نه به اتحادهای غیراصولی

یاسمین میظر- برگردان: ماهان نوری
در پی اعتراضات دی ماه، اتفاق نظر عموم بر این بود که اکثریت ایرانیان با وضعیت اقتصادی وخیمی مواجه­اند، در عین حال که پایین­ترین لایه­های طبقه کارگر با گرسنگی و فقر کامل دست به گریبان­اند. با این حال، سلطنت­طلبان تبعیدی و در میان شگفتی بخشی از «چپ» مقیم خارج، همچنان اعتراضات را فقط حول مسئله دموکراسی و علیه «ماهیت اسلامی» دولت ایران می­داند. در نتیجه، در میان گروه­های چپ­گرای تبعیدی شاهد تلاشی در ایجاد اتحادهای بی قید و شرط هستیم، چنین اتحادی آخرین بار در سال 1979 با روحانیون و اسلامگرایان در برابر رژیم شاه شکل گرفت که فاجعه به بار آورد. این بار، اتحاد با سلطنت­طلبان، جمهوریخواهان نومحافظه کار آمریکایی، حامیان ایرانی دونالد ترامپ، از جمله فرقه مجاهدین خلق، واقعا خنده­دار به نظر می­رسد. Continue reading نه به اتحادهای غیراصولی

Protests by impoverished, hungry Iranians

Protest in Kermanshah, 29 December 2017

There has been a considerable amount of fake news about the demonstrations that started in Mashad and other towns in Khorassan province on the 28th of December 2017. These demonstrations have continued, five days later in Tehran, as well as in many other towns and cities across the country. The protesters are angry and fearless, and their grievances are reasonably clear. What began with outrage against rising prices, unemployment and poverty has evolved into more political slogans against corruption and against the dictator, Ayatollah Khameini.
Basic food prices have sky-rocketed in the last few weeks, with the price of eggs rising by 40% in a matter of days. In some of Iran’s major cities, rents have risen by 83% in the last 3 years alone. Mass unemployment is a big issue – particularly in the provinces where the protests emerged. The rate of inflation may have fallen from 35% under the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but it remains at unsustainable levels.

Despite being controlled by the factions of the Iranian regime, the relative diversity of the media inside Iran has ensured that most Iranians are aware of, and indeed well-informed about, the multi-billion dollar corruption scandals in which all factions of the regime are implicated. Rouhani’s government, senior ayatollahs associated with more conservative factions of the regime and the former populist president Ahmadinejad (who claimed to be the defender of the disinherited) are all embroiled in corruption and embezzlement. Ahmadinejad and his close allies are currently facing criminal charges of serious corruption in Iranian courts. But the upshot of both factions exposing their opponents’ bribery and fraud is that Iranians are increasingly conscious of the venality of the entire Islamic regime.

Contrary to initial claims by Rouhani’s allies, the protests are definitely not part of a plot by ‘conservative factions’ to discredit his government. In Mashhad and other cities in Khorassan province, the slogans were clear that the main target of most demonstrators was Ayatollah Khamenei. In the last few days, the most common political slogans were: ‘marg bar dictator’ (Death to the Dictator!) , ‘Khamenei haya kon mamlekato raha kon’ (‘Khamenei you should be ashamed – leave the country alone’) and  the more polite slogan, requesting that Khameni stand down: ‘Seyed Ali (Khamenei), excuse us. Now we have to stand up’.

In the northern city of Rasht there were initially anti-Rouhani slogans, but they soon became focused on the dictator himself. In Tehran, the student protesters’ chants were far more radical: ‘na eslahtalab na ossoul gara’ (‘No to the Reformists, no to the Conservative Principalists’); ‘Student-Worker Unity’ and ‘No Longer should there be a Choice between Bad and Worse’.

For all the claims of exiled groups in the extended publicity they receive from sections of the media, including BBC Persian radio (but, interestingly, not BBC Persian TV),  these protests have nothing to do with the Royalists or the Mujahedin. Following the slogans of protesters on social media, it is apparent that pro-Shah slogans have only appeared in very isolated cases, such as in the religious city of Ghom. On one occasion, in Rasht, some in the crowd shouted slogans in favour of the Shah, prompting others to respond by calling for an Iranian republic (as opposed to an Islamic Republic). Indeed, protesters are countering possible Royalist influence by shouting ‘na mir na rahbar ,na shah na rahbar’  (‘No Kings, No Shahs, No Supreme Leaders’).

