Tag Archives: solidarity

eBay auction for HOPI

Between imperialism and a hard place
Between imperialism and a hard place

A number of members and supporters of the campaign have donated clothes and other items to be sold in aid of HOPI. Amongst the donors are an acclaimed Iranian designer who has given many brand new designer clothes. Plus we have some retro-style punk and rock n’ roll shirts, a few leather biker jackets and some rare punk singles – for all you aging spiky tops out there.

Check out the selection here: myworld.ebay.co.uk/2013hopi

The auction will end on Sunday July 14 between 7pm and 8pm – so please make sure you get bidding before then! All the money raised will be thrown into the work of Hopi as it faces up to the new challenges of solidarity and anti-war campaigning.

If none of our stuff takes your fancy, you can always support the work of Hopi in the good old-fashioned way by making a donation. Just follow the link to Paypal on our website.

Many thanks for your support!

In solidarity,

Hands Off the People of Iran

Video: Yassamine Mather responds to her critics on the ‘Iran Tribunal’

Hands Off the People of Iran has been criticising the “Iran Tribunal” for its pro-imperialist agenda and links to funds that campaign for “regime change from above”, like the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). In this video, Yassamine Mather responds to some criticisms leveled against Hopi.

Audio interview with Yassamine Mather

In-depth interview with Yassamine Mather, chair of the Hands Off the People of Iran (HOPI) with the American ‘Stop Imperialism’. They discuss the geopolilitical issues surrounding Iran ranging from the controversy regarding the nuclear program to Iran’s relations with the West and the SCO. In addition, they examine some of the internal politics of Iran, including the competing factions of the ruling establishment and the role of the working class in that country. Also, they address some of the pressing economic concerns including inflation, the effect of sanctions, and the future of Iranian economic development.

http://ericdraitser.podbean.com/interviews/interview-yassamine-mather-05-03-12/

 

Yassamine Mather: Our duty to Iran’s working class

(This article first appeared in the Weekly Worker)

It seems such a long time that there have been threats of military action against Iran without them being followed through that some people may have become a bit blasé. It is a bit like the boy who cried wolf too many times perhaps. However, the reality is that his time the threats are very serious.

The reasons why there are serious threats now have very little to do with the Iranian nuclear programme. Most people agree that the Iranian government exaggerates the stage it has reached and the west also exaggerates this – in regard to uranium enrichment, for example – both for their own reasons. I am not dismissing the nuclear issue altogether, but I do not think it is the reason why we are facing these serious threats.

There are other reasons. First and foremost there is the world economic crisis and the fact that the United States is in economic decline. It is feeling the pressure of both the crisis and the partial erosion of its hegemonic position – not to the extent that its hegemony is threatened by some competitor seeking to take over that role, of course. Because of that it cannot tolerate states like Iran – despite the fact that it follows every neoliberal instruction dictated by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and so on. The problem is that politically Iran is not playing the game that the hegemonic power wants it to play. For that reason it has to be taught a lesson.

Let me stress here – because within the Iranian left and opposition in general there is some confusion on this issue – I am not saying that the United States is threatened by China as a new emerging political power. China’s economic dependence on the US is well known, but, most importantly of all, China’s economic reserves are held in US dollars and in US banks: it would not be in the interest of the Chinese to wage an economic war against the United States; quite the reverse. And China too is very much affected by the economic crisis, just as many countries in the developing and emerging economies are facing its effects.

Leaving aside the effects of the economic crisis, the political reason the US needs to exert its power in the region arises from the fact that its position has been damaged by the two wars it has waged in Iraq and in Afghanistan. I am not using the word ‘defeat’ in this context, as it is more complicated than simply saying the US was defeated in Iraq: clearly it was not. But the outcome is certainly not what anyone in the US political establishment would have wanted: a political regime totally allied to the Iranian government. That must have been the worst-case scenario for American strategists. Saddam Hussein’s Iraq under the Ba’athist regime was a staunch opponent of the Iranians and its downfall has strengthened Iran. The same is also true of Afghanistan. Iran was no friend of the Taliban, but the Karzai regime has distanced itself at times from the US and has moved to find better relations with Iran – both with the supreme leader and with Ahmadinejad. The rapprochement between Iran and Afghanistan gives Iran influence in a very strategic part of the world. This strategic importance is not simply about oil (though there is the additional issue of the oil-rich Gulf region), but about its geopolitical significance.

