Saturday, May 29, 2010

Khiaban No. 70: The Upcoming Anniversary of June Uprising

Translation of latest Khiaban newspaper lead article.

June 12th or June 20th?
by Amir K.
Khiaban #70 / Saturday, May 29, 2010

Since the Ashura protests on December 27 [2009], no opportunity for oppositional presence of the people on the streets of Tehran has been produced. Although large numbers of citizens poured onto the streets on February 11, 2010 [anniversary of the revolution], the regime was in effect able to hold complete control over the streets. From that time on, the only important oppositional arena was the general strike in Kurdistan in protest to the execution of five [Kurdish] political prisoners by the regime in May [on May 9, 2010]. Although people's fury has been piled high, lack of a particular plan in the movement, lack of a strategy, and the fact that people's independent organizations have only just been formed, and all of this alongside a brutal police and security crackdown -- these factors have all combined to take the society out of the streets and hand the streets back to the bloodied hands of the Islamic Republic.

It is for these reasons that June [anniversary of the fraudulent elections and the movement that rose up in its aftermath] finds a distinct significance in determining the fate of the current stage of the people's movement. If the regime is able to control this month, in effect another stage of the Iranian people's struggle for achieving a just and free society will have ended without any objective gains. Both the citizens and the state are well aware of this. The "Green industry" is trying to bring people to the streets to protest on June 12. However, since it lacks any party organization or infrastructure, its preference is to expend this effort at the ordinary citizens' expense, hoping that perhaps some benefits might be thereafter bestowed on 'special' citizens. It has been said that, "If a permit is issued," there will be a march on that day. We know that no permits will be issued. Those who make such statements also know this. However, the main reason for saying these things is to turn June 12 [anniversary of the elections] into a goal for the society, so that self-initiated and independent oppositional groups and associations, much as they have pushed forth their struggle with their own ingenuity since the start of the movement, this time too, if conditions and capabilities permit, unify their street protests on this day and create a new wave on the streets.

However, should we observe June 12 as the anniversary of the new movement and make our move on that day? Or, can June 20 be a more appropriate day for unifying our organizational efforts and innovations as well as different circles of citizens, for a street unity in the city and in opposition to the Islamic Republic? Since it has been preordained that this time too the citizens take things into their own hands, and since no nationwide organization or party exists to organize such a huge demonstration, it is natural that it is the collective wisdom which must, through a speedy discussion and reasoning, make a decision, determine a goal and then act. It is along these lines that two reasons will be presented for targeting June 20 instead of June 12 [for a day of action].

The conceptual reason: June 12 is the anniversary of the elections. On the next day, June 13 [last year], Ahmadinejad was announced the winner of the elections. During the following week, people took to the streets to express their protests against the announced results. On June 19, in his Friday prayer speech Khamenei threatened the dissidents with death. Despite that, most honorable people willing to give all came out onto the streets courageously. Bullets shot straight at demonstrators started to rain, and tens of citizens including Neda Agha-Soltan fell and soaked in their own blood, to become witnesses to the tyranny and blood letting of this regime. The initial protest against the disappearance of votes [soon] found itself faced with a regime that in order to save its rule had no qualms about killing people. All its legal organs and institutions -- from the Supreme Leader, to the Guardian Council, the Islamic majlis [parliament], the police and the Revolutionary Guards, and on -- are standing against the people's demands and murder them ruthlessly. Protesting on June 12 can at best represent and signify a demand for holding new elections, a demand that even Moussavi and Karroubi have yielded on. However, protesting on June 20 signifies a vaster meaning. It is the day of the opposition and protest of the citizens of a society against the unjust, tyrannical and bloodied laws and the ruling system. It is a day of remembrance of the youth who, despite Khamenei's orders, took to the streets and embraced bullets with their lives, so as to turn into a loud call in the passageways of history. June 12 is like a day of competition between political experts and professionals. June 20, however, is the day of the ordinary citizens, who are fighting to determine their own fates, and who write history in their own handwriting.

The administrative/operational reason: Just as the people gain experience in the course of their struggle and utilize those experiences in order to advance and elevate their fight, so too is the regime in the process of discovering and inventing new ways and means of control and crackdown. February 11 anniversary of the revolution left a good taste in regime's mouth. A day, when the regime benefited tremendously from its annual mobilization efforts to bring enough of its supporters into Tehran so as to contain dissident citizens. They were able to organize ordinary citizens, such as teachers and office workers, in such a way that in effect they seemed as if they were part of the oppressive forces, and were able to paint the streets in their own colors. They will use this experience. June 4, which is the anniversary of Khomeini's death, and for which an annual nationwide effort has always been organized, can become a useful tool in an attack on people. There are currently reports of tent cities being erected to the south of Tehran capable of housing a million people. They will spare no efforts to bring together an immense crowd from all cities of Iran by mobilizing through offices, neighborhoods and schools, to bring them to Tehran, and by giving them free food and exciting them through religious sermons bring them out onto the streets on June 12 so as to occupy the streets once again. They have the money, the organizational capabilities and a completely free hand to do as they please, to carry out such an organizational deed and trap the dissident people once again, just like on February 11 [anniversary of revolution].

