Videos from HOPI weekend school June 14-15

John McDonnell- the anti-war movement and challenges faced by HOPI

Bill Bowring and Mike Macnair- War, human rights, and humanitarian interventions

David Mather and Amir Javaheri Langaroudi – The working class

Torab Saleth – The 1979 Revolution and its aftermath

Moshe Machover – Iran, Israel, and nuclear weapons

Christine Cooper – The effects of sanctions on Iran

Rahim Bandoui – National minorities in Iran

Azar Majedi – Can imperialism liberate women?

Principled approach to anti-war work

Hopi’s two day school reflects its resonance in the working class. Chris Strafford reports

Over the weekend of June 14-15 Hands Off the People of Iran held a successful school, with around 70 people attending some or all of the sessions. All the openings were recorded and will soon be available on the Hopi website.

Hopi chair Mark Fischer (CPGB) opened the event by explaining that Hopi’s message has found a “resonance” in the workers’ movement. Two important unions, PCS and Aslef, have recently affiliated, proving the majority of the Stop the War Coalition leadership wrong. At both conferences the delegates found Hopi’s principled stand – against imperialist war, against the theocratic regime – was not too complex, but blindingly obvious. Comrade Fischer reminded comrades of the growing threat of imperialist attacks on Iran, either directly from the USA or from its regional watchdog, Israel.

1979 revolution
Torab Saleth (Workers Left Unity Iran) spoke in the first session, titled ‘The 1979 revolution and its aftermath’. Comrade Saleth gave a detailed account of Iran’s revolutionary history, showing the influence of the 1905 revolution in Russia on Iran’s 1906 ‘constitutional revolution’.

Comrade Saleth recounted how Iran’s history has been one of constant intervention by imperialist powers – first Russia and Britain, and more recently the USA. In 1953 the CIA organised a coup to overturn the nationalisation of the oil industry. This was followed by the ‘white revolution’ in 1960, which was a “turning point in the transition to capitalism”. Land reforms under the shah brought about a massive growth of the industrial working class.

From 1976 the growing revolt of the urban proletariat crystallised in the ‘out of bounds’ revolt which spread into a strike wave and general strike which was “at its core an anti-capitalist revolution”. The religious opposition only came to the fore in 1978, with ayatollah Khomeini presented as the leader of the opposition, particularly by France. Comrade Saleth argued that the crisis brought on by the revolution gave the bourgeoisie and the imperialists only one option – the reluctant acceptance of a transfer of power to the shia hierarchy.

When in power Khomeini’s gang set about dismantling the democratic gains of the revolution and liquidating the revolutionary vanguard of the working class. By 1981 the revolution was defeated. Comrade Saleth finished his address by urging the left not to “fall into the trap” of supporting the ‘anti-imperialist’ islamists a second time, as it had during the 1979 revolution.

Several important questions were raised in the subsequent discussion – could Iran be called state capitalist, what was the role of US imperialism in the ascendancy of Khomeini, what were the errors of the majority of the left in the islamist counterrevolution? David Mather called the Iranian revolution a “historical tragedy” and explained that it produced a massive polarisation of the Iranian left between those that gave some kind of support to the theocratic regime (the ‘official’ communists, the Tudeh party, and the Fedayeen majority) and those that fought for working class independence.

Comrade Saleth ended the discussion by explaining that he did not believe in a US conspiracy to put Khomeini in power, as had been claimed from the floor. He stated that the “vast majority of the radical left only appreciated that it was facing a counterrevolution when it started killing them” – a devastating indictment of the left’s failure.

Afterwards a recorded message from Tehran students was played. They thanked Hopi for its valuable solidarity work, especially in raising the case of all those leaders who had been arrested. The students were adamant in opposing every imperialist threat, which had given the regime a pretext to suppress democratic opposition.


Christine Cooper explained that sanctions against Iran had first been adopted after the 1979 hostage crisis. She pointed out the selective nature of UN sanctions when it comes to nuclear development, as Pakistan and Israel have been allowed, even helped, in their acquisition of weapons of mass slaughter. And, of course, the imperialists themselves have enough nuclear weapons to destroy the world several times over.

