The 7 key arguments against the “Iran Tribunal”

1. Payam Akhavan (chair and spokesperson of the tribunal’s steering committee) has links to organisations that have accepted large amounts of money from the US government
2. The tribunal refuses to take a stand against war and sanctions on Iran
3. Mainstream lawyers and politicians like Sir Geoffrey Nice, John Cooper QC and Maurice Copithorne ideologically support the tribunal – why?
4. The pro-war Mujahedeen is closely involved with the tribunal
5. Many organisations and witnesses have withdrawn
6. Critical voices have been silenced
7. Conclusion: The tribunal has become part of the campaign to legitimise war and sanctions to enforce pro-western ‘regime change from above’.

The arguments in more detail:

1.    Payam Akhavan (chair and spokesperson of the tribunal’s steering committee) has links to organisations that have accepted large amounts of money from the US government.

He is leading member of Iran Human Rights Documentation. This has received a large amount of funding from the US government.[i]  Akhavan is also active in Human Rights and Democracy for Iran (also known as the Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation).This is financed by a variety of American and European foundations, amongst them the infamous National Endowment for Democracy (NED). The NED was founded in 1983 by former US president Ronald Reagan to spread his version of “democracy” around the globe

2.    The tribunal refuses to take a stand against war and sanctions on Iran.

Yassamine Mather, chair of Hands Off the People of Iran, has written to the tribunal’s steering committee, requesting that it takes a stand against the threats of war on Iran and the devastating effect that the sanctions are having on the country. She did not even receive a reply.

Organisers of the tribunal subsequently stated that the tribunal is “non-political.” Yassamine Mather has responded that, “without clear opposition to war and sanctions, the tribunal effectively strengthens the hand of all those reactionary forces contemplating a military attack on Iran. The danger of war grows every day. I am a strong opponent of the regime in Tehran – but a war would be disastrous for the forces in Iran who have a real interest in democracy: the workers, women’s groups and social movements in that country.”

In contrast, Payam Akhavan is a keen supporter of sanctions on Iran. For many years, Payam Akhavan has been pushing his sponsors’ agenda for ever harsher sanctions. He is one of the authors of the International report published by the Responsibility to Prevent Coalition, which calls for “a comprehensive set of generic remedies – smart sanctions – to combat the critical mass of threat, including threat-specific remedies for each of the nuclear, incitement, terrorist and rights-violating threats”. This 2010 report was, incidentally, also signed by Tory MP Michael Gove and “Carl Gershman, President of the National Endowment for Democracy”.[ii]

(In an interview with a Canadian newspaper, Akhavan boasts: “After years of lobbying, we succeeded in persuading both the US and EU to adopt targeted sanctions against Iranian officials. Canada is far behind in this regard.”).[iii] On March 8 2012, he attended a meeting of the European Union to present a report he had co-authored that contains the proposal to blacklist not just “individuals”, but “the organisations and government bodies that commit these violations”, which “should also be put under sanction”.[iv]

Sanctions are supposed to destabilise the regime and prepare the ground for ‘regime change from above’. In reality, they impact below: first and foremost ordinary working people are harmed by them. There have been clashes on the streets of Tehran over the price of food – even stallholders at the Grand Bazaar are supporting the demonstrators- most Iranians will tell you that the sanctions are the main reason for their misery. In other words, they help deflect anger away from the theocratic regime. They weaken the only force that can deliver real democracy: the workers’, students’ and women’s organisations, who are today weaker than they have been for many years. Clearly, sanctions are a form of war.

3.    Mainstream lawyers and politicians like Sir Geoffrey Nice, John Cooper QC and Maurice Copithorne ideologically support the tribunal – why?

Sir Geoffrey Nice is a supporter of the Human Rights Commission of the British Conservative Party; John Cooper QC has stood for the Labour Party in elections. Payam Akhavan was voted “young global leader” at the World Economic Forum in 2005. All three are well-known, high-ranking lawyers, who in the name of what they dub “the international community” have over the years confronted many dictators and government heads in international courts (generally when these have turned on their former sponsors in the US, of course).