The fact that the protest in Mashad coincided with a call to protest on television made by (one of) the pretender(s) to the throne, Reza Pahlavi, should not be taken seriously. He issues such calls on a daily basis and these are very rarely heeded. No, the catalyst for the demonstrations is the hunger and suffering experienced by Iranians, lead several protesters to claim that dying is better than continuing to live as they are now.

No future in the past

However, for those Iranians who think that there was no poverty or hunger under the Shah, it might be worth reminding them of a quote by Empress Farah Diba. When informed by her advisers that ordinary people were complaining that they couldn’t afford to buy meat, she responded in true Marie Antoinette style by telling the nation that it would benefit from vegetarianism.
As for corruption, it is true that the Shah’s mistrust of everyone, including former ministers, meant that only a limited circle of individuals close to the Shahs and the court benefited from rampant state fraud. The multiplicity of factions in the Islamic regime means that a far larger group of individuals and their families are beneficiaries of global capital’s riches for the wealthy in the third world. Moreover, the so-called ‘targeted sanctions’ imposed by the West between 2007 and 2015 period allowed sections of the Islamic Republic with access to both  foreign currency and internal black markets to amass astronomic fortunes. As such, the Islamic Republic is in many ways even more corrupt than the Shah’s Iran. But we live in different times.

And corruption is certainly not unique to Iran or even just to developing countries. However, in most other countries, those fed up with corrupt leaders have a chance to elect political rivals. And although it takes a relatively short time before the new rulers surpass their predecessors’ corruption , the whole process at least provides the illusion that the population has some control and can again test new leaders. But after 39 years of being in power, all factions of the Islamic Republic are steeped in corruption – even when they are in opposition.

As for democracy under the Shah, he merged what he called the ‘Yes’ and the ‘Of course’ party into one: Hezb Rastakhiz. Iran had only two daily papers, Keyhan and Etelaat. Both were pro-Shah and the lack of oppositional factions within the regime ensured that there were no exposés of dodgy dealings by the Shah’s opponents.

When it comes to repression, let us remember that the shah’s security forces, SAVAK, shot Catherine Adl, the paralyzed daughter of his own physician, while she was sitting in a wheel chair, for opposing inequality and injustice in Iran. You can guess what he did to opponents with whom he wasn’t acquainted.

Some Iranians, no doubt prompted by constant Saudi, Israeli and Western-sponsored media outlets, blame Iran’s interventions in Syria and Yemen for the worsening economic situation. This has led to nationalist slogans such as ‘No to Gaza, no to Yemen’. The regime is not blameless here either: promoting General Soleimany as an ‘Iranian’ warrior and conqueror certainly has ramifications. However, the students and youth of Tehran responded to these slogans with their own: ‘ham iran, ham ghazeh  zahmtkesh taht setame’ (‘The Poor are Oppressed both in Gaza and Iran’).

Capitalist Mullahs

The real reasons behind Iran’s economic situation are more complicated than military expenditure in the Middle East. The promised economic boom following the nuclear deal has not materialised and now doubts about the future of the deal – particularly given Trump’s outspoken opposition – have created despair, especially amongst young Iranians. In responding to the riots, Rouhani claims that poverty, unemployment and inflation are not unique to Iran. This is certainly true, but what he failed to mention is that, for all its anti-Western rhetoric, the Islamic Republic is an ardent follower of the neo-liberal economic agenda. Rouhani’s government of technocrats is rightly blamed for obeying the restructuring programmes of the IMF and the World Bank, which is one of the reasons behind the growing gap between the rich and the poor. This gap is reflective of a government that constantly strives to keep up with global capital’s demands for restructuring, for the abolition of state subsidies and for privatisation. Food subsidies have been slashed. The official rate of unemployment (12%) is a joke – the real figure is much higher, even if we take into account low-paid, precarious employment. No one has job security, unless, of course, they are associated with a stable faction the regime or the security forces.
2017 might go down as the year when neo-liberalism faced serious challenges in advanced capitalist countries. But until the recent protests, in Iran 2017 was a year in which neo-liberalism was going well – Rouhani’s government was praised for its economic performance by the World Bank and the IMF. There can be no doubt, then, that this wave of opposition took the government completely by surprise. The Ministry of Information’s pathetic calls on the population to request ‘permits to organise protests’ seems to have been ignored, for nobody believes that the state will allow such protests.

