Tag Archives: john mcdonnell

John McDonnell: honorary president of HOPI now shadow chancellor

Hands Off the People of Iran congratulates Labour’s John McDonnell on his appointment as shadow chancellor. The MP for Hayes and Harlington was a founding member of HOPI and is honorary president of the organisation. He has consistently opposed imperialist intervention in Iran and elsewhere in the Middle East, as well as supporting movements for democracy from below.

We feature below a video of John addressing a day school held by HOPI in 2008.

 

 

LRC vs HOPI: Solidarity Cricket Match – August 29

Batting for internationalism
Batting for internationalism

August 29 will once again see Hands Off the People of Iran play the Labour Representation Committee in their annual solidarity cricket match to raise £1,500 for the charity Workers Fund Iran, which raises money for Iranian workers. (workersfund.org). In the face of an enormous political and economic crisis, a new round of UN sanctions and war threats, Iranian workers are in a very difficult situation.

This is why it is absolutely vital that the workers’ movement in this country organizes material and ideological solidarity with workers’, women’s and students’ struggles in Iran – they are our natural allies and a true beacon of hope for genuine democracy and freedom.

This is the second solidarity cricket event following the successful match last year (see http://hopivslrc09.wordpress.com/scorecard-and-reports-from-the-match for a report) and we are confident that this year will be even bigger and better than the last one. Those of you who attended last year will know the score by now: food, drink, cricket and a social in the evening. Those of you who don’t will doubtless be kicking yourselves for missing out, but you can make up for it this year!

We are calling on your help to make this day as successful as possible.

Can you:

*Play? The standard will be more ‘village’ than the ‘Test Match’ so even if you have to brush off those pads after years of neglect – get in touch! Both male and female welcome players welcome!

*Get your union branch/campaign/organisation to sponsor the event and cover some of the numerous costs involved in organising the events? Get in touch and we will send you a model motion

*Help out on the day? There is a load of work to do on the day itself, and the more people we have to help

*Promote the event in mailouts, on blogs, or help with leafleting for the event

*Take some leaflets to hand out locally?

Please get in touch with us to offer your help, show solidarity or find out more about what should be an excellent event for an excellent cause!

Panahi stages hunger strike

panahi picBen Lewis reports on the campaign to free the outspoken film maker imprisoned by the Iranian regime

Activists in Hands Off the People of Iran have been informed that Jafar Panahi, the internationally acclaimed film maker who has been incarcerated for over two months, has begun a hunger strike in Evin prison.

This is the latest brave step by Panahi, who is increasingly becoming a symbol of resistance. The solidarity he can generate is of grave cause concern for the Islamic Republic, despite its jails, armed thugs and reactionary militias. Panahi fully realises this, and he is using his standing to exert as much pressure on the regime as possible. He has refused offers of bail, saying that he will only accept it when all other political prisoners are released. Like him, the overwhelming majority of these prisoners were arrested as part of the shocking wave of repression unleashed by the regime in response to the enormous protests on the streets of Iran following last June’s rigged presidential elections.

As we have reported previously, Panahi has been subjected to rigorous interrogation in jail. The Evin interrogators appear to be pursuing the tried and tested approach of bombarding him with the same questions over and over again in order to force inconsistencies in his answers, backing this up with the soul-destroying conditions and humiliating treatment for which Evin prison has become infamous.

Last Saturday the authorities kept all inmates in his wing of the prison outside their cells in the open air for the whole night. Next morning he was interrogated once more, this time being accused of secretly working on a film from his cell. He is particularly concerned about some of the new threats that have been made against his family.

There is clearly a lot of work for us in the solidarity movement. We must do what we can to publicise Jafar Panahi’s brave stance, not least using his wonderfully human films. He – and indeed all the other political prisoners in Iran – cannot be allowed to suffer without an outcry. Holywood directors Martin Scorscese, Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola and Robert Redford have issued forthright statements demanding his release. At this week’s 63rd Cannes Film Festival there were countless expressions of solidarity. One of the nine chairs for jury members remained empty in his honour. Given Panahi’s reputation internationally, it is quite striking that his case has hitherto been subjected to what John McDonnell MP has described as a “media blackout” in Britain, and we must break through this.

Simultaneously, it is vital ensure that the brutal actions of the Iranian state and its callous treatment of dissenters and critical figures of all kinds should not in any way be misappropriated by the US or UK governments to cover their designs on Iran and the region more generally. At a time when the permanent members of the UN security council – US, UK, China, Russia and France – have agreed on new proposals for a fresh round of sanctions, and when the rightwing Israeli politicians hypocritically hark on about the danger of a “second holocaust”, this is of the utmost importance.

