Monday, May 11, 2009

Saberi is freed: How about the others?


The case of Roxana Saberi attracted international attention as a cause célèbre for free-speech rights activists around the world: the photogenic Iranian-American freelance journalist working for BBC and NPR, who had worked in Iran for the six years prior to her arrest in January, and who famously celebrated her 32nd birthday in prison recently, while serving an eight year sentence for espionage charges handed her after an hour-long closed-door 'trial'. Saberi has now been freed, after an appeals court suspended her sentence on Sunday, May 10.

My own guess was that Saberi would be released as a 'show of good will', and as it turned out, she was released on May 11, and her release was called by Obama a 'humanitarian gesture'.

There are, however, plenty of other cases that have not received their deserved international attention. The case of Hossein Derakhshan, for example, is equally indicative of how politicized the Iranian judiciary is. Derakhshan is known as the 'godfather of blogging in Iran' (under the blogger name, Hoder). His politics is pretty much aligned with the reformists' platform, though he has also written approvingly of Ahmadinejad's policies (see his blog: http://www.hoder.com/weblog/). 

Yet, he has been in detention since November 2008. The charge against him is quite an unfounded one of spying for Israel. The apparent reason for his being in prison is a trip to Israel in 2006 on his Canadian passport, to build 'people-to-people' understanding between the two countries, a trip used by the authorities as the excuse to bring the espionage charges. It must be said that additional motivation for bringing such absurd charges against him could have been provided by Derakhshan's ideas for some very mild reforms for more free expression than currently allowed, and his gentler criticisms of the wilder aspects of the theocratic-obsessive policies of the state.
*  *  *

In light of the international attention being paid to Roxana Saberi's case, we must use this moment of attentiveness to bring to the attention of the international community the plight of other political prisoners in Iran, and point to the general poverty of the judicial conditions there.

To the Iranian authorities: In this spring of renewals, why not free ALL political prisoners?

I) Women's Rights Activists
Free imprisoned 'One Million Signatures' campaigners!
According to Change for Equality (see here), "Nearly 900 women’s rights and civil society activists have signed a petition requesting the judiciary to immediately and unconditionally release Khadijeh Moghaddam and Mahboubeh Karami and drop the charges against all the 12 activists arrested on March 26th, while meeting up on a street corner to go for visits of the late Dr. Zahra Baniyaghoob’s family, on the occasion of the Iranian New Year."

Further, Change for Equality states: "Twelve women’s rights activists were arrested on March 26, 2009, on Sohrevardi Avenue in Tehran, while meeting up to go for New Years visits of families of imprisoned social and political activists. Ten of those arrested are members of the One Million Signatures Campaign. The Campaign members arrested are: Delaram Ali, Leila Nazari, Khadijeh Moghaddam, Farkhondeh Ehtesabian, Mahboubeh Karami, Baharah Behravan, Ali Abdi, Amir Rashidi, Mohammad Shourab, and Arash Nasiri Eghbali. Also, Soraya Yousefi and Shahla Forouzanfar were arrested."

We also urge action on the cases of Ronak Safazadeh (see here) and Parvin Ardalan (see here).

II) Labor Rights Activists
Free Osanloo!
(also, see his bio at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mansour_Osanloo)

Further, besides Mansour Osanloo, the following are either in detention or else their cases are still pending, meaning they are subject to random state harassment:

1) Labor unionists associated with Haft-Tapeh Sugar Cane Co. Syndicate: Jalil Ahmadi, Fereydoon Nikoofar, Ali Nejati (released on bail, but 'case still pending'), Ghorban Alipoor and Mohammad Heidarimehr. (see, in Farsi only: http://komitedefa7.blogfa.com/)

2) Labor unionists associated with Coordinating Committee to Help Form Workers' Organizations: Ghaleb Hosseini and Abdullah Khani (held in Sanandaj Central Prison after being arrested for participating in activities, including strikes, on the occasion of May 1st of 2008). (see: http://komitteyehamahangi.com/English.htm)

III) Student Activists
Free jailed university student activists!

As announced by Amnesty International, on 1 April 2009, urgent action was called on the Iranian government to ensure that Nasim Roshana’i, Maryam Sheikh and Mohammad Pour-Abdollah [all university student activists in Tehran's Evin prison] are protected against torture or other ill-treatment and are allowed immediate access to their family, legal representation and any medical attention that they may require." (see: http://freeirstudent.blogspot.com/)
(see AI's appeal here)

Also of concern is the fate of the following: Alireza Davoudi, Amin Ghazaei, Shabnam Madadzadeh (all university students in Tehran).