However, the regime will not be able to keep this same crowd in Tehran until June 20. This crowd has [mostly] come on a recreational short trip, and must return home soon. And those who remain behind in their tent camps will have grown tired and fatigued by then as a result of their prolonged stay. Therefore, June 20 is the day when he enemy is in his weakest state and the dissident people are in their most powerful position. It is on such a day that the streets can be taken back from the Islamic Republic.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Khiaban No. 69: General Strike Only in Kurdistan?

Translation of latest Khiaban newspaper lead article.

General Strike Only in Kurdistan?
by Amir K.
Khiaban #69 / Thursday, May 13, 2010

Kurdistan is a strange region. It has fought alone for decades and it is sill under occupation. Deprived, and poor. What has been done to the Kurdish people under the Pahlavi regime and the Islamic Republic is still absent from the history of Iranian society. Under the regime's nationalistic speeches and the Shiite-driven ruling system, under the bombardments, the executions, the tortures and all the butchering, a part of the society was left hidden. To this very day, Kurdistan is under the most severe crackdown. A crackdown that is not limited to the imprisonments and the executions of political activists. A crackdown that manifests itself also in the lack of investments of national wealth in that region for economic development. A crackdown that includes a ban on the right of being educated in one's mother tongue. A crackdown that has brought down the Kurdish youth from their mountainside and foothill villages to Tehran, so that they can move modern life's furniture and refrigerators, on their tired shoulders, up the stairs of residential towers. A new form of crackdown, out of whose ever-open wounds flow blood and pus.

In its economic deprivation, however, Kurdistan has built within itself the richest political fabric in the Iranian society. It is not without reason that in the aftermath of the protests to the executions of its youth [on May 9, 2010], today the entire region has gone on a general strike. This is in contrast to Tehran, where the Supreme Leader gunned down the youth in front of the whole city's open eyes, but the city did not go on a strike; although all the pillows of the fellow city-dwellers, and all lovers of freedom and justice, were soaked in sadness every night.

Maybe Shirin and Farahd were not well known by the non-Kurdish citizens (Woe unto us for not rescuing our contemporary Shirin* and Farhad*!) [Translator's note: reference to two characters from one of the stories in Shahnameh]. However, Farzad Kamangar, due to his letters from inside those dungeons of suffocation, gave us all light, and found his way to the hearts and dreams of all of Iran.

So why is it that Kurdistan has risen in a general strike, and big cities in Iran are grinding on with the hustle and bustle of daily work and making a living? A blind answer could go like this: The Persians have left the Kurds to their own devices. An answer that could lead to nationalistic and Sunni-inspired speechifying on the other side (Side? What side? Who puts me and the regime's ministers and lawyers on one side, and my comrade whose fate I share on the other side?). The real answer to this question, however, is likewise an answer to the current dead-end facing people's protest movement. The reason Kurdistan is on general strike is that there are political parties in that region that have a track record of struggling for decades. The Kurdish Organization of Communist Party (Komeleh), Democrat Party, and other Kurdish organizations of various parties call on people to join the general strike, and show a way forward for the struggle. A date gets set; a particular way of fighting is suggested, and they organize their own forces for this mobilization.

On the other hand, people in Kurdistan have grown a sense of party affiliation with particular parties. Even if not members of a party, they still identify with particular parties or political trends. Within the political sphere, people are organized. It is clear then that, with organized people and with the political intervention of political parties and organizations, a general strike can be brought about.

However, right now, although the social need exists for a general strike -- or other forms of social action, in order to transform the political system -- practically the conditions for a general strike do not exist. For a general strike [to be effective] there is a need for centers of decision-making. Certain centers or headquarters must give a call for today, or some announced day, to be a day of strike. However, just an announcement is not enough. These centers and headquarters should have a presence in the social fabric and be able to mobilize people. This means an organization not based on the Internet or the satellites, but one tied to the organizational capacities of the people. At the moment, the parties opposed to the regime are separated from the social body, and those who do have the chance/ability to be present in society have repeatedly shown their loyalty to the system.

Kurdistan can be one example of the solution for the way forward. Our society can and must move in the direction of political organization. An organizational form that is not legal, but it rises from amidst the people, and it receives its legitimacy from being steeled in the storm of the struggle for [a better future for] society.

Long live Kurdistan!
Long live social struggle for freedom and equality!
Death to the fascistic Islamic Republic!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Fallout of Kamangar and Others' Executions

Some news items related to the aftermath of the barbaric executions of May 9, 2010, by Iranian authorities. All news items are from Persian2English.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Farzad Kamangar: In Memoriam

The butchers of our people have struck again. They murdered yet more, in order to silence our voices. But our voices are many, and they all sing from the same well of inspiration that has inspired hundreds of millions of humans who came before us: the desire for a better, more just life.

