Monday, December 28, 2009

Iran: Power slipping to streets

From In Defense of Marxism.

Iran: Power slipping to streets
by Babak Kasrayi
Monday, 28 December 2009

Over the last few days, mass demonstrations have erupted again in Iran. Millions are on the streets and there are reports of the people taking control of the streets, burning down police stations and even of police refusing to fire on demonstrators. These could be the last days of the hated IRI regime. If a revolutionary leadership were present, the hours of the Islamic Republic would be counted. We publish this article with lots of eyewitness reports from the ground.

A year ago it would have been impossible to believe or even think about it, but as this article goes to print, the power of Islamic Regime is being eroded in Iran and the power is slipping to streets under the massive pressure of people. The equation is simple: millions of people are on streets and there is just not enough police and military forces to contain them.

December 26 and 27 this year was concurrent with the traditional Shiite days of mourning, Tasoa and Ashoora. Shiite Muslims traditionally mourn on these days to commemorate Imam Hossein, a grandson of Prophet Mohammad, who was killed on “Ashoora”. However, like any other religious tradition it has been generally treated like a street carnival by masses. This year, in the midst of a revolutionary movement that started six months ago and has shook Iranian society to its foundations, people had decided to use it as a day of protests. It was therefore for some time generally acknowledged that December 26 and 27 will be days of massive protest.
[...]
Another very important development is some reports that show a number of forces have refused to shoot people, dismissing orders from their commanders. A report from [JRS] (Green Way Movement network), one of the most credible news sources, said:
“ [JRS] correspondent reports that clashes all over Tehran are intensifying and police has lost control of many neighborhoods. Military commanders have asked their forces in central Tehran to use direct shooting to disperse demonstrators. But forces are refusing the command, causing disputes between forces and commanders.”
A [JRS] correspondent present around Enqelab Square clashes says: “After this dispute, one of the guards said: ‘I will never kill the people of my own country’, he was then slapped by his commander who threatened him with martial court.” (Special Guard Forces Refuse to Shoot People).

Read the complete report here ...

Monday, December 14, 2009

Iran: Students Protest with Detainees' Families

Translation of a report from Pezhvak website. Read the original in Persian - plus a list of 19 additional names of the detainees of the Student Day protests - here.

Students Support Protests by Detainees' Families
Pezhvak; Monday, December 14, 2009

According to reports received by Human Rights and Democracy Activists in Iran, the families of those arrested on 16 Azar / Dec. 7 [Student Day] held a gathering in front of the Revolutionary Court building [in Tehran], to protest the arrests of their loved ones and to demand their immediate and unconditional release.

On Monday, December 14, from 9:00 AM, more than 150 people, families of the detainees, most of whose relatives were arrested on December 7, gathered in protest in front of the Revolution Court to demand that their relatives' legal situations and whereabouts be made clear.

The Ministry of Intelligence, much like years past, in order to fabricate evidence against the students who were arrested before Student Day (Dec. 7) - in assaults by intelligence security forces against them in their homes and dormitories - in all the arrest warrants/papers has recorded their day of arrest as December 8th.

The detainees' families voiced particular protest over this action of the ministry, but the only response given by the Revolution Court's staff was, "This is of no concern to us, and if you have any complaints, take it to the investigating branch to which the files have been transferred," which meant that there was as usual no accounting for anybody. In the arrest papers of all the detainees the charges are indicated as 'acting against national security'.

All the families were outraged over the continued detention and lack of any news from their loved ones, and were cursing Khamenei and Ahmadinejad.

A group of students participated in the gathering in front of the Revolution Court, in solidarity with their arrested friends and in support of the detainees' families. They announced that they would continue their protests alongside the families of the detainees until all those under arrest are freed.
[...]
[Source: Human Rights and Democracy Activists in Iran]

Friday, December 11, 2009

Stop the Execution of Zeinab Jalalian, Kurdish Activist

Dear Human Right Organisations,

My name is Ms Zeinab Jalalian (زینب جلالیان). I am a 27-year old Kurdish female political prisoner, in Iran. My Death sentenced was confirmed by Iranian Supreme Court. I am currently ill because of torture, and I don’t have a lawyer to defend me. I want to tell you that my trial took only a few minutes. The Court told me: “You are God's enemy and you must be hanged very soon.” That was all my court procedures.

I asked the judge to give me permission to hear the voice of my mother and say goodbye to my family before my execution, but he told me "Shut your mouth," and he rejected my request.

Zeinab Jalalian (زینب جلالیان)
26/11/2009
اسم من زینب جلالیان می باشد
من دختر 27 ساله‌ی کورد زندانی سیاسی ایران هستم حکم اعدام من از طرف شورای عالی دادگاه‌ انقلاب اسلامی تایید شوده‌ است ، من بخاطر شکنجه‌ی زیاد در حال حاضر مریض ، و هیچ وکیلی ندارم که‌ از من دفاع کند محاکمه‌ی من فقد چند دقیقه‌ طول کشید و ان هم این بود که‌ دادگاه‌ به‌ من گفت تو دوشمن خدا هستی و باید اعدام شوی من از حاکم خواستم که‌ پیش از اعدامم به‌ من اجازه‌ بدهد برای اخرین بار صدای مادرم و فامیلم را بشنوم حاکم از من خواست که‌ دهنم را ببندم و در خواست مرا رد کرد .
26/11/2009 زینب جلالیان
Please Write/Phone/Fax:
Head of Iran's Judiciary: Ayatollah Amoli Larijani: Office of the Head of Judiciary, Pasteur St., Vali Asr Avenue, south of Serah-e Jomhouri, Tehran 1316814737; Tel: +98 21 8 896 203 Fax: +98 21 879 6671 / +98 21 3 311 6567; Email: irjpr@iranjudiciary.org / larijani@dadgostary-tehran.ir
Minister of Foreign Affairs: Manouchehr Mottaki, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Abdolmajid Keshk-e Mesri Av, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, Fax: + 98 21 390 1999, Email: matbuat@mfa.gov.ir
Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Chemin du Petit-Saconnex 28, 1209 Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 7330203, Email: mission.iran@ties.itu.int

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Iran Unrest Persists in Universities


Translation of a report from the website, Rooz. See the original here. (right photo: Majid Tavakoli)

Unrest Persists in Universities
In reaction to the arrests and fabrications against Tavakoli
By Saamnaak Agha'ie (Rooz Online; Dec. 10, 2009)

In the aftermath of the arrest of Majid Tavakoli, member of Islamic Association, in Polytechnique University (Amir Kabir), and the reports by government owned media regarding his arrest 'while dressed as a woman', the universities still have a tense atmosphere and the protests against the government continue.

According to received reports, in addition to protests in Tehran's universities, yesterday also saw student gatherings in state and private universities in Mashhad, Qhazvin, Karaj, Esfahan and Shiraz. Yesterday's university student protests in several different cities followed the lie mongering by the government, and publication on websites connected to the security-intelligence forces of photos related to Majid Tavakoli, a well known student activist. Yesterday's continued [nationwide] student protests were also held in undivided solidarity with that student activist.

In this relation, the Islamic Association of the Polytechnique University, in a statement, emphasized: "Not only Majid Tavakoli, but all students in the dungeons of tyranny, are the pride of the student movement, whether they be dressed in women's clothing or men's."

Majid Tavakoli and a Speech
Majid Tavakoli, who was arrested in the assault by the security forces and the basijis on the Student Day ceremonies in Polytechnique University, is among well known student activists that in recent years has also been imprisoned [...] and has [already] suffered through a fifteen-month sentence under torture. On this year's Student Day/16 Azar, he attended the ceremonies at Polytechnique along with hundreds of other protesting students, and gave a speech for some minutes. In his speech, which was met with great enthusiasm among students, this student activist, pointing to the recent events after the elections, and pointing to the crackdown and all the spilled blood and the rapes in prisons, he emphasized the importance of students' resistance and struggle alongside the people and against the ruling despotism.

[Majid Tavakoli], in another part of his speech reminded that the Student Day is the day of shouting at tyranny, and, addressing the students, said: "In honoring and respecting a people who have risen with peaceful protests against oppression and the blood-letting, and who have today come to our support, it is our duty to be present at the gates of the university and to thank the people present in front of the university, and to strengthen our unity with the people."

Defending Imprisoned Students
Student sources believe that Tavakoli's arrest and the [lie mongering] campaign by websites supporting the coup regime was mainly due to his spirited and moving speech at the students' gathering. Yesterday, after Majid Tavakoli's arrest, [state owned] Fars News Agency initially published a photo of Tavakoli, claiming that he was arrested while dressed as a woman and trying to escape from the university.