As the Saudis keep telling the US, the two wars have produced Shia governments all the way from the borders of Iran to the Levant, and that is a serious matter. In the regional context I know that some people in the Stop the War Coalition have said that if Iran is attacked we will see demonstrations in every Arab country, not least Egypt, where the Muslim Brotherhood will be up in arms. The reality is that there is now another very forceful voice in addition to Israel telling the United States to go to war against Iran, and that voice is Saudi Arabia – and, by extension, some of the Sunni Islamic groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Anyone who has any understanding of the Gulf, who knows the history of the Muslim Brotherhood, will understand that would be their position as well – the MB has expressed this in various interviews. The opposition to Iran from the Saudis and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries is poisonous and vehement: you can hear it and you can feel it if you watch Al Arabiya television for 10 minutes. For them it is clear that Iran is the main enemy; they have forgotten about Israel. In fact Israel, Saudi Arabia and the GCC now have a common enemy: Iran.

Also we have now seen Hamas distancing itself from both Syria and Iran, contrary to what hopeful, and I assume uninformed, members of the STWC are telling us. Hamas has been issuing statements saying that if there is a war between Iran and Israel it will stay neutral. As someone who has never supported Hamas it frightens me that it would make such a statement. But that is the reality of the regional context and no manner of wishful thinking can change this. Iran has influence in the Middle East, but also many enemies, and the United States knows it.

In addition to all this the US is in an election year and there is not a single primary where the Republicans do not voice concern about Obama’s ‘irresponsible’ attitude and ‘softness’ on Iran, which adds to the pressure. It is not simply a matter of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee supporting a Republican candidate instead of Obama: I assume AIPAC-influenced votes are divided between both parties. But constant allegations in an election year that the administration is not doing enough, that it is not showing its muscle and that it is displaying weakness can be added to the reality of a superpower feeling threatened by the economic crisis and its political position.

Sanctions

So the threat of war should be taken seriously. The people of Iran are certainly taking it seriously and for them it is a nightmare, a disaster. Whatever political opinion Iranians may hold, they consider the threat of military action a terrible reminder of the Iran-Iraq war – but they realise that this time it could be far worse and on a far larger scale. And in many ways it seems the war has already started because the majority of the people are suffering from the severity of the sanctions. These are not sanctions like those applied against South Africa. They are really affecting ordinary people in their day-to-day lives.

The effects are both psychological and material. For a few years there have been shortages of surgical equipment, of medication, of certain types of spare parts for cars and planes and so on. If your car needs a spare part and the part is on the US list of equipment which could potentially be ‘used for nuclear arms acquisition’, you will just have to write off your car. Alternatively people have attempted to make their own spare parts – and the state has attempted to do the same thing for aircraft – which has made things extremely unsafe. There have been serious accidents, with people endangering their own lives and their surroundings, as they try to work round the sanctions in various ways.

However, the most serious effects of the sanctions have been felt since January and there are two reasons for this. One is that the banking and foreign exchange measures have really hit home. Swift (the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication), through which credit/debit transactions are run via member-banks, is now removing Iran from its list, which means that credit cards can no longer be used in Iran from next month. This is problematic for ordinary Iranians, but also makes it difficult for industry to buy raw materials. I was talking to some people who work in a factory and they were saying that the owner cannot get any of the material he used to buy. They said that usually the capitalists make up such stories as an excuse to sack workers, but in this case the stories are true – they cannot perform the necessary transactions. There have been some smaller banks prepared to bypass these sanctions, but these are being forced to comply.

Banking sanctions have affected the Iranian currency dramatically since January of this year. This was added to the EU decision to stop buying Iranian oil from July. But just the announcement of the banking sanctions brought the Iranian currency to its knees – it lost half its value in 10 hours. Apart from the psychological effect, this shows us how the capitalists both within and outside government circles have been losing confidence in their own state – so much so that suddenly nobody wants to keep their money in tomans (one toman equals 10 official Iranian rials). One dollar is now worth 2,000 tomans – up from 1,200 before the announcement. The state intervened, restricting currency trading and increasing interest rates, but, of course, none of this has had the desired effect and the value of the rial has almost been halved.

Iran’s economy is now one of an importing country, apart from oil. This has resulted from neoliberalism, as well as the land reform and privatisation that has taken place. Agriculture in Iran has been destroyed. The country now imports most of the fruit and vegetables that used to come from within. In most ‘third world’ countries you can usually say, at least food staples are relatively cheap, but this is not the case in Iran. Land reform has driven the peasantry off the land and into shanty towns in the urban areas. What is left of mechanised agriculture is utilised for export crops, which provide good foreign currency returns. Privatisation has resulted in widespread destruction of sections of the food industry, affecting staple foods. The price of rice doubled in January and the same is true for other grains.

In addition to that, imported food is being held up. Shipping companies have been told that if they offload their goods in Iranian ports they will be put on sanction lists. They are taking this very seriously and mostly complying. There are reports, for example, of a ship full of grain from the Ukraine refusing to offload its goods once it had docked. Its owners had second thoughts and told the crew to leave. It was better for the company to do this than be on the US blacklist.

