Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Iran Opposition Movement: Dead or Alive?

Time for negation of the negation ...

Translation of an article by Amin Hosuri, on the current conjuncture of the opposition movement in Iran. A must-read!

[Read the original, in Persian, at Amin Hosuri's blog,
Sarbalaee (The Uphill)]

Movement in Labyrinth-1:
Is the Movement Alive?

by Amin Hosuri / June 22, 2011

Intoduction: My assumption is that the readers of this text consider themselves as sharing the same fate and pains as the people who live in that geographical site of tyranny [Iran]. There are many among them who, no doubt, consider what has been unfolding in these past two years in the form of a protest movement/Green Movement in Iran is important. Considering this movement to be important, however, is independent of the method of evaluation and judgment regarding its composition, direction and the horizons of the movement. It is purely based on the understanding that this movement (at least in the medium-term) will greatly impact our collective fate (directly or indirectly). Therefore, and since every mass movement of the people carries within it a compressed form of historical developments (since it is both the result of past history and the shaper of its future horizons), using Alain Badiou's conceptual system, we can call this movement an 'Event'. In this case, the addressees of this text are those who wish and try to stay "loyal" to this event. (Though, in the end or from the very start, we must distance ourselves from the common sense and brittle aspects/understandings of "loyalty" and think about "true" forms of loyalty; meaning, going beyond the level of wishes and futile efforts, and in effect doing something that leads to prolonging the life of the 'Event' and nurtures the liberating potentialities of the 'Event'.) [...]

Is the Movement Alive?!
We have heard a lot about whether the movement is dead or alive or petering out; and usually in exaggerated narratives. The movement and its being alive is not separate from our collective actions; however, since this 'us', in its widest meaning, is not represented by any particular collective institution, and since it doesn't have any channels to express its internal tendencies, it is not easily possible to judge the upward or downward trend of 'our collective actions'. If we do not over-generalize based on our own personal observations, and if we do not recognize the media chains of the "Green Industry" as a valid framework for discerning the reality of the movement, the factors indicating the vitality or demise of the movement must be sought in the immediate external impacts of the movement. However, in an oppressive system armed with the all the instruments of deceit and censorship, it is not possible to systematically follow such external impacts; unless, at a time when the system undergoes fundamental changes or else is on the way to definite destruction, when thus the presence of the movement is displayed to all!

Under such conditions filled with uncertainties, conditions have ripened for two groups and lines of thought to spread and disseminate their speculations. On the one hand are tendencies that have always denied the validity of the movement or ridiculed it (for any reasons, such as the presence of the reformists in the movement, or the lack of the presence of organized workers in the movement), and now consider the movement finished and destroyed, and based on this "observation" they conclude the correctness of their previous positions vis-a-vis the movement; in the final analysis, to re-emphasize the legitimacy of their politics (which is essentially independent of any 'Event'). On the other hand are those tendencies who are reliant on an instrumentalist utilization of the movement, and who portray the movement "filled with ever-more vitality". It is as if regardless of the method of interaction/engagement with particular external conditions and the way it addresses its internal needs, the movement is forever surging up and ahead, until that time when the "desired victory" is achieved. The necessity for shaping a "victory" that is independent of the path taken requires banging on the drums of hegemonic discourse, which monopolizes the determination of criteria and the definitions of victory, just like it monopolizes other spheres that are reflective of the movement; it is clear that we are talking about the reformist political discourse.

The Reformist tendencies -- due to their political organization, financial capabilities, media support, and as well due to their old connections with and ideological closeness to the ruling system (which still gives them certain possibilities for maneuvering within the system) -- have been able to impose their discourse on the movement and to keep that hegemony to this day. Of course, in this effort, they have enjoyed the close cooperation of Persian language media outlets of western governments. From the political viewpoint of this tendency, and also their allies in some layers of the [real] opposition, the movement has always traversed a vertical path, and has now bypassed its raw initial phases, which were manifested as street demonstrations, and reached the phase for negotiations and compromise with the ruling system (in this regard, Mr. Rajab-ali Mazroo'ie's straight talk with BBC (1), does not differ much, essence-wise, from the sentimentalist article by Ms. Maliheh Mohammadi, in Rooz Online (2)).