Other students unjustly detained, according to AI: Esmail Salmanpour, Majid Tavakkoli, Hossein Tarkashvand, Kourosh Daneshyar, Mehdi Mashayekhi, Nariman Mostafavi, Ahmad Ghasaban, Abbas Hakimzadeh, and Yasser Torkaman.

* * *
Iranian President
His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, The Presidency
Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: dr-ahmadinejad@president.ir
Salutation: Your Excellency

Iranian Head of the Judiciary
Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi
Howzeh Riyasat-e Qoveh Qazaiyeh / Office of the Head of the Judiciary
Pasteur St., Vali Asr Ave., south of Serah-e Jomhouri
Tehran 1316814737, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: shahroudi@dadgostary-tehran.ir(in the subject line write: FAO Ayatollah Shahroudi)
Salutation: Your Excellency

===================================
Related ... 

13 comments:

RFS said...

Comment by Liz:

Reza, i'm bewildered --- what's up with you supporting u.s. spy journalists?! LA Times, Chi. Trib, NPR reports mention what should be a BIG clue: she worked at The Strategic Studies Center of Iran's Expediency Council -- a simple google search reveals countless smoking guns: 2 of many hundreds for starters are:

Center for Strategic Research- AboutUs
"The main task of the center is to carry out strategic studies in various ... Since the Expediency Council formulates general strategy of the Islamic system, ..." www.csr.ir/Center.aspxlng=en&abtid=00

Center For Strategic Research - Analytic Report - Iran's ...

"Foreign Policy Department/ I.R.Iran's Foreign Policy Studies Group Political. In 2002, Iran's Expediency Council approved the 20-Year Vision Plan to promote ..."
www.csr.ir/Departments.aspxlng=en&depid=74&abtid=06&semid=1679

obviously she works as a u.s. imperialist agent.

liz

RFS said...

Comment by Paola:

Liz,

I too am bewildered, but for an opposite reason. Smoking gun my ass!

Iran's Expediency Council is an IRANIAN powerful clerical body that arbitrates between the parliament and the clerical hierarchy. Here is its website: http://www.maslehat.ir/english.aspx

Iran's Expediency Council Chairman is Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and its secretary, Mohsen Rezaei, was the chief commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) for sixteen years
http://www.presstv.ir/election2009/detail.aspx?id=92336

And so, if I understand well, in your opinion since Roxana Saberi worked at an Iranian clerical body, she is a US imperialist agent, and deserves to be jailed for eight years, right? I am without words.

There is not the slightest evidence that Saberi was a spy, an imperialist agent or God knows what. Of course, I absolutely agree with Reza in his defense of Saberi and of all the Ianian political prisoners.

Or maybe according to you even the Iranian Labor Rights Activists, Women's Rights Activists and the Student Activists are a bunch of imperialist agents, and deserve to be jailed, tortured and perhaps hanged?

Reza: if you will post Liz commet on your website, i pray you to add my comment too below liz's one.

Best to you,

Paola

RFS said...

Comment by Liz:

regardless of iranian politics the fact is saberi is an agent of u.s. imperialism:

U.S. reporter freed by Iran appeals court
May 12, 2009
TEHRAN - -- A copy of a classified Iranian government report about the U.S. war in Iraq in the possession of journalist Roxana Saberi was a key piece of evidence that led to her conviction on espionage charges, one of the Iranian-American journalist's lawyers disclosed Monday... Saberi was convicted of espionage April 14. Authorities said she confessed to passing on intelligence to the U.S. She said her confession was made under duress. The prosecut or accused Saberi of givi ng American officials a classified Iranian report about U.S. involvemen t in Iraq she obtained w h ile working at the Str ategic Studies Center of Iran's Expediency Council... http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-tc-nw-iran-journalist-0512may12,0,5832982.story

LA TIMES
The prosecutor accused Saberi of passing on to American officials a classified Iranian report about U.S. involvement in Iraq she obtained while working at the Strategic Studies Center of Iran's Expediency Council...She was also accused of visiting Israel four or five times... http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-iran-journalist12-2009may12,0,3372344.story

NPR
One of her attorneys, Saleh Nikbakht, said Wednesday that the prosecution's case also included the allegation that Saberi had met with a person identified only as Mr. Peterson, who told her he worked for the CIA and tried to recruit her into the agency....Before Wednesday, what was known about the evidence Iranian authorities used to level charges against Saberi was this: She had copied a confidential document belonging to the Expediency Council.... She acknowledged traveling to Israel to seek work as a journalist.

