Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Khiaban No. 23: Local Solidarity Committees

Thanks to the sender of this translation of a lead article from issue number 23 of Khiaban newspaper, published in Iran. To get electronic copies of the paper in Persian, write to:

For reports of resistance as well as details of those detained, murdered and disappeared, in English, go to Revolutionary Road ..

Local Solidarity Committees Against the Coup
by Amir K.
Khiaban #23 / Tuesday, July 14, 2009

How can we confront the coup? One alternative being spoken of with lots of fanfare is to keep our gaze an those above: [they say] let's just wait for Mousavi and Karoubi and their fellows to form a political front, and then let's wait some more to see what actions they propose. Or else, let's put all our efforts into getting the U.N. and the developed nations to reject this coup regime and force them into accepting to hold free elections. Or else, let's just keep staring at the TV screen or the YouTube videos, waiting for them to tell us what to do. This alternative puts its prayers in the 'greats' and the 'experts'; 'great' people whose source of 'greatness' is far from clear. Have they earned their greatness in a struggle for people's crushed dreams; or have they earned greatness through owning pistachio orchards, large import-export companies, daily presence on the television networks, long history of service in the Sepaah [revolutionary guards], blood connection to this or that ayatollah, and on and on?

In such alternatives, where are the people? Is it possible to change the current unjust social relations based on prejudice, without people creating new social relations through their struggle? Is it possible to act like a television audience and [expect to] create a humane government? Can we really keep our eyes fixed on those above and wait to see what conclusions are reached in Mousavi and Karoubi meeting, or what Rafsanjani will say in the Friday prayers?

But, another alternative does exist. Decentralized and spontaneous forms of people's organizations have created a much more powerful movement, which -- regardless of Obama's reactions and irrespective of whether the reformists in the regime stand with people or stick to their own interests -- has united to defeat the coup regime, and has put its trust in the power of the people. This alternative should be supported and participated in actively.

Local solidarity committees against the coup can be one of the forms carrying the task of joining all the forces and the abilities of every single individual, people who pay the biggest price for the [current] social existence. This movement can transform the citizens from being victims of this regime of velayat-e faqih into free and equal citizens of a people's governance.

By forming committees made up of men and women, of young and the middle aged, in places of living and neighborhoods, we can defend ourselves against the coup, and fight them with a bigger force. These committees can put to good use the variety of capabilities of their members and create a collective force. In these committees, different methods of resisting the coup can be discussed and collective decisions can be reached. We can discuss what kinds of slogans to raise and how to participate in protests. Some members of the committees can gather a collection of news and analysis and pass them on to other members and their neighbors, and even put them up in public places. If a family member of a committee affiliate is among the latest detainees or the disappeared, we can help them either legally, or financially, or even by providing them with a car, a ride, etc. The youth can discuss slogan writing [on the walls] in the adjacent neighborhoods, and find suitable ways for it. We can give spiritual support to those who have experienced soul crushing events. In working class neighborhoods, workers can discuss issues relating to mass dissent in factories and workshops out of the reach of the company officials and the foremen.

We cannot and must not limit ourselves to the slogans and demands available on the [mainstream/official] media. We can unite around real demands and daily problems. In their fight to gain back their rights, girls and women -- who in their places of work, face sexual harassment, discrimination, having to endure unbearable working conditions, unequal payment and rights, and other such obstacles that prevent them from a life of freedom and dignity -- can use these committees to find people with similar thoughts and can then act collectively.

Those who, in the current system, in order to make a living, have to leave the house at five in the morning and don't get back home until well into the dark of the night, can unite together to stop this death machine, which has destroyed their lives. In these committees it can be learned that we do have rights, and how we do have our own thoughts: whether about our daily problems or about big subject matters such as the running of the state, the running of the prisons and the courts and the police, and about the workings of the television and the newspapers.

This limited [ruling] minority, which in broad daylight and in opposition to demands for the citizens' human rights, resorts to cheating, lying and killing, has zero right or legitimacy in deciding our fate.

People's solidarity against the coup is not a 'plan'; rather, it is a reality, a reaction that has already started among the people, exactly because the coup has stood for the absolute abolition of people's rights. Ordinary people have shown and will show the most steadfast resistance, exactly because they are fighting for their lives, for a dignified living, which has come under attack by the rulers.

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