In addition to the two political trends already mentioned, we are faced with a vast array of generally unknown individuals who are 'loyal' to the 'Event' and believe that, "Any social movement is an expansion of the 'possible horizons'". As a result, they hoped/wished and viewed the reformists as the 'driving engine' of the movement (with an array of political understandings and analyses), so they inevitably tied up the fate of the movement, more or less, to the way the reformists acted. Today, however, with ever more evidence of the utilitarian/instrumentalist attitude of the reformists regarding the movement (or, to put it another way, with the take-over of the most degenerate faction of reformists in determining their common strategy), and under conditions whereby the movement has not had any tangible progress forward or any achievements, it seems that great number of such people are frustrated/disappointed, and from this vantage point they see the movement on its way to being defeated.

At the same time, a major segment of this third grouping, despite the ever more clarity of the arena of struggle, still retain their hope in the reformists (whether due to tactical and intellectual reasons or psychological ones (3)); even as it is the case that great many of them, in order to keep this hopes alive, have to regularly adjust their political views to the analyses provided by the organic intellectuals of the reformist factions. From the point of view of this segment of population, under the conditions of no alternatives for oppositional struggle -- which is explained only by reference to government's extreme brutality [meaning, without any reflection on the role played by reformist leaders themselves in misleading and wasting opportunities, not to mention not creating any new paths for fighting __ trans. note] -- any source that defends the movement and reminds us of the growth of the movement (which is an internal dream/wish of theirs) is worth supporting and following; a support that, rewarded by "steadfastness" in struggle and excused by the "brutality" of the other side, is mainly uncritical. For these people, in actuality, the only effective way of participating in the movement is to reproduce and distribute the images/symbols that the reformists have presented as reflecting the movement, along with accepting the sterile strategies that come of these images/symbols. It is obvious that the insistence by the government to deny the existence of the movement, and the daily increase in humiliation of the people by the state along with brutal repression of and crackdown on any external sign of [existence of] the movement, encourage and strengthen the persistence of this trend of thought especially among the youth; a trend that has up to now intensified populist tendencies in the movement.

Under these conditions, though, truly, what reliable criteria can we find to evaluate whether the movement is alive or waning? It is clear that the deepening of general dissatisfactions (which is also tied to the increasing spread of social problems and problems to do with making a living) and even the growth of the internal fissures in the regime (which has always been an essential part of its internal dynamics) alone cannot in and of themselves be an indicator for whether or not the movement is alive and thriving. If the criteria for a movement to be alive and well is, on the one hand, people's willingness and preparedness to participate in that movement and, on the other hand, actual existence of channels and strategies for actualizing this collective participation (and ways to ensure its growth and strengthening), then it has to be said that the movement is not dead, but in [dynamic] suspension.

The movement is in suspension due to the fact that despite having the first factor [willingness to participate] (which was confirmed by the February 14, 2011 demonstrations), the people lack the second factor. This suspension of the movement, which is clearly reflected in the suppressed general desire to recapture the streets (as reflected by, for example, small demonstrations of June 12, 2011 and others like it), can after some time lead to its demise and destruction; since, as mentioned in the outline of criteria for vitality of the movement, the first factor is not independent of the second factor. In other words, in the absence of proper and appropriate alternatives for mass resistance and struggle -- something that would provide the conditions for actualizing and spreading different levels/spheres for people's participation in the movement (despite the existence of oppressive conditions) -- without alternatives that would be in harmony with nurturing and expanding the spontaneity of actions and creativity of people in struggle, the collective motivation for participating in the movement will wane sooner or later, and eventually, with the intensification of the crackdown by the regime, the social hope that could have been transformative turns into collective and ruinous frustration/disappointment.

In actuality, lack of cohesiveness and organization in the body of the movement (which is, more than anything else, the result of the dark history of tyranny and oppression) provided enough space to the only organized layer of the movement (the reformists) to impose their discourse on the whole movement. A discourse which, regardless of any political judgment, in practice and in the ever up and down currents of the movement has shown that it is not only incapable of filling the vacuum of the second factor (effective alternatives and strategies for carrying the struggle forward) but even lacking any motivation to do any such thing, and instead by portraying the movement in distorted manner even denies such necessities, and by continuing to act in monopolistic and power-centered fashion (unconcerned with the fate of the movement), the reformists are rendering sterile all the energies, all the creativities and spontaneities of the people.

Based on all this, it seems that the only criterion that at this stage can testify to the vitality of the movement is the spreading of signs that the movement is going beyond its dominant political discourse [of the reformists]. In other words, the movement's vitality will in fact not materialize unless the movement passes the current phase of waiting and suspension, and goes to the phase of dynamic independence; and this is that very necessity, finding the difficult answer to which is the substance of the challenge that must occupy all our collective ability and intellect. This is so because the movement, in order to step into a dynamic existence, has no choice but to shed its old skin, so as to be able to re-find all its social capabilities and its internal potentialities, and to establish the missing links of organization and struggle. I think that the question of "What is to be done?" confronts us on exactly this point, as an inevitable phase of going beyond this purgatory.