These sanctions have nothing to do with stopping Iran’s nuclear programme. They are for regime change. The US has made up its mind to flex its muscles in the region and install a more compliant regime in Tehran. Now, many Iranians are very sympathetic to the idea of regime change, but they most certainly do not want this to come about through outside interference. Ironically a notion that is so distasteful to ordinary people inside Iran has appealed to certain organisations in exile, some of whom are so desperate for regime change that they do not stop and think about the implications of military action, or what would come afterwards. Could it be worse than the current situation? Yes, it could. The examples of Iraq and Afghanistan prove it.

National fragmentation

Things are indeed very bad for workers in Iran. Unemployment has rocketed, with youth unemployment particularly serious. Many workers are on contracts that allow for instant dismissal, and are often not paid for months. In addition to this, the struggle of Iranians against their own religious state is intensifying. What was, in some senses, a pluralistic dictatorship, is now becoming much more monolithic. This can be seen in the recent election results, combined with the defeat of the green movement in 2009.

Of course, there is strong opposition to the regime. But people do not want another state to decide the fate of their country, and in that sense I think the opposition to the war is so strong that it might actually strengthen the regime and help it survive. It is one of those cases where one does not know how far that process might go. Some say that the US is betting on the fact that the stepping up of sanctions will make the people so desperate they will rebel. But in my view they are wrong: it could have completely the reverse effect.

In some ways we saw this in the election results at the beginning of March. Of course, the regime exaggerated the turnout – I would say that at most one third of the electorate voted. This was despite the fact that the government did its best to make it an election against the war, claiming that voting was a matter of honour, of preserving the nation. One can see the how serious the situation is by the following conundrum: on the one hand, the regime stays in power and the threats increase. On the other hand, the regime change planned by the US would almost certainly involve the dismantling of the country we currently know as Iran.

Take Balochistan. The US is clearly looking to separate it off. It has emerged that Israeli Mossad agents have approached the Balochi opposition pretending to represent the CIA and it was only a year later that the US found out. Then, of course, there was the flood of denials. The US is doing this with more subtlety than the Israelis, but the idea remains one of creating a ‘greater Balochistan’ standing between and in opposition to both Iran and Pakistan.

The Kurdish issue is also an obvious one. There is strong opposition to the repression of the Iranian state. But some of the Kurdish groups would be happy to see a Kurdish republic created under US supervision, presumably not realising where that would lead. It would be a worse outcome for the Kurdish people than the terrible situation they already have to endure under Iran, Iraq and Turkey.

It goes without saying that I support the Kurds’ right to self-determination. Kurdish areas in Turkey and Iraq, as well as in Iran, have been deliberately kept more undeveloped than any other part of those countries, first by western client regimes and then by subsequent governments. As a result there is a very small working class in these regions. For example, working class Iranian Kurds tend to seek employment in Tehran or Azerbaijan.

I would argue for a united socialist Iran with a united, autonomous Kurdistan as a federated part of it. That is a much more attractive proposition for the Kurdish working class than the establishment of a small independent country based on three separate, economically undeveloped regions all with a very weak proletariat. Because of the absence of a strong working class, the Kurdish nationalist parties tend towards pre-capitalist, feudal methods in order to maintain their support. It would be possible to unite these three enclaves into a single state, but that state would be dominated by reactionary forces. Would that be progress for the Kurdish people or the Kurdish working class? I do not think so. As much as I defend the right of the Kurdish people to self-determination – and it must be their choice – I would advocate a federal arrangement within a socialist Iran. That would be better in the long run than a small, impotent Kurdistan state.

Similarly the separation of the Arab regions of Iran has always been on the agenda of neighbouring Arab countries. There is strong sentiment involved: Iranian Arabs speak a different language, they have been repressed. Even when oil prices were at their peak the region was deprived, with people being racially abused and so on. However, becoming part of Saudi Arabia or other states of the Gulf Cooperation will not do them any good either, yet that is the plan. And then there is the idea that a big chunk of Iran should be incorporated into Azerbaijan – there is an understandable sentiment amongst some Azeri Turks in Iran that the idea of joining a bigger Azerbaijan republic would be better than remaining part of Iran.

But all of these scenarios would be profoundly negative – not just for the Iranian peoples, but for the broader region and the world as a whole. Decimating a country in order to make sure that the hegemonic state remains powerful and has no headaches in the region is not a solution. The fact that national minorities in the region have been badly treated is well established and this is a serious issue that must be resolved through the right to self-determination. However, as communists we must be honest and state clearly that the fragmentation of Iran into small, weak units would produce a far worse situation than the present one. As in occupied Iraqi Kurdistan, it is likely that lackeys of the US would be in charge – no-one can claim that Kurds in Iraq are in control of their own destiny. The demand should be for the voluntary union of Iran’s peoples on the basis of democracy and equality.