And it will certainly not allow the working class to begin to assert itself: there are calls for strikes by teachers and steel workers, but the reality is that the ‘capitalist mullahs’ (as people are calling them in the streets of Tehran) have managed to decimate the organised working class. Steel and oil workers are no longer employed by single state-owned industries. Large industrial complexes are sub-contracting every aspect of work to smaller contractors. As a result, organising industry-wide strikes, let alone nation-wide strike action (a significant factor in the overthrow of the Shah’s regime) are no longer possible.
As things stand, therefore, the protesters’ demands are quite diffuse and there is no single organising and coordinating force which can set out an alternative for the struggle. As events unfold, this factor will become all the more necessary.

Support

There are three main things that we can do in order so support the protests in Iran:

Show solidarity with those arrested, support the relatives of those killed by the security forces and draw attention to the government’s repressive measures.

Remind anyone with illusions about the previous regime that it was no better than this one and provide clear examples rather than just repeating slogans or insulting those who entertain illusions in the past.

Expose the true nature of the Islamic Republic of Iran, while reminding those hypocrites like Trump that “it is the economy stupid” – the source of the current rebellion in Iran is precisely the neo-liberal economic model which he and his allies are seeking to enforce across the globe.

Iran, Kurdistan and the left

How can we achieve principled communist unity in the Middle East? We spoke to Mohammad Reza Shalgouni, a member of the Organisation of Revolutionary Workers of Iran (Rahe Kargar)

How do you see the current situation in the Middle East and in Iran itself following first the nuclear deal and then its ‘decertification’ by Donald Trump?

Over the last few years the Middle East has been torn apart by a destructive crisis – caught in the midst of a full-scale international conflict. All sides have played a crucial part in initiating and continuing this situation, but of course the United States, Britain, France and their regional allies – in particular the kingdoms in the oil emirates of the Persian Gulf – have played a crucial role in the ensuing tragedy.

This disastrous situation entered a new phase with the Republican Party’s victory in last year’s US elections and, given the declared aims of the Trump administration, one cannot see an end to it. Let us not forget that the Trump administration is the first US government that openly admits it is seeking ‘regime change’ (be it in a ‘peaceful manner’) in Iran. It also wants to transfer the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and with unprecedented clarity declares in a gathering of Arab leaders that it is not concerned about human rights, that its only preoccupation is the defeat of Islamic terrorism (and, of course, only the anti-US version of this phenomenon).

In the current situation in the Middle East a number of issues have special significance.

Following the events of the last two decades, the house of Saud sees its future in danger and is therefore employing a more active and aggressive foreign policy – attempting to impose its hegemony over other Arab states and creating a situation where the Saudi dynasty is secure. However, this policy means the Saudis themselves are facing major crises.

Firstly, their attempt to confront Shia movements has not only increased the confrontation with the Islamic Republic of Iran: it has also created an extraordinary situation in Yemen, Bahrain and even the eastern provinces of Saudi Arabia (where the country’s major oil reserves are to be found), to such an extent that it is difficult to see how they can control this situation. For example, the catastrophic situation in Yemen is far worse than the tragedy in that engulfed Syria.

Secondly, Saudi attempts at eradication of various networks associated with the Muslim Brotherhood have led them to a confrontation with Qatar, and as a result the Gulf Cooperation Council is on the verge of destruction. It has also led to a situation where Saudi and Arab Emirates relations with Turkey have soured to critical levels.

Thirdly, in the Syrian civil war the intervention of the Russian airforce has changed the balance of forces in favour of the Assad regime and, as a result of this, for the first time since the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia has become a major player in the Middle East.

In Turkey itself, after decades of Kemalism and its emphasis on secularism, with the formation of a personal dictatorship by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan the separation of state and religion has become meaningless, and repression against the Kurds has increased. This might lead to longer and more serious confrontations in that country, thereby increasing the Middle East’s many crises.

As for Iran, which in the past wanted to unite ‘all Muslims’ against both the ‘east and the west’, it now has to confine itself to uniting various Shia sects against the Sunnis and to relying on sectarian divides to become a regional power. However, the creation of groups similar to Hezbollah in Iraq and Syria will in the long run weaken the current rulers of Iran.

The Iranian regime is engulfed in deep sectarian wars with Sunnis (who encompass nine tenths of the world’s Muslims) and in the longer term victory against such forces is impossible. This also increases the threat of military confrontation with the United States and its allies. We should not forget that right now in Iraq we are witnessing a situation where some Shia groups are distancing themselves from Iran and in Syria, where the majority of the population is Sunni, there is increasing antipathy towards the Iranian regime.

Under such circumstances the Trump administration is trying to use a number of punitive measures to render the nuclear deal with Iran meaningless. It is hoping to reverse George Bush’s failure to change the map of the region.

