Roya Sahraei is an Iranian women’s rights activist who now lives in Sydney. This is an extract from her speech at the Unity for Peace Conference on 27 May 2006.
“My childhood was lost during the 8-year Iran-Iraq war. Instead of happy memories, my childhood was full of fear, agitation, desolation and brutal human butchery.
More than 16 years after the Iran-Iraq war finished, I, along with most of the young Iranians of my generation who were children during that war, become pale when a door or a window is slammed shut. The sound of a plane creates fear, because it reminds me of the sound of fighter planes. I still put my hands to my ears when I hear an ambulance siren.
My childhood memories are full of screams, of homelessness and the bombardment of my city.
Now the imperialists are planning to attack Iran and want to deceive the people of the world with the lie that this will bring democracy for the Iranian people.
America was not interested in democracy in Iran in 1953, when they helped overthrow the democratically elected Dr Mossadegh, who had nationalised Iranian oil. Nor were they interested in democracy when they backed the Shah through a coup d’état.
The concept of democracy is not a new idea for the Iranian people, and they are not waiting for America to bring it for them as a gift! The Iranian people have been fighting for democracy for more than 100 years.
Women’s movements, student movements, workers’ movements and, more recently, referendum movements and anti-nuclear movements, have been fighting for rights in Iran. As soon as the government closes down one newspaper or website, we hear that the democratic movements have opened a new one.
When I talk about the democracy movement, I mean the movements in Iran of ordinary people — people who were involved in the revolution, who suffered in the Iran-Iraq war and who have been involved in the reform movements. I do not mean the fake organisations that have been set up recently by the American government to try to discredit the real democracy movement in Iran.
The democratic movements have existed and still continue to exist! Only the Iranian people themselves can win democracy for their country.
The world media should not be allowed to ignore the Iranian people or to involve us in another terrible war.
As an Iranian woman who has been the victim of war, I would like to say to all the people gathered here — and especially to Cindy Sheehan — that myself, your son, the Iraqi people and the Palestinian people are all one. We have all been the victims in different ways.
And what I want to say is that the real enemies are the capitalist empire which perpetuates brutal human butchery for more profit!”