Anti-regime, anti-war

There are those on the left who say that now is not the time to raise our voices against the Islamic Republic. But opposing this war does not mean suspending our opposition to the theocracy. Within the Iranian opposition there are very few – whether on the left or right – whose opposition to the war leads them to cease opposing the regime. It is the Islamic regime which has created this appalling situation for its own people. The regime itself has imposed neoliberal economic policies that have produced the situation where sanctions are so effective now. It is the state that is responsible for this economically disastrous situation, where the country is becoming utterly dependent on imports for every basic food item. So we cannot say that it is not about the regime.

Then there is the idea that I hear from some Stop the War people that the streets of London are not the place to fight the Islamic Republic. This is an insult to us Iranians. I fought the Islamic Republic in Tehran, but I was forced into exile. I fought the Islamic Republic in Kurdistan, but I could not stay because of the war being waged there. It is my right and my internationalist duty to fight the Islamic republic on the streets of London and no-one from Stop the War can tell me otherwise. Yet it is very often the same people who then tell us that “We are all Greeks today” when it comes to the protests in Athens and elsewhere. What is the logic of that? How come we are “all Greeks”, or “all Egyptians”, but we must not be all Iranians. Oh no – better not say anything about the Islamic regime! Needless to say, I do not accept this argument.

However, I also do not underestimate those sections of the Iranian opposition that are soft on the threat of war. The danger posed by such oppositionists is a very serious one for the Iranian people. I have no expectations otherwise of the right – the royalists have been dreaming from their comfortable homes in Washington or California of regime change imposed by the US for 33 years. But there are groups even among left opponents of the regime that now say, maybe the sanctions are a good idea, because perhaps it will force the hand of the Iranian government. Whether they have that effect or not, they may well destroy the country and starve millions of Iranians in the process. Hardly a useful way to change a regime. You might end up with one that is even worse – perhaps a military dictatorship with a ‘reformist’ Islamist figurehead. Would this be a solution to the problems facing Iran?

There are also sections of the Iranian left that take the opposite stance. Time and time again we have told organisations that defend the Iranian working class – and there are many who have done a good job in raising the issue of workers being attacked and arrested, etc – you cannot do this effectively unless you also raise the issue of war and sanctions. They never took this seriously until this year. However, I am very glad that the International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran has now issued a very clear statement against war and against sanctions. That is a good step. However, I must say that if they had joined us two or three years ago to build a serious campaign in defence of Iranian workers, while at the same time opposing war and sanctions, we would have been in a much stronger position.

I think, because of our principled position, Hands Off the People of Iran is in a unique position to lead the fight against this war. Now is the time to build Hopi, not as an alternative to the Stop the War Coalition – what a ridiculous suggestion – but as an organisation that has built up a reputation precisely because of that principled position. Personally I thought there was no point in Hopi applying yet again to affiliate to STWC, to be honest. But we can build Hopi because the Iranian working class needs us to and it is our duty to provide them with internationalist support and solidarity. But this is not just about Iran. It is about maintaining principle in terms of internationalism, in terms of dealing with the crisis, in terms of not falling for superficial slogans.

This is not just a repeat of the Iraq war: it is perhaps even more serious in some ways. These threats come at a time of economic crisis and it could turn out to be a war aiming to save capitalism. So let us build Hopi, make it stronger. Let us go nationwide. We have the politics, we have the comrades who have stayed loyal to the campaign and we have the correct arguments.

Sponsor Workers Fund Iran supporters running in the Berlin Marathon!

Supporters of Workers Fund Iran will be pounding the streets in the Berlin marathon on September 25th . They will be getting their running shoes on to raise sponsorship money for the important and unique work of this charity – can you support them?

Workers Fund Iran (WFI) was founded in December 2005 inspired by suggestions from veteran Iranian labour activist Albert Sohrabian (1927-2004). WFI aims to reduce and relieve poverty amongst Iranian workers (both employed and unemployed). This results from both the economic policies of the Iranian regime and the sanctions imposed by other countries. The charity puts at the centre of its activities the drive to rebuild international working class solidarity, directly with the workers of Iran. The charity is an independent organisation. Funds sent to Iran will be distributed amongst the most needy working class families who are facing destitution, regardless of political affiliation. We hope the funds will stop families sending their children to the streets as beggars or peddlers and selling their body parts, which is a common practice.

You can sponsor us on line using Charity Choice’s website
https://www.charitychoice.co.uk/donation.asp?ref=154051

So far runners from England, France, Italy, Germany, Sweden and USA will participate to raise funds for this cause. You can show your support by wearing Workers Fund Iran T-shirt and walking with us. If you would like to run the half marathon or the marathon with us and support our cause please send us an email workersfund@gmail.com.

