Living under the shadow of war is not easy for Iranians, many of whom remember the bloody 1980-88 war with Iraq.
Amid talk of possible military strikes from Israel or the United States, a number of Iranian women rights activists have taken to the web to express concern that war, and even the specter of war, exposes the country’s females in particular to increased poverty, hardship, and discrimination.
The activists make their case in several YouTube videos, all of which are subtitled in English to reach a wider, international audience.
“The violence that women have been facing has become harsher,” one woman says in her video. “Our struggle to change discriminatory laws still continues, but the fear of war has made women’s lives and mental condition worse.”
In another video, an activist suggests that war could lead to the silencing of all dissenting voices.
“Wartime is a time for generals to brag to each other. Therefore, every voice of protest and dissent is silenced,” she says.
“I am against the war because I think hearing the voices of men and women who fight for freedom and equality is much more beautiful than the sound of weapons.”
In another video, a young male activist joins his female counterparts.
“While war takes people’s whole lives, militarism slowly deprives them of life,” he says.
In recent months a number of Iranian and international academics and rights activists have warned that a military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities could worsen the country’s already abysmal human rights situation.
Hossein Ghazian, a prominent Iranian sociologist who was previously jailed, told RFE/RL in September 2011 that military action would be good news for the Iranian establishment and bad news for democracy in the country.
“This establishment [would] have enough legitimacy, excuses, and reasons to repress those opposed to it, particularly when it is being attacked by a foreign enemy,” Ghazian said. “The political culture of the Iranian people is such that it [would] lead them to mobilize against any foreign intervention. The Iranian establishment [would] be able to use the public’s mobilization, not the opposition.”
Since the disputed reelection of Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad in 2009, the government has intensified its crackdown on dissent by jailing a number of opposition leaders and rights advocates and by intensifying its censorship policies.