The authorities also said Saberi was in possession of a report from the Center for Strategic Studies, which is connected to the office of Iran's president. But that report was determined to be unclassified. In the end, the appeals court dismissed all the charges and claims against her, with the sole exception of the document from the Expediency Council that she kept.
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=104104552&ft=1&f=1009 http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=104104552&ft=1&f=1009

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty psywar reveals u.s. inside 'regime change' connections
Iran: New Foreign Policy Council Could Curtail Ahmadinejad's Power
June 29, 2006 http://www.rferl.org/content/article/1069559.html

The Iranian Political Game
The Assembly of Experts' Election
By Dr. Mahjoob Zweiri [ Dr. Mahjoob Zweiri is an expert on Iran in the Center for Strategic Studies in the University of Jordan. Holding a doctorate in Middle East history, Dr. Zweiri was a teaching fellow in Middle East politics and director for the Centre for Iranian Studies in Durham University in the United Kingdom. He authored several books and journal papers on Iran .]
http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?c=Article_C&cid=1177156222169&pagename=Zone-English-Muslim_Affairs%2FMAELayout http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?c=Article_C&cid=1177156222169&pagename=Zone-English-Muslim_Affairs%2FMAELayout

... The significance of these elections was manifested in the outstanding victory of former president and current head of the Expediency Council Ayatollah Rafsanjani. Interestingly, Rafsanjani achieved a snatch victory in the seventh parliamentary elections in 2004, and he was defeated by Ahmadinejad in the ninth presidential elections in 2005. Despite the fact that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei directly supported Ahmadinejad last year, Rafsanjani is still a key center of power in Iranian politics....

RFS said...

Comment by Paola:

There is no evidence that she was a spy, or an agent of u.s. imperialism. She was accused by the iranian ayatollahs of being a spy: it is a bit different. Since i don't share your full trust in the ayatollahs words, am still waiting to see the proof that she was indeed a spy.

She in 2006 made a trip to Israel and she copied an unclassified document in Iran, and that's all. I must assume that according to you if a journalist travels to Israel and copies an UNCLASSIFIED document, he deserves to be jailed for eight years. Or that the ayatollahs accusation are more than enough to condemn someone without any proper evidence, since, as all the world well knows, the ayatollah cannot lie.

Moreover, i can't even understand what this
[Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty psywar reveals u.s. inside 'regime change' connections Iran: New Foreign Policy Council Could Curtail Ahmadinejad's Power/ June 29, 2006 http://www.rferl.org/content/article/1069559.html
http://www.rferl.org/content/article/1069559.html] is supposed to mean. This article reads:

the council will devise appropriate strategies and present them to Khamenei. If he approves the strategies, Kharrazi continued, the relevant foreign policy bodies will act accordingly

Are you maybe claiming that the Supreme Leader Khamenei too is a us agent and wants a 'regime change' or what?

I don't know how to tell you that Iran's Expediency Council is an Iranian clerical body appointed by the Supreme Leader and not a den of US spies:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Expediency_Discernment_Council

By the way, i repeat Reza's question: how about the others? Since i NEVER said on the anti-imperialist websites a single word of condemnation for the hanging of children or for the mass arrests of labor unionists, labor rights activists, women's rights activists, students and all the other political prisoners in Iran. NEVER. And now the main problem seems to be that Saberi was released from prison, and not that all the others are still jailed.

Best,
Paola

RFS said...

Comment by Liz:

she so like many u.s. journalists & academics, was getting inside info for u.s. and occasionally doing guest 'news reports'---- whether she had iranian pro-u.s. help i don't know but seems likely since she had classified iranian info. from working at the strategic studies center. since u.s 'news' is essentially propaganda, her innocent 'beauty queen' appearances were a plus though her 'journalism' history is quite sparce considering all her education --- and travel ---- did she report from israel on her many trips there? radio free europe, liberty, etc. are openly [vs. NYT, etc] u.s. govt propaganda voices.
and note the support she has from one of u.s. most rabid fascist 'counter-terrorist' strategist /propagandists steven emerson http://www.steveemerson.com/about/