طرفداران صندوق کارگری ایران در ماراتون    =============== را به لرزه در میاورندآنها کفش های دو به پا میکنند تا برای اهداف بزرگ این موسسۀ خیریه پول جمع آوری کنند – آیا شما میتوانید از آنها حمایت کنید؟
صندوق کارگری ایران، با الهام از پیشنهادات کارگرباسابقۀ ایرانی آلبرت سهرابیان (2004-1927) بنیان گذاشته شدصندوق کارگری ایران بر آنست که فقر را در میان کارگران ایران کاهش و نهایتا از بین ببرد شاغل و غیر شاغل )، فقری که نتیجۀ سیاستهای اقتصادی دولت ایران و محاصرۀ اقتصادی توسط دولتهای دیگر استاین موسسۀ خیریه، طبقۀ کارگر ایران را بمثابه مرکزفعالیت و نیروی محرکه برای بازسازی همبستگی طبقۀ کارگرجهان قرار داده استصندوق کارگری ایران موسسه ای است مستقلوجوه ارسالی به ایران بدون توجه به وابستگی سیاسی کارگران در میان خانوداه های کارگری که در معرض فقر قرار دارند توزیع میشودما امیدواریم که صندوق کارگری بتواند مانع از تکدی کودکان در خیابان ها،اعتیاد آنها به مواد مخدر و یا فروش اعضاء بدن این کودکان شود، چیزی که هم اکنون در جریان است.
شما میتوانید از طریق اینترنت و سایت زیر ما را حمایت کنید https://www.charitychoice.co.uk/donation.asp?ref=154051
تا بحال دوندگانی از انگلستان، آمریکا، فرانسه، آلمان، ایتالیا و سوئد برای جمع آوری پول آمادۀ همکاری شده اندشما میتوانید با پوشیدن زیرپوش صندوق کارگری و راهپیمائی با ما در هامبورگ حمایت خودتان را نشان دهیدچنانچه مایلید ماراتون یا نیمه ماراتون را با ما بدوید و حمایت خود را از اهداف صندوق کارگری نشان دهید لطفا با ایمیل زیر تماس بگیریدworkersfund@gmail.com
همبسته باد اتحاد کارگران ایران
در ماراتون هامبورگ 22 ماه مه 2011 با ما باشید
صندوق کارگری ایران

 

Iranian hunger strikers sew their lips together in protest at UK deportation

The Guardian – Four Iranians, including a 17-year-old boy, are on hunger strike and have sewn their lips together with fishing wire in protest at plans by the British government to send them back to Tehran.

The men, who are among six protesters to have not eaten for 16 days, say they were beaten, tortured and in one case raped after taking part in anti-regime protests that swept Iran in 2009. They claim that although their lives would be in danger in Iran they have been “ignored and dismissed” by UK authorities since they sought refuge in the country last year.

“We have sewn our mouths because there is no other way,” said Keyvan Bahari, 32, who has scars across his back and arms from what he said was 12 days of being slashed with razor blades by the Iranian authorities when he was a student. “Nobody in the UK hears us or cares what we say so we have no other option but to do this.”

Bahari, a former champion wrestler who ran his own training centre in Tehran, said the media and government in the UK and US had encouraged him and tens of thousands of other young people to stand up against the regime but had now “washed their hands” of the protesters.

“When I was back in Tehran, I was seeing Obama and British officials on our illegal satellite TVs, encouraging us day in day out to continue our protest,” said Bahari, who is one of three men camping on the pavement outside Lunar House immigration centre in Croydon. Speaking with difficulty through his sewn-up lips, which are already sore and infected, he said: “They said that they will support us but now that I’m stuck in here and need help, they are nowhere.”

The men say they are taking liquids, but doctors say that even so, they could deteriorate quickly, especially if they have pre-existing medical conditions.

Mahyar Meyari, 17, lying in the small tent next to Bahari, recalls how he was raped after being arrested following a demonstration on al-Quds day in 2009. “I was blindfolded and taken to an unknown place where I was kept for a week. I was kicked on the head by batons many times … and even raped,” he said before breaking down.

Mahyar paid a smuggler to get him out of the country but says he did not know where he was being taken before he arrived in the UK 16 days later. “I can’t explain how I feel here, I can’t believe what’s happening to me,” said Mahyar, who does not speak English. “When I claimed asylum with the Home Office, they first didn’t believe that I’m 17 years old, they said I was lying. There’s a culture of disbelief in the Home Office, everybody thinks you are lying by default.”

The men’s asylum claims were all turned down, although some are still involved in appeals. They say they feel let down by the legal system and the lawyers appointed by the Home Office to represent them.

“I’m very discontent about my legal representation,” said Bahari. “I saw my lawyer more as a Home Office officer than a lawyer there to protect my rights. He was more looking after the rights of the Home Office.”

A government spokesman said the UK Border Agency “takes every asylum application it receives seriously” adding the men were given “every opportunity to make their representations to us as well as a right to appeal the decision to the courts”.

