Iranian communities in Britain celebrate International Women’s Day

Updated 10 March 2019
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Iranian communities in Britain celebrate International Women’s Day

LONDON: Hundreds took part in a rally on Saturday in support of Iranian women, who are at the forefront of the ongoing popular protests and strikes against the regime across the country. 
Members of the Anglo-Iranian Communities and supporters of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) organized a rally outside Number 10 Downing Street in London to mark International Women’s Day. 
Highlighting the decisive role of women in Iran protests, they called on the UK government to support the democratic aspiration of the Iranian people.
Representatives of different Anglo-Iranian associations addressed the rally and highlighted the significant role that women have played in Iran’s freedom movement for more than 100 years. 
Speakers condemned the regime’s systematic suppression and discrimination against women in Iran that has reduced women and girls to second class citizens. 
Speakers also called on the UK government to proscribe the Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the regime’s Intelligence Ministry (MOIS) in their entirety as terrorist organizations “because they are the main repressive forces behind the intensified domestic repression and recent surge in terrorist plots and espionage against Iranian dissidents, activists and NCRI, outside Iran,” the NCRI said.
“I support the cause of human rights and democracy in Iran. The appalling situation of women in Iran is why we need reforms and change. So I am here to support your just demands for justice, democracy and freedom,” said Theresa Villiers, Conservative MP for Chipping Barnet and former secretary of state for Northern Ireland. 
“We stand here today on International Women’s Day to honor Iran’s strong, committed, courageous women in Iran. To the brave women of Iran, who have to endure revolutionary guards harassment, we support you and stand beside you in the struggle for human rights, equality and justice. We salute you, we are with you,” Dr. Jocelynne Scutt, former judge, jurist and university professor at Buckingham university. 
Meanwhile, Roger Lyons, former president of TUC said: “We strongly support the protests by many sectors of the Iranian society. I am proud that TUC has supported the demands of Iranian workers. I am here to fully support the democratic aspirations of the Iranian people, especially women, led by the NCRI and its president-elect Maraym Rajavi.” 
In February alone, more than 248 protests in 71 cities and towns were reported from Iran, which is an average of nine protests per day. Teachers, including many women, took part in 13 rallies in February and a nationwide sit-in strike in at least 31 cities in March. 
The regime has responded by labelling defense of women’s rights a crime and considers women’s rights activists as “enemies of the state”. “87 women have been executed since the so-called“moderate” President Hassan Rouhani took over the presidency in Iran,” the NCRI said.
In December 2018, the NCRI’s Women’s Committee revealed that “only last year, nearly one thousand women were arrested and detained in prisons for their involvement in anti-government protests”.
Members of various professions have staged numerous nationwide strikes across the country, including workers, teachers, nurses, students, farmers, retirees, defrauded investors, and families of prisoners.
The Islamic Republic is suffering form extreme poverty, water shortages, environmental decimation, a severe health crisis, 40% inflation, 50% deficit and 40% unemployment.
“So long as the clerical regime is in power, none of these ills will be resolved. The ruling (regime) will become ever more dependent on their devastating policies, namely the suppression of Iranian society, warmongering and destructive meddling in the region, money laundering, terrorism in Europe and the United States, and plundering the assets of the people of Iran,” said NCRI president-elect Rajavi.
Speaking via video link on Friday during an opposition rally in Washington, Rajavi said the international community is “duty-bound to respect the struggle of the Iranian people to overthrow the clerical regime. This is essential for global peace and security.
“It is time for the State Department to designate the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) and the Ministry of Intelligence as Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO). Doing so would be a positive message to the Iranian people and a decisive message against the clerical regime,” she added.
The NCRI said in a further assault on human rights in the country, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei appointed Ebrahim Raisi as the head of the regime’s judiciary. 
The NCRI said Raisi is one of the regime’s officials responsible for the massacre of 30,000 political prisoners in 1988, including pregnant women and girls as young as 15-year-old.
“I join you in condemning the appointment of Raisi and urging the UK government to take the lead and to work with allies at the UN to ask relevant bodies to order an investigation and bring the regime’s officials like Raisi to justice for crimes against humanity,” said Malcolm Fowler, senior solicitor and former member of the Human Rights Committee of the Law Society of England and Wales.


Pakistan bracing for austere budget under IMF, finance chief says

Updated 7 min 24 sec ago
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Pakistan bracing for austere budget under IMF, finance chief says

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is preparing a belt-tightening budget to tame its fiscal deficit, the de facto finance minister said on Saturday, adding that both civilian and military rulers agreed austerity measures were needed to stabilise the economy.
But Hafeez Shaikh, Prime Minister Imran Khan's top finance adviser, declined to say whether the military's hefty budget would be cut following last week's agreement in principle with the International Monetary Fund for a $6 billion loan.
The IMF has said the primary budget deficit should be trimmed by the equivalent of $5 billion, but previous civilian rulers have rarely dared to trim defence spending for fear of stoking tensions with the military.
Unlike some other civilian leaders in Pakistan's fragile democracy, Khan appears to have good relations with the country's powerful generals.
More than half of state spending currently goes on the military and debt-servicing costs, however, limiting the government's options for reducing expenditure.
"The budget that is coming will have austerity, that means that the government's expenditures will be put at a minimum level," Shaikh told a news conference in the capital Islamabad on Saturday, a few weeks before the budget for the 2019/20 fiscal year ending in June is due to be presented.
"We are all standing together in it whether civilians or our military," said Shaikh, a former finance minister appointed by Khan as part of a wider shake-up of his economic team in the last two months.
In the days since last week's agreement with the IMF, the rupee currency dropped 5% against the dollar and has lost a third of its value in the past year.
Under the IMF's terms, the government is expected to let the rupee fall to help correct an unsustainable current account deficit and cut its debt while trying to expand the tax base in a country where only 1% of people file returns.
Shaikh has been told by the IMF that the primary budget deficit -- excluding interest payments -- should be cut to 0.6% of GDP, implying a $5 billion reduction from the current projection for a deficit of 2.2% of GDP.
The next fiscal year's revenue collection target will be 5.55 trillion rupees ($36.88 billion), Shaikh told the news conference, highlighting the need for tough steps to broaden the tax base.