What is your analysis of the referendum that took place in Iraqi Kurdistan and what effect has it had on Iranian Kurdish groups?

Iraqi Kurdistan is already benefiting from a solid, all-encompassing autonomy and within Iraq’s federalist constitution that situation would have been maintained.

In the most optimistic scenario, separation from Iraq would lead to complete dependence on one or other of the neighbouring states. Such dependence would be dangerous even in the European Union, never mind in the kind of jungle rule prevalent in a crisis-riddled Middle East. Following separation from Iraq, the Kurdish regional government would inevitably become another little oil state, similar to those of the Persian Gulf, but even more fragile than them: unlike those kingdoms, Iraqi Kurdistan is land-locked.

The separation of Kurdistan would inevitably lead to further nationalist and regional wars in the Middle East and we know that nationalist struggles can lead to the same kind of cannibalistic confrontations that religious infighting causes. The Kurdish vote for independence immediately prompted anti-Kurd sentiment in Iran, Iraq and Turkey.

The separation of Kurdistan from Iraq would no doubt increase tensions amongst various Kurdish groups both inside Iraq and in neighbouring countries – firstly because establishing democracy in Iraqi Kurdistan would face many obstacles and secondly because the regional government would undoubtedly have to compromise with one of the neighbouring countries – oppressors of Kurds within their own borders – in order to survive. Here it is not accidental that Masoud Barzani, president of the Kurdish regional government, had (until recently) good relations with Turkey – a vicious enemy of the Kurds both in Turkey and Syria.

The separation of Kurdistan would make the coexistence of Sunnis and Shias more difficult in Iraq and would lead to the complete destruction of Iraq as a nation-state – a situation that would no doubt increase the reactionary influence of Iran and Saudi Arabia amongst opposing religious sects, leading to more widespread religious-based violence. In addition, let us remember that separation from Iraq would not be as peaceful as the separation of the Czech and Slovak republics, in that it would lead to ethnic cleansing in some areas. For example, the issue of the control of Kirkuk, Khaneghin and even Mosul would lead to further confrontations, causing deeper, unresolvable divisions.

The Kurdish referendum took place at time when, after years of struggling for independence, the majority of the Kurdish population had come to the conclusion that the peaceful coexistence of nationalities was the best way of achieving democracy and exercising the right to self-determination. This way of thinking is currently dominant amongst Kurds in Turkey (the largest group of Kurds within a country in the Middle East).

The result of the 2015 elections showed how such an attitude can strengthen the alliance between progressive forces and the workers’ movement. In those elections, the Peoples Democratic party (which had only had come into existence three years earlier) united the Turkish Kurds with a number of leftwing tendencies in Turkey, and managed to get the best result ever achieved by the left in Turkey. If it had not been for the manifold plots of Erdoğan’s security forces and the mistakes of the armed wing of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), this would have undoubtedly changed the political scene in Turkey in favour of democracy.

All this shows clearly that the solution is not separation, but voluntary, democratic coexistence of all nationalities and peoples of the region, which can pave the way for democracy in the entire Middle East. This is the path that progressive Kurdish forces will have to accept sooner or later.

However, unfortunately the majority of Iranian Kurdish groups, under the influence of nationalist sentiments and slogans, supported the Kurdish referendum. They essentially interpret the right to self-determination as separation.

Your organisation has recently left the ‘Council of Cooperation’ of Iranian left and communist groups. You have stated that this was related to the illusions held by certain groups that ‘regime change from above’ could lead to ‘democracy’ or even ‘socialism’. Can you explain your reasons for leaving this alliance?

From the outset our organisation was in favour of a powerful class bloc created through an alliance of the left and for more than two decades we have defended our line in favour of the unity of supporters of socialism. It was in this context that we joined the Council of Cooperation in Iran.

The reality is, however, that our understanding of socialism was always different from the majority of the groups in this alliance, mainly because most of them do not draw a clear line between themselves and the ‘socialist states and communist parties’ of the Soviet era. These were parties that did not believe in the participation of the majority of the population in shaping the transition to socialism. Nevertheless, we defended our line within the alliance, inviting others to debate such issues, while participating in joint activities.

However, the change in the line of the Communist Party [mainly a Kurdish organisation – translator], towards an alliance with those Iranian Kurdish forces associated with US-sponsored ‘regime change from above’, made it impossible for us to remain in the Council of Cooperation. In response to our opposition to this line, the Communist Party denied that the US had any plans for regime change from above. This comment was made in circumstances when after Trump’s victory the United States openly talks of such plans – indeed some of the groups that the Iranian Communist Party wants to ally itself with are openly seeking financial support from Saudi Arabia, Israel and the United States itself.