Between 1995 and 2002, Maurice Copithorne acted as UN human rights rapporteur for Iran. “Some Iranians travelled to meet him in 1995 in order to get him to start an investigation of the 1988 massacre,” according to a member of the Norwegian tribunal support committee (which has since withdrawn). “But they weren’t even allowed to meet him. His aide told them that he would only deal with the current situation in Iran and was not interested in things from the past.” Of course, this was at a time when the US was making efforts to stage a rapprochement with Tehran and to enlist it as an ally in the fight against the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq. It was in this geo-political context that Copithorne’s 1998 annual human rights report was seen as a political whitewash of the theocracy’s oppression. For example, in that report he opines that “the Islamic Republic of Iran is making progress in the field of human rights”.[v].

Why is Copithorne interested in the massacre now? And why have members of the Conservative Party donated their services for free? After all, this is the same Conservative Party that was in government in 1988 and remained ostentatiously silent as leftists and democrats were systematically culled by the theocracy. This is the same Conservative Party that supports harsh sanctions on Iran and continues to rattle the war drums.

Clearly, all these people are ideologically committed to the trial – which explains why the organisers refuse to come out against war and sanctions. This effectively contradicts the tribunal’s claims that they are “non-political”.

4.    The pro-war Mujahedeen is closely involved with the tribunal

For the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), the overthrow of the regime has always been the key objective and it explicitly supports sanctions and war to achieve it. (In the first Gulf War, it famously sided with Saddam Hussein and supported his attacks on Iran, including active participation in military operations). The Mujahedin’s backing for the Iran Tribunal is actually disputed by the tribunal, yet the involvement of people with close MEK links seems to tell a different story. Hardly surprising: after all, the US government has recently announced that it has removed the Mujahedin from its list of terrorist organisations.Leila Ghalehbani (who is featured in a video on the tribunal’s front page) is the sister of a number of Mujahedin prisoners who were killed in 1988. Iraj Mesdaghi, a survivor of the massacre, describes himself as “a former member” of the organisation. The website of the pro-Mujahedin organisation, Human Rights and Democracy for Iran, has just published a very sympathetic interview with Payam Akhavan, in which he is sympathetically prompted to tell readers how he feels about being “slandered” by the British leftwing paper, Weekly Worker, in its critical coverage of the IT. [vi]

5.    Many organisations and witnesses have withdrawn.

The organisations that have withdrawn their witnesses, support for and cooperation with the tribunal include Rahe Kargar (Komitee Ejraai) and the communist organisation Charikhaye Fadai Khalgh (one of the offshoots of the original Fedayeen). Others, like the Communist Party of Iran, have dropped their support. The Marxist-Leninist Party of Iran (Maoist) has split over the issue, as has the Iranian Left Socialist Alliance in the US and Canada. The most ferocious criticism has come from the tribunal’s Norwegian support committee, which has since dissolved because it felt “duped” by the tribunal organisers.

6.    Critical voices have been silenced.

A number of tribunal witnesses have used their statements to condemn the links of the committee to the NED and publicly stated that they are against war and sanctions on Iran. In two highly critical statements the Norwegian support committee describes how all IT witnesses who arrived in London on June 17 were taken to a briefing session, where they were explicitly asked not to raise any politics during their session. They would not be asked the name of their organisation or their political views, as this was “not a political tribunal”. One witness wanted to challenge the tribunal and at the end of his 30-minute session made an anti-imperialist statement. Outrageously, his whole statement was excluded from the tribunal’s report.

7.    Conclusion: The tribunal has become part of the campaign to legitimise war and sanctions to enforce pro-western ‘regime change from above’.

The tribunal is part of a campaign that includes sanctions and the threat of war: they are designed to destabilise the theocratic regime, so that it can be easily toppled. But such a regime change from above cannot bring democracy, as the most recent examples of Iraq and Afghanistan prove.

Hopi is campaigning for a real tribunal that can investigate the crimes of the Iranian regime – but which at the same time takes an implacable stand against war and sanctions. Democracy in Iran will come from below, from the struggles of its working people themselves; they need solidarity, not the pro-imperialist bleating of Johnny-come-lately ‘democrats’ like Cooper, Nice and Copithorne. 

Make your voice heard: No war on Iran! For regime change from below!

