Families of detained, tortured and murdered protesters have been gathering daily in front of Evin Prison as well as the Revolutionary Court of the Islamic Republic. The families demands include visitation rights to see their loves ones and the immediate release of all political prisoners. These protests have been attacked by militia and security forces during the recent troubles. The video below was filmed on the first day of Ramadan (August 22).
Tag Archives: presidential election
The regime has “temporarily” shut down the newspaper of defeated reformist candidate Mehdi Karoubi. has Etemad-e Melli was closed down under the orders of the prosecutor’s office and no edition appeared on the streets today (August17). It has been alleged that the paper was about to release a statement calling for further defiance.
In response to this youths and supporters of Mehdi Karoubi fought running battles with security forces at 7 Tir Square and other places in Tehran near the headquarters of the newspaper. Whilst Karoubi has been thrown into a struggle against security forces and the judiciary he and the reformist faction offer nothing but more bloodshed for the people of Iran. For the movement to be successful the people of Iran must topple both the conservative and the reformist wings of the Islamic Republic.
At this time we are aware that at least 15 people have been arrested. Below is video footage of today’s demonstrations.
Just as Iranian ex-leftwingers in the west call for reconciliation between the two wings of the Islamic regime, the ruling faction clamps down on its rivals. Yassamine Mather reports
The Stalinist show trial of Saturday August 1 – when a number of prominent ‘reformists’ appeared on Iranian state TV to ‘thank their interrogators’ before repenting – was not the first such event in the Islamic republic’s history. Leaders of the ‘official communist’ Tudeh Party were similarly paraded on Iranian TV to denounce their own actions in the 1980s, while in the 1990s we had the trials of ‘rogue’ elements of the ministry of intelligence.
However, this time the Islamic leaders forgot that a precondition for the success of such show trials in terms of imposing fear and submission on the masses is total control of the press and media. What made this particular effort ineffective – indeed a mockery – was that it came at a time when the supporters of supreme leader Ali Khamenei have not yet succeeded in silencing the other factions of the regime, never mind stopping the street protests. So, instead of marking the end of the current crisis, the show trials have given the protestors fresh ammunition.
The paper of the Participation Front (the largest alliance of ‘reformist’ MPs) stated: “The case of the prosecution is such a joke that it is enough to make cooked chicken laugh.” The Participation Front was one of nine major Islamic organisations which ridiculed the prosecution claim that the ‘regime knew of the plot for a velvet revolution’ weeks before the election. Some Tehran reformist papers are asking: in that case why did the Guardian Council allow the ‘reformist’ candidates to stand in the presidential elections? Perhaps the Guardian Council itself should be put on trial!
Former president Mohammad Khatami, candidates Mir-Hossein Moussavi and Mehdi Karroubi and other ‘reformist’ politicians have denounced the trial as “illegal”, yet they do not seem to realise the irony in this criticism. First of all, no-one but the ‘reformists’ within the regime has any illusions about Iran’s legal system (both civil and sharia law). Second, the time to oppose show trials was two decades ago, not when you yourself are a victim of the system and there is no-one left to defend you. It was not just in the 1980s that messrs Khatami, Moussavi, Karroubi, etc kept quiet about similar trials. As late as the 1990s, during Khatami’s own presidency, they did not exactly rebel against the show trials of the intelligence agents who ‘confessed’ to having acted alone in murdering opponents of the regime. Some of the most senior figures implicated in that scandal, a scandal that was hushed up by the Khatami government (‘for the sake of the survival of the Islamic order’) – not least current prosecutor general Saeed Mortazavi – are now in charge of the ‘velvet revolution’ dossier.
For the Iranian left the trial and ‘confessions’ have also been a reminder of the plight of thousands of comrades who probably faced similar physical and psychological torture in the regime’s dungeons in the 1980s, although only a handful of them ever made it onto TV screens – many died anonymously in the regime’s torture chambers. Of course, we do not know if the Iranian government has improved its torture techniques since those times, but some senior ‘reformist’ politicians appear to have broken down much more easily than those thousands of young leftwing prisoners.
Those ‘reformist’ leaders who are still at liberty are not doing any better. Despite facing the threat of arrest and trial themselves, they maintain their allegiance to ‘Iran’s Islamic order’, reaffirming their “commitment to the Islamic regime” (Khatami) and denouncing the slogan promoted by demonstrators, “Freedom, independence, Iranian republic”, as Moussavi did on August 2.
A couple of weeks ago there were signs that negotiations between Khamenei and another former president, Ali Akbar Rafsanjani, had made some progress and once more there was the possibility that, as the two factions of the regime buried some of their differences, the mass movement could become a victim of reconciliation amongst senior clerics.
The show trials not only put an end to such illusions, but promised an unprecedented intensification of the internal conflict. But this came too late for the authors of the statement, ‘Truth and reconciliation for Iran’, signed by a number of academics and activists who are notorious apologists of the Iranian regime and published on a number of websites, including that of Monthly Review.1 The statement has one aim: to save the Islamic regime by advocating peaceful coexistence between the two warring factions or, in the words of the statement, “the vital unity of our people against foreign pressures”.