In response to the fabrications against an arrested fellow affiliate, the Islamic Association of the Polytechnique University, in a harsh statement said: "Those who cannot stand the freedom seeking surge of the Amir Kabir students, much like in the past, scheme to destroy the dignities of free people. But, they should know that freedom belongs to those people who put themselves in danger for freedom. And in truth, Majid Tavakoli ... is such a free soul, who is always in the hearts of, and subject of talk among, the Amir Kabir University students. Iranian dictatorship must be very angry with Majid Tavakoli's words and criticisms regarding the current dictatorship in the country, since they find themselves being like the king whose nakedness has been revealed by the students. And now, hapless and helpless in understanding the students' clear slogans, they show their revenge and hatred by persecuting Majid Tavakoli. The widespread and glorious resistance of the students across the country has gotten the inept despots so confused that they could not find anything else to do other than to put some fake clothes on Tavakoli and publish the pictures. Little do they know that Majid Tavakoli has been, is and will be the pride of the students' movement, be he dressed in women's clothing or men's."

Widespread Arrests in Mashhad University
Yesterday's student protests in universities in several cities in the country were accompanied with widespread arrests. The gathering at the Ferdowsi University in Mashhad [in the northeast], protesting against the continued arrests of students on December 7th/Student Day, was for the second time faced with an assault by the security forces and the Basijis, resulting in physical beatings by security forces and arrests of at least 70 students in that university.

One of the students, in an interview with Rooz (roozonline.com), said: "This gathering was held with more than 2,000 university students attending, in front of the amphitheater's doors. Students were protesting, holding green flags and symbols, raising slogans like, "Ahoy, irreverent Karroubi, break the big statue-god" (Karroubi-e bot-shekan, bott-e bozorg-o beshkan!), and "Death to dictator!" when a group of some forty Basijis started attacking the students."

The student then continued: "When the Basijis faced resistance and the students fought back, and when the cultural deputy of the university's warnings were ineffective in ending the gathering, a large number of security forces entered the area of the gathering and along with the Basijis proceeded to assault and arrest the students."

In closing, the student pointed to the later release of some of the 70 arrested students, some hours later, and said: "But, in particular, the fate of some 13 -- who are among the more active students of the university -- remains unknown. A large number of students have announced in a statement that, in case the detained are not immediately released, they will continue to assemble and protest tomorrow as well."

Increase in the Number of Arrested Students
While the students in universities in Tehran, Shiraz, Esfahan, and may other cities in the country are determined to continue their protests in universities, news sources are reporting a rise in the numbers of arrested students in the last two days. The increase in the reports of arrested students takes place in a situation that, according to law enforcement officials, in Tehran alone more than 200 students were arrested on 16 Azar/Dec. 7. Until now, no reliable figures have been published regarding detained students in cities such as Tabriz, Hamedan, Ahvaz, Esfahan and Karaj.

In Shiraz, with the arrests of two more students, Sa'id Aganji and Razieh Ja'fari, the number of arrested students in the last two days now stands at 8. Amir Kabir Newsletter, writing about this, said: "On 16 Azar/Student Day, six students activists in Shiraz were arrested, with the following names: Seyed Mohammad Mohsen Moussavi, Sobhan Heydari, Najmaa Ranjbar, Seyed Mohammad Hosseini, Sa'id Lotfi, and Masood Mahdavi-far. In all, since 13 Aban/Nov. 4, more than 30 dissident students have been arrested in Shiraz, about whose fates and conditions no news has been available until now."

In Tehran also, with the continuation of the protests and the arrests of the Student Day, news and human rights sources yesterday reported at least 8 more arrests in the last two days: Farzad Kalb'ali, Taher Dehkhar-Qharnian, Navid Soltanpoor, Mojtaba Hashemi, Niloofar Esbati, Bardia Najaar, Mehdi Belkhari and Meisam Hosseini.

Additionally, local sources in Kurdistan also published the names of 15 students arrested in Tehran and the provinces: Ahmad Esma'ili, Amanj Rahimi, Abdollah Arefi, Pakhshan Azizi, Leyla Mohammadi, Sarveh Veisi, Hazhar Yusefi, Amjad Kordnejad, Nasser Ahmadi, Abas Kaka'ie, Ali-Reza Moradi and Sajad Moradi, are among the students arrested in Tehran University. Also, Edris Moloody in Baaneh, and Sohrab Karami in Ghorveh were detained and sent to prison.

Video of Qhazvin University Students

The banner held by the students reads, "University Is Alive!"

Continued Protests at Tehran and Sharif Universities

From Payvand Iran News.
(poster reads: University Is Alive!)

Protests of students at Tehran and Sharif Universities
Payvand Iran News / Dec. 10, 2009

Protests of students at Tehran and Sharif universities continued for a third day.

Despite the fact that last night, Tehran University issued and distributed an order over the campus and dormitory that banned any protests on December 9th, several students supporting the Green movement held a protest in front of the faculty of engineering.

According to report by Norooz News Agency, the faculty officials who wanted to show peaceful reaction to the extensive protest by the students in front of the office of Kamaree, faculty's dean, opened doors to Shahid Chamran auditorium so that students could state their objections.

After the opening of the session and a 20 minute speech by Kamaree, protesting students who were talking in the form of an open forum, repeatedly demanded resignation of Farhad Rahbar, the university's dean which was objected by Kamaree. This led to objections from the students which resulted in Kamaree leaving the auditorium.

In this session, students chanted slogans against the university security personnel. On December 7 and 8, the university security did not prevent the Basij militia, who were not students, from entering the university and beating the students inside the university, and they even assisted Basij militia to beat protesting students.

Sharif University, December 9th
According to reports, today the students of Sharif University also held a rally and protest. The arrest of at least 7 students of Sharif University and other universities including Tehran University on December 7 and 8 has been announced as the reason for this protest. Sharif University students rallied inside the university, chanted slogans and gathered in front of the university's main entrance.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Khiaban No. 57: Looking back at Student Day 2009

Translation of a lead article from the latest issue of Khiaban newspaper.

You can read all previous issues of Khiaban newspaper
here.

Broken Structures, Failed Repairmen
Khiaban #57 / Tuesday, December 8, 2009

16th Azar/Student Day has passed. With slogans of "Death to Khamenei!" Death to the principle of religious guardianship! "Khamenei the murderer; his guardianship null and void!" (Khamenei qhaateleh, velayatesh baateleh!) "Death to the tyrant, be it shah or the supreme leader!" (Marg bar setamgar, che shah baasheh che rahbar!) "Torture, treason; infamy on this guardianship!" (Shekanjeh, khiaanat; nang bar in velayat!) "Hossein, Hossein is your motto; raping is your peak of pride!" (Hossein, Hossein sho'aareteh, tajaavoz eftekhaareteh!). "Ahmadi has come up short, he's brought out the idiot thugs!" (Ahmadi kam aavordeh, Sha'ban bi-mokh aavordeh!). "Had there been no Basijis, Taraaneh* with us would still be!" (Agar basiji nabood, Taraaneh* peeshe maa bood!)

16th of Azar has passed. With the widespread and courageous presence of the people in the streets. People who, despite the [undeclared] military law and the military occupation of the streets, took to the streets and fought for their presence in public spaces and shouted out their demands.

16th of Azar has passed. With the announcement of the absolute will of the society to continue their movement until a free and equal society is achieved. The Student Day passed so that the society's season may begin.

They [reformists] said, and we heard, 'do not raise slogans against the system'. They said, and we heard, 'do not take to the streets; hold your ceremonies within the universities'. They said, and we heard. We heard it said by all from the reformist wing of the regime to Nehzat Azadi [Freedom Front], to the analysts outside the country, and in numerous media. From this interview and that radio, to this and that green statement.

The people, however, and the university students raised their own voices. Their own slogans. From the people's point of view, a valiye faqih [religious guardian/supreme leader] who has supervised the killings and the torture of the people, and who is the commander in chief, is a criminal. A system based on valiye faqih, which has been placed on earth by some god, and which is not accountable to anybody, cannot be defended, nor has it any room for reform. This constitution and the legal institutions are huge obstacles in the way of the actualization of the free and equal right of self-determination, to determine one's own life. The liquidation of the Revolutionary Guards and the Basij, and all the other fascistic gangs, now constitutes a demand of the people. These structures have long been shattered in the collective consciousness. The destruction of these structures and the creation of new structures that guarantee a free and equal life is now a collective demand, which cannot be silenced by media propaganda.

16th of Azar showed that those who consider themselves the leaders of the movement are not made of the same cloth as the reality of the movement. Those leaders show one strategy, but the people protesting in the streets take other steps. They advertise certain slogans, but the people protesting in the streets shout different slogans. The self-assigned spokespeople of the movement give speeches that are in contradiction to the demands raised by the people protesting.

The time has come for the people, through their own local organizations, to publish and disseminate their own voices and discourse. Issuing of statements -- reflecting demands of particular groups of citizens formed within specific networks of those who are organizing themselves -- can be the voice of the movement's depths, brought to the greater public. We must take the role of spokesman-ship back from fraudulent spokespeople. Slogans are effective but they are not enough. People must [organize to] issue statements in which they express their demands and their proposals.

[*Translator's Note: Taraaneh Mousavi, a woman who was group-raped in detention, and whose body was burned to cover up the crime.]

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Latest from Amir Kabir Newsletter

Below, is a translation of the latest news on Amir Kabir Newsletter. The news item is about he attacks by Basij and Sepah forces against the students in Tehran and Shahid Beheshti universities. See the original here.