John McDonnell MP

The war drums against Iran are beating ever louder. The new embargo on Iranian oil, to come into force on July 1, is only the latest in a long list of measures imposed by US and EU imperialism. It bans all new oil contracts with Iran, and cuts off all existing deals. Also, all of the Iranian central bank’s European assets are to be frozen.

We are told that the sanctions are designed to weaken the regime and “force Iran back to the negotiating table” over its nuclear programme. This is clearly nonsense:

  • In reality, the ‘nuclear danger’ is used by imperialism as an excuse to deal with an increasingly unstable situation in the Middle East. Imperialism has recently lost a number of friendly regimes in the region (like Egypt) and needs to reassert control in this oil-rich area. War is also a useful distraction from economic misery and the current crisis of capitalism.
  • Former International Atomic Energy Agency analyst Robert Kelly has debunked the latest report purporting to show that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. Of the three pieces of ‘evidence’ that are not out of date, two are entirely unverifiable, and one an obvious forgery (see http://hopoi.org/?p=1841). But the regime draws sustenance from these rumours: the threats against Iran help the theocracy to stay in power, neutralise the opposition and unite the people behind a regime under attack from imperialism.
  •  The new sanctions will make it even more difficult for Iran, Opec’s second largest producer, to be paid in foreign currency for its oil exports (which were worth more than $100 billion in 2011). Previous rounds of EU and US sanctions targeting Iran’s financial system have already caused a shortage of foreign currency. A shortage of foreign currency means that Iran cannot import food at a time when food prices have already risen to astronomical levels. The Iranian rial has tumbled to a new low.
  • But the sanctions are unlikely to dramatically weaken the regime. The rich and powerful are able to protect
    Tony Benn

    themselves to a large degree from the effects. In fact, leaders of sanctioned regimes are almost always strengthened (and enriched) by sanctions.

  •  However, the sanctions will mean even more misery for ordinary Iranians: many workers will not receive their wages in time (if at all) and even the BBC has warned that social security payments and the remaining food subsidies could be the first to be cut by a theocracy under financial pressure. This will only increase the hardship and miserable conditions that our brothers and sisters in Iran have had to endure for many years.
  • Further, the military provocations of US-led imperialism – assassinations, sabotage and preparatory military manoeuvres in the region – have also dramatically upped the tension in the country and are being used by the theocracy to increase repression.
  • As the examples of Iraq and Afghanistan prove beyond doubt, democracy can only come from below, from the people themselves. But a people driven to their knees by brutal sanctions are hardly in the position to overthrow dictatorship.
Yassamine Mather

We know from history that sanctions are only the first step in wars being waged against ‘unfriendly’ regimes. A military attack against Iran is very much on the agenda. Should the regime in Tehran really decide to close the Strait of Hormuz, this could happen sooner rather than later.

That is why it is so important that we side now with the people of Iran in their struggle against their own theocracy and the threats by imperialism!

Make your voice heard now! Send us a message in the form of an email, voice mail, short video or a photograph holding attached poster and encourage your comrades and friends to do the same. We will post all messages on a special section on Hopi’s website and on YouTube, Facebook and other social media sites. Plans are also afoot for solidarity events, film screenings and fundraising events. Can you get involved? Donations are much appreciated too!

In solidarity,

Yassamine Mather

Chair, Hands Off the People of Iran

office@hopoi.info

  • Download HOPI posters:

The war against Iran has started

Hands Off the People of Iran unequivocally condemns the ratcheting up of sanctions on Iran in the aftermath of the much-heralded report of the International Atomic Energy Agency on that country’s nuclear capability on November 8. The report did little more than confirm the assessment that Hopi arrived at some time ago: that at worst Iran may be interested in the so-called ‘Japanese’ option. This is nuclear development that stops just short of the capacity to produce a nuclear weapon – but only by a month or so. But this is something that has been commented on many times before.