Extremists use 'civil rights' group front to push agenda :: Steven ...
Mar 2 4, 2 009 ... Hibbs: review of Testimony: The Untold Story of Pope John Paul II · Hess: Obama's D.C. Voucher Pity Gift · May: Free Roxana Saberi! ...
www.steveeme rson.com/5027/extremists-use-civil-rights-group-front-to-push
Prize Fighter :: St eve n Emerson
Latest from the Pundi c ity Network. May: Free Roxana Saberi! Forsmark: review of Thrilla in Manilla · Jacoby: Liberal bias isn't killing newspapers ...
www.steveemerson.com/4275 /prize-fighter
One Muslim Advocacy Group's Not- So- Secret Terrorist Ties :: Steven ...
Mar 28, 2007 ... Latest from th e P u ndicity Network. Jacoby: review of Little Pink House · Hess: Obama's D.C. Voucher Pity Gift · May: Free Roxana Saberi! ...
www.steveemerson.com/4283/one-muslim-a dvocacy-groups-not-so-secret

RFS said...

Comment by Paola,

I cannot know if Saberi is a spy, but there is no evidence that she is.

She made two trips to Israel in 2006. So what? Do you think that everyone travels to Israel is a spy? All the tourists who go to Israel are u.s or zionist agents? And why did she had to go to Israel, twice, to meet with her handlers? If she was a spy, she could easily go back to the US to meet her bosses: it would be much less suspicious.
The other so-called "evidences" are:
1. she was in possession of an UNCLASSIFIED report (i.e. a report that everyone could legally possess) from the Iran's Center for Strategic Studies.
2. in she copied a five year old confidential document , belonging to the Expediency Council, about the US war against Iraq (and for this reason she was given a two-year suspended sentence).
End of the evidences.

Steven Emerson called for her release? So what, again! Now, she was guilty of espionage because some rabid zionist fascists called for her release?

I couldn't care less about Miss Saberi, but the iranian jais are filled with political prisoners, journalists and bloggers, and many of them are falsely charged of espionage. Even the seven imprisoned Baha'i leaders have been charged with espionage for Israel (besides "propaganda against Iran", "insulting religious sanctities" and "spreading of corruption on Earth"), and now seems that they are in danger of execution: http://www.iranian.com/main/node/64529
Since you are claiming that Saberi was surely guilty of espionage just because the mullahs said so, i ask you if think that all the others (Baha'i leaders included) are guilty and deserve to be jailed or hanged.

I add that I read a lot of "anti-imperialist" bloggers all angry because the "spy Saberi" was freed, but absolutely none of them criticizing the Iranian regime for jailing all the other politcal prisoners, journalists, trade unionists, students etc. (or for hanging children or for lapidating adulterers or for killing gays etc. etc.) And if someone dares to say that maybe executing an adulterer by stoning is not that wonderful, he is immediately accused of being a "zionazi" or an imperialist or both.

Best,
Paola

RFS said...

Liz,

I really have no idea that Saberi is a spy, and will not be the one to point a finger (especially over such a huge charge) so easily withoutes hard evidence. The word of the Iranian judiciary is NOT (for me, ever) good enough evidence of somebody's wrongdoing. Many an innocent people have been slaughtered by this very judiciary, and I for one do not trust anything they say. I DO however look for signs of what they plan to do in the actions they take.

If Saberi was really a spy, do you think she'd be SO easily let go?! Also, as Paula said the document that's been made into such a huge deal was unclassified. Further, she was working as a freelance translator at the Expediency Council. I doubt very much that a state agency so high up in the feeding chain would so clumsily let a truly secretive document fall into the hands of a mere freelance journalist.

Finally, again as Paula said, my whole point was not so much a 'defense' of Saberi. My point was to use this moment of attentiveness to bring the plight of the other political prisoners to the attention of the readers (and I really wanted this to be read by US LEFTISTS, who have been complete cowards for the past four or five years when it's come to human rights violations in Iran; I have had to repeatedly beg some US-based editors to publish pieces that are critical of the Iranian state's treatment of social activists, and most of the time they simply don't even respond or explain themselves).

I was sure that Saberi would be released. In fact, the first version of the article was titled, "Saberi WILL BE FREED: how about the others?" I thought and still think that this whole thing was a manufactured 'crisis' so that Saberi's release could then be looked at as a sign of 'good will'.

Anyway, that was/is my two cent's worth on my original intent.