He added: “They all had access to free legal advice as well as a designated UK Border Agency caseowner who considered their case on its individual merits.”

However, the men say they have had very little contact with the Home Office since they began their protest and campaigners – and fellow Iranian activists – say asylum seekers are fighting a culture of disbelief across the government.

“The people who are supposed to interview asylum seekers in the Home Office, they do not interview these people, they interrogate them,” said Akbar Karimian, an Iranian activist who has been helping the group. “They search for an error or a mistake in their testimonies so that they can find a contradictory evidence to reject their claim. You imagine that the officers in a refugee organisation of this government are there to help these vulnerable people, but they are there to find a way to send them back.”

Campaigners say the UK hunger strike is a sign of the increasing desperation among Iranian asylum seekers. One man died after setting himself alight in Amsterdam this month and 25 Iranians sewed their lips together in Greece in an attempt to secure refugee status. The Medical Foundation, which is preparing a report on Meyari’s condition for his next appeal, says 293 Iranians were referred to the organisation for help in 2010.

Lying in the tent, Mahyar said the UK hunger strikers, like many fellow Iranians, were prepared for drastic action. “I prefer to die here than going back to Iran. I’ll continue this protest until somebody comes here and asks me why I’m doing this, until somebodycares about what has happened to me.”

 

Workers Fund Iran at Hamburg Marathon 2011

Supporters of Workers Fund Iran will be pounding the streets in the Hamburg marathon on May 22. They will be getting their running shoes on to raise sponsorship money for the important and unique work of this charity – can you support them?

Workers Fund Iran (WFI) was founded in December 2005 inspired by suggestions from veteran Iranian labour activist Albert Sohrabian (1927-2004). WFI aims to reduce and relieve poverty amongst Iranian workers (both employed and unemployed). This results from both the economic policies of the Iranian regime and the sanctions imposed by other countries. The charity puts at the centre of its activities the drive to rebuild international working class solidarity, directly with the workers of Iran. The charity is an independent organisation. Funds sent to Iran will be distributed amongst the most needy working class families who are facing destitution, regardless of political affiliation. We hope the funds will stop families sending their children to the streets as beggars or peddlers and selling their body parts, which is a common practice.

You can sponsor us on line using Charity Choice’s website

https://www.charitychoice.co.uk/donation.asp?ref=154051

So far runners from England, France, Italy, Germany, Sweden and USA will participate to raise funds for this cause. You can show your support by wearing Workers Fund Iran T-shirt and walking with us. If you would like to run the half marathon or the marathon with us and support our cause please send us an email workersfund@gmail.com.

طرفداران صندوق کارگری ایران در ماراتون 22 ماه می 2011خیابان های هامبورگ را به لرزه در میاورند. آنها کفش های دو به پا میکنند تا برای اهداف بزرگ این موسسۀ خیریه پول جمع آوری کنند آیا شما میتوانید از آنها حمایت کنید؟

صندوق کارگری ایران، با الهام از پیشنهادات کارگرباسابقۀ ایرانی آلبرت سهرابیان (2004-1927) بنیان گذاشته شد. صندوق کارگری ایران بر آنست که فقر را در میان کارگران ایران کاهش و نهایتا از بین ببرد ( شاغل و غیر شاغل )، فقری که نتیجۀ سیاستهای اقتصادی دولت ایران و محاصرۀ اقتصادی توسط دولتهای دیگر است. این موسسۀ خیریه، طبقۀ کارگر ایران را بمثابه مرکزفعالیت و نیروی محرکه برای بازسازی همبستگی طبقۀ کارگرجهان قرار داده است. صندوق کارگری ایران موسسه ای است مستقل. وجوه ارسالی به ایران بدون توجه به وابستگی سیاسی کارگران در میان خانوداه های کارگری که در معرض فقر قرار دارند توزیع میشود. ما امیدواریم که صندوق کارگری بتواند مانع از تکدی کودکان در خیابان ها،اعتیاد آنها به مواد مخدر و یا فروش اعضاء بدن این کودکان شود، چیزی که هم اکنون در جریان است.