Sa'eed Hajjarian is known to have said: "Reforms are dead; long live reforms!" It is time that we also say: "The movement reliant on reformists is dead; Long live people's movement!"

1) See link below:

2) This Was the Minimum Accomplishment:

3) This approach of putting unconditional and indefinite hope in some external source is in fact a result of extreme hopelessness; more specifically, a great portion of the people, affected by age-old oppressive conditions of crackdowns and lack of any people's organizations, do not see any capacity in themselves to prepare for and continue to fight, and inevitably pursue their fight against the source of dominant power-holder by recourse to another source of power.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Iran: 30th Anniversary of 20 June 1981

Translation of an article by Hamid Nozari about a very important historical event in Iran, a pivotal "founding moment" of the Islamic Republic of Iran's regime: the group executions of June 20 1981.

[image to the right: front cover of Ettela'at newspaper announcing the executions of demonstrators arrested on 20 June 1981.]
[Read the original article, in Persian, here.]

20 June 1981: Revisiting a historical event in Iran
by Hamid Nozari / Berlin, 20 June 2011

On the evening of June 21, 1981, Islamic Republic's television networks announced, "15 people convicted of corruption on earth and fighting against God were executed by firing squad in Evin Prison."

Iran's Islamic Republic's prosecutorial authorities issued two statements regarding the 'instigators of the June 20 [1981] riots/disturbances'. In one piece of news, the execution of seven, and in another the execution of eight more were announced. Those executed, however, had been arrested and imprisoned way before 20 June 1981, and had been arrested with charges of committing other "crimes". What happened on 20 June 1981? A look at the then-two and a half year old Islamic Republic can give us the answer.

The Islamic Republic from its inception was an untimely phenomenon in contradiction with its era. The political leaders and functionaries of this so-called republic, during the struggles of the 1960s and 1970s, and particularly in the major arenas of political activity (universities, intellectual spaces, the prisons and the opposition abroad) were in the margins and the peripheries. It was with the intensification of the people's movement that slowly they were brought from the margins to the center, and subsequently, due to factors and reasons that are beyond the scope of this text, they took hold of power and in an undemocratic referendum, they named it 'Islamic Republic'. Some of the founders and leaders of this power bloc, who had the experience of doing political-organizational work and had been imprisoned, were well aware of the determining impact of the presence, or lack of presence, of opposition political figures, leaders and/or political organizations on the life and vitality, or death and demise, of social or political forces/movements. They also knew that eliminating some of the leaders and the cadres of opposition trends and forces would mean, materially, the weakening of and rendering ineffective oppositional movements, and this would drive them back for the next phase (or phases) of struggle.

It was because of this that very shortly after coming to power, they put the policy of elimination of opposition forces on their agenda, and began to implement it semi-officially. The concerns of the newly-enthroned were not limited to eliminating political figures and organizations, but expanded to preventing the formation of any independent organizations or associations and any organization opposed to the system on principle.

It was thus that organized violence against dissidents was put into practice. Executions without trials, or trials lasting merely minutes, of former leaders and cronies of the previous regime; attacks on Baha'i centers of worship and the killing of their leaders; attacks on women's demonstrations; military assault with live bullets on the assembly of Turkmen's [in north-northeast Iran] and assassination of their leaders; bloody murder of those fighting on the path for "Democracy for Iran - Autonomy for Kurdistan"; the assaults on newspapers and organizations; the shutting down of the universities under the pretext of 'Cultural Revolution', and on and on -- all these created the material conditions for the founding of various institutions of the Islamic Republic (Assembly of Experts [of Constitution-], Islamic Consultative Assembly [parliament], etc.) and the ratification of the constitution, based on which the discrimination between men and women, between Muslims and non-Muslims, and religious and non-religious, etc., became legal. Ratification and execution of laws of Islamic punishments, stoning, eye-for-an-eye justice, torture and terror and abductions became the tools by which this constitution was enforced.

On 31 January 1980, the second coordinating meeting for confronting "counterrevolutionary" parties and organizations finished its work. After distinguishing between "hostile groups" and "dissident groups", this meeting issued a statement in 15 paragraphs. List of participants in this preparatory meeting to plan terror and murder is available.

Protests against this daily, planned violence organized by the government was the everyday work of different political, social and civic groups and social forces, in the first two and a half years of the revolution. Not a day passed that we did not hear news of somebody being tortured, abducted/disappeared, secretly assassinated, etc. [...]