Also, you can see where Shahid Beheshti University is located in Tehran (facing the hills that house Evin prison), in this BBC Persian video clip, on some of the events of the Student Day in Tehran:



Revolutionary Guards and Basij Attack Tehran and Shahid Beheshti Universities
Amir Kabir Newsletter / Dec. 8, 2009

Starting this morning (Tuesday, Dec. 8), groups of Sepah (revolutionary guards) and Basijis began attacking university students in Tehran University and Shahid Beheshti University.

According to Amir Kabir Newsletter, the gates to these universities were opened by university security to Basij and Sepah forces outside the campuses, so that they could enter the grounds.

This happened after the students at Tehran University had declared yesterday that, in condemnation of the violence by the plainclothes security forces on Student Day, they would assemble to protest today, Dec. 8.

The security forces, armed with batons, truncheons and pepper sprays, went on an assault against the students. Also, based on reports from Tehran University students, a number of students were arrested and transferred out of the university.

In the meantime, this morning, several bus loads of Basij and plainclothes forces were transferred to Shahid Beheshti University to hold an assembly.

According to Amir Kabir newsletter, these forces started moving in the direction of the Shahid Beheshti University's school of law, in the process forcing the closure of classes, and proceeded to beat the students. Based on latest reports received, there is/was a confrontation between some 200 Basijis and about 300 students, exchanging slogans.

Yesterday, the students at Shahid Beheshti University celebrated and honored Student Day by holding a large and spontaneous assembly. In that assembly, the students raised radical slogans against the ruling authorities, and in front of the hills housing Evin [prison], shouted, "Allah-o Akbar!"

The Ansare Hezbollah forces and the Basijis who were bused in to Shahid Beheshti, along with the Basijis who attend the university, held an assembly in front of the men's cafeteria, and raised slogans, such as, "Moussavi kam Avordeh" (roughly, Moussavi is inept), or, "Marg bar zedde velayate faqih" (death to those opposed to religious rule of one).

In response, the university students gathered in front of women's cafeteria, and raised slogans such as, "Toop, taank, basiji; digar asar nadaarad" (canons, tanks, basijis will no longer suffice!), "Death to dictator!", and, "Get lost, Basiji!"

In view of the violence against the students by basijis and the plainclothes forces, the atmosphere there is still tense.

Free Iran Labor Leader, Pedram Nasrollahi!


Translation of statement issued by a group of labor leaders in Iran, condemning the arrest of Pedram Nasrollahi, a fellow labor leader. Original statement (in Farsi) can be read at the website of Coordinating Committee to Help Form Workers' Organization.

UPDATE: On Dec. 7th, Nasrollahi was released on a $30,000 bail, but the charges against him still stand (see the news, in Farsi, here).

Closing Statement of Ceremonies of Coordinating Committee Condemning the Arrest of Pedram Nasrollahi
December 4, 2009

Workers, organizations and institutions defending human rights, honorable and freedom loving people!

A new phase of arrests and detentions of workers and workers' rights activists has started [in Iran]. Workers' representatives of the Haft-Tapeh Sugarcane Co. syndicate were taken to jail for merely defending the workers' demands to meet their needs. The detainees of the May 1st, 2009, from Tehran were called in [by security forces] and Mohammad Ashrafi was sentenced to one year in prison. Pedram Nasrollahi, a member of Coordinating Committee to Help Form Workers' Organization, while returning home was assaulted physically, then arrested and transferred to Sanandaj prison. Threats against workers rights activists and their arrests continue. And all these under conditions, where the security and intelligence forces have been suppressing assemblies and gatherings of workers' activists, and while the oppressed and the fed-up, in order to achieve their crushed rights and demands in different social spheres take to street protests, which under the pretexts of 'disturbing the public peace' and 'fighting against national security' get crushed and their activists tried in courts with imaginary charges.

All these problems, of course, are occurring within conditions in which the working classes in Iran are facing innumerable difficulties and tragedies, under pressure from many sides and their rights denied. Capitalists don't pay their wages for months at a time and subject the workers to numerous forms of oppression and severe exploitation. At the moment, countless productive centers are faced with closures and firings and widespread unemployment continue to threaten the livelihoods of workers and their families. Also, the current government plan to supposedly 'rationalize the subsidies' [to phase out almost all subsidies _ trans. note], although not operationalized yet, has already had its psychological impact and the prices of many necessary goods have gone up, something whose pressure will be felt all the more painfully among the workers and the lower layers of the society. The continuation of these conditions will considerably worsen life and work conditions for workers, and the living conditions of the lower classes will face numerous kinds of hardships and tribulations.

It is clear that with all these hardships and restrictions, workers -- who struggle and fight for their obvious and legitimate rights -- cannot take a step backward and stop demanding their elementary and legitimate needs to be met and be given what's theirs. In the midst of all this, threats and arrests of workers and workers' rights activists will have no benefits for this exploiting class other than to expose capital's ruthlessness and to educate the masses all the more regarding the anti-worker nature of the capitalists. Such anti-workers actions and plans will only steel the will and determination of the workers for the continuation of their struggle to pursue their rights and demands in all social spheres.

We the members of Coordinating Committee to Help Form Workers' Organization, who participated in these ceremonies in defense of Pedram Nasrollahi, while condemning his arrest, demand that he be set free by the relevant authorities, and in case of the continuation of his incarceration, consider it justified to continue our efforts to free him in any form necessary and possible.

We, the participants in these ceremonies, also demand the suspension of the harassment of workers and demand the freedom of the leaders of the [Tehran] bus drivers' syndicate and the Haft-Tapeh Sugarcane Co. syndicate, and the freedom of all political prisoners.

Coordinating Committee to Help Form Workers' Organization
13 Azar, 1388 / Dec. 4, 2009


[See original in Farsi, here]

Monday, December 7, 2009

Iranian Revolution: Act II Continues


In solidarity with the Iranian university students!
Salute to all the heroic students, every one of whom is a leader and a fighter!
In unison with millions of students in Iran, we salute the freedom loving spirit of Shariat Razavi, Ghandchi and Bozorgnia!
People in Iran continue their fight. The state trembles at every one of these anniversaries. As reported on Revolutionary Road, one bus passenger in Tehran could be heard commenting on the cowardice of the regime: "They're afraid of their own shadows," says the passenger while filming the battalions and battalions of different security agencies lining up the streets, in an 'absolute show of force'.
Alas, such is the double-edged sword they wield. The more they have to occupy the streets to maintain control, the more they are not in control.
And the people's moves, when faced with only brutality and nothing else, will only get more radical over time. That, and more organized, plus more creative at times. One of the more creative moments of this round of battles was a new stunt: people were holding out money to Basijis, while chanting, "Maa ahl-e koofeh nisteem, pool begirim be'isteem!" (roughly, 'We're no paid thugs, who get paid to stand for something') (see the first video clip below).
For some of the best live reporting, see Revolutionary Road's live blogs from Tehran.



This is Tehran University:


Many more video clips available on Iraian.com's video page for 16 Azar ceremonies.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Bazr: Iran Student Day 2009


Translation of a statement issued by the student publication, Bazr, on the occasion of the 16th Azar (Dec. 7th), or the (University) Student Day, in Iran (see original in Persian, here).

16th Azar: Always Red!
Bazr Student Periodical: On the Occasion of 16 Azar/December 7, 2009

16th of Azar is on the way once again. Any ceremonies planned for this year will be different from those of previous years. This school year started with a different beginning. 13th of Aban (Nov. 4th), which had always been a boring event, this time around was a starting point for this day. 16th of Azar, however, has always been a climax for all the events. From the people's point of view, the university and university students have been symbols of consciousness, knowledge and struggle. After the recent surge forward [by the people], which saw astonishing days and moments, the Student Day can become a turning point. However, a review of this day in history shows us some important points.

The starting point of 16th Azar was in the university student struggles in 1953, in opposition to the Shah's policies and, specifically, to Nixon's trip [as Eisenhower's vice president] to Iran. The demonstrations held for this occasion led to the deaths of three university students [in Tehran] by the names of: Qhandchi, Shari'at Razavi, and Bozorgnia. Since then, 16th Azar of every year has been celebrated as the Student Day, albeit with different degrees of intensity. The point that is evident and clear, however, is that the Islamic Republic has always attempted to confiscate this day in the name of Islam. But, the students' struggle of 1953 was a fight against the ruling oppression and imperialism. The three murdered students belonged to the communist Tudeh Party and to the National Front.

The oppression of that day and today are not different; only its form and appearance have changed, but its class nature is the same as it was. The Islamic Republic, by creating student organizations that were attached to the regime, such as the Daftar Tahkim Vahdat (Office of Consolidation of Unity) and various Islamic associations, has to this day tried to fully expropriate this day and to use it for its own policies.

In recent years, with the presence and regeneration of leftist students in universities, the 16th Azar ceremonies have been held with a different quality. In particular, we can point to the ceremonies held in 2006. Although it was a joint ceremony in conjunction with Daftar Tahkim, with the presence of the radical students the day turned into a radical and oppositional program against the regime. The day after, although an account in the E'temad Meli newspaper (belonging to the reformist faction then, and today's opposition) contained a picture of the ceremonies displaying red placards, the report itself claimed the ceremony to have been organized [only] by Daftar Tahkim Vahdat and reportedly filled with enthusiasm.