شما میتوانید از طریق اینترنت و سایت زیر ما را حمایت کنید https://www.charitychoice.co.uk/donation.asp?ref=154051

تا بحال دوندگانی از انگلستان، آمریکا، فرانسه، آلمان، ایتالیا و سوئد برای جمع آوری پول آمادۀ همکاری شده اند. شما میتوانید با پوشیدن زیرپوش صندوق کارگری و راهپیمائی با ما در هامبورگ حمایت خودتان را نشان دهید. چنانچه مایلید ماراتون یا نیمه ماراتون را با ما بدوید و حمایت خود را از اهداف صندوق کارگری نشان دهید لطفا با ایمیل زیر تماس بگیرید. workersfund@gmail.com

همبسته باد اتحاد کارگران ایران

در ماراتون هامبورگ 22 ماه مه 2011 با ما باشید

صندوق کارگری ایران



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

Protests at Iran Khodro after four workers are killed and 13 injured

Worked to death
Worked to death

Statement of a group of Iran Khodro workers

January 26 2011

The statement below has been translated and distributed by Hands Off the People of Iran. It is from a group of workers in Iran Khodro, Iran’s main car manufacturer. They report a major accident which took place during night shift on January 25 in one of the plant’s manufacturing sections. Four workers died and 13 were injured. A worker who was ill and tired after repeated shifts had been forced to come to work. The truck he was driving ran into a crowd of workers in the transport section of the plant.

This sparked all the workers in every sections of the plant to stop work and protest against the Herassat (factory security). Rattled managers tried to remove the bodies from the factory, but angry workers stopped them. They got hold of the body of one of their dead colleagues and carried him around the plant shouting ‘death to Najmodin’ (Iran Khodro’s CEO).

A large spontaneous demonstration took place outside the factory and workers were involved in scuffles with the Herassat and revolutionary guards.

The incident underlines the instability of the Iranian regime and simmering anger of those below. They need our solidarity and renewed determination to fight any imperialist intervention against their country: they themselves must settle accounts with the classes that oppress them.

*

Shocking news

At 11.30 pm on the January 15 2011 a Benz compressor lorry containing a load from one of the company’s contractors entered gate 9 of Iran Khodro’s transport section. Its breaks failed and it plowed into a group of workers. Four of them, our colleagues, were killed. Thirteen others were injured.

Workers are compelled to work public holidays in Iran (such as January 15) to earn a basic wage adequate to feed themselves and their families. Then, just as they prepare to go home, they faces death and injury.

In protest, a large number of workers gathered outside the management’s office and stayed until dawn. That was all they could do. This was shocking, a lorry driving straight into a crowd. Then the management blamed another worker, the easiest thing to do. No one asked why the lorry was in that place at that time. Where was ‘Herassat’ (factory security)? After all they control every movement of the workforce.

Immediately after the incident, tens of special forces security guards arrived at the factory – not to save workers lives but simply to protect the interests of the managers. We express our condolences to the families of our fellow workers and we share their sorrow. We declare Wednesday, January 26 2011 a day of national mourning – we will stop working to mark it. We will not return to work until those responsible for the death of our fellow workers are identified.

This is not the first time that the workers in Iran Khodro have lost their lives at work. Many of our colleagues have died during working hours in this plant. From the death of Peyman Razilou to a number of other deaths caused by over-work. Yet no one is taking responsibility for these deaths.

Now management is attempting to shift blame for the deaths from itself onto a worker’s ‘careless driving’. But we know that the interests of the company, their drive to increase profits at all costs, are the main reasons behind these and other deaths at Iran Khodro. Why should workers be forced to work on a public holiday without adequate breaks? Why should they be worked to the point of exhaustion by the end of their shift? Why should a lorry carrying tons of cargo pass along a road where workers walk at the end of their shift? Billions of tomans [Official Iranian currency] have been spent on the Iran Khodro firm’s Herassat (factory security) to control and suppress the workers. So why can’t a simple task like coordinating traffic so that the movement of huge lorries does not coincide with the end of a workers’ shift be organised?

Every day we see the absence of safety measures throughout the plant. Workers have often asked that traffic should be stopped when they have to use the main path at the start and end of shifts, but who has listened to these calls? What drives management and their public relations department is profit.

It was obvious that workers walking at night on a road (inside the factory, with no pavement) were putting their lives in danger. We protested about this on many occasions. Management promised to build a foot path on many occasions. Nothing was done. Management’s servile attitude to the interests of capital means they pay no attention to us; our lives mean nothing to these people.

When the anti-working class policy of cutting subsidies was announced, the Iran Khodro management announced that it would cut the price of its products. They made no complaint about anti-human policy of ending subsidies; nor did they didn’t indicate how they would achieve the reduction in their prices. It soon became clear, however – less pay for the workers and an increase in the intensity of their work, even at the cost of their lives.

Four innocent workers have died. Who cares? Four workers died in a work accident on almost the same day a few years ago in KhatounAbad. No one was held responsible. Tens of workers have died in Iran Khodro. No one takes responsibility.

Every day, throughout the world, workers die during working hours but the capitalists and their supporters couldn’t care less.

Death is death whether it is in prison, by execution or in an accident. But this death seems to be always the plight of workers and toilers.

How long do we have to tolerate this situation? Until we workers become conscious and take control of our destiny this situation will continue.

We Iran Khodro workers demand immediate punishment of those responsible for the death of our fellow workers. The murderers are no one else but the factory management (defenders of capitalists’ interests) and their public relations office.