The January 1980 plan was ratified in [late] March. It is worth emphasizing that large numbers of those executed on 20 June 1981, were arrested shortly after this plan was ratified in March 1980, and were imprisoned, charged with various "crimes."

On 20 June 1981, in protest to a clerical coup against the then-president, Abol-Hassan Bani-Sadr, a massive demonstration was held in Tehran with five hundred thousands participants, called for by the People's Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization of Iran. Some of the forces on the left, liberals, democrats and nationalists participated in this demonstration. This peaceful demonstration, much like other oppositional demonstrations and gatherings, was drenched in blood. From June 21, 1981 until the start of 1984, an unprecedented wave of arrests, tortures, killings on the streets and executions were carried out, which were intensified after the armed operations of Mojahedin-e Khalq on 27 June, 1981. Newspapers were reporting executions of tens and [up to] hundreds of people on a regular basis. There is no precise information about the exact numbers of people killed in these two years and some months, and at times we have seen numbers above ten thousand.

20 June 1981 is an important turning point in the short history of the people's democratic battles in Iran, after the 1979 revolution. From that date on, a [type of] regime took hold in Iran, for whose newly formed intelligence ministry it became an established and official duty to kill and terrorize the opposition, both inside and outside the country.

Despite all that, this very important historical event was gradually forgotten, due to different reasons and by different political, social and civil forces.

Today's reformists in the Islamic Republic, a great part of which were the Hezbollahi's of yesteryears, were among the planners and executors of this policy of oppression; of course, in cooperation with other factions and layers comprising the Islamic Republic. The irony of history is that these same people are now called the "new seditionists" and "traitors" and "being manipulated and playing along with foreign forces and governments", and the same labels and accusations that they used to direct at others in the first decade of the revolution are now meted out to them. [...] Nonetheless, when talking about the events of 20 June 1981, they sound exactly like the conservatives and other former colleagues of theirs: extremism and armed struggle by the opposition caused the violence. These lies have gradually become the official story.

This story by the reformists goes along with their overall political line of thinking, which is appeasement of those in power. They have never imagined a deep-rooted break with this system of ignorance and terror, nor have they ever thought of a real confrontation with them. The reformists believed in and still believe in the foundations of this criminal system. Believing in the "values of the Islamic revolution" and its "constitution" are indicative of the fact that the fight between the "reformists" and the "conservatives" is over political power. This battle is neither a historical battle, nor a battle over values, and not even a serious battle over the intellectual and philosophical foundations of Islamic governance.

If these [reformists] wanted to find the roots of the violence of the last 32 years in Iran, they should start with the intellectual and religious foundations of this system and must pause on Islamic rules of punishment. Analysis of the events of 20 June 1981, however, requires political, intellectual and ethical temerity and courage, which the reformists severely lack. Their speechifying nowadays regarding 'civil institutions', 'civil society', 'human rights' and so on, can have meaning only when based on [real] people's sovereignty, people's rule, separation of religion from state, freedom of conscience (whether we believe in different religions or none at all), political freedoms, freedom of thought and speech, freedom to form organizations and parties, equality of men and women, mechanisms to ensure the peaceful coexistence of different ethnicities and nationalities in Iran, and also social justice. Otherwise, it is essentially a fight to gain political power and over how to share power.

Silence regarding 20 June of 1981 is not solely the practice of the reformists, but many of the "nationalist-religionists" and "leftists", who at that time were fellow travelers and supporters of the reactionary criminals, also remain silent regarding that crime and walk right by it. Further, there are still people among these political forces who rationalize regime's violence and portray it as inevitable. One tendency that can be observed clearly among a large segment of these forces is that they always synchronize with one of the factions of the Islamic Republic, and they adjust their tactics and strategies in harmony with the [reformist] defenders of 'values of the Islamic revolution' and its 'constitution'.

Large parts of the opposition also have effectively forgotten this political event, or else they present a distorted version of the events. The most important of these are the Mojahedin-e Khaq organization. On the one hand, they claim ownership over the entirety of the events leading to and including 20 June 1981. On the other hand they refuse to accept the fact that their turn to armed struggle and carrying out of too sudden and shocking military actions, was an immense mistake in analyzing the balance of forces and the people's subjective preparedness [for an all-out battle]. Their tactic reduced the "people" to an audience of the political scene, and it also inadvertently led to the defeat of the movement that had shaped against the clerical coup [that ousted Bani-Sadr].