Indeed, given that public opinion is not exactly welcoming the prospect of the further escalation of tension in the Middle East, one of the ways in which the imperialists may attempt to respond is to disingenuously latch on to the cause of Iran’s political prisoners. So there is a danger that the political and cultural establishment in the US and UK could hijack Panahi’s courageous stance for their own nefarious purposes. So we must redouble our campaign for the immediate and unconditional release not only of Panahi, but of all political prisoners, and link this with implacable opposition to imperialist sanctions and threats of war. A fight on two fronts which Hopi has conducted since its inception.

Solidarity success

May 12 saw well over 100 people attend a solidarity screening at London’s Soho Theatre of Panahi’s best known film, Offside, jointly organised by Hopi and the Labour Representation Committee. The event was the first in a series of film showings and solidarity events across the country. The Manchester screening took place on May 18, and there will be a further one in Glasgow on May 21.

The event opened with Soho Theatre’s artistic director, Lisa Goldman, providing a moving account of her work with Panahi on artistic projects in Iran. She was followed by John McDonnell, who outlined the significance of the campaign to free Panahi. “Every movement creates a symbol,” he said. “In refusing bail until all other political prisoners are freed, Jafar is taking a courageous stance that we in Hopi wish to applaud and highlight.” He emphasised the importance of Hopi’s core principles – against war or sanctions on Iran; but no support for the theocracy and unequivocal solidarity with genuinely democratic struggles from below against its rule, especially those of the workers’ movement.

This was a theme British-Iranian comic Shappi Khorsandi took up in her opening remarks to the audience, explaining that is why she “loved” Hopi. Offside was certainly a big hit with the audience: stormy applause followed its closing credits. At the end a message of thanks was read out from Panahi’s family.

PCS welcome

Hopi activists have been present this week at the Public and Commercial Services union conference in Brighton and our stall has had a very good response from delegates. PCS has been affiliated to Hopi since 2008 and the annual conference is always a good time to meet PCS militants new and old. Gratifyingly, the response we had from the delegates this year was particularly warm. We distributed some 400 information bulletins on the Jafar Panahi campaign and have already received over 50 signed postcards, which will be sent off in a special batch to Panahi’s family in Iran. We also raised funds for our campaigning work by selling numerous ‘No to war; no to theocracy’ badges and copies of Panahi’s films.

From Weekly Worker 818

Over one hundred people attend solidarity screening of arrested Iranian film maker Jafar Panahi’s Offside at Soho Theatre.

Comedian Shappi Khorsandi and LRC Leader John McDonnell MP
Comedian Shappi Khorsandi and LRC Leader John McDonnell MP

Over one hundred people attend solidarity screening of arrested Iranian film maker Jafar Panahi’s Offside at Soho Theatre.

May 12 saw a well-attended solidarity solidarity screening of Jafar Panahi’s best known film, jointly organised by Hands Off the People of Iran (Hopi) and the Labour Representation Committee. The event is part of a series of film showings and solidarity events across the country to raise the profile of Jafar Panahi and others incarcerated for political ‘crimes’ in Iran.

Panahi was arrested on March 1 as part of the Iranian state’s crackdown on the pro-democracy movement sparked by the rigged presidential elections in June 2009. He has refused bail until all political prisoners of this  movement are freed.

The event opened with Soho Theatre’s artistic director Lisa Goldman providing a moving account of meeting Panahi in Iran. She was followed by John McDonnell MP outlining the significance of the campaign to free Panahi.

“Every movement creates a symbol” he said. “In refusing bail until all other political prisoners are freed, Jafar is taking a courageous stance that we in Hopi wish to applaud and highlight”. He emphasised the importance of Hopi’s core principles – against war or sanctions on Iran; but no support for the theocracy and unequivocal solidarity with genuinely democratic struggles from below against its rule, especially those of the workers’ movement.

Hopi 3 Shappi
Shappi Khorsandi

This was a theme British-Iranian comic Shappi Khorsandi took up in her opening remarks to the audience, explaining that she “loved” Hopi precisely because of this principled stance. Her acutely observed act then interlaced anecdotes drawn from her own background as the daughter of an Iranian activist who had also been persecuted by the Iranian theocracy with observations on the eccentricities of British society from an ‘outsider’.

Panahi’s moving film was a huge hit with the audience; stormy applause followed its closing credits.

Mark Fischer, Hopi national secretary said:

“Tonight was a real success. We are fighting to raise the profile of Jafar Panahi, who in spite of his international prominence as an artist, has been largely ignored by what John McDonnell dubbed in his speech a ‘media blackout’. He – and all political prisoners in Iran – must not be forgotten”.

Panahi’s family sent thanks to the organisers of the event. Hopi has plans for more solidarity events in the near future.