Translated by Hands Off the People of Iran

http://www.hopoi.org

We demand the immediate release of Dr. Fariborz Raisdana

Please sign the petition here

We demand the immediate release of Dr. Fariborz Raisdana

We have learned the astonishing news of “Dr. Raisdana’s arrest” by the security agents of the Islamic republic on the early morning of December 19th, 2010 at his home in Tehran. Dr. Fariborz Raisdana is a well known intellectual, economist, social activist, and …the active member of the Iranian writers’ association. He published several books and articles on political economy and sociology. He has been known as a leftist socio-economic expert who always considers working class in his economic impairment analysis. So that he can be firmly called as “Iranian working class economist”. Dr. Raisdana’s field of expertise is econometrics. He has tried hard to disclose how workers and wage earners have been implicated by the relations of political economy in the turbulent Iranian society and how they have been increasingly suffering.

Arrest of Dr. Raisdana , the member of the Iranian writers’ association which is a long-lasting core on the struggle against censorship in Iran , is a warning to the grass root movements who are seeking public justice and to the people whose main civil and democratic demand is focused on human rights and freedom of speech in spite of the extensive violation of civil rights in Iran. Moreover, his arrest, as a leftist economist who criticizes the Iranian government socio-economic platforms, points out the fact that social and political oppression apparatus in Iran is trying to implement its unfair plan to reduce the allocation of national subsidies. This is the unreasonable plan which has been evaluated by the majority of the experts as a plan to consolidate the military authority in the public sphere of Iran. It is out of question that the military economic plan results in reducing welfare and increasing pressure on the lower classes which Dr. Raisdana is their voice in the society to stand against the illegitimate resilient structure.

We, undersigned, condemn Dr. Raisdana’s arrest and with pledge to civil rights and freedom of speech we demand his immediate and unconditional release.

ما خواهان آزادی فوری فریبرز رییس دانا هستیم

در نخستین ساعات بامداد 28 آذرماه 1389 ( 19 دسامبر 2010 ) فریبرز رییس دانا، روشنفکر ، اقتصاد دان و کوشنده ی اجتماعی و عضو هیات دبیران کانون نویسندگان ایران، توسط ماموران امنیتی در منزلش واقع در تهران، دستگیر شد . فریبرز رییس دانا مولف و مترجم کتاب ها و مقالات متعددی پیرامون نظرگاه های اقتصادی و اجتماعی و سیاسی است. او به عنوان اقتصاد دانی پیش کسوت و صاحب نظر اجتماعی، در تحلیل آسیب های اقتصادی کشورمان، همواره به طبقات فرودست و کم بضاعت ایران نظر داشت، به طوری که می توان به جرات او را « اقتصاد دان طبقه ی کارگر و زحمتکش ایران » نامید. رشته ی تخصصی رئیس دانا « اقتصاد سنجی » است و او به کمک معادلات و محاسبات کاربردی ریاضیات، می کوشید روابط و مناسبات اقتصاد سیاسی را در جامعه ی پر تلاطم ایران نمایان سازد و به ویژه نشان دهد که چگونه کارگران و مزد بگیران جامعه در محاق قرار گرفته اند و محنت روزافزون می کشند.

دستگیری عضو هیات دبیران کانون نویسندگان ایران ، به عنوان کانونی دیرپای در مبارزه با سانسور ، هشداری است به مردم عدالتخواه که نقض گسترده ی حقوق بشر و تهدیدهای بی شمار به آزادی بیان را در مقطع اخیر در صدر مطالبات مدنی و دموکراتیک خود قرار داده اند.

همچنین دستگیری رییس دانا، به عنوان اقتصاد دان چپ و منتقد برنامه های دولت فعلی ایران، مبین جریان ویژه ی سرکوب اجتماعی، در آستانه ی طرحی است که کاهش تخصیص یارانه های ملی را مدنظر دارد . بدیهی است که این طرح غیر علمی و نابخردانه که از سوی بسیاری از صاحب نظران در راستای تحکیم اقتدار نظامی و سیاسی حاکم بر ایران ارزیابی شده است، منجر به کاهش رفاه همگانی و افزایش فشار بر طبقات زیرین جامعه خواهد شد، همان ها که رییس دانا صدای ناله و فریاد فروخفته ی آنان بود. باری، چنین شده است که بی محابا بر منتقدین می تازند و ناروا، روا می دارند تا بیش از پیش بر ساختار ارتجاعی خود یکه تاز شوند.

ما ، امضاء کنندگان زیر ، ضمن محکوم کردن بازدداشت فریبرز رییس دانا ، با التزام به حقوق مدنی و آزادی بیان ، خواهان آزادی فوری و بی قید و شرط این فرهیخته ی آزادی خواه ایرانی هستیم