Despite the fact that this report contained little or nothing that was new (it was little more than a compilation of UK satellite pictures and the pre-existing reports of the CIA and other western intelligence agencies), imperialist leaders have fallen over themselves to express horror and outrage at these ‘new’ findings:

  • French president Nicolas Sarkozy urged “unprecedented” sanctions on the country.
  • Chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne announced that from November 28, all UK credit and financial institutions were obliged to cease trading with Iran’s banks, a move that apparently represented “a further step to preventing the Iranian regime from acquiring nuclear weapons”. This is the first time the UK has cut off an entire country’s banking system from London’s financial sector.
  • US secretary of state Hillary Clinton welcomed the opportunity the report presented for a “significant ratcheting-up of pressure” on Iran through the imposition of new sanctions. US actions include measures to limit Tehran’s ability to refine its own fuel, as well as targeting the financial interest of the Revolutionary Guards.

Even this was not enough for the rabid Israeli regime, which frothed about Iran having a nuclear weapon within a year and made ominous noises about military action. Israel feels politically vulnerable, given the current upheavals in the Arab world. An Iran with nuclear capability challenges its regional hegemony in a broader sense, but there is also a very practical concern. Iran’s missile delivery system is sophisticated enough to deliver a conventional payload to Tel Aviv – hence the November 7 explosion/assassination at the military base in Bid Ganeh, some 20 kilometres (12 miles) west of Tehran. Amongst others this killed major-general Hassan Moqaddam, a key figure in Iran’s ballistic missiles programme: according to Time magazine, a “western intelligence source” laid the blame at the door of the Israeli spy agency, Mossad, and warned that “there are more bullets in the magazine”.

On one level, the western powers are in a weak position when it comes to convincing the wider population that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. The debacle of Iraq – and farcical claims around Saddam’s supposed “weapons of mass destruction” – have prompted many commentators to dub the IAEA’s report “Iran’s 45-minute moment” (a reference to the nonsense peddled about Iraq’s supposed capability to drop bombs on strategic European targets in that time frame). Of course, from the point of view of Iraq’s barbaric rulers, if such weapons had existed it would have been a fairly obvious military response to the invasion of their country to use them. Similar claims today about Iran’s nuclear ambitions will raise many a sceptical eyebrow.

The veracity of the report will also be called into question when it is recalled that the current IAEA director general, Yukiya Amano, has often been accused, on solid grounds, of pro-US bias. According to diplomatic cables published by Wikileaks last year, US diplomats favoured his nomination, as he was “in tune with the US position regarding Iran’s nuclear programme” – a revelation that will help undermine the US/Britain’s charges against the regime.

However, on another level the case for imperialist intervention has undoubtedly been bolstered by the relatively ‘clean’ regime change in Libya (so far …). The overthrow of Gaddafi by western-backed insurgents is widely perceived of as a ‘good war’, in stark contrast to the quagmire of Iraq; the inability of the anti-war movement in this country to mobilise large numbers onto the streets in opposition to the intervention is a mark of this.

The current low level of anti-war mobilisation is a big problem for all those who oppose the imperialist interference in the Middle East, for we should be clear that the war on Iran has already started. It is unlikely to take the form of military invasion and occupation at any stage – the experience of the running sore of Iraq has chastened the imperialists on that front. What we will see – are seeing – is war pursued by other means:

  • Cyber warfare with its unforeseen consequences (last year’s attack on Iran’s nuclear plants and a number of major industrial complexes by the sophisticated piece of malware, Stuxnet).
  • Political assassinations of Iranian physicists/scientists allegedly involved in the nuclear programme (murders that are used by the Iranian regime to justify its own political executions).
  • Swingeing sanctions that, while barely troubling the rich and powerful, dramatically impoverish ordinary Iranians and actually endanger their lives (sanctions have affected everything from aviation to surgery and dentistry).

These sorts of tactics betray the strategic goal the US and its allies have in mind. Ideally for them, a repetition – in a ‘tidier’ form – of the Libyan scenario. That is, that pressure from imperialism engenders splits in this deeply discredited regime and its possible collapse/paralysis. Then indigenous opposition forces spearhead regime change, with the active aid and encouragement of the west. Clinton has spoken openly of her administration’s hopes for the implosion of the regime. There is solid ground for her optimism. Fraught divisions exist at every level of the theocratic regime, most dramatically in its top echelons with the ongoing conflict between supreme leader ayatollah Khamenei and president Ahmadinejad, and continued joint conflict with timid reformists such as Mir-Hossein Moussavi and Mehdi Karroubi.