Recent sanctions began with the voluntary restriction of arms sales and reconstituted uranium. Comrade Cooper explained that the effect of sanctions hit the poor the hardest, while the rich and the elite were easily able to escape their effects. Iranian capitalists have used sanctions as a reason not to pay workers and to sell up factories, etc. Inside Iran domestic investment is being discouraged by the falling rate of accumulation. Comrade Cooper said that it was only the oil profits that are keeping things from getting worst.

During the discussion John Bridge (CPGB) said that sanctions are a way to “ratchet up tension”, while other comrades raised the economic links between Iran, the EU and China, the effect of sanctions on the working class and whether US culture is still appealing to the Iranian youth.

The debate was taken in another direction, pre-empting a session the following day, when a member of the International Bolshevik Tendency argued that we should defend the right of Iran to have nuclear weapons. Unlike Iraq, North Korea’s nuclear weapons ensure that it will not be attacked by the US (although, of course, Iraq is strategically and economically much more important than North Korea). Comrades responded that, while we are for the defeat of imperialism, we should on no account give support to a reactionary regime just because it happens to be an enemy of the US imperialists.

Working class in Iran

The next session was ‘The working class movements and their responses to the economic crisis’ with David Mather and Amir Javaheri Langaroudi (Workers Left Unity Iran). Comrade Langaroudi had produced a 600-page document recording workers’ struggles in Iran from March 2007 to March 2008.

Comrade Mather outlined Hopi’s differences with both the leadership of the STWC and SWP on the one side and the social-imperialists on the other. He said that the class conflict in Iran looks set to intensify, with a further upsurge in strikes, as the implementation of neoliberal policies, coupled with high inflation, continues to bite.

Privatisation and casualisation of labour has intensified and workers have been deserting the official islamic councils and setting up their own independent organisations. At first workers’ protests had taken the form of protests through petitions and so on, but, as the regime responded with violence, the workers resorted to their strikes and other militant actions – there has been a debate within the workers’ movement over how far such actions should be taken.

He outlined the danger of the workers’ movement being diverted either by reformism or being lured by the anti-regime promises of the imperialists. He reminded comrades that, while Hopi was first and foremost an anti-war campaign, its support for all democratic and working class struggles in Iran was vital.

Comrade Langaroudi thanked comrades for the support they had given to the workers’ movement in Iran – over the last year more than 5,000 workers’ disputes had taken place across that country. His collection of photographs were on display over the weekend, illustrating a whole range of the struggles taking place over the last period and the extensive repression they have faced.

The discussion was kicked off by Nick Rogers (CPGB) who said that the regime was openly anti-working class and that any notion of a united front with it was not on the cards. He said that a “burning question” for us concerned the need for working class independence. The application of the early Comintern thesis on the anti-imperialist united front had led to disaster after disaster – not least the 1979 Iranian revolution.

The discussion then centred around the strength of the working class movement, its national coordination, the threat of its manipulation by imperialism and the form future working class resistance will take.

‘Human rights’

The final session of the day was titled ‘War, human rights and humanitarian interventions’ with Bill Bowring and the CPGB’s Mike Macnair. Comrade Bowring argued that there had been three generations of ‘human rights’.

The first generation were the civil and political rights achieved by the French Revolution. Those of the second generation were social and economic or ‘red rights’, which were a response to the Russian Revolution. Third generation rights concerned independence and the right to self-determination, which he dated to the post-1960s struggles for decolonisation. Comrade Bowring said that outside “intervention” is always a disaster and that any democratic revolution must take into account questions of national democracy.

Comrade Macnair said that, however legal an imperialist war may be, it should always be opposed absolutely by our movement. He argued that we should challenge international law with the alternative principles of human/working class solidarity and republican equality – the latter being the equality between nations with no permanent relation of domination.

The discussion was once again lively, with contributions questioning the concept of republican equality, and the relationship between national self-determination and working class solidarity. But controversy was once more instigated by the IBT, whose comrades demanded that Hopi should “take a side” with Iran, an oppressed nation, against imperialism.

Comrade Peter Manson (CPGB) said that our desire to see the defeat of imperialism should never lead us to support a viciously anti-working class regime like the Iranian theocracy – we oppose imperialism because we seek to advance the cause of the working class, not hold it back. Comrade Bridge ridiculed the Trotskyist absurdity, to which the IBT subscribes, that regimes like that of Iran should be supported militarily but not politically. These comrades’ support takes the form of propaganda, not armed detachments.