Available documents and evidence indicate that leftist trends, despite their intellectual confusion, deviations and shortcomings, and despite their superficial understanding of the complexities of a democratic battle, were more or less aware and conscious of the importance of the battle that had been foisted on them, and their supporters were present in the battle. With the defeat of the movement, and with the retreat and exile, an opportunity arose for analyzing the shortcomings and weaknesses, which unfortunately was not used very well. The monopolistic moves by the Mojahedin, in their turn, caused this part of the left to distance itself from a realistic analysis of these events and their impacts, and consequently a part of the values, traditions and the ideals of the democratic movement of the Iranian people were slowly forgotten. 20 June 1981 is one of the most important forgotten events of the contemporary history of Iran.

Today, thirty years after that historical event, and after the ebb in the movement that occurred in Iran two years ago after the tenth presidential so-called elections, again many have been killed, imprisoned, tortured. A large part of the reformists and their social and political activists have been exiled, and a great amount of the media space outside the country has also been given them as a platform for this force, which enjoys overt and covert support from many sides.

After that facing off of June 2009, the Islamic Republic has stepped into a new phase of dealing with its [internal] contradictions/conflicts. The current government finds itself confronted by some of the major factions of the Islamic Republic itself and also by the people, as well as those who oppose it on principle. It seems that in this new facing off, neither of the regime's factions, whether those in power or out, has the ability to eliminate the other faction, or, to put it more precisely, neither [ruling] political layer can eliminate the competing political layer.

Among the serious contradictions, we can point to the contradictions among the ruling factions and layers in Iran, economic problems, and the unity of voices of a part of the regime with the people.

That faction or layer of the regime that is now in "opposition", in order not to lose its social base, has had to voice some of the people's demands, at times implicitly and at times explicitly. Because of this, some among the forces that belong to the regime, or used to belong to the regime but were thrown out of power in the previous phase, have had to provide some explanations regarding the system and the logic of terror and oppressive crackdown of the first decade of the Islamic Republic. Among these forces, there are still those who consider those crimes as necessary, and some look at that period critically and find some similarities between today and those years. The fact is that the logic of the crackdown of the first ten to fifteen years of the regime, both inside and outside the country, was based on the complete elimination of the dissidents; at any price. The logic of the crackdown of the past two years has been based on intimidating and silencing the internal opposition, and to bring to a halt the spontaneous movement of those whose position is to overthrow this entire tyrannical system.
* * *

20 June 1981 was a turning point in the history of the democratic battles of Iranian people. Despite this, that historical event, which turned the path of life of the society and large numbers of people upside down, and which brought a huge catastrophe to the country, has been [mostly] forgotten. Examination of opposition media shows that this historical event does not hold its deserved place in the political life of the exiled community, and it is feared that it will sink into the hole of lost memories.

Ignoring 20 June 1981, however, does not merely mean forgetting an important historical event on purpose or by default and not paying respect to those who were murdered by a criminal regime. It also means that the fact of the presence of leftist forces, of democrats and freedom lovers, in an important contemporary historical event will be wiped out and eliminated from history.

*With gratitude for the help of my friend and scholar, Nasser Mohajer.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Iran: Anniversary of Neda Agha Soltan's Killing

From Amnesty International.

20 June 2011
AI Index: MDE 13/061/2011

Iran: Second anniversary of Neda Agha Soltan ’s killing highlights near-total impunity for officials

Two years after the death of Neda Agha Soltan was captured on a mobile phone and came to symbolize the brutal repression meted out by security forces after the disputed presidential election of 2009, Amnesty International is renewing its call on the Iranian authorities to end impunity for officials responsible for unlawful killings, torture and other human rights violations.
Footage of Neda Agha Soltan’s dying moments, after being shot in the chest on 20 June 2009 spread around the world via the internet. No one has ever been brought to justice for her death, and instead of investigating it impartially, the Iranian authorities – following an entrenched pattern of cover-up of abuses – resorted to threats, counter-accusations, obfuscation and further violations to try to evade responsibility. A member of the Basij militia witnessed by onlookers as saying, “I did not mean to kill her”, whose ID card was posted on the internet, has never been put on trial, but appeared in a documentary shown a year ago on state television, denying responsibility. Arash Hejazi, the doctor who was present at the scene, was forced to seek asylum abroad, fearing for his safety. Neda Agha Soltan’s family and friends were made to appear on state televison denying the state was responsible, although her father Ali Agha Soltan told BBC Persian in December 2009 that “her killer can only be from the government”.