Reza

RFS said...

Comment by Liz:

we agree saberi herself isn't the issue, our disagreement is over who's using it, for what political purposes and what our position as anti-imperialists should be.

reza, to your main point of rousing cowardly u.s. leftists against iranian human rights violations: what about the liberal left's total fucking complicity with u.s. imperialism's crimes against humanity -- being escalated by their hero, a democrat so apparently it's ok?!!!! what's most criminally cowardly is not daring or caring enough to stand up to 'our' govt., to expose u.s. lies, propaganda, crimes, 'human rights abuses' --- e.g. state terror, torture, genocidal wars --- in its fascist crusade for global domination --- continuing amerika's white supremacist 'manifest destiny' history. we have our work cut out.

the saberi issue is a matter of going after u.s. imperialist zionism, world enemy #1 -- not defending iranian leadership.
when the u.s. president and other major imperialists come to an arrested amerikan's defense, it's a matter of state.
given amerika's horrendous past history, its current geostrategic agenda, its journalists as propagandists, its propaganda as 'news', with concrete analysis, we can draw political conclusions without a smoking gun --- for ex. u.s. involvement in 911.

as with every other big 'news' item, it only makes sense in broader u.s. agenda context. in saberi's case, us is attempting to win iranian cooperation [with israel playing bad cop] in exchange for more regional power. iran's govt. is certainly making deals it sees in its own interests with u.s. while playing to the home crowd with nationalist bravado. plus there are undoubtedly pro-u.s. forces in its ranks working for 'regime change' with u.s. and its agents of various types.


P.S. a few more captured u.s. spies --- regardless of what you think of NK govt.!

liz


North Korea: Seized U.S. journalists investigated
By KWANG-TAE KIM
The Associated Press March 22, 2009
SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea confirmed Saturday that it has detained two U.S. journalists and accused them of illegally entering its territory from China.

Authorities are investigating the two women, who were seized Tuesday, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said in a report that gave no other details. The journalists' cameraman and guide reportedly escaped but were later detained by Chinese border guards.

The arrests of the journalists, who were reporting on North Korean refugees, complicate already difficult ties between the North and the United States. North Korea has repeatedly blasted joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises, severing a hotline and shutting its border with South Korea in recent days to protest the drills. It restored the telephone link on Saturday.

U.S. officials, meanwhile, have criticized North Korean plans to fire a satellite-equipped rocket into space in early next month, a launch some fear will be a cover for testing long-range missile technology. North Korea said Saturday that it plans to close two air routes through its territory from April 4-8 — the period it has set for the launch.

The North also is locked in a standoff with regional powers over its nuclear program, and earlier this week ordered five U.S. groups that distribute much-needed food aid to leave the impoverished country by the end of this month.

KCNA said the two Americans were detained "while illegally intruding into the territory" of North Korea.

South Korean media and a South Korean missionary identified the two Americans as Laura Ling and Euna Lee, reporters for former Vice President Al Gore's San Francisco-based media outlet Current TV.

Kalee Kreider, a spokeswoman for Gore, declined to comment Saturday about the journalists' detention or efforts to win their release.

State Department officials said Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was working on the case.
The U.S. has informed the North that it is willing to hold a high-level meeting to push for release of the reporters, South Korea's Munhwa Ilbo newspaper reported Saturday, citing an unnamed South Korean government official.
State Department spokesman Robert Wood had no immediate comment.
The two journalists, along with their male cameraman and a guide, were headed to the Chinese city of Yanji, across the border from North Korea's far northeastern corner, where they planned to interview women forced by human traffickers to strip for online customers, according to the Rev. Chun Ki-won of the Seoul-based Durihana Mission, a Christian group that helps defectors. They also planned to meet with children of defectors, said Chun, who helped the journalists organize the trip. Many children who grow up on the run in China live in legal limbo, unable even to attend school, according to a 2008 Human Rights Watch report.
The journalists and cameraman Mitch Koss were following their guide across the frozen Tumen River early Tuesday when armed North Korean soldiers approached them, the South Korean Chosun Ilbo newspaper reported Saturday. It cited activists working with North Korean refugees in China and other unidentified sources. Koss and the guide pushed the North Korean soldiers away and ran back toward China, but Ling and Lee were caught, the newspaper said, citing an unidentified source.

paola said...