So the Communist Party wanted to remain in the alliance of the left, while participating in a Kurdish unity front, advocating regime change from above. This would have meant the Council of Cooperation becoming a junior partner of the US in blatant contradiction to the first principle of the alliance of left and communist forces: ie, “commitment to the revolutionary overthrow of the Islamic republic” – from below and by the majority of the Iranian people.

Free Reza Shahabi now!

ShahabiReza Shahabi – an Iranian labour activist member of the executive committee of the VAHED Bus Union – has been on hunger strike for almost 40 days in prison in Iran. According to the latest reports from Tehran, his protest is now having grave physical effects on him and he has become paralysed down the left side of his body.

Shahabi has spent the last four years in prison, accused by the Islamic state in Iran of “gathering information and colluding against state security, spreading propaganda against the system and ‘Moharebeh’” (translated as “enmity against god”). Over the last few years, his state of health has deteriorated markedly. Vindictively however, the authorities have not allowed him access to appropriate medical treatment.

Shahabi is an anti-war, anti-imperialist worker activist. In his defence, Hands Off the People of Iran is joining forces with the veteran labour activist, Ali Pichgah (a former leader of Iran’s oil workers’ strike) to call for his immediate, unconditional release.

As a matter of urgency, Reza Shahabi now needs hospital treatment. His life is being endangered by the Iranian authorities’ refusal to allow him proper medical care. We hold the government of Iranian president Hassan Rouhani directly responsible for Reza Shahabi’s life. This brave working class leader has taken a stand against capitalist exploitation and oppression in Iran – as well as any attack on the country by the west or Israel – and it is incumbent on all anti-imperialist/anti-war activists to support Shahabi in these extremely difficult days, when he is putting his life on the line for his beliefs.

What you can do:

  • Support the demand of Hopi and Ali Pichgah for the immediate release of Reza Shahabi! Publicise this protest widely!
  • Email your name/your organisation to Hopi at office@hopoi.info and we will add your details to the protests we are coordinating (please indicate whether personal capacity or not)
  • Invite a speaker from Hopi to a meeting of your organisation to explain our anti-war/anti-imperialist work and the situation of the working people in Iran
  • Write to the European embassy for Iran (notify us if you do):
    Ambassade de la Republique Islamique d’Iran
    4 avenue d’iena
    75116 Paris, France
  • Or email the newly opened UK embassy (copy us in): iranemb.lon@mfa.gov.ir

Half-Marathon for Workers Fund Iran

Sarah McDonald is running a half-marathon to raise money for Workers Fund Iran
Sarah McDonald is running a half-marathon to raise money for Workers Fund Iran

Workers Fund Iran does excellent work raising practical solidarity with working class people (employed and unemployed) in Iran. Iranians suffer both from the effects of US-led sanctions and the neoliberal and repressive policies of their own regime. These factors combined with the global economic crisis have resulted in intolerable conditions for the mass of people in Iran. Inflation has skyrocketed, unemployment is rife, and even amongst those who have jobs many have to go months without receiving wages. Worker activists who seek to organise to improve their conditions are regularly arrested, imprisoned, tortured and even killed. They deserve our solidarity. Please give generously to Workers Fund Iran.

This will be my first major running undertaking since running Vienna marathon for WFI, 2012… and I have no illusions about the pain in store for me and for the many friends and colleagues who will suffer my endless moaning about it (if not for me, at least make a donation so they don’t suffer in vain!). I have talked a few colleagues into running this new half marathon route round LB Hackney for their charities of choice. If you’re in London on June 22, why not come along and support us? Make a last minute solidarity donation and take us out for a pint!
Link to Charity Choice page and sponsor form here.

شرکتدرماراتنکوتاهلندنبرایصندوقکارگرانایرانی

صندوقکارگرانایرانتاکنوندرجلبحمایتهایکاربردیبرایهمبستگیباکارگران(وکارگرانبیکار) ایرانیبسیارموفقعملکردهاست. درحالحاضرمردمایرانهمتحتفشارتحریمهایاعمالشدهبهرهبریآمریکاهستندوهمازسیاستهایاقتصادیسرکوبگرانهینئولیبرالیحکومتخودرنجمیبرند. اینعواملبههمراهبحراناقتصادیبینالمللیبهشرایطیغیرقابلتحملبرایاکثریتمردمایرانانجامیدهاست. تورمسربهفلککشیده،بیکاریمتداولاستوحتیبعضیازافرادیکهسرکارمیروندماههایمتمادیحقوقخودرادریافتنمیکنند. فعالینکارگریکهسعیدرسازماندهیخوددارندتابتوانندشرایطکاریبهتریبهدستبیاورند،بهصورتمداومدستگیرمیشوند،بهزندانمیافتندوشکنجهمیشوند. آنهاسز

اوارهمبستگیماهستند. سخاوتمندانهبهصندوقکارگرانایرانکمککنید!