The Obama administration would have been encouraged in this by recent developments in the Iranian opposition movement. A pro-war/anti-war-pro-sanctions debate is now dominating Iranian political discourse generally and has engendered a split into two major trends in this opposition. First there are those such as Mohammad Khatami who totally oppose the war, despite their criticisms of the regime. However, this does not flow from any sort of principled or consistently democratic position; rather, it is inspired by nationalism. Khatami has called for “national unity” in the face of this crisis and offers the supreme leader advice about ‘changing course’.

Far more worrying has been the significant section of the opposition (including some who could be politically designated as ‘soft left’, but mainly composed of liberals) who appear to be almost egging the Americans to launch a military strike. The example of the Nato bombing of Libya is looked to by these forces as a positive example of ‘humanitarian intervention’. Although there does not appear to be the appetite in Washington for air strikes, the US’s ally in the region, Israel, remains politically unstable and bellicose: witness the recent statement by Israeli defence minister Ehud Barak that “We do not expect any new UN sanctions on Tehran to persuade it to stop its nuclear defiance. We continue to recommend to our friends in the world and to ourselves not to take any option off the table.”

The stance of Hands Off the People of Iran is crystal-clear. We implacably oppose the sabre-rattling of the imperialists and demand that all sanctions on the country are lifted, that all threats of military action be rescinded. We call for this not because we have any illusions in the loathsome regime in Iran. It starves its own people; it denies them basic human rights; it endangers their lives through its elaborate games of brinkmanship with the US and its powerful allies. Unlike some politically demented leftists, we say that nuclear weapons in its hands would be a defeat for the forces of democracy and radical social change, as well as a profoundly destabilising development in the region.

No, we oppose the warmongering – whether it takes the hard form of assassinations, threats of military action, or the ‘soft’ option of sanctions – because we do not have any illusions in the loathsome regimes in place in Washington, London or Tel Aviv either. The intervention of these powers and their allies has nothing whatsoever to do with the promotion of ‘democracy’ – indeed, the regimes the imperialists impose often have features that are significantly worse than the previous team of oppressors of the people. Hopi insists that democracy can only come in Iran from below – from the struggles of the workers’, women’s and students’ movements. It will never fall from the sky in the tip of a US or Israeli bunker-buster.

We look to those like the working class and anti-capitalist activists, left intellectuals and students who met in an anti-capitalist conference in Iran on November 4. Many of the contributions emphasised the need to strengthen the workers’ struggles, the underground left/workers’ groups and the fight for left unity – “It is a shame that hero worship of certain intellectuals acting as semi-gods has harmed unity amongst the forces of the Iranian left,” said veteran labour activist NA. Military action against Iran, whether overt or covert, whether air strikes or sanctions, only acts to disorganise and disorientate these forces for change. This is why the threatening military backdrop to the conference was discussed by participants and Clinton’s bellicose statements noted. This is why Hopi contributes to their struggle for freedom by fighting against any imperialist attack on their country.

The imperialists want change in Iran via a palace coup or politically neutered opposition movement. Hopi says genuine democratic change must come from below, through the initiative, elan and thirst for change of the masses themselves! l

  • No war, no sanctions on Iran!
  • For a nuclear-free Middle East as a step to a nuclear-free world!

May Day statement in support of workers in Iran

Over the last year workers in Iran have struggled on several fronts. The subsidy cuts coupled with the crisis in world capitalism are driving living standards down for the majority of Iranians. Basic food stuffs are rising in price at a phenomenal rate, with bread rising a massive 25% and unsubsidised fuel increasing 7 fold. This is in a country with the third largest oil reserves in the world and the necessary refining abilities to produce cheap and affordable fuel for the entire population. The sanctions regime continues to undermine Iranian industry, robbing many workers of their jobs whilst the elite continue to amass great wealth. We stand with the Iranian working class fighting austerity and call for an end to all sanctions. We also call for the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners.

 

There have been important centres of working class resistance where the working class has shown its strength. At the Alborz tyre factory in Iran over 800 workers have held protests outside of the presidential office after 9 months of unpaid wages. There has been a recurring struggle over wages being withheld on a regular basis since privatisation of the factory in 1991.

