran – A Nation Under Siege”. In his article, Mr. Bayegan had reminded Europeans of their policies during the Second World War: “When the Jews were being slaughtered in Germany, many objected to getting involved in Germany’s ‘family fight’. Nazis were no kin to the Jews, and the Iranian people are no kin to the club-waving vigilantes beating them to maintain an Islamic dictatorship’s illegitimate power.” He had warned world leaders by stating: “The question is, how long will it take for the world to realize that there is no family resemblance? And at what price its hesitation?”

When Bayegan’s article appeared in the press two years ago, Ziba Kazemi, another Iranian woman, was arrested for having taken photographs outside a Tehran prison from family members waiting to visit their loved ones. After days of torture, physical abuse and enduring unimaginable pain, she was beaten to death. Despite her son’s relentless efforts to seek justice and to bring his mother’s body back for burial in Canada, the Canadian government has so far only assisted to a limited extent. One should be reminded that Canada too is high on the list of Western democracies enjoying lucrative trade with Al-Qaeda supporters and sponsors of international terrorism who suppress the Iranian people.

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