من(سارامکدونالد) وچندیننفردیگردرحمایتوبرایجمعآوریکمکبرایکارگرانایرانیخواهیمدوید.

اگرروزبیستودومژوئندرلندنهستیددرماراتنمحلهیهکنیبهمابپیوندید! اگردرلندننیستیدمیتوانیدازطریقاینشمارهحساببهصندوقکارگرانایرانکمککنید. حمایتشمابهبهبودوضعیتمعیشتکارگرانایرانوخانوادههایآنهاکمکخواهدکرد.

10k run at Milton Keynes Festival of Running- For Workers Fund Iran

daveiComrades,

I’ve decided to enter the 10k race at Milton Keynes Festival of Running on March 9 and use it to try and raise some money for WFI from friends, family and contacts. I am going to prioritise approaching local contacts who have shown support for HOPI’s activities in the past (one of whom also came to yesterday’s dayschool) and those around my Left Unity branch. As well as raising a bit of money it should strengthen the prospect of organising further political work around Iran in the future in MK.

I’ve set up a charity choice event page, so feel free to share it: http://www.charitychoice.co.uk/fundraiser/daveisaacson/10k-run-at-milton-keynes-festival-of-running

Two marathons were mentioned yesterday that WFI comrades are gearing up for. Oslo and ???? I ask not because I think I’ll be in a position to run one(!), but so I can tell others who might be interested.

Dave.

رفقا

من تصمیم گرفته ام در مسابقۀ دو 10 کیلومتری شهر میلتون کینز انگلستان شرکت کنم و امیدوارم که بتوانم از طریق فامیل، دوستان و آشنایانم برای صندوق کارگری ایران WFI پولی تهیه کنم. سعی من این خواهد بود که در درجۀ اول به کسانی مراجعه کنم که در گذشته هم از فعالیتهای هوپی حمایت کرده اند و بعد به کسانی مراجعه خواهم کرد که در اتحاد چپ انگلستان میشناسم. فکر میکنم که این کار باعث میشود که در کنار تهیه پول ، چشم اندازهمکاریهای سیاسی آینده در شهر میلتون کینز در رابطه با ایران محکم تر خواهد شد .

 من لینک زیررا برای اهداء وجه نقد خود به اطلاعتان میرسانم ، میتوانید آن را به اطلاع یگران هم برسانید .

 http://www.charitychoice.co.uk/fundraiser/daveisaacson/10k-run-at-milton-keynes-festival-of-running

 در ضمن دو مسابقۀ دوی دیگرصندوق کارگری ایران در راه است . نیمه ماراتون گوتمبرگ در سوئد و ماراتون اسلو در نروژ. ممکن است من نتوانم در آنها شرکت کنم ولی میتوانم به دیگرانی که علاقمندند اطلاع دهم. شما هم اینکار را بکنید.

 با سپاس

Dave.

 

Petition: End the siege of Yarmouk Camp

yarmouk_camp_bildA group of eleven of us, including Noam Chomsky, Mazin Qumsiyeh and As’ad Abukhalil have sent a letter to the Iranian government asking them to talk to the Assad government of Syria and insist that it end its siege of the Yarmouk refugee camp.

We start off the letter by explaining we are opponents of any warfare or sanctions against Iran and that we opposed President Obama’s plan to bomb Syria.  We want to make it clear that we are not cooperating is U.S. or Western imperial plans for Syria.

On the other hand we’ve been asked by Palestinians in Syria to speak out against the literal starvation going on inside Yarmouk camp just a few miles from downtown Damascus.  There are tens of thousands left inside the camp facing a siege by pro-Assad forces that has gone on for more than 180 days.  A siege directed mostly against civilians is cruel and illegal.

An appeal to the Iranian government might seem a hopeless, useless effort, but at this time Iran might not want to be embarrassed on this issue. The Iranian government is seeking to make agreements with the U.S. so does not want bad publicity.