 

The state-run Haft Tapeh sugar cane factory workers have faced consistent repression and attempts to crush their union. Ali Nejati, the President of the Union, is in prison and in ill health facing further charges of endangering national security. This continued repression, failure to pay wages and the refusal of the management to allow sacked workers to return have forced workers to down tools and strike several times over the last 12 months.

 

The strikes in the Petrochemical industry starting on March 19 at the Imam Port complex were contagious and spread across the industry. The initial demands focused on ending the current contract system that offers only precarious work and little security. Thousands of workers have been on strike demanding the introduction of the 2005 directives on hiring.

 

At the Pars Paper Company over a thousand of workers struck in defence of 60 laid off workers who had been at the company for over 10 years. In Qazvin workers at multiple textile plants have struck against unpaid wages, with some workers going unpaid for over a year. They were also joined by workers from the city’s Ziaran slaughterhouse who have unpaid wage claims going back two years.

 

At Iran Khodro the overworked yet militant workforce has continued to be a beacon of resistance. In January 4 workers were killed and 13 injured as a worker who was ill and tired after repeated back-to-back shifts collapsed at the wheel of the truck he was driving. Workers immediately demonstrated and called on the CEO to resign. Scuffles broke out between security and revolutionary guards.

 

The protest movement that erupted in 2009 was savagely put down by the security forces with violence not witnessed since 1999. Many leaders and activists remain in jail, many have fled and gone underground and hundreds have been murdered. Yet flickers of open defiance continue and below the surface the Iranian masses have rejected the theocratic regime. It is only a matter of time until mass action will threaten the existence of the Islamic Republic.

 

The uprisings in the region are a nightmare vision of the future for the regime as the revolts creep closer to the border. The imperialists have also suffered defeats, with Mubarak, a lynchpin of their domination, falling along with Tunisia’s Ben Ali. Yemen’s Saleh is soon to go. In this chaotic atmosphere the war threat has increased as we must not rule out further military action by the imperialists to demonstrate their power and reassert political domination. As part of threatening war with Iran, Saudi troops have gone in to suppress the people in Bahrain. This is what the intervention in Libya is about: not protecting civilians. The current interventions in the region must end and there must be no attack on Iran.

 

Hands Off the People of Iran reiterates our commitment to oppose the war threat and sanctions whilst supporting the struggle against the theocratic regime.



Hands Off the People of Iran Steering Committee

Hopi Annual General Meeting 2011

HOPI AGM
Lisa Goldman, Chris Strafford and John McDonnell MP

This successful meeting on February 12 2011 agreed to launch the campaign ‘Free Jafar Panahi and all political prisoners in Iran!’

  • For a report (first published in the Weekly Worker) , click here
  • For videos of the event, click here
  • For John McDonnell’s speech which launched the campaign, click here

Find below information on the motions that were passed and who is sitting on our new steering committee.

Continue reading Hopi Annual General Meeting 2011

Free Jafar Panahi and all political prisoners in Iran!

ahm2011At Hopi’s AGM on February 12 2011, John McDonnell MP launched this important new campaign. We will hold a first open organising meeting soon, so please get in touch if you want to get involved. Email office@hopoi.info or call Mark on 07950 416 922. Continue reading Free Jafar Panahi and all political prisoners in Iran!

Policies adopted at Hopi AGM 2009

These policies were adopted by Hopi’s AGM on November 28 2009

hopi-agm-logo-med

For reports of the meeting, see Weekly Worker and The Commune

  • For a Middle East Free of Nuclear Weapons and other WMDs
  • Sanctions are a form of war
  • Day of solidarity with Iranian workers
  • No to state murders

Click here to read the policies in full…

Continue reading Policies adopted at Hopi AGM 2009

Leaflet: No new sanctions

Iran: Oppose all sanctions
Support working class self-liberation from below!

Click here to download leaflet in PDF format

The October 1 nuclear talks between Iran and the UN security council are unlikely to resolve the stand-off between imperialism and the theocratic regime.