ENDS

Additional Information

Contacts:
Yassamine Mather – 07738 828 540
Mark Fischer – 07950 416 922
Ben Lewis – 07890 437 497

Supporters of Hopi include (for a full list, visit www.hopoi.org/supporters.html):
ASLEF – train drivers union
PCSU – Public and commercial services union
Green Party
Communist Party of Great Britain
Diane Abbott MP – Labour
John McDonnell MP – Labour
Caroline Lucas MP – Green Party
Dr Derek Wall – male principal speaker, Green Party
Bill Bailey – comedian
Haifa Zangana – writer
Ken Loach – film maker
Naomi Klein – author

John Pilger – campaigning journalist
Professor Alan Macfarlane – University of Cambridge
Professor Moshé Machover – King’s College, London
Professor John McIlroy – Keele University
Professor Bridget Fowler – Glasgow University
Professor Christine Cooper – Strathclyde University
Dr Terry Brotherstone – University of Aberdeen UCU
Dr Adam Swift – University of Oxford
Professor Phil Taylor – University of Strathclyde
Professor George Joffe – King’s College, London & University of Cambridge
Peter Jowers – University of the West of England
Professor Guy Julier – Leeds Metropolitan University
Victor Kattan – Research Fellow, British Institute of International & Comparative Law
Dr Gerry Kearns – University of Cambridge
Professor Jeremy Keenan – University of Exeter & University of Bristol
Dr Andrew Cumbers – University of Glasgow
Dr Rolf Czeskleba-Dupont – University of Roskilde
Professor Bill Bowring – Birkbeck College, University of London
Professor Hamid Dabashi – Columbia University
Professor Moataz Fattah – Cairo University

Hopi is a campaign established in 2008 around the central slogans ‘No to imperialist war! No to the theocratic regime!’ As well as British activists, the organisation centrally involves a large number of Iranian exile organisations and individuals who have been forced into exile to avoid arrest and imprisonment.

Solidarity screening of 'Offside'

pic frontWith comedy from Shappi Khorsandi and an introduction by John McDonnell MP. The event is co-sponsored by the Labour Representation Committee (click here to read their letter, urging support for the event). For details of screenings in Glasgow and Manchester, click here)

Wednesday, May 12, 6pm. Soho Theatre, 21 Dean Street, London W1

Jafar Panahi – the well known Iranian film maker – was arrested on March 1 and is still being held without any charges. He has twice been offered bail, but has refused in solidarity with all those incarcerated for their participation in the mass demonstrations against the regime that have shaken Iran since June 2009.

The Hopi showing of the director’s most popular film in the West – ‘Offside’ – is an important opportunity to raise the profile of Panahi and step up the pressure on the regime in Tehran. We believe that international solidarity of this sort – not the threat of military strikes or sanctions – is the way to deliver effective aid to the struggle of ordinary people in Iran for freedom and social change.

  • Please let us know if you can distribute leaflets and we’ll send you some. Maybe your union branch is planning a mailout soon?
  • Even if you can’t come, perhaps you could sponsor the event by making a donation? You can do so on http://hopoi.org/?p=1195
  • You could also try to get your organisation/trade union branch to sponsor the event.

Tickets: £10 (£20 solidarity, £5 unwaged). All profits go to the charity ‘Workers Fund Iran’. Please buy your ticket via Paypal here or by sending a cheque/postal order to PO Box 54631, London N16 8YE

You can also get a new copy of the film from us – we recommend a donation of £10 to cover all costs. Just add the amount when you’re paying.



Videos from the HOPI-LRC fundraising cricket match

The August 1 solidarity cricket match for Iranian workers was an extreme success and raised just over 1000 pounds for our comrades in Iran. Here are some videos taken by John McDonnell MP who captained the LRC on the day.

John McDonnell commentating on the Hopi vs LRC cricket match:

The HOPI Cricket Team:

Continue reading

Iran 2009: Society in Rebellion – Meeting this Saturday!

No War - No Santions - Down With the Islamic Regime
No War - No Santions - Down With the Islamic Regime

Solidarity meeting hosted by Hands Off the People of Iran
Saturday July 4, 17.10
Room 3B University of London Union, Malet Street
Speakers:

John McDonnell MP
Yassamine Mather (HOPI Chair)
Socialist Workers’ Party (invited)
Socialist Party (invited)

Iranian society is convulsed by a political crisis on a scale not seen for over a decade. Masses of Iranian people have taken to the streets since the results of the rigged elections. Their outrage is justified. The levels of blatant vote-rigging on show was crazy even by the standards of Iran’s Islamic Republic regime. The masses are continuing to defy the crackdown and to come out onto the streets and urgently need our material and ideological solidarity.

If the left can come together on this question then we can win hegemony over the solidarity movement, which is currently dominated either by Moussavi supporters and/or groupings which are silent on the role of imperialism in the Middle East.

With this in mind, Hopi is hosting this meeting and has invited speakers from the Socialist Workers Party and the Socialist Party. We are urging the SWP to incorporate the event into its Marxism event, and if not then to send along a speaker to try and discuss the way forward for solidarity action on this crucial question.