Well, so in your opinion not giving a damn about massive human rights violations in Iran is an anti-imperialist political duty. And the western "anti-imperialists" must oppose (or at least not support) working class and progressive struggles in Iran. The iranian leftists, trade unionists, labor rights activists, student activists and the Iranian anti-imperialists (since i inform you that the iranian anti-imperialists DO NOT support the mullahs regime) can just go to hell: if the Iranian regime persecute them, it must have its good reasons. And even if it has not, it is not a problem of ours. I understand. But, please, don't say that we must hide the crimes of the iranian theocracy BECAUSE we must expose the US' ones, since it is quite possible to denounce both the repression in Iran and the US state terror and genocidal wars. Of course the US imperialism is our main enemy, but claiming that criticizing the Iranian theocracy is the equivalent of siding with US imperialism means adopting a politically bankrupt line of reasoning, i.e. the (ALLEGED) enemy of our enemy is our friend. I added "alleged" since actually the Islamic Republic of Iran enthusiastically helped the genocidal wars of the US against Afghanistan and Iraq. THE IRANIAN REGIME DOES NOT REPRESENT AN ANTI-IMPERIALIST FORCE. Even if the alternative and "anti-war" websites and movements have completely ignored the criminal role of Iran in the US imperialist wars of aggression, the facts are fatcs and cannot be wished away. And the facts are that Iran did provide crucial help to the U.S., when it attacked Afghanistan, by opening Iran's airspace to the U.S. aircrafts, providing vital intelligence on the Taliban forces and stepping up assistance to the Northern Alliance. The facts are that Iran cooperated with the US in producing false intelligence about the alleged Iraqi WMD . The facts are that the iranian mullahs happily welcomed Bush-style ‘regime change’ in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The facts are that if it wasn't for the full collaboration of Iran with the US , the US wouldn't have been able to linger that many years in Iraq. The facts are that the sectarian militias backed by Iran have been carrying out ethnic cleansing in South Iraq and in Baghdad and massacred the Palestinians in Iraq. And i could go on and on. Moreover Iran is a capitalist country, is privatizing everything and is enforcing neoliberal economic policies dictated by the World Bank. And it is false that everyone who wants regime change in Iran is a us. agent: the progressive iranian forces oppose any foreign intervention in the internal affairs of Iran, but struggle against the clerical tyranny (and am not so sure that the US really wants regime change in Iran). Maybe in your opinion saying this is not anti-imperialist, but nevertheless is true.

Moreover you miss a little detail: Reza is Iranian. Does it seem to you so strange that he is concerned about HIS country and HIS people? Does it seem to you so strange that he supports the progressive movement of workers and students inside Iran , instead of acting as apologists for Ahmadinejad and the mullahs in order to please the western "left"?

I'd just like to see what you would say if you were an iranian and an "anti-imperialist" western guy ordered you: "Shut up! You cannot criticize the rightwing, obscurantist theocracy that oppresses your country! You cannot denounce the repression against workers, students, women and national and religious minorities inside Iran. Your people has to suffer in silence. You cannot say the truth since the truth is not anti-imperialist".

RFS said...

There are different ways of arriving at 'what is to be done' (taken both practically and theoretically). One way is to watch the mouths of the imperialists and wait for them to say something or make some declaration, and then say the exact opposite and call that an anti-imperialist position. The other way is to start from principles and set your own positions derived from those principles.

For this particular discussion, I'll start with a basic principle: Democracy (the real thing, not just having some elections) is anathema to imperialism. Therefore anywhere we see people's democratic rights crushed, that's (an actual present or potential future) victory for imperialism.

When labor rights activists are jailed, tortured and/or executed for irrational 'crimes' such as 'fighting against god' or 'spreading corruption on earth' or for other equally insane 'reasons' (in reality, of course, they're being persecuted for the having had the nerve to organize against the ravages of capitalism in their locale), this lowers the floor on the workers' rights and wellbeing and is to the long-term benefit of the imperialists (as well as the local capitalists). When women are kept under the thumb of an oppressive misogynistic and patriarchal regime, this also lowers the floor for accepted/acceptable social misery OVERALL (not just for women), and this is very beneficial for the future or current plans of the imperialists. I'll just stop with those two items. You can extrapolate the same thing in all areas of social oppression allowed by the theocracy that is ruling Iran (free speech rights, national and religious minority rights, etc.)