For a start, both sides actually thrive on the “nuclear threat”. With the war in Afghanistan and the occupation of Iraq becoming increasingly difficult to justify at home, imperialism has another reason to explain why it needs to spend billions on its war machinery. Similarly in Iran: the Islamic regime has long survived on the external threats to “bomb Iran back into the stone age” – be it by US or Israeli missiles. Slapping ever stricter sanctions on the country has, over the years, actually rallied the people behind its theocratic leaders.

But the June 2009 elections dramatically changed the picture. Thousands took to the streets in defiant response – despite the Iranian regime’s history of brutal repression. Initially, they were commonly portrayed as middle-class backers of the leading ‘reformist’ candidate Mir-Hossein Moussavi, but as protests have continued, and Moussavi himself has continually shown his timidity and ties to the theocratic state, the mood has radicalised dramatically and this anger has embroiled wide swathes of the society. Now, many of those protesting the electoral outcome question the entire basis of Iran’s Islamic republic.

Despite Moussavi’s indisputable desire to preserve the current order (albeit with some minor reforms), the crisis has unveiled some considerable divisions within the regime itself. These impact at every level. Both Ayatollah Rafsanjani and ex-Prime Minister Mohammed Khatami have thrown their lot in with Moussavi. This group around Moussavi has attempted to manoeuvre itself into favour with the Iranian masses by counterposing itself to the ‘official order’ of Khameini and Ahmadinejad.

However, the political divergence between these two forces is minimal. Both support the neo-liberal economic policy that Ahmadinejad has relentlessly pursued, which has contributed to the economic collapse of the country. Currently unemployment stands at 30% and inflation at 25%.

A brief look at Moussavi’s history provides further evidence. During his previous tenure as Prime Minister, between 1981 and 1989, he oversaw the Iran-Iraq war and the extensive crackdowns on Iranians the regime perceived as a threat. Chief amongst those was the Iranian working class which had played a significant role in the 1979 revolution. Moussavi and those around him were directly involved in the arrests and deaths of thousands of socialists and communists.

Clearly, Moussavi offers no positive alternative for the Iranian masses. His vested interest in maintaining the Islamic order has been illustrated time and again in his continual efforts to blunt and demobilise the mass movement. He fears losing control.

Already numerous sections of those protesting are recognising his inadequacy, and extending the fight to one for truly democratic and secular progress in Iran. From the start of the current crisis it is sections of the working-class that have taken the lead. It is in working-class neighbourhoods where impromptu protests continue into the night, and where the most consistent opposition to the entire edifice of the Iranian theocracy can be found. However, working-class organisations remain weak and divided. This is in large part a product of thirty years of systematic repression at the hands of an Iranian state which knows and fears the revolutionary capacity of the working-class when united.

Iran is an incredibly young society, and the youth have been at the fore of the demands for change. It is amongst the youth where the left is strongest, particularly amongst the student population, which has experienced some of the most severe brutality from the Islamic republic in recent years. Hands off the People of Iran (Hopi) aims to build links with, and provide support where possible, to those student groups at the fore of the fight against the repressions of the Islamic republic.

Necessary, in conjuncture with this solidarity, is a steadfast opposition to external intervention, in the form of imperialist invasion, or via sanctions. The current proposals of the US government to enforce sanctions on Iran’s oil industry would unquestionably cause chaos for a society facing another harsh winter. They are also a disaster for the cause of democracy because they limit working class struggle. Thus, in the face of a harsh winter and petroleum sanctions, militant oil workers (who played a key role in the revolution of 1979) are now wondering whether to go on strike at all due to the effects that this could have. This clearly underlines how solidarity with Iranian workers which does not flow from steadfast opposition to US and Israeli war threats and sanctions is absolutely pointless.

Radical democratic change in Iran (and indeed in the imperialist countries such as the US and UK) can only come from below. It cannot be gifted by the likes of Moussavi, or imposed by the imperialists. Not that either would wish to see such change. We have to aid such advances through promoting working-class internationalism – the core politics that Hopi implacably stands for.

No to Zionism’s barbaric war!

January 2009

Click here to download the leaflet in PDF format

Hands Off the People of Iran unreservedly condemns the massacre of Palestinians by Israeli military forces. Air raids on Gaza have killed over a thousand people and a land invasion with tanks and heavy weaponry has created hell for the inhabitants of Gaza. No words can express our horror at the barbaric actions of the utterly unscrupulous set of leaders in Israel using their soldiers to commit war crimes.