Neda Agha Soltan was one of over 70 people killed during the unrest that followed the election. The only instance where any officials have been tried in connection with abuses is in relation to the Kahrizak detention centre where at least four men died as a result of torture or other ill-treatment. Twelve men, believed to be 11 policemen and one detainee, were later tried, two of whom were reportedly sentenced to death, but it remains unclear what has become of the 11 the authorities said had been convicted in connection with abuses against detainees held there. No action has been taken against more senior officials who were implicated by a parliamentary investigation.

Other families also remain in the dark about the exact circumstances of their children’s fate such as Parvin Fahimi, who has campaigned to find out the truth about the death from a bullet wound to the heart of her son, 19-year-old Sohrab Arabi. He disappeared during a demonstration on 15 June 2009 and his family was then unable to find out any information about him until 11 July when they recognized him from photographs of dead individuals in court. His body had apparently been at the Coroner’s Office since 19 June. There remains no information as to what happened to him between 15 and 19 June 2009, including either the exact date, or the circumstances, of his death. The killer of Kianoush Asa, who died from a gunshot to the neck during a demonstration on 15 June 2009, has also never been identified.

Claims by the Iranian authorities to have investigated the events at a Tehran University dormitory on the night of 14 June 2009 appear to have resulted in victims being imprisoned rather than perpetrators. Up to five students were reported by student organizations to have been killed – although the university authorities later denied this - and many others seriously injured when unidentified plain-clothes forces stormed the dormitory, arresting hundreds. In May 2011, the Judiciary Spokesman Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejeie (who was Minister of Intelligence at the time of the election) said that 40 individuals had been sentenced to prison terms and fines for the event. However, according to a statement by Tehran University’s Islamic Association on 15 June 2011, those in prison are students who were arrested at the time, not those responsible for the attack.

Article 2 (3) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which Iran is a state party requires states to provide an effective remedy for human rights violations, including the possibility of judicial remedy, and for such remedies to be enforced.

Read the complete statement here ...

Monday, June 13, 2011

Time Is On Our Side

Demonstrators in Syria burning pictures of Nassrallah and Khamenei

On the second anniversary of the electoral coup, the news of overt resistance to the regime is not at all good. Despite the intensification of all social problems, and despite the fact that the infighting between different factions of the regime are still going as strong as ever -- this time it's between Ahmadinejad faction and the Khamenei/principlists faction -- and despite the intensification of economic hardships for all after the elimination of price subsidies, the people's movement is still struggling to find a way to topple the system.

According to reports from Iran, due to the very heavy presence of security forces on key streets and squares in Tehran, the silent march (called for by the Coordinating Committee of the Green Path of Hope) to mark the second anniversary of the electoral coup, or the rebirth of the people's movement, attracted only some thousands of people, who were outnumbered by security forces easily, and who were dispersed, while some were arrested. This is NOT an indication of the movement fading out, but more so an indication of the success of the regime in effectively occupying the streets militarily and not allowing any assemblies to form. People's rage, however, builds up daily.

Meanwhile, the general news from Iran keeps getting increasingly more depressing and bleaker by the day. Political prisoners keep dying in greater numbers, not just from executions, but also from prison conditions. Others are being killed by regime security forces and plainclothes thugs outside prisons, including at funerals: after the death of a dissident, Ezzatollah Sahabi, while in prison (we can easily say the Iranian regime sentenced him to death by 'prison conditions'), the regime thugs then went ahead and killed his daughter, Haleh Sahabi, by physically assaulting her while she was attending her father's funeral. Iranian people do not even have the right to attend a funeral in peace. Then, as if things weren't bad enough, we heard about another political prisoner, Reza Hoda Saber -- who had gone on hunger strike to protest the killing of Haleh Sahabi -- who died in prison under very suspect conditions, which usually means the security forces beat him to death (and officially reported the cause of death as 'heart attack'!).

Even people such as economists expressing their professional opinions are not safe from random state tyranny (see here).

One of the most widely reported pieces on the second anniversary of the stolen elections was the piece by International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, which was a released video testimony from a young female detainee describing in detail her severe torture and repeated rape after her arbitrary arrest.

The political leadership of the country, meanwhile, is increasingly sounding more insane. Some of the mullahs are demanding the erasure of thousands of years of our history and want to wish away all Iranian-ness altogether, for they consider it un-Islamic! There are influential mullahs who want to eradicate entire thousands of years of cultural and historical accumulation, and they want to pretend that Iran is only about 1,300 years old -- all the rest preparing the ground for the real birth of the nation; and not only that, 1,300 years old religiously speaking, but only 32 years old politically speaking (since all those years of seemingly secular monarchic rule were un-Islamic). There is no end to their irrationalities.