National minorities

The second day was opened with another recorded message from an Iranian comrade, who spoke about the women’s movement and its growing strength. The comrade also spoke about the contradictions within the movement that are being played out in the campaign to raise one million signatures.

Rahim Bandoui from the Baluchistan People’s Party gave an insightful talk on national minorities in Iran, home to many nationalities that have been used to further the aims of imperialist powers throughout history. It was only in 1925 that attempts were made to unify Iran into a centralised state, which saw the suppression of minority rights, languages and religions.

Comrade Bandoui argued that imperialism had used reactionary islamist forces to contain the Soviet Union. But now defeating the islamist regime demanded not imperialist intervention, but the unity of all nationalities and left and progressive forces. Comrade Bandoui was against the nationalist break-up of Iran, suggesting that a democratic solution would entail a federal arrangement. He reminded comrades that the national movements in Iran need the support of workers across the world – otherwise the danger of US manipulation will be very real.

After the break John McDonnell MP gave a positive talk on the achievements of Hopi and the immediate tasks of the campaign over the coming period (see p6). The discussion afterwards was open and self-critical. Comrades talked about strengthening our links with the trade unions and building a stronger base of support in the workers’ movement. Participants also discussed the impact Hopi has had on the anti-war movement and the left, with Ann Mc Shane of Hopi Ireland describing the hostility of the SWP-led anti-war movement, even though it had adopted some of our slogans.

Iran, Israel, and nuclear weapons
Moshé Machover recalled the creation of Israel and its role in the Suez crisis, which he described as a turning point in history. Comrade Machover explained that we should look at Suez as an example of how a war with Iran may be started – with the USA coming to the ‘defence’ of Israel after it had made the first move.

He spoke about US toleration of Israel’s development of nuclear technology in exchange for Israel’s role as a watchdog of imperialism. The USA had taken over France’s role as Israel’s biggest backer. Comrade Machover explained that until the 1979 revolution Iran and Israel had been “two pillars of US imperialism”. He argued that the nuclear issue was a pretext for US intervention and pointed out that, while there was no proof that Iran is trying to acquire nuclear weapons, Israel’s own nuclear arsenal is a constant provocation.

Women in Iran

Azar Majedi (Organisation of Women’s Liberation Iran) began the final session by declaring that “no-one thinks an attack would save anyone”. Comrade Majedi went on to describe the brutal crackdown on women and all those opposing the theocratic regime since 1981. She explained that the women’s movement in Iran has deep historical roots going back to opposition to the shah.

She argued that Iranian women were better placed than their Saudi counterparts because of this long history and the vibrant movement which still exists. She went on to describe the March 8 movement, which organised a week of demonstrations and discussions and has received widespread support, even though leading members had been arrested.

Comrade Majedi explained that there is now a new generation of activists in the women’s movement in Iran. This movement has also converged with the students’ movement, which has drawn many men into supporting women’s demands and aspirations. They have done this in spite of massive repression. She described the revolutionary potential of the campaign for women’s rights.

Yassamine Mather closed the weekend school by thanking participants and summarising John McDonnell’s suggestions for the coming period. Afterwards Hopi supporters attended the demonstration against George Bush’s visit to London, where 25 people were arrested and two injured following a police blockade and baton-charge.

For more information on speakers and sessions Click here

UK unions take principled stand against war on Iran

June 6, for immediate release


Delegates to the June 2-6 Nottingham conference of the train drivers’ union, Aslef, voted unaminously to make their union the second to affiliate to Hands Off the People of Iran in just 2 weeks. They joined the PCS, the 300,000-strong civil servants union, in lending their support to Hopi.

The gathering pace of Hopi’s support is crucial in a period when authorative leaks from Washington tell of Bush secretly briefing key US senators on plans to launch air strikes against Iran with the next two months.