Join us in an open letter to the Iranian government.  Click here:

150 signers after the first day online

Solidarity with political prisoners

prisonerThe thawing of the relations between the Iran and the west has resulted in an intensification on the repression bearing down on activists domestically and a flurry of executions of prisoners, some of them long term. Urgent solidarity is required in particular with the following activists

  • Behnam Ebrahimzadeh, a member of the Committee for the Establishment of Workers’ Organisations in Iran (CEWO), who has served three years of a six-year sentence.
  • Reza Shahabi, member of the coordinating committee of Vahed bus workers, still in jail for his part in the 2006 strike and for organising workers in this sector. We note that Shahabi is very ill and his condition is deteriorating daily.
  • Shahrokh Zamani, a Painters Union militant and another CEWO member. He is currently serving an 11-year sentence and has been tortured on a number of occasions. Zamani is held in Rajaei Shahr prison, one of the worst detention centres in Iran, because he is accused of “insulting the leader”, a charge that was added six months into his sentence.
  • CEWO member Mohammad Jarahi, who was arrested in January 2012. He, like fellow-prisoners, has had a number of serious health issues, but has been refused release on health grounds.
  • Worker activists Pedram Nasrollahi, Mohammad Mohammadi and Abdolreza Ghanbari are also in prison and their lives are in danger.
  • In Kurdistan province, in addition to nationalist prisoners, worker activists Vafa Ghaderi, Khaled Hosseini and Ghader Hosseini all face jail sentences and on November 4, hours after the execution of the Kurdish prisoners, Vafa Ghaderi was arrested.

Iran executions: Brutal signal to opponents

shahabi
Iranian Workers: “we don’t want nuclear energy”

Iran’s Islamic government might be taking a more ‘moderate’ approach regarding nuclear negotiations, but as far as internal repression is concerned its stance is as bad as ever before – as bad as the worst periods of the rule of the last president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

In the last week of October alone, Iran’s judicial system ordered the execution by hanging of at least 20 political opponents, all from national minorities (16 Baluchis and four Kurds), and the regime banned the ‘reformist’ daily, Bahar, for publishing an article questioning the historical veracity of events involving the first Shia imam.

The Baluchi separatists were executed in retaliation for an attack by a group of armed men on a border post that took the lives of 14 government soldiers in the south-eastern province of Sistan-Baluchistan. Meanwhile, in West Azerbaijan province two Kurds who had been sentenced to death following brief trials were executed. But two other Kurdish political prisoners, both serving 30-year prison sentences for opposition to the regime and membership of an illegal organisation, suffered the same fate. The family of one, summoned to collect his body, were told he was executed in the prison’s visitors area.

The brutal hanging of those prisoners carried a deliberate message for all the regime’s opponents. Supreme leader Ali Khamenei might have ‘drunk the poison’ when he made his U-turn as far as international negotiations on Iran’s nuclear facilities are concerned, but he has no intention of tolerating any opposition or dissent. On the contrary, it appears that political prisoners and the opposition in general will be made to pay the price for the failure of the regime’s foreign policy.

Opposition groups have warned that last week’s terror reprisals have all the signs of the type of repression the regime imposed immediately after the end of Iran-Iraq war in 1987. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s version of ‘drinking the poison’ (peace with Iraq) was followed by the execution of tens of thousands of political prisoners, some nearing the end of their jail sentences. Such measures are intended to demonstrate that, just because the Islamic republic has been forced to make foreign policy concessions, that does not mean it is weakening in its attitude to its internal opponents.

A number of leftwing political prisoners in Evin prison have started a hunger strike in protest at this new wave of terror. In September, just before president Hassan Rowhani’s trip to New York, the supreme leader ordered the release of more than 80 ‘prisoners of conscience’. However, only 42, many of them approaching the completion of their prison terms, were freed. Hundreds remain behind bars.

The ‘moderate’ Rowhani has said nothing. It is clear that the new president does not want to jeopardise his relationship with the conservative factions of the regime, and the security forces they control. Of course, we should not forget that while in New York Rowhani spent a considerable amount of time discussing Iran’s economy with the International Monetary Fund and, as the latest ‘economic restructuring programme’ takes shape, control of the working class and the population at large remains high on the government’s agenda.

In another attack on freedom of expression, the authorities shut down Bahar on October 28, five days after the publication of a controversial article that cast doubts on whether the prophet Mohammed had appointed a successor. The newspaper’s punishment was predictable, since the article contradicted one of the fundamental beliefs of Shia Muslims. The head of the judiciary, Sadeq Larijani, warned that any publication taking up an “unacceptable stance” would face suspension or a ban.