In 2007, when the regime could no longer stand the strengthening of the left, in the lead-up to the 16th Azar, it organized a widespread campaign of arrests against leftist activists, and detained nearly 40 individuals and sent them to Evin. Despite that, the Student Day was celebrated, albeit in small crowds, and several of the students were also arrested after the ceremonies. In that year, Daftar Tahkim Vahdat, at ease of mind in the absence of the left, organized the ceremonies. The interesting part was the confiscation of the leftist slogans; something that was repeated in different ceremonies held later by Tahkim Vahdat students. They confiscated both the day and the slogans!

But how will the 16th Azar be this year? This year, everything has changed considerably. In the recent leap made by the people, the presence of the students was very widespread and influential. The Iranian regime, knowing that the universities and their students constitute a major segment in the struggle, attacked the university campus [in Tehran] with vengeful violence, killing many and injuring, arresting and disappearing many more. The final exams were canceled so that the students would return to their hometowns. But, none of these stopped the rage of the people and the university students. The start of the school year, which was accompanied with many 'if's' and 'but's' regarding opening the universities or not, turned out to be a hot beginning. This time, though, the student protests and the struggles spread nationwide. The students have organized/assembled under many different pretexts. None of the regime's representatives have been able to give speeches in any of the universities in Tehran or in other cities, and most such speeches have turned into arenas of radical struggles. Although green symbols and slogans have more or less been present at these protests, the organization of these protests, according to students who attend them, have not been under the leadership of the Daftar Tahkim Vahdat students, and have been mostly spontaneous. In all this, the presence of the first-year and newly arrived students, who had started university having just arrived from a street fight, has been very manifestly positive.

After the 13 Aban/November 4th ceremonies, the Iranian regime, terrified of the 16th Azar, began its attack in many different forms. The execution of Ehsan Fattahian, a Kurdish political activist and 16 others in the same week, the widespread arrests of university students in different universities, suspension of students and banning them from entering universities, and ordering vast numbers to report to disciplinary committees are among such attacks. It is certain that these arrests will not stop the 16th Azar ceremonies from being held. This year, however, an important change has been created. Until now, the Islamic Republic has been trying to confiscate this day, but today the reformist faction of the regime, which sees itself as the opposition, is trying to do the same. But, the reality is that the green faction, today, is part of the ruling system. Not only are their demands not radical, they even try to control people's radical slogans and moves. The greens, who never thought people's protests would materialize like this, have tried to claim ownership over these struggles and have done their utmost to tame and control them. They are riding the wave of people's struggle. But the reality is that they cannot be real leaders of people's fight, since they too seek to consolidate the 30-year long positions and policies of the Islamic Republic, but in a different form. They talk of the return to the constitution; of the real revival of religion, and they talk of the Islamic Republic, not a word more, nor a word less! Haven't such categories been noticed and examined for the last thirty years? The reformist faction which has been a part of the ruling system has been complicit in all matters. But, the fissure that has appeared today among the rulers is over how best to continue and prolong the life of the Islamic Republic. Their class nature and their goals are not different. Their clash is not over the people's interests.

It is therefore necessary that the university students -- as a part of the people with a concentrated presence at the nerve centers of knowledge and consciousness -- must consciously address this issue and prevent the Student Day from being confiscated, this time by the greens. Although the [organization of] Tahkim Vahdat does not enjoy its previous strength, we must remember that the greens, as a part of the regime, still have their own forces, media and platforms. Daftar Tahkim is not only not the representative of 16th Azar, it is even an obstacle to celebrating the Student Day in its true meaning. This organization has annually used this day to push forth the policies of the Islamic Republic, and this year will undoubtedly push forth the policies of the greens.

The Student Day is a day to fight against ruling oppression and imperialism, and this year the message of the 16th Azar, delivered by university students, must be heard by all, all the more gloriously. In the last months, the street has been the scene of people's struggles, and today, on the eve of the 16th Azar, the regime has taken special measures in preparation to limit the events of the day to the university campus. At the same time, we must note that even the green faction is not too enthusiastic about the events spilling beyond the university campus walls. They are well aware of the explosive potentials of the university students, and know that if the students join up with the people and other youth in the streets, the 16th Azar ceremonies will turn untamable. This could lead to big losses for the greens. This year's 16the Azar can become a determining turning point and springboard for the people's movement. It was for good reason then that, from the very first days [of the movement], in order to tame the people's movement, this regime attacked the university, since it knew that students carry a big weight in the movement. The events of the past months have unfolded in such manner that despite the differences between the two factions, their discourse is increasingly similar. Moussavi has been content with issuing conciliatory and pacifying statements, and Karroubi, who they claim is a radical, on the eve of the Student Day has stepped back and remained silent.

The students must use this atmosphere, which contains all the right elements for a radical fight, and must insist on the radical nature of this day as a revolutionary day, a day of anti-oppression and anti-imperialism, and revive the true meaning of this day. The true horizon of the student's struggles must be based on the interests of the majority of the society and against the totality of the regime. We must not allow the greens to confiscate this day in their own name and to put a green stamp on it. We must fight against and expose the crimes committed on the university campus [in Tehran University], we must fight against the arrests, the suspensions and expulsions and putting stars on students and against the recent executions, especially the execution of Ehsan Fattahian. The ruling faction orders the replacement of humanities courses with classes in Islamic studies and the green faction speaks of the correct revival of religion in the society. On this day, we must raise our voices against all such cases and against the dissemination of superstitions - instead of science - in the most essential places of science and knowledge. As opposed to the policies pursued by the greens, who are opposed to slogans targeting the whole political structure [of the regime], on this day we must use radical and revolutionary slogans against religious rule, against compulsory hejab [cover for women], in support of dominated ethnic minorities and against the entirety of the system; and we must avoid raising religious and nationalistic slogans. By creating independent organizations consisting of a radical student body, we must prevent the confiscation of the student protests by regime organizations, such as Tahkim [Vahdat] and Anjoman Eslami (Islamic Association). Do not allow them, after confiscating the slogans of the day, to then also confiscate this day that belongs to the university students. We must take the fight from inside the university campus to the streets. In the recent leap, women and girls have had a noticeable and magnificent presence, and nowadays a major part of the student body consists of women. We must be the voice of the girls and women of the society, and reflect their demands. The voice of those who proved that they have an important role in leading the recent fights.

Let us not allow 16th Azar to turn green! Let us celebrate this day in red, not only in appearance but in form and essence!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Khiaban No. 54: 11th Anniversary of Serial Killings

Translation of a lead article of issue number 54 of Khiaban newspaper.

You can read all previous issues of Khiaban newspaper
here.

Serial Killings: Eleven Years Later
Amir K.
Khiaban #54 / Thursday, Nov. 26, 2009

Eleven years ago, in the month of Azar*, one of the numerous bloody chapters in the history of the Islamic Republic was written. In a short span of time, several writers, intellectuals and political activists were murdered in an organized, pre-planned crime committed by the state. These murders, which were carried out in a horrendous fashion, shocked and traumatized the society. The Intelligence Ministry, in a statement, admitted to the culpability of a group from within the ministry in the killings, and called them a rogue group.

At that time, among the regime's reformist publications, the idea was repeatedly propagated that the real target of the serial killings had been Khatami's government. This claim implicitly meant that the murdered figures themselves did not have any real significance, and other people could have taken their place. In this way, the wrath and rage of the people due to the hideous killings was thus channeled into defending the Khatami government. The supposed relative insignificance of those murdered was also pointed out and emphasized by [the supreme leader] Khamenei. In a speech, he said that he reads and browses all the cultural and literary periodicals in Iran, but that he had never heard the names of the murdered. He stated further that the killings had the goal of muddying up the image of the regime, and the killers were pawns in the hands of foreign powers.

The truth of the matter, however, was that the main targets of the killings were the very murdered people, and not the government that stayed in power for eight years. Daryoosh Foroohar was among a few veteran political figures who still had influence among the nationalists and was living in Iran, and openly talked of the necessity of another revolution in Iran. In perhaps one of his last interviews, in a discussion with a student publication of the Ferdosi University in Mashhad, on the eve of the 1997 presidential elections [that led to Khatami's presidency], Foroohar spoke explicitly of the inability of the regime's structures to be reformed, and stated that only through another revolution can people achieve freedom. By murdering him, the regime could be assured that the elderly well-known political figures from the first provisional [post-revolution] government, would always issue group statements, and in those statements speak of the necessity of step-by-step reforms and reject structurally destructive discourses as something befitting the foreign-residing Iranians.

Mohammad Mokhtari and Mohammad Ja'far Pooyandeh were two prolific leftist writers and translators, whose murders even could not stop the influence of their works in reviving leftist ideas among the young generation. The efforts of these two writers in re-founding the Iranian Writer's Association (Kanoon Nevisandegan Iran) had been observed and taken note of accurately, and the bloody elimination of the left wing of the Association had been an aim of the regime [...] [The murder of] Majid Sharif, Pirooz Davaani and other victims of the serial killings, all pursued particular strategic objectives for the Islamic Republic in its totality, and followed long term goals of the regime.