These insanities are incredible enough as they are. We should add to this insanity just in passing, and not in any detail, that there is support given to this barbaric antiquity of a regime by some western 'leftists'. We mention this just to emphasize the bleakness of the situation facing Iranian revolutionaries. When the world is upside down to such an incredible degree that some living leftists lend a helping hand to a bunch of ultra-misogynistic, anti-democratic ... forget that, anti-human, barbaric, pre-historic creatures that run one of the most oppressive regimes in the world, then you KNOW you are living in Dark Ages. This is no post-modern age; this is pre-historical. Brute force, pure violence and no pretense to any worldly legitimacy.

But, we digress. Despite all the bleak news coming from the surface of things social in Iran, the depths of the society are most assuredly experiencing much upheaval.

On the International front, Iranian regime's propaganda and influence among the Arab people, thanks a thousand times to the Arab revolutionary moves, have lost much of their credit. We have had the message of solidarity from the Egyptian revolutionaries to the people of Iran from Tahrir Square; and very significantly, thanks to the uprising by the people of Syria, the aura of Iran's regime being a friend of the Arab people has been smashed to pieces.

There has been some local/regional effects of this loss of legitimacy of discourse. For example, Lebanese Hezbollah and Nassrallah in particular are losing face daily among the Arab people for their call on the Syrians to NOT rise up and demand their rights as human beings, just because it was to the political advantage of Hezbollah's sectarian interests to keep a good face for Syrian AND Iranian regimes (and themselves by extension). Hezbollah now stands as an unambiguous defender of tyranny (OK'd, when exercised by their own allies); and to that degree, Islamists in the Arab world are losing moral and ethical ground, as well as political ground. This creates an opportunity for secular progressive forces in the Arab world to forge forward, much more than they would have been able to under conditions whereby Islamists seemed to have the moral upper ground.

Back to Iran's internal conditions ... though the picture of the political situation is bleak now and getting bleaker daily (it seems), the prospects for the Islamic Republic regime are even bleaker. To start, the most ardent supporters of the regime now openly refuse to agree with the 'Republic' part of the title. For them, the legitimacy of the regime comes from God. Period. No questions allowed. Further, no reforms (in the sense of any opening up of the socio-political conditions) can be allowed. The reform project was shut down long ago. Even if (as some hopefuls think possible) the 'reformists' are allowed back near the houses of power, no real and actual reforms ARE possible.

At the same time, a great many functionaries and supporters of the regime can see clearly that the official ideology, based on the absolutist rule of the religious jurisprudence (velayat-e motlaqh-e faqih), is bankrupt and hardly worth defending. Hence, the Ahmadinejad faction that wants to refashion the official ideology to an openly fascistic form of rule that is not too hung up on the supreme leader, is not too bothered about the Islamic cover (hijab for women mostly), either, and follows a pan-Iranian line of cultural thinking, and for the Islamic part of its rule believes in the Messiah himself; no intermediaries needed (the 12th Imam of the Shiite religion is supposed to appear when socio-historical conditions are ripe). The emphasis on the importance of the Messiah is pretty clear to all the mullahs who support and are allies of the Khamenei faction (the Velayat-e faqih faction): if the messiah is about to come and is the source of all authority for the Velayat-e faqih, then who needs the Valiy-e faqih? Valiy-e faqih is just a link to the messiah, therefore dispensable.

A phenomenon that exists in complete and total contradiction with its living environment, will forever create contradictions within itself. If there is no conflict between 'reformists' and 'hard liners' then there is some conflict between different shades of the hard liners; once that is resolved, there shall be other conflicts that will arise, because this regime is a regime of exceptionalities.

This is a regime that the counterrevolutionary forces of society in Iran (with ample help from counterrevolutionary forces internationally) could put together at a historical moment 32 years ago, when they were caught by surprise by the people of Iran who took to the streets in 1978-79, and fought hard to topple the previous dictatorship, so as to have freedom of speech, to have freedom of assembly, to have the right to form independent organizations (be they political, economic, cultural, social or whatever they desired), the right to have a free press and the right to choose their own representatives to the representative political bodies, regardless of political philosophy or anything else. In short, we had a revolution to have the right to be fully human.

At that historical juncture, 32 years ago, the Iranian counterrevolution won (just like it may win in Egypt or Tunisia or Syria or Yemen, etc.). However, the counterrevolution didn't win in one quick step. It took a good decade before it had stabilized itself. And during that decade, the regime literally fought street battles with demonstrators, protestors and dissidents in a variety of forms, on many social levels (and in many countries; the regime killed many dissidents abroad). That is why today the Iranian regime is such an efficient machinery of oppression and brutality. You can bet all you have that they are involved in helping Syrian and Iraqi regimes with their street protestors (mind you, Syria's Assad had a pretty good teacher in his dad; however, material support is something else and always appreciated, as all counterrevolutionary forces in the region are well aware of!).