In what must be an orchestrated move with the US, a deputy prime minister of Israel, Shaul Mofaz, has warned that an attack on Iran’s nuclear sites was “unavoidable” unless Tehran halts its alleged weapons programme. Meanwhile, the prime minister, Ehud Olmert, met US president George Bush on June 4 to discuss concerns over Iran’s supposed nuclear threat, something he has stated “must be stopped by all means possible”. (While no one has produced a shred of evidence that Iran – a signatory of the Non-Proliferation Treaty – is making nuclear weapons, there is plenty of evidence that Israel (which refuses to sign the NPT) has a huge nuclear arsenal).

Mark Fischer of the Hopi steering committee commented:

“This underlines the importance of Hopi’s unequivocal stance in its founding statement against ‘Israeli expansionism and aggression’ and for ‘a nuclear-free Middle East as a step towards a nuclear-free world’.

“We also have to set these statements against the background of Barack Obama’s hawkish June 4 speech, where he pledged his ‘unshakable commitment’ to Israel and warned that if elected president he would do ‘everything in my power to prevent Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon’. Attitudes towards Iran are hardening in the US political elite and in its close Middle East ally, Israel. The threat of a new war is growing.”

Hopi says that the organised working class movement is the key to any successful fight against imperialist war. The action take by Glasgow train drivers in 2003 when they refused to move arms freight is a glimpse of its power – this is the sort of determination we need again if we are to have a chance of stopping a new disaster for the peoples of the Middle East.


1. ASLEF is Britain’s trade union for train drivers. Its 18,500+ members are employed in the train operating companies, the freight companies, London Underground and some Light Rapid Transport.

2. Hopi was established in December of last year and includes amongst its supporters John McDonnell MP, Derek Wall, male principal speaker, Green Party, Peter Tatchell, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, Naomi Klein, Michael Mansfield QC, John Pilger, Peggy Seeger (singer, songwriter and activist), Bill Bailey (actor and comedian) and Noam Chomsky.

3. Hopi was barred from affiliating to the Stop the War Coalition in October 2007 because – it was claimed – we were “entirely hostile to the Coalition, its policies and its work” (see for material on this controversy). The dispute was also covered in the Independent – see

4. However, Hopi supporters have remained members of the StWC and intend to challenge this undemocratic exclusion at the coalition’s AGM in the Autumn.


Delegates to the May 21-23 conference of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) voted overwhelmingly to affiliate to Hands Off the People of Iran. The PCS is the first national union to support Hopi, which fights:

Against imperialist war on Iran

For the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of US/UK troops from Iraq and all the Gulf region

Against any imperialist intervention. The immediate and unconditional end to sanctions on Iran.

Against the theocratic regime! For solidarity with the working class, women’s and students’ movements against the theocratic regime.

Yassamine Mather, member of the Hopi Steering Committee and Iranian exile, said:

“This is important step forward for Hopi could not be more timely, coming as it does when leaked news over the weekend suggests that Bush has been secretly briefing key US senators on plans to launch airstrikes against Iran with the next two months.

When a major union of the size and reputation of PCS takes such an explicity stand against imperialist sabre-rattling, a powerful message is sent out to the war-mongerers”.

The motion supporting Hopi was opposed by just 50 or so of the 1,200 delegates, although it was opposed by leading PCS member, Jon Gamble. Writing in the Morning Star (May 27), he denounced the “con trick” played on the conference and charged that by “raising the issue of the nature of the islamic regime in Iran” Hopi thus “seeks to split this movement on sectarian lines” and “provides a left cover for liberal apologists for war”.

In a statement released on its website (reproduced below), Hopi firmly rejected these charges as “lies and slander” and offered to debate opponents such as John Gamble to clarify its real politics.



1. The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) is the fifth largest trade union in the UK, with over 300,000 members.

2. Hopi was established in December of last year and includes amongst its supporters John McDonnell MP, Derek Wall, male principal speaker, Green Party, Peter Tatchell, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, Naomi Klein, Michael Mansfield QC, John Pilger, Peggy Seeger (singer, songwriter and activist), Bill Bailey (actor and comedian) and Noam Chomsky.

3. Hopi was barred from affiliating to the Stop the War Coalition in October 2007 because – it was claimed – we were “entirely hostile to the Coalition, its policies and its work” (see for material on this controversy). The dispute was also covered in the Independent – see


“Watch Out For Dodgy Splitters

It is frustrating to sit and watch a train crash go on in front of you and be unable to act.