The point to pay attention to is that many of the personalities, who in ordinary times --when regular citizens are faced with daily lawlessness -- speak not a word of the illegal behavior of the rulers, in times of crisis when the citizens are outraged and want to do something, immediately speak out on the necessity of following the law. At the time when the serial killings had shaken the whole society into a reaction, the necessity of pursuing the killings through the legal channels was proposed. A special commission was set up to investigate and put on trial those responsible for the killings, and it was said that we must let the commission pursue the technical task of the legal investigation. It was clear what the result would be. After eleven years, the elements involved in the killings have not been tried, nor identified. The most famous of the accused, Sa'id Emaami, was suicided and the whole affair was wrapped up.

Today too, when again the crimes of this regime have lost cover and been brought to light, some are speaking of legally pursuing these crimes through lawful channels and judicial commissions. This time, however, it is obvious to the people that commissions composed of members selected by the rulers (read, people's enemies) will shed no light on the truth. The only time we can talk of judicial commissions for legally investigating these crimes is when the investigative judicial commissions have risen from the institutions of people's power. Such legal investigations are meaningful only when the institutions of people's movement are able to elect members of commissions of jurists and legal experts, and only then will investigations lead to the identification and arrest of those who gave the orders and who committed these recent crimes.

[*Approximately, last week of November through first three weeks of December]

Friday, December 4, 2009

11th Anniversary of Serial Killings in Iran


From Payvand Iran News.

Iran's writers' associations to pay homage to assassinated colleagues

Payvand.com (12/02/09)- Iran's writers' associations will be paying homage to Mohammad Mokhtari and Mohammad Jafar Pouyandeh, on the 11th anniversary of death of these writers, by holding a gathering on Friday December 4th at Emamzadeh Taher cemetery at Mehrshahr in Karaj (see announcement in Persian).

The two writers were killed 11 years ago in what has been dubbed as "serial murders" by Iran's Intelligence Ministry agents as part of a plot to eliminate intellectuals and political personalities. On November 22nd 1998, Darioush and Parvaneh Forouhar were brutally murdered in their home by agents of the Ministry of Information. While the Iranian society was still chocked by the news of this abject crime, two members of Iran's writers' associations, Mohammad Mokhtari and Mohammad Jafar Pouyandeh disappeared and were found dead on December 3rd and December 10t, 1998, respectively.

While these criminal acts and the people behind them were exposed by President Khatami's administration, and while some of the agents were tried in court, no one has been punished for them. Saeed Emami, who was identified as the mastermind of the operation, reportedly committed suicide while being held at a prison in Tehran thus burying many of the secrets of the operation.

Families meanwhile continue to demand justice (see Justice Denied: Report to the Nation)

"We stand resolute in our demand to know the whole truth about these crimes against humanity and to have a competent court investigate them. These crimes are still an open wound in the collective conscience of the Iranian society. And each one of us feels responsible to press for justice." Forouhar, Mokhtari, and Pouyandeh families (2008)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Khiaban No. 52: Nature and Destination of People's Movement

A translation of an article from issue # 52 of Khiaban newspaper.

There is also a translation of another highly recommended article from the same issue of Khiaban on
Revolutionary Road; that article discusses the sources of homophobia in the Iranian regime's ideology.

You can read all previous issues of Khiaban newspaper
here.

A Closer Look at the Nature and Destination of People's Movement
by Amir K.
Khiaban # 52 / Thursday, November 5, 2009

More than five months have passed since Khamenei-Ahmadinejad's electoral coup; also five months since the start of the people's movement against the existing situation. Despite the unprecedented killings of the dissidents, despite the imposition of an undeclared martial law on the country, the arrests of thousands of people, suppression of the media, chasing and harassing all social and political activists - in short, despite deploying all the tools of state oppression, the regime has not been able to crush the people's movement. On the other hand, the participation of millions of people in the opposition movement, countless innovations from below, the sacrifices and the amazing persistence of ordinary citizens, and despite the activation of a major part of social capacities for confronting the dictatorship, the movement has still not been able to bring about any tangible results in bringing down the dictatorship and in bringing about a people's governance.

To answer the question, "What is to be done?" it is necessary to start with an analysis of the concrete current situation.

The Coup
The flame of the current struggle of the people was sparked in reaction to the electoral coup in June. In un-free elections held in the absence of freedom of political parties, lack of freedom of speech and lack of the right of assembly for those outside the regime (i.e.; lack of rights for those not belonging to the regime), a huge segment of the society entered the electoral arena to prevent the re-election of Ahmadinejad and, through voting for two reformist candidates inside the regime, to bring a slight ray of hope upon theirs abject social, cultural and economic misery. However, Ahmadinejad, who sits atop the military-economic bloc, by using his powers within the system, by relying on the Sepah [Revolutionary Guards] and the Basij, and by gaining the backing of Khamenei, the leader of Islamic Republic, did not abide by the results of the elections and with an utter shamelessness that is familiar to the Iranian people, announced himself the winner with 63% of the votes. Then, he answered the millions-strong protests in the streets with bullets and further limiting the media, misinformation, suppression of political activists, mass killing of street protesters, torture and rape of the detained demonstrators, etc., in an attempt to impose yet another grave-like silence upon the society. The fact that the people's movement took to the streets in reaction to an electoral coup inadvertently means it also had some connection to the electoral campaigns of the candidates. We cannot claim that all the anger and the rage of the people is on account of their support for Moussavi, nor can we claim that there is no relation at all between the people and the electoral campaigns of that segment of the regime that has come under attack.

Reformists' Strategic Mistakes
We cannot see Ahmadinejad's electoral coup and close our eyes to the fatal mistakes of reformism. Although reformism guarantees only the interests of a segment of the ruling class, regime's reformists have tried to present their discourse as possessing historical legitimacy and not class-based. The reformists consider their ideas and strategies as having arisen from historical experiences and as the intellectual achievement of the contemporary world. It is interesting that even after the Ahmadinejad coup, the reformists have taken the offensive and, for example, they can be heard saying, "This movement belongs to us, and the people and positions that voted for the boycott of the elections have no right to participate in this movement." Until now, they have been running away from any social accountability, especially regarding their strategic mistakes which have led to the current situation, and they are still propagating their pre-coup illusions.

The reality, however, is that, what we can perhaps call an Iranian reformism is a collection of thoughts and ideas that are brimming with dogmas and ossifications that have rendered reformism blind in the face of complicated and dynamic social realities. One of the most important of these dogmas is limiting political activities to ballots and voting. Reformism has always defined politics as the ballot-driven competition. But even there, they have never been consistent defenders of the right of other political and social forces to take part in elections, and even during the period when they themselves held the government and the parliament, political parties or organizations critical or opposed to them were not allowed to be socially present in free and fair elections. But their speechifying and playing with words has no limits. The reformists have always defined themselves by distinguishing themselves from radical historical politics. In their view, Che Guevara and Fidel Castro should have defeated Batista in an electoral fight, but since they chose a different way, they brought about the death of numerous people, and the result has been a country that, in reformists' estimation, is more backward and undemocratic compared to the U.S. (have you ever heard Cuba compared to, say, Guatemala?). Or else, their vast campaign in numerous media against Hamid Ashraf and the Fedayeen-e Khalq guerrillas tries to show that armed struggle in the 1960s and 70s was insufficient, anti-humanistic, anti-democratic and anti-social and the internal logic of that form of struggle has led to the threat against social freedoms in the aftermath of the 1978-79 revolution. (It is not clear at all why Khomeini's form of struggle, which was a combination of western media coverage, over-excessive deception, tendency toward rule by committee, as opposed to mass organizations, and on and on, had no impact nor any influence on the shape and structures of this dictatorship, and all kinds of other why's can be found for it!).

This dogma of reformism as relates to the ballot box was an important factor in the rise of fascism in Iran. While a definite military-economic mafia was busy gobbling up the most important sources of wealth and power in the country, for the reformists the only way of fighting against this was seen as the ballot box. While social movements such as the students and workers movements had understood the necessity of fighting fascism in the streets, the reformists, faced with the mass killing of students in 2007 and the workers on the May Day [this year], remained passive observers (and of course happy to see the elimination of radical forces, who could truly bring a fundamental challenge to the reformist discourse as well as to the material interests of the capitalist classes in Iran). However, the reformists remained blind to the reality that Ahmadinejad's fascism no longer needed to play along with the charade of the ballot box. In fact, in any country where fascism has come to power, it has done so through the ballot box (just like the 2005 elections in Iran), but it has never allowed the possibility of being voted out. Reading contemporary history is not difficult but reformist intelligentsia reads only its favorite paragraphs and memorizes those.