The piece below, Farzad Kamangar's last letter from captivity before being murdered by the Islamic Republic's butchers, is from Street Journalist (visit the link to read more about Farzad Kamangar).

Farzad Kamangar was a Kurdish teacher, arrested in August 2006 and sentenced to death in February 2008, after a trial that lasted five minutes, according to his lawyer. During his months of incarceration, he was exposed to extreme mental and physical torture which he described in a letter. Read some of his letters here ... here ... and here.

May Farzad Kamangar, Shirin Alam-Houli, Ali Heydarian, Mehdi Eslamian and Farhad Vakili, and all those who have given their lives for freedom and justice, Rest In Peace!

Related: Evin Political Prisoners on Hunger Strike ... "to protest the recent executions that took place on May 9, 2010 and also the recent transfer of some prisoners to Rajai-Shahr prison."

Farzad Kamangar’s Last Letter: “Be Strong Comrades”

Once upon a time, there was a mother fish who laid 10,000 eggs. Only one little black fish survived. He lives in a stream with his mother.

One day the little fish said to his mother, “I want to go away from here.” The mother asked, “Where to?” The little fish replied, “I want to go see where the stream ends.”

[Translator’s note: Little Black Fish is the title of a short story fiction piece for children. The story was written in 1967 by the dissident teacher Samad Behrangi. The book was banned under the Shah’s regime. It tells the story and adventures of a little fish who defies the rules of his community to embark on a journey to discover the sea. On the way, he courageously fights enemies. The tale is considered to be a classic in Iranian resistance literature]

Hello cell mates. Hello fellow mates of pain!

I know you well: you are the teacher, the neighbour to the stars of *Khavaran, the classmates of dozens whose essays were attached to their legal cases [as evidence], the teacher of students whose [only] crime was their humane thoughts. I know you well: you are colleagues of Samad and Ali Khan. You remember me too, right?

[Translator's note: Khavaran is the cemetery in eastern Tehran where many political dissidents were executed during the 1980's and buried in mass unmarked graves]

It is me, the one chained in Evin prison.

It is me, the quiet student who sits behind the broken school benches and longs to see the sea while in a remote village in Kurdistan. It is me, who like you, told the tales of Samad to his students; but in the heart of the Shahoo Mountains [located in Kurdistan].

It is me who loves to take on the role of the little black fish. It is me, your comrade on death row.

Now, the valleys and mountains are behind him and the river passes though a plain field. From the left and the right side, other rivers have joined in and the river now is filled with more water. The little fish enjoyed the abundance of water…the little fish wanted to go to the bottom of the river. He was able to swim as much as he wanted and not bump into anything.

Suddenly, he spotted a large group of fish. There were 10,000 of them, one of whom told the little black fish, “Welcome to the sea, comrade!”

My jailed colleagues! Is it possible to sit behind the same desk as Samad, look into the eyes of the children of this land, and still remain silent?

Is it possible to be a teacher and not show the path to the sea to the little fish of the country? What difference does it make if they come from Aras[a river in northwestern Iran, Azerbaijan], Karoon [a river in southwestern Iran, Khuzestan], Sirvan [a river in Kurdistan] or Sarbaz Rood [a river in the Sistan and Baluchestan region]? What difference does it make when the sea is a mutual destiny, to be united as one? The sun is our guide. Let our reward be prison, that is fine!

Is it possible to carry the heavy burden of being a teacher and be responsible for spreading the seeds of knowledge and still be silent? Is it possible to see the lumps in the throats of the students and witness their thin and malnourished faces and keep quiet?

Is it possible to be in the year of no justice and fairness and fail to teach the H for Hope and E for Equality, even if such teachings land you in Evin prison or result in your death?
I cannot imagine being a teacher in the land of Samad, Khan Ali, and Ezzati and not join the eternity of *Aras. I cannot imagine witnessing the pain and poverty of the people of this land and fail to give our hearts to the river and the sea, to roar and to inundate.

[*Translator note: Aras is a river in northwest Iran, bordering Iran and Azerbaijan. Samad drowned in the river in the summer of 1968. Some have considered the circumstance of his death suspicious and blamed agents of the Shah’s regime for his death]

I know that one day, this harsh and uneven road will be paved for teachers and the suffering you endured will be a badge of honour so everyone can see that a teacher is a teacher, even if his or her path is blocked by the *selection process, prison, and execution. The little black fish and not the heron bestows honour on the teacher.

[Translator's note: Selection process or Gozinesh is a process through which teachers and other government-paid employees are vetted based on their ideological, political, and religious views]

The Little Fish calmly swam in the sea and thought: Facing death is not hard for me, nor is it regrettable.

Suddenly the heron swooped down and grabbed the little fish.

Grandma Fish finished her story and told her 12,000 children and grandchildren that it was time for bed. 11,999 little fish said good night and went to bed. The grandmother went to sleep as well. One little red fish was not able to sleep. That fish was deep in thought.

A teacher on death row, Evin prison.

Farzad Kamangar / April 2010