Now, a particular problem is that for some 'leftists' in the U.S. 'human rights' is something separate from and subservient to a socialist project. This is a very grave mistake and has been a long-time problem with a lot of the so-called socialists in the U.S. and the world.

But, let's imagine a reverse situation: It would not be acceptable to an American socialist if a 'foreigner' ... (and that's how most of them view people like me; NOT as internationalist comrades whose experiences and views are valid and should be listened to and engaged, especially by the largely clueless U.S. left) ... were to say, for example, stop wasting time with slogans like, "Free Mumia!" since it takes away from our true fight against imperialism, which is the main conflict overshadowing every other one. If anybody said that, an informed American socialist would point out that the oppression of the African Americans (which must include the persecution of their radical leaders) is structurally tied up with American imperialism. Without slavery and racism (and its continuation under morphed dynamics) American imperialism would not have materialized in the first place. So, the fight for human rights and dignity of the African Americans (and therefore the defense of their radical leaders) is integral to a socialist project in the U.S. (and the world, I would add).

Well, it's the same with the political prisoners in countries like Iran. They represent the most radical activists against oppression in their societies, and therefore their persecutio is structurally required and part and parcel of the continuation of oppressive class societies in the global south. So, as "global southerners" our fight for democracy is at the same time an anti-imperialist struggle by default, and the most radical and observant activists draw practical conclusions from this principle. If western and especially the U.S. left understood this very basic and elemental dialectic, they would be in much better shape in dealing with 'their own' societies as well.

Alas ... Most American 'leftists' have their eyes and ears glued on the mouths of the imperialists in order to find out what their leftist 'positions' must be regarding whatever issue of the day the imperialists decide to trumpet from their ideological loudspeakers (the media, academia, etc.).

RFS said...

Comment by Liz:

Re: u.s. agents: those dressed in 'human rights ' democracy' garb, agents of u.s. 'soft power strategic non-violence' . Their strategic political role and work have been analyzed by many, much available in the digest at http://www.burbankdigest.com/.

'Soft power' has become increasingly critical under Obama since u.s. military alone turned most of the world it seeks to control against it. It is now integrated under Pentagon leadership.
USAID/State dept/ WB/IMF etc. sponsor George Soros' [ multi-billionaire capitalist hedge fund operator] vast 'soft power' NGO empire. Amnesty Int'l. & HRW are 2 of the most familiar names under the Open Society Institute banner. Mainstream media uses them for pro-u.s. news slant [Saberi?] plus local orgs produce hundreds of publications.

These neoliberal NGO agents may have good creds here, but are well-known elsewhere and kicked out of many countries. Their grassroots members are usually many well-intentioned hands-on activists being used for U.S. interests in Africa ( including"Save Darfur'), Tibet (dalai lama) , NGOss in Palestine, Myanmar, Venezuela, eastern europe where Soros began his 'color revolutions', and many more.

liz

RFS said...

Comment by Liz:

Ordeal in Iran: Reflections on Roxana Saberi
by Ziyaad Lunat / May 22nd, 2009
Roxana Saberi, the Iranian-American journalist was the centre of worldwide attention after she was jailed in Iran. She was initially sentenced to six years in jail for ‘spying’, a charge she denied. The term was cut on appeal to a two-year suspended sentence. She only ended up serving four months, mainly due to international outcry over her case. Now that Saberi is out of the limelight, it is important to reflect on the instrumentalities of her ordeal. There are two key issues that should be analyzed; first, the media treatment of her case and second, the distinctiveness of her story. … (Full article …) http://dissidentvoice.org/2009/05/ordeal-in-iran/

paola, i also trust you will post it in the interests of genuine anti-imperialist zionism

liz

RFS said...

Dear Liz,

The article by Ziyaad Lunat is such an incoherent piece and sooooooo besides the point that it's not even funny.

I'm sorry, but I have heard this mumbo-jumbo line so often over the past four or five years, that I get sick when I see it repeated ad nausea, without any reflection, by anybody who thinks this kind of 'thinking' lands them on the left of the political spectrum. This is just lazy, hazy non-thinking, it doesn't shed any light on anything, and it actually confuses things.

As far as I'm concerned, the American left has completely lost the plot for useful reasoning on Iran. This article by Lunat is a perfect example of this lost-in-the-clouds 'thinking'. (I do know he's not American, but his line logic in this article could not be more so!)

If we were to take this kind of 'reasoning' seriously, leftists should simply stop any advocacy for ANY political rights ANYwhere in the Third World!!