Why must the coup be defeated?
Some believe, from a liberal position, that the term 'coup' is meaningless here. Islamic Republic has always been a coup regime, in which people have never had a real role in any of the elections. This regime uses the people only to put a stamp of legitimacy on its own selections. Others too, from a socialist position, believe that the political system in Iran is a capitalist one, and remained the same before and after the 2009 elections, from the point of view of workers and the productive classes. They believe that the term 'coup' is merely the propaganda of the regime's reformists, who are being eliminated from the political and economic control of the society, and in this way are trying to involve the whole society in a fight that's only to their own benefit. Each of these arguments illustrates some realities of social life under the domination of Islamic Republic. But neither considers the reality in its complex totality. Hitler's Germany was a capitalist country. The Weimar Republic was also capitalist. Different political formations, all of which can be classified as capitalist, have different direct impacts on the society and the dominated classes in the society. In 1981, Khomeini and the Islamic Republican Party organized a political coup to eliminate Banisadr; this, however, was a coup that was internal to the ruling structure. Banisadr was not the representative of the workers and the productive forces in the society. He was a hotheaded supporter of Islamic rule (from his own view) and had an active role in the suppression of progressive movements in Kurdistan and other regions in Iran. However, this coup had a fatal impact on the whole society, and on socialist and communist social political movements.

The current coup, too, in the event of its consolidation and victory, will not merely lead to the elimination of a part of the ruling class. Ahmadinejad, who just like Khomeini, has no fear of mass slaughter of dissident people, will shape another murderous era in the Iranian contemporary history. The total destruction of social life, extreme exploitation by a ruling class that has become excessively militarized and claims to be God's representative on earth, widespread purges in the universities and places of work, mobilization of collective resources for private gain, and on and on, may not have an impact on a theoretician sitting in a safe corner far away, but it will have a direct impact on the majority of people and their daily lives. People who have entered the arena to defeat the coup and are organizing themselves have real and earthly interests in preventing this dark era, whose impact will include [down to even] their choice of clothing, to their social relations, to their income and benefits, to their right of speech, right of education, right to work even and numerous other matters. The very recent actions [by the government] show us the future horizon. The transfer of social resources to companies under the control of the Sepah [Revolutionary Guards] (in reality, under the control of the power to shoot at people, and also the sources of wealth in the hands of a limited echelon of the powerful), the assault on science and university, widespread suspension of the right to education [of dissident students], numerous prisons for social activists, further suppression of media, deepening of spying in the most private spheres, assuming absolutist powers by the state, widespread tracking down of social activists even in Europe countries and ...

Yes, the eliminated faction of the ruling system is definitely seeking to channel this movement into its own material interests. Even the U.S and numerous other world powers are seeking their material interests and are looking to benefit from this movement for their own gain. However, it is irresponsible to use these facts as excuses to close our eyes on the abject and widespread misery that the coup regime will bring to the people. In the same way that imperialism or the different factions of the regime will not take a holiday in the pursuit of their material interests, the people too struggle for their future and social life. The laboring forces of social production will not exit this fight since their life and future do not allow for such a choice. What is necessary is an all-encompassing political fight against the forces that aim to channel all these struggles and sacrifices into their own corrupt, minority interests. Displaying delight at the defeat of the people against the coup shows the historical stupidity of these political forces. When Franco emerged victorious from the Spanish Civil War, he continued his dictatorship for four decades. Hitler and Mussolini did not lose power but as a result of a world war, and the intervention of foreign forces. Anybody who is concerned about the society cannot pull him/herself out of this arena. Especially when the fight against the coup is not an attempt at restoring an Islamic Republic.

The Coup and the Islamic Republic
There is no doubt that, for those who used to belong to the minority benefiting from the Islamic Republic, returning to the good old days is an intense wish and desire. The defenders of returning to the previous Islamic Republic, which certainly include Moussavi, base their main argument on the idea that this recent electoral coup, by turning its back on the people's vote, has turned the Islamic Republic into an Islamic Regime. Consequently, defeating the coup means returning to the Islamic Republic and this movement is a movement for Islamic Republic; nothing more and nothing less.

Such a view may hold true for some coup's; for example, a coup in which an armed group militarily captures the parliament and the presidential palace and suspends the constitution and establishes a new government. In this situation, fighting against the coup means fighting to restore the government and the legal system that existed before the coup. But the current reality in Iran is something else. Ahmadinejad's electoral coup does not follow such a model. All the legal institutions of the Islamic Republic have sanctioned his fraud, and he enjoys the support of the parliament, the judiciary and also the supreme leader. All the crimes that he has committed are based on the contradictions that exist in the constitution of the Islamic Republic. Isn't torture forbidden? Of course it is. But suspension [of law] is allowed. Were not the people's assemblies to protest the election results legal and their military suppression illegal? Of course not. Assembling and protesting are allowed unless they interfere with Islamic principles, and the law has deputized certain institutions to look into such matters, and all those legal institutions (not I or you) believe that such gathering interfere with Islamic principles. Ahmadinejad has not carried out a coup against a ruling system, but has used the system's capabilities to his own benefit and that of the group he represents. In fact, this is a corrupt, class-based, anti-human system, which is reliant on expropriating the people's right of self-determination and on putting this right in the hands of 'God's representatives', a system based on class oppression, ethnic oppression, the oppression of the capital city against the provinces, and gender and sexual oppression. As a result, people are not fighting the coup or the dictatorship in order to restore the system that existed prior to June 12. Even the motivation of a huge segment of the people in participating in those elections was based on wanting change, which itself was based on a mistaken idea that such a change could be pursued from within the capabilities of the existing political system (Islamic Republic). The people who have brought to this movement all their cleverness and innovations in order to overthrow Ahmadinejad's coup, do not share those dreams, such as spun by the Moussavi's, of returning to some Islamic Republic. It is true that in that [former] Islamic Republic Moussavi was the prime minister, Karroubi was the parliamentary speaker, Khatami was the president, Sane'ee the attorney general and numerous others of this circle were among the rulers, but the people, the ordinary citizens who are carrying the struggle forward, in that very Islamic Republic, were threatened, were exploited, insulted, imprisoned, their voices suppressed, their organizations not allowed to be active, and on and on ...

A Mass and Pluralist Movement
Since fascism assaults the entirety of the society, the response to it too is all encompassing. In the current movement in Iran nearly all social classes have been mobilized. Some try to define this movement as a movement of the middle class of Tehran. Their most significant evidence is that most of the people's protests take place in Tehran and in areas to the north of Azadi St. and Enghelaab St. Those who defend this line of thinking have particular political objectives for this observation of theirs. They are attempting to define the movement in their own image: a middle class that, under the leadership of the regime's reformists, wants a mild opening in the country's political space, and would like to have some guarantees from the regime regarding making a living and accumulating wealth, and being able to open up shop and get rich through the work of others - but of course, to their own mind, through their own good education and cleverness - and driving a nice car, reading the reformist newspapers, and enjoying Tahmineh Milani and Mohsen Makhmalbaaf films.

In this image, the working class monster is completely missing from the picture. The fight is merely between this particular [middle] class and a coalition of uneducated provincials, shantytown dwellers, religiously minded country folk and fat revolutionary guards, whose political representative is Ahmadinejad. Proponents of this line of thought are passionate supporters of capitalism, who, in a disappointing manner, are not capable of understanding the necessities of capitalism in Iran. They have their eyes on some utopia that can be brought about by a more modern cleric like Khatami and a suited engineer with such magnificent manners as Moussavi, who will take hold of the wheels navigating the Iranian capitalist state with the aid of the western states, and who will create a Las Vegas on the shores of the Persian Gulf and a Europe on the slopes of the Alborz Moutain.

The problem for these educated fanatics of capitalism is that they replace reality with their own dreams and fantasies. The increasing militarization of the society is not a consequence of the rush by the Basijis from Shahr-e Ray to Vanak. The militarization of the society and the increasing suffocation springs from the necessities of capitalist development in societies like Iran. Neoliberalism means 'deregulation'. Why? Because regulations and laws get in the way of capital accumulation. 'Law', 'Freedom of speech and organization', 'people's intervention in determining their own fate' for a capitalist - which, in order to remain in the global competition, needs increasing exploitation of the labor force - can only lead to eventual death. The real solution for capitalism and the bazaar (market) in Iran is Ahmadinejad. The similarities between the behavior and the workings [of state] in Iran and those of China and Russia have their roots in that reality.

Some - by showing that there supposedly existed a communist tendency in the Islamic Republic that has become more apparent with Ahmadinejad, and by pointing to the communist history in Russia and the current claims to communism by China - have tried to connect the similarities between the three countries, in violating human rights and freedom of speech, to communism; in contradistinction to the liberalism of western Europeans and of the reformists. But it will suffice to think a little deeper to see that capitalism and the market have been ruling China and Russia for years, and it is exactly the tendency in these countries for remaining and competing on the global scene that is necessitating a murderous political structure to dominate those countries. Iran, for its capitalistic survival, needs 'lack of laws', 'deregulation', oppression and Sepah, if it wants to remain a regional power. The other capitalist alternative is the equivalent of an absolute disintegration of Iran as a society, and the formation of fiefdoms of opened up spaces for the looting of the global capitalism.