Clearly this operation is in line with US imperialist strategy in the region, part of the so-called ‘war on terror’. This is confirmed by the refusal of the current President and President elect, Obama, to condemn Israel or to support calls for a ceasefire.

The biased reporting of these events by sections of the Western media has given the impression that this is a war against Hamas and Islamic fundamentalism. The reality is that the victims of the onslaught are defenceless Palestinians who in a desperate search for any viable opposition to Israeli colonialism voted for Hamas in 2006.

The Palestininan people have the right to resist. But this does not mean that HOPI politically supports Hamas. We do not believe it offers a real alternative to imperialism. Its politics will lead to further disasters. However, we reject the lies about Hamas told by Israeli military spokespersons to justify their barbaric war.

Very few reporters have reminded their audience that it was Israeli forces that broke a four-month long ceasefire on November 4. Few have mentioned the fact that in the late 1980s, it was Israel that supported Hamas in order to weaken secular, leftist Palestinian groups. Few have reminded their audience that Israel actually encouraged the corrupt and pliant Fatah leadership to overthrow their religious political rivals and recapture power – a poisonous policy of divide and rule.

Aggressive American neo-con-servatives participated in the sinister plot to instigate a Palestinian civil war. (Avi Shlaim – The Guardian January 7 2009). The reactionary Arab regimes in the region have once again proved they have no intention of supporting the Palestinians beyond some tired rhetoric. Egypt has actually aided the Israeli blockade, closing the Gaza frontier both to humanitarian aid and to volunteers attempting to bring in medical aid.

As far as the Iranian government is concerned, after all the empty slogans and propaganda in defence of ‘Palestine’, its current near silence on Zionism’s atrocities speaks volumes.

Ahmadinejad’s posturing and provocations, whether over nuclear weapons or the decision to host neo-Nazis in Tehran, have only helped Israeli propaganda and the warmongers in Washington. Yet even in the field of diplomatic efforts, Iran’s response to the Gaza carnage is muted. At a time when Palestinians need regional help, the regime puts its own interests first and keeps its head down.

No one should put any trust in the Islamic regime in Tehran. It has actually helped the enemy sow sectarian division among the Palestinians in Lebanon and Iraq. Iranian-backed militias have ethnically cleansed thousands of Palestinian refugees from Iraq, under the eyes of the occupation regime. The Iranian rulers have traded oil and arms with Israel, and if they use the Palestinian people to serve their interests today, it would be as pawns, to be sacrificed tomorrow.

However the working people of Iran have a right and duty to aid the Palestinian people in any way they can; but not because of a shared religion. Instead, this should be offered as an expression of international working class solidarity. This tradition has deep roots in the history of the mass radical left forces in the region.

Hopi condemns Ahmadinejad's "Alternative Christmas Message"

December 25 2008

Every year, the British television broadcaster Channel 4 produces an alternative to to the Queen’s Christmas speech. In previous years it has been delivered by a fully veiled Muslim woman and Genelle Guzman, a 9/11 survivor. This year, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke for seven minutes.

He used the speech to condemn Western leaders for their neglect of Jesus’ teachings, saying “Jesus, the Son of Mary, is the standard-bearer of justice, of love for our fellow human beings, of the fight against tyranny, discrimination and injustice”.

Hands Off the People of Iran (Hopi) does not believe Ahmadinejad is a responsible choice for the Christmas speech: he is a right-wing hardliner, whose regime persecutes women, LGBT people, ethnic minority groups, trade unionists and socialists, secularists and political dissenters. In addition, Ahmadinejad was a supporter of the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and is currently benefiting from these occupations.

Dorothy Byrne, head of news and current affairs at Channel 4, claimed the network had a responsibility to broadcast “alternative voices”. Hopi believes this decision was taken purely to court controversy and demands that Channel 4 issue a full apology. A far better choice for the alternative Christmas message would have been one of the many organisations and individuals fighting both for freedom in Iran and against the possibility of imperialist war on their country, such as the group “Students for Freedom and Equality”.