In sum, the Iranian counterrevolutionaries, in the form of a medieval theocracy, won the battle back then, 32 years ago. Since then, the Iranian people have been grappling with the horrendous challenge of overcoming this counterrevolution. The future, however, belongs to us. Those who oppress us cannot last forever. If and when any state, any regime, is reduced to ruling by sheer force and openly violent brutality ALONE, that is indeed the end of that state/regime. Time is on our side even if it takes some time to topple these brutal murderers.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Iran: Abolish Death Penalty, Stoning, Torture & Discrimination

Translation of a statement issued by a group of Iranians abroad.

Statement by a group of Iranians Living Abroad: Death Penalty, Stoning, Torture and Discrimination Must Be Abolished
(May 28, 2011)

As a group of Iranians residing outside our country, we consider Iran as our land and the land of all Iranians wherever they are.

We believe that the people of Iran, regardless of their ethnic background or language, no matter what beliefs or philosophies or religions they hold, no matter their color or gender, must have the most basic of human rights: freedom of expression and thought, democracy and free elections, freedom of political parties, freedom to form associations and freedom to assemble, and the right to individual safety and comfort, social justice and [true] judicial justice.

We consider punishments such as death penalty, stoning, administering lashes and torture in any form as unfit for the people of our country, a nation with a deep and ancient civilization.

Oppression and crackdown against people and use of violence and violent punishments are unfit for our citizens and we demand that they be abolished in the land of Iran.

We demand democratic rights for women and the separation of religion from state.

We believe that the connections that exists between the judicial system [of Iran] and the revolutionary courts and court system with the political leaders of the Islamic Republic and the subservience of the judiciary to the political and economic interests and preferences of the political leaders prevents the carrying out of true justice; as a result, in the face of the totalitarianism and the oppression of the current political system, life, wealth and dignity of all citizens is under threat.

We are demanding the abolition of all inhuman sentences such as death penalty, stoning, ruinous bails and torture in all its forms.

Despite the indefatigable efforts of organizations and political and cultural figures, up to now thousands of Iranians have been sacrificed by the Islamic Republic's violence and have been trapped by the injustice of the judicial system, and the number of such victims rise daily.

It is impossible to suffer through countless public and secret executions, tortures and murders in the streets or in prisons, and not to speak out about the absolute right to life for every human being.

It is impossible to watch the destruction of ancient historical monuments, the destruction of the environment, the drying up of rivers and lakes and forests, and yet to stay indifferent.

No! It is impossible to stay silent in the face of the disregard for, and annihilation of, all freedoms and rights of all Iranian citizens.

Whereas it is the case that in the last few months alone many prisoners have died under torture or due to unbearable prison conditions; and whereas countless [hundreds of] people have been executed or else are awaiting execution in the macabre hallways of prisons, or as in the case of long-term prisoners;

We are asking all Iranians who want to see the establishment of true justice, abolition of all forms of discrimination, elimination of purges and the oppression of minorities, women and those with different beliefs -- we are asking all to sign this statement and to join this humane demand and to make their voices heard by international organizations, governments and world media:

Death penalty, stoning, torture and discrimination in Iran must be abolished!
Democracy and human rights for all Iranians must be established!
Historical monuments, natural wealth, the environment, forests and lakes must be protected!

[To read the original in Persian, or to see signatures, go here]
[To sign/support the statement, contact: farakhan@gmx.fr]

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Osanloo Released From Prison

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) is delighted to announce that imprisoned trade unionist Mansour Osanloo was today freed from jail in Iran almost four years since his arrest and imprisonment, which set off a storm of international protest.

His release is conditional on his ‘good behaviour’ and the payment of a bond.

The ITF has led demands for Mansour Osanloo’s release. ITF general secretary David Cockroft commented: “This is a great day for Mansour and his family – and for his fellow Vahed union members and those of us in the international trade union movement who are honoured to call him a friend. It’s doubly welcome given the deterioration in his health during his time behind bars.

“He is free because trade unionists worldwide demanded justice.”

He continued: “That bail has been set falls short of the full pardon we all wanted, and which the Iranian government promised, but for now we can just take a moment to savour his richly deserved return to his family.”

Read a complete report at ITF's site, here ...