However, if we step away from the illusory images of these intellectuals of the Iranian middle class, a more realistic knowledge and understanding of the current movement can be gained. Fascism is the assault against the entire life and the world of social existence. Consequently, all the layers of society react to it. The resistance against fascism will always involve different parts of the society, from layers in upper classes, to office workers, to the youth, the working classes, rural populations, the unemployed, the retired and ... A look at the class base of those killed in the course of the street protests will prove this reality as evident: Men and women, from the youth who has come to Tehran from Lorestan villages to do manual labor to the factory worker, the engineer, university student, student of philosophy, high school students, the middle aged. The higher level of mobilization in Tehran, and particular areas of it too can be explained very easily. The current phase in the fight against the dictatorship is a non-violent movement that seeks to pursue its political demands through street protests. In small cities and towns, the possibility of presence in overt demonstrations can lead directly to being identified. Tehran, however, is a mega-city and the 'anonymity' of people is a particular characteristic of big cities. Identification of the protesters, especially in huge demonstrations, is virtually impossible; in particular, in areas that do not have a traditional or neighborhood-like structure. Therefore, the more modern areas of Tehran become the places of gathering for the entirety of society.

In the next installment of this article, issues of leadership, relation between fighting for freedom and fighting for social equality (socialism), and the issue of alternatives to the Islamic Republic will be discussed.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Iran Union Leaders Behind Bars

From SB News.

Independent Sugar Union Leaders in Iran Now Behind Bars

The leaders of Iran's independent sugarworkers union are now in prison in the city of Dezful, serving sentences for their trade union activity. In a drive to destroy the union established last year by workers at the giant Haft Tapeh plantation/refining sugar complex, a court on October 12 sentenced 5 union leaders to immediate prison terms on charges stemming from October 2007. Three leaders convicted for their union activity last year for "endangering national security" in connection with worker action in 2008 had their sentences overturned on appeal in September. Two union officers, president Ali Nejati and communications officer Reza Rakshan, both of whom face lengthy prison sentences, were still awaiting the outcome of their appeal when the court in the city of Dezful sentenced the them on the similar 2007 charges.

[...]

Act Now! - CLICK HERE to send a message to the Iranian state and judicial authorities, calling on them to immediately and unconditionally release the jailed unionists and annul their sentences, and drop all charges against Reza Rakhshan. Please note that some messages may bounce back - do not be discouraged! Server overload is a common condition in Iran - some messages will get through, making the point that the persecuted trade unionists enjoy international support. The Haft Tapeh union leaders are also supported by Amnesty International.

Monday, November 16, 2009

26 year old Kahrizak doctor found dead

This (very suspect) news came out some days ago. The particular piece reproduced here is originally from homylafayette.

Suicide, heart attack or something more sinister: Young doctor at Kahrizak detention center dies at 26
(updated 2:00 PM GMT, Sunday, 15 November 2009)

A young medical doctor at the notorious Kahrizak detention center has committed suicide, according to the Norooz news site.

Ramin Pourandarjani, 26, was fulfilling his military service obligations by serving as a physician for Greater Tehran's police force at the Kahrizak detention center prior to his death on Tuesday. Peyke Iran published what it claimed was Pourandarjani's Facebook photo.

Roshangari news site reported a story at odds with the suicide scenario. According to an article posted by the site on Sunday, Dr. Pourandarjani passed away in the early hours of Tuesday at the dormitory of the police health services building in Tehran. His family was informed that the cause of death was a heart attack.

The atrocities committed against jailed protesters at Kahrizak detention center were so egregious that Leader Ali Khamenei had to order its closure in late July. It is unclear whether the makeshift prison has been shut down or not.

Pourandarjani had examined several abuse victims at Kahrizak, including Mohsen Rouholamini whom he had seen two days before his death. Pourandarjani allegedly blew the whistle on Rouholamini's death and was arrested for a week in late July. He was released on bail after the medical examiner denied Rouholamini had died of meningitis, as the regime and Health Minister Kamran Lankarani had insisted, and determined that the cause of death was repeated blows to his head.

Pourandarjani had been questioned since his release by the internal investigations unit of NAJA (nirouyeh entezamiyeh jomhourieh eslami or the Security/Police Forces of the Islamic Republic), the military authorities, and the disciplinary council of the medical examiner's office. But the doctor, who had intimate knowledge of the atrocities and perpatrators at Kahrizak, was also put under pressure and threatened by plainclothes forces, according to Roshangari news site.

Read the complete post here ...

Friday, November 13, 2009

Clueless Idiots

This is a declaration!

The wretched cluelessness of some in the American left is beyond description.

While the Iranian butchers were in conference rooms making deals with imperialists in the preoperational stages of the invasion of Afghanistan, and later with the same gang of international power projectors as the invasion of Iraq was getting nearer, these leftists were busy defending the Iranian regime. As the collaboration of the Iranians with the American, the British, et. al. continued on, and as the Shiite militias were heavily armed (at least partly) by Iran and as they ethnically cleansed all the Baghdad neighborhoods, the American left defended the Iranian regime as if this theocratic dictatorship were the embodiment of revolutionary socialism itself.

The cluelessness has continuously thickened over the years. When the regime thugs were beating up, knifing and shooting from rooftops and windows at people in the streets, and as those thugs rounded up our citizens by the thousands and carted them off to secret locations and got down to the nasty business of breaking limbs, heads and spirits by raping the youth of our country, these treacherous idiots cheered on the theocratic regime by spreading the propaganda swiftly provided by the regime.

Now, the treacherous dolts are being shown to have been totally comedic idiots (if, unfortunately, not so tragic in consequences). The reality is unfolding clearly enough. The nuclear conference/negotiations are the forum giving the theocratic dictatorship its world acceptance; we watch the negotiations take their respective turns of now friendly handshakes, now half-veiled threats, now pats on the back given by varying-level imperialist countries participating in the charade ... All the while slapping the Iranian people in the face; the safety of hundreds of thousands of people living in and around Bushehr never even thought of. It's all about details to do with a face-saving way for the Islamic Regime of Iran to become a bed-fellow with imperialists openly, and with all the proper protocols afforded them, and to get the charade over with once and for all.

The clueless idiots have been warning (for FIVE YEARS, mind you) of 'imminent attacks' being prepared by the U.S. and/or Israel. As it turns out, the Iranians are preparing for the last rounds of the negotiations and the final act of this charade is revealing the true nature of the relationship deemed ideal for imperialists to have with their theocratic partners-in-crime in the Iranian government.
* * *
Very recently and right after all the naked violence unleashed by this fascistic regime against the entire civil society in Iran, some clueless idiots were discussing an opinion poll of what Iranian people think about their government; a poll conducted over the phone from Washington, DC, an 'opinion poll' which concluded that a whopping 81% of the population supported Ahmadinejad!!!

What clueless fu**ing idiots. As if the Iranian people had not just expressed (and continue to express every chance they get) their real opinion about their government by taking to the streets in millions (shouting, "Death to the dictator!") even while knowing fully well the consequences.

Now ... Sometimes I truly wonder about this world we live in. I wonder if people even understand the word 'dictatorship', or fascism of a religiously clothed kind. Or have they been so thoroughly brainwashed that they cannot even SEE a dictatorship even though thousands of pieces of evidence are in existence (just YouTube 'iran protests') documenting countless horrid examples of a dictatorship in action; evidence of events that are very, very recent?

There are plentiful video clips showing the Iranian security forces shooting from rooftops at the people below, some even showing dead bodies; there are video clips of the security forces smashing up buildings, cars, going into people's private residences and violently threatening women and men inside their homes, in their courtyards; there exist numerous video clips of huge and massive demonstrations, as in, million if not hundreds of thousands' strong; we have hundreds (by now) of testimonies of physical torture and senseless beatings, psychological torture, rapes as well as threats of rape, and in one case, that of Taraneh Mousavi, we know that the 'security' agents group-raped her, and after she died of internal bleeding (due to the fact that the 'security' forces removed her from the hospital they had delivered her to, after group-raping her), these very pious security forces burned her body to cover up their horrendous crime. In short, there are thousands of pieces of evidence of the barbarity of this regime that has imposed itself on the people of Iran for thirty painful years, and all that evidence is not enough for some 'leftists' to conclude the same thing a majority of Iranian people have known with their blood, sweat, tears and their children for thirty miserable years.

To get back to the opinion poll, so after the courageous uprising of the Iranian people against this abject barbarity ruling over them, some U.S.-based polling trading post friendly with the government of Iran picks up the phone and calls one thousand people or so in a country of seventy-some million people, to get a gauge on the 'Iranian national mood'.

Let's put aside for a moment the miniscule nature of the 'sample base', which in and of itself is laughable as an indicator of any nation's mood regarding the local-national government; a highly complex and fluid category in even the freest and 'most stable' of societies.