Recently, the PCS conference voted to affiliate to an organisation purporting to defend the people of Iran from attack by the US and its allies – the so-called Hands Off the People of Iran (Hopi) campaign. What most delegates didn’t know is that this organisation is not primarily concerned with opposing US maniacal military adventures, but rather splitting the Stop the War movement in Britain. In reality it is a front for the misnamed CPGB micro-sect.

The Stop the War Coalition has successfully united millions of people to oppose the invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq. By raising the issue of the nature of the islamic regime in Iran, Hopi seeks to split this movement on sectarian lines. This would only delight Bush and Brown and the whole warmongering lobby. Hopi provides a left cover for liberal apologists for war, the likes of Nick Cohen and Christopher Hitchens, in the liberal defence of murder.

It was unfortunate that the main left force in PCS, Left Unity, were duped into supporting this affiliation, apparently to avoid having a debate around affiliation to John McDonnell’s Labour Representation Committee – surely a bizarre sense of priorities. Sadly, Morning Star supporters went unheard in the debate, which left the SWP isolated and slandered as apologists for the Iranian regime in opposing this affiliation.

As Mark Twain once said, a lie can go around the world before the truth has tied its boot laces. PCS branches need to question their conference delegates about this con trick as a matter of urgency.”

Jon Gamble

PSC NSOC (personal capacity)


“Lies and slander

Jon Gamble’s letter on the Public and Commercial Services Union affiliating to Hands Off the People Of Iran (Hopi) is grossly inaccurate and disingenuous. He claims that Hopi is not “primarily concerned with opposing US maniacal military adventures”. Yet our main demands are: No to imperialist war! For the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of US/UK troops from Iraq and all the Gulf region! The immediate and unconditional end to sanctions on Iran! (

Clutching at straws, he then proceeds to attack us for our apparent attempts to split “the Stop the War movement in Britain.” Those with a slightly longer memory will remember how Hopi actually sought affiliation to the Stop the War Coalition last year but were refused on the most spurious of grounds. Sadly, the anti-war movement was split. But not through our actions.

Whereas the stooges and apologists of the Iranian regime like Abbas Eddalat and Somaye Zadeh are welcomed with open arms into the coalition, Iranian socialists and their comrades are not welcome.

He claims that Hopi is a front for the “misnamed CPGB micro-sect”. This will come as news to the substantial working class and socialist organisations from Iran who form the core of Hopi’s support alongside Green Party comrade Peter Tatchell and the leader of the Labour Left, John Mc.Donnell. Comrade Gamble is inconsistent anyway: the CPGB is an official affiliate of the Stop the War Coalition. Yet organisations that are damned as its fronts are disqualified! Where is the logic?

Hopi is clear that the main enemy is imperialism. The theocratic regime of Iran – which implements a neo-liberal capitalist agenda against its working people – is also an enemy. We can walk and chew gum. We can oppose any imperialist intervention and support democratic, secular and socialist movements fighting to overthrow the theocracy and thereby create a genuinely anti-imperialist Iran. This is not “sectarian”. This is not Nick Cohen ‘lite’ politics. This is genuine internationalism.

That the PCS has taken a lead in the fight for genuine politics of solidarity is to be welcomed. Some comrades ought to follow the principled lead of PCS delegates and recognise Hopi as a legitimate and valuable part of the anti-war movement. This was no “con trick” but a decision made by comrades who, unlike Jon, have a sense of their internationalist duty in the struggle against war and oppression. If the PCS wish to discuss the politics of Hopi and the issues involved then we are more than happy to speak to them at every level of the union and also debate our opponents.

Ben Lewis, Communist Party of Great Britain

Yassamine Mather, Workers Left Unity Iran

Tami Peterson, Labour Representation Committee (personal capacity)

Iran and the threat of war- Torab Saleth

Part one

Torab Saleth looks at the nature of the Iranian regime and its relationship with the United States. He describes the history of the conflict and goes behind the current media speculation to explain what is really going on in the Middle East.

Continue reading Iran and the threat of war- Torab Saleth

Why we cannot politically support the day of action on March 6 2008

What sort of solidarity do workers in Iran need?