This venture into theological history was something of an exception for the ‘reformist’ media, which has been mainly concentrating on the continuing house arrest of the leaders of the green movement. However, the victims of the worst aspects of the regime’s repression are not under house arrest and their families are not allowed regular prison visits. Although no-one can justify the continued house arrest of the ‘reformist’ leaders Mir-Hossein Moussavi and Mehdi Karroubi (especially when you consider that Rowhani was supposed to be their ally), for us in Hands Off the People of Iran the urgent task is to save political prisoners whose life is in danger – incarcerated labour activists whose only crime is defending their fellow workers; national and religious minority activists, whose only crime is not to be Shia.

We also need to publicise and support the struggles of thousands of workers who have had the courage to protest outside their factories, outside the Islamic majles (parliament) or in front of provincial offices, demanding payment of their withheld wages; workers at the Qazvin car manufacturing plant, workers in the petro-chemical industries, workers who have demonstrated in their tens of thousands against the drying up of the river Karoun in Khuzestan province.

Not surprisingly Iran’s new-found allies within the ‘international community’ are not condemning this wave of repression and the Iranian organisations tied to (at times dependent on) US and European money are not in a position to do much. As we have said time and time again, UN institutions, and imperialist-funded ‘human rights’ NGOs do not campaign for these imprisoned Iranian workers. If last year they were queuing up to support women’s rights, and to try leaders of the Islamic regime for crimes committed in the past, they are showing no interest in the recent executions up and down the country. That is why we need a different kind of solidarity: workers’ solidarity from trade unionists and labour activists independent of US-sponsored labour organisations and free of any associations with Zionism, Sunni fundamentalists or other reactionary religious or nationalist forces. In this respect we also need to point to the illusions of large sections of the Iranian left in ‘international law’, the United Nations and its institutions.

Our solidarity

All in all, not a good week for Iran’s new government both internally and internationally. However, the question many comrades ask is, what can we in Hopi do?

The answers are neither simple nor straightforward. Our numbers are few and our resources limited. However, we have been able to give a comprehensive analysis of the current nuclear negotiations, explaining the obstacles and the loopholes of the process, and we have continued our adherence to revolutionary principles when it comes to building solidarity with the Iranian working class. As uncertainty and political change have provoked increased protests against the regime, as state repression is stepped up, we need to do a lot more in building support from trade unionists and workers’ organisations, keeping in mind the damage already done by those who have failed to take a clear line on imperialism and indeed global capitalism.

More than ever before, supporters of the Iranian working class must take a principled stance in opposition to imperialist intervention. But campaigns in solidarity with Iranian workers should not be tarnished by association with pro-imperialists, such as the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, the American Federation of Labor/Congress of Industrial Organizations, which have a history of collaboration with successive US administrations.

In the last few weeks during various discussions with labour activists inside and outside Iran, these comrades have expressed their continued concerns about irresponsible attitudes regarding solidarity with Iranian workers. On the one hand, we must do all we can to help incarcerated comrades. On the other hand, at no time can we afford to lower our guard vis-à-vis institutions and organisations associated with US and European powers. It is not an easy task, but we must be aware that anything else endangers the very lives we want to save. So let us concentrate on finding allies amongst activists and organisations that share our concerns about imperialist intervention, who like us understand Iran’s complicated politician landscape.

Support for the Iranian working class must include a call for the immediate, unconditional release of labour activists held in prison. In the current climate their lives are in danger.

These include:

  •   Behnam Ebrahimzadeh, a member of the Committee for the Establishment of Workers’ Organisations in Iran (CEWO), who has served three years of a six-year sentence.
  •   Reza Shahabi, member of the coordinating committee of Vahed bus workers, still in jail for his part in the 2006 strike and for organising workers in this sector. Shahabi is very ill and his condition is deteriorating daily.
  •   Shahrokh Zamani, a Painters Union militant and another CEWO member. He is currently serving an 11-year sentence and has been tortured on a number of occasions. Zamani is held in Rajaei Shahr prison, one of the worst detention centres in Iran, because he is accused of “insulting the leader”, a charge that was added six months into his sentence.
  •   CEWO member Mohammad Jarahi, who was arrested in January 2012. He, like fellow-prisoners, has had a number of serious health issues, but has been refused release on health grounds.
  •   Worker activists Pedram Nasrollahi, Mohammad Mohammadi and Abdolreza Ghanbari are also in prison and their lives are in danger.
  •   In Kurdistan province, in addition to nationalist prisoners, worker activists Vafa Ghaderi, Khaled Hosseini and Ghader Hosseini all face jail sentences and on November 4, hours after the execution of the Kurdish prisoners, Vafa Ghaderi was arrested.