Imagine you are one of the Iranian samples, and you receive this rather strange international call, in Iran, in the aftermath of all the horrors you just witnessed first hand, of things done to people who had peacefully expressed disagreement with the government. You have just witnessed what the government does to anybody who dares voice a dissenting idea. Additionally, you are well aware of the fact that the government has some of the best technologies with which to listen in on everything going on, thanks to the Chinese and the Russian benefactors of the regime. At least that is your assumption, and it is a safe one if you understand the kind of society you live in. Given that it is a phone conversation on your registered phone and that the government keeps pretty good tabs on things like that, you take it for granted in fact that any critical opinion voiced by you about the government, over this very recordable phone line, comes with a well-documented and operational probability of facing at least some harassment, and quite possibly arrest, senseless beatings, possible rape, or dying of 'meningitis' in prison (as in, from the repeated pounding you will receive to your cranium, from truncheons in skilled hands of paid thugs, a death that will be reported by prison authorities as, 'death from meningitis').

So, now, you tell me, dear reader, what kind of answers would you give to this person who claims is calling you on behalf of some 'polling agency' in 'Washington, DC', or whatever? Knowing that the government is particularly interested in international calls. And, again, fully aware of the price of an out-of-line answer.

But of course even this picture, painted as it is, cannot possibly drive home the point to the fools who talk about 'opinion polls' conducted with regular people in Iran as if they were talking about a poll taken of Vermonters' attitudes regarding their lovely green state.

What is one to tell such people? When reading their utterly ugly garbage or having to discourse with such people, I feel like I am talking to some insane teenager going through intense identity and anger issues. There is no logic to engage with. There are only unrelated series of non-sequiturs arranged in sentences and paragraph arrangements. But no sense at all comes of any of it. This fascistic theocracy is made out to be 'just another normal state', which can only lead us to conclude that the 'normal', for these people, is pretty bleak.

One idiot says 81% of people support the coup regime. Another one chimes in, 'The left in Iran should be addressing the 81% that support Ahmadinejad!', proving that not only do they not understand the Iranian society or the state in the slightest bit, they don't even know the meaning of the word 'dictatorship'. If you ask them, though, they KNOW (oh, boy, do they!) that THEY live under the dictatorship of Capital, and they can recite entire treaties by Marx and Lenin on the subject. Yet ... yet, they like to pretend to be completely blind to a most vicious dictatorship of religious men and their bazaari mercantilist allies (not even 'progressive' industrialists), that is based purely on violence, oppression, fear, terror and regional bullying. These 'leftists' are, for all cognitive, psychological and social purposes, insane. They are simply insane and therefore incapable of distinguishing between actual reality and their own hallucinations-cum-beliefs (narrations, etc.). The other side of the description of insanity -- endlessly doing the same and expecting different outcomes -- applies to them as well.

The whole lot of them should go to hell right along with the fascistic thugs they support. They can all hold hands in their respective circles in hell, lick the gunk off each other's faces, and watch the butt-ugly faces they loved to give succor to while alive in this hell on earth. They can all go and make love to themselves for all eternity. Politeness is bunk! Go love yourselves, you miserable wretches!

My loveable Iranian comrades tell me not to waste heartbeats. I should listen to them. I will. But the rage for these traitorous self-lovers dirties my blood too much, and some spilling of guts becomes necessary once in a while. How long are we supposed to take insults and just turn our faces? How long should we stand by while getting kicked in the head not just by fascistic regimes and their paid goons but by 'leftists'? What the ...! What an unloved-up, f'ed up, screwed-up world these idiots live in and impose on others!

And that is the true mark of a clueless idiot. All they can do is make life even more miserable for anybody they can stick it to. Just like the right wingers they love to hate.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Citizen Journalists v. Regime Thugs


This is a great report from Revolutionary Road, with many links to video clips, on the national protests against the coup regime held on Student Day (Nov. 4 / 13 Aban).

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Ehsan Fattahian Executed

This is from Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRAIran), and is the translation of Ehsan Fattahian's letter from his prison cell, before he was executed on November 11, for 'fighting against god'. It is noteworthy to mention that according to the witnesses present at the execution, Fattahian did not allow his executioners the last laugh, and kicked the stool from underneath his feet by himself.

Rest in Peace!

I Never Feared Death: The Plight of Ehsan Fattahian
(published by HRAIran, on November 9, 2009)
The last glimmers of the dusk sun
Are showing me the path on which to write;
The sounds of leaves under my steps
Are telling me “let yourself fall
And you will rediscover the path to freedom.
I never feared death. Even now, as I feel its odd and honest presence next to me, I still want to smell its aroma and rediscover it; Death, who has been the most ancient companion of this land. I don’t want to talk about death; I want to question the reasons behind it. Today, when punishment is the answer for those who seek freedom and justice, how can one fear his fate? Those of “us” who have been sentenced to death by “them” are only guilty of seeking an opening to a better and fair world. Are “they” also aware of their deeds?

I started my life in the city of Kermanshah, the name of which has always been on the tongues of my compatriots for its greatness; the city which is called the cradle of civilization. As my thoughts were developing, I came to see and feel the injustice and discrimination; an injustice that targeted me not only as an individual but also as a member of humankind. I went in thousand different directions to find out the reasons behind injustice. Alas, they had made the arena so closed for those who were thriving for justice that I could not find my way in. I immigrated to another arena outside the superficial boundaries to find answers to my questions. I became a Komeleh guerilla in order to find my stolen identity. Yet I never separated from my first home, and once in a while I returned there to renew my memories. And then one day, they found me during one of my visits, arrested me and put me in a cage. The greeting my captors reserved for me from day one convinced me that my fate would be similar to those who had walked before me along that road: torture, fabricated charges, biased court, an unjust and politically motivated verdict and finally death.

Let me put it this way: after being arrested on July 20th, 2008, in Kamyaran, I was taken to the Intelligence Ministry’s local office. A few hours later, as I was blindfolded and chained and could not see or move, a person who introduced himself as the deputy prosecutor began questioning me. His questions were irrelevant and filled with made up accusations (let me remind you that it is strictly against the law to interrogate people in places other than courts and tribunals). This was the first of many interrogation sessions I had to face. The same night, I was taken to the Intelligence Ministry’s provincial headquarters in Sanandaj, where I had to attend the real party: a dirty cell with a disgusting washroom. The blankets had not been washed for years. This was the beginning of three months of going up and down the hall from my cell to the interrogation room, always being beaten along the way. The honorable interrogators were so keen to get a promotion or make a bit more money that they accused me of all kinds of bizarre things, even though they knew of the falsehood of their accusation. They used every means in their power to prove that I had taken part in armed operations. In the end they could only prove that I had been a member of Komeleh and had taken part in propaganda activities against the regime. The 10 year sentence handed by the initial court is good proof that I only had one charge. The 1st branch of the Revolutionary Court in Sanandaj sentenced me to 10 years in prison, to be served in Ramhormoz Prison outside Kordestan. The political and administrative establishment in Iran has always been in favor of centralized policies, but, apparently, in my case, they had decided to reverse course! Recently provincial appeals courts have become the judicial authority to rule in cases related to political prisoners, even in capital punishment cases. Capital punishment cases were the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. So, the Kamayaran prosecutor objected the initial ruling, and, surprisingly, against Iranian law, the 4th branch of the Kordestan Appeals Court changed the 10 year sentence to a death sentence. According to Article 258 of Iranian Criminal law, appeals courts can only issue a heavier sentence when the initial sentence is lighter than the minimum punishment required by law. The indictment presented by the prosecutor stated the charge as Moharebeh (enmity against God). The minimum punishment required by law in similar cases is 1 year in prison. Now, be the judge yourself and compare the 10 year prison sentence (served in exile) with the minimum required to see how illegal, unlawful and political the death sentence is.

Let me add that, shortly before my sentence was changed to the death sentence, I was taken from Sanandaj prison to the Intelligence Ministry’s detention center, where I was asked to make a false confession on camera, show remorse for the actions I had not committed and reject my beliefs. I did not give in to their illegitimate demands, so I was told that my prison sentence would be changed to the death sentence. They were fast to keep their promise and prove to me how courts always concede to the demands of intelligence and non-judicial authorities. How can one criticize the courts then?

All judges take an oath to remain impartial at all times and in all cases, to rule according to the law and nothing but the law. How many of the judges of this country can say that they have not broken their oath and have remained fair and impartial? In my opinion the number is countable with the fingers on my hand. When the entire justice system in Iran orders arrests, trials, imprisonments and death sentences with the simple hand gesture of an uneducated interrogator, what is to be expected from a few minor judges in a province that has always been discriminated against? Yes, in my view, it is the foundation of the house which is in ruins.

Last time I met in prison with the prosecutor who had issued the initial indictment, he admitted that the ruling was illegal. Yet, for the second time, it has been ruled that my execution should be carried out. It goes without saying that the insistence to carry out the execution at any cost is a result of pressures exercised by political and intelligence groups outside the Judiciary. People who are part of these groups look at the question of life and death of a prisoner only based on their own political and financial interests. They cannot see anything but their own illegitimate objectives, even when it is the question of a person’s right to life - the most basic of all human rights. How pointless is it to expect them to respect international treaties when they don’t even respect their own laws?

Last word: if the rulers and oppressors think that, with my death, the Kurdish question will go away, they are wrong. My death and the deaths of thousands of others like me will not cure the pain; they will only add to the flames of this fire. There is no doubt that every death is the beginning of a new life.

Ehsan Fattahian,
Sanandaj Central Prison