  • Click here to download the leaflet that we will be distributing on March 6

Supporters of Hands Off the People of Iran will be taking part in the day of action on March 6 to highlight the plight of Iranian trade unionists currently languishing in the prisons of the regime (Ossanlou, Salehi and many others). However, we draw the line at politically endorsing these protests.

The groups centrally involved in organising this mobilisation (the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC)) are deeply compromised politically. They are more or less silent on the role of imperialism in the region and – in truth – are junior partners in implementing the reactionary agendas of the US and its allies.

The official leaflets to mobilise for this day of action focus almost exclusively on opposition to the theocratic regime. But the Iranian working class is facing two enemies – both the Ahmadinejad regime and the biggest enemy of it and the world’s working class, imperialism.

The negative impact that the pressure of US-led imperialism has already exerted on the Iranian working class does not merit a mention in the publicity material of the IFT and ITUC. The looming threat of war and sanctions have cost the jobs of thousands of Iranian workers – and those that protest to defend their conditions against the anti-democratic attacks of the theocratic regime are branded as “traitors” or “dupes of imperialism”. Iranian workers are struggling daily against the Islamic Republic’s attacks – privatisations, casualisations, systematic non-payment of wages and attacks on effectively organised trade unions that stand up to this vicious exploitation.

Yet, in this, the theocracy is just enthusiastically enforcing neo-liberal economic policies dictated by the World Bank and the IMF! No wonder there is no enthusiasm amongst the working class and radical movements of Iran for regime change ‘George Bush style’. Not only do they have the grinding experience of what this already means for their daily struggle to live, they have only to glance at the nearby hell that imperialism has fashioned in Iraq to understand that the chance for genuine democracy and social change must come from their own struggles, not from reactionary self-appointed ‘saviours’. Organisations such as IFT or ITUC that are silent on imperialism – and those on the left that uncritically tail them – effectively provide a left cover for the war plans of Bush.

Hopi has a totally different approach to solidarity. We are clear moribund capitalism – imperialism – has no answers either for the people of Iran or anywhere else on the globe. We want direct links of support between the working class in Iran and internationally that are ideologically, politically and materially totally independent of either imperialism or the theocratic regime. In today’s world, democracy and progressive social change comes from struggles only from below – whether in the Middle East, in Europe or in the United States itself.

Click here to read the motion on workers in Iran passed at the Hopi launch conference plus our model trade union resolution.

Videos from launch conference

Hopi launch conference – videos

Yassamine Mather
welcomes participants
to the conference

Torab Saleth (Workers
Left Unity Iran) leads a
commemoration for the
Iranian victims of imperialism
and the theocratic regime

Mark Fischer (Communist
Party of Great Britain) explains
why democrats and socialists

must fight on two fronts

Does Iran have the right to
have nucelar weapons?
Israeli socialist Moshe Machover

David Mather (Hopi
Glasgow) talks about
‘workers’ struggles in Iran’

Mike Macnair (Communist
Party of Great Britain)
discusses imperialism’s
interest in the Middle East

Andrew Coates (TGWU/ Unite  the Union, Ipswich) speaks in  the general debate

Mike Martin (Hopi Sheffield)
speaks in the general debate

Kath McMahon (Hopi Edinburgh)
speaks in the general debate

Stuart King (Permanent
Revolution) speaks in the
general debate

Steven Monaghan (Hopi North
West) speaks in the general debate

Anne Mac Shane (Hopi Ireland)
speaks in the general debate

Tami Peterson (Labour
Representation  Committe and  Labour Briefing) speaks in the
general debate

Charlie Pottins (Jewish
Socialists  Group) speaks
in the general debate

Tony Greenstein (Brighton
Unemployed Centre) speaks
in the general debate

Stuart King argues that the
founding statement of
Hands Off the People of
Iran should not contain
opposition  to nuclear weapons. Israeli socialist Moshe
Machover disagrees.

Ben Lewis (Communist Students)
urges the founding conference of Hands Off the People of Iran to support the students’ protests in Iran.

Nick Jones (Communist Students)
moves a motion on the ban of Hands Off the People of Iran to affiliate to the Stop the War Coalition.

Mark Fischer (Communist
Party of Great Britain) defends amendment to the founding
statement of Hands Off the
People of Iran that declares
‘Imperialism is the main enemy‘.