In explaining the background of the conflict with imperialism, the authors state: “… despite Iran’s cooperation in the overthrow of the Taliban in neighbouring Afghanistan, the administration of George W Bush labelled the Islamic Republic a member of the ‘axis of evil’.”2 I am not quite sure why Iran’s support for US imperialism in the terrible Afghanistan war should be put forward as an example of the regime’s reasonable and moderate behaviour by anyone who claims to be anti-war.
The statement goes on to praise the wonderful election process, failing to mention that only four candidates loyal to the regime’s factions were allowed to stand or that voting for a president of a regime headed by an unelected ‘supreme religious leader’ is a bit of a joke … But this marvellous ‘democratic election’ is used to legitimise Iran’s nuclear programme.
The statement contains some seriously false claims: “… we have advocated the human rights of individuals and democratic rights for various groups and constituencies in Iran.” I am not sure which universe they think the rest of us reside in, but until the escalation of the conflict between the two factions of the regime many of the authors of the statement were insisting that everything in Iran’s Islamic Republic was great.
According to the defenders of ‘Islamic feminism’ amongst them, Iranian women enjoy complete political and social freedom – which no doubt would have come as a shock to tens of thousands of young women who joined the protests precisely because of their opposition to draconian misogynist regulations imposed by the religious state.
Many of the signatories are associated with Campaign Iran and the Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran, which have made a virtue of not advocating “democratic rights” for Iranians, since that would confuse those simple-minded ‘ordinary people’ at a time when Iran is under threat. They insisted that the existence of a women-only fire brigade was proof of gender equality in Iran and the fact that the ‘crime’ of homosexuality is punishable by death is no reason to declare the regime homophobic – after all, liberal Iran has a very high rate of sex-change operations.3 The signatories are mistaken if they think they can rewrite history and portray themselves as defenders of “human rights” in Iran – we will neither forgive nor forget their disgraceful pro-regime apologetics.
Our ex-leftists clearly fail to understand the significance of the street protests: “The votes of a great portion of the Iranian society for both Ahmadinejad and Moussavi show that the best solution is negotiations for reconciliation and creation of a government of national unity from the ranks of principlists and the green movement and reformists.” While even bourgeois liberals and Moussavi supporters admit that the protests have now reached the stage where the green movement has no alternative but to tail the masses and their anti-regime slogans, the signatories’ advice to the ‘reformists’ is to ‘negotiate’ with those who have killed dozens of demonstrators, tortured hundreds and imprisoned thousands, including some of Moussavi’s allies.
When the ‘Truth and reconciliation’ statement tries to look at the causes of the current unrest, it gets things wrong: “However, in the view of a considerable number of Iranians who are discontented and frustrated with the restrictions on civil and political freedoms, there were various irregularities in the elections, including the suspension of reformist newspapers and mobile telephone SMS service on election day. This caused mass public demonstrations in support of nullifying the election.”
In fact both wings of the Islamic republic have made a lot of people “discontented and frustrated” and restricted “civil and political freedoms” since the day the regime came to power. There have been disputed results in at least three previous presidential elections, but what differentiates the current crisis from previous ones is ‘the economy, stupid’. Not only is the global economic crisis being felt far worse in the countries of the periphery, but the effects in Iran are compounded by a government that based its 2008-09 budget on selling oil at $140 a barrel; a government that aimed to privatise 80% of Iran’s industries by 2010, thus creating mass unemployment, a government that printed money while pursuing neoliberal economic policies; a government whose policies resulted in a 25% inflation rate, while the growing gap between rich and poor made a mockery of its populist claims to be helping the common people.
Last week I wrote about the political stance of Stalinists who, by supporting Moussavi, are advocating, as they have done throughout the last decades, a stageist approach to revolution.4 The signatories of the ‘Truth and reconciliation’ statement have taken things a step further: they do not aim for the next ‘stage’ any more, advocating instead the continuation of the religious state with peace and harmony amongst its many factions. The protests might have pushed Khatami, Moussavi and Karroubi to adopt slightly more radical positions, but they certainly have failed to influence our conciliators.
The demonstrators in Tehran shout “Death to the dictator”, but the Casmii and Campaign Iran educators condemn “extremist elements who used the opportunity to create chaos and engaged in the destruction of public property”. Anyone who knows anything about events since the election is aware that it is the state and its oppressive forces that have used violence against ordinary people. How dare these renegades condemn the victims of that violence for resisting this brutal regime?
What is truly disgusting about the statement are the pleas addressed not only to leaders of the Islamic reformist movement in Iran (to make peace with the conservatives), but also their requests to Barack Obama and other western leaders to be more accommodating to the Iranian regime. As if imperialist threats and sanctions have anything to do with the good will, or lack of it, of this or that administration. The language and tactics might change, but just as a bankrupt, corrupt and undemocratic Islamic Republic needs external threats and political crisis to survive, so US and western imperialism needs not only to offload the worst effects of the economic crisis onto the countries of the periphery, but also to threaten and occasionally instigate war. Our movement must aim to stop this lunacy, but in order to do so we need to address the democratic forces in Iran and the west rather than pleading with imperialism and Iran’s reactionary rulers.
The open support of the supreme religious leader for the conservatives has radicalised the Iranian masses. Separation of state and religion has now become a nationwide demand and we must support the demonstrators’ calls for the dismantling of the offices and expropriation of funds associated with the supreme leader and of all other religious foundations. The abolition of sharia law, of the religious police and of Islamic courts is part and parcel of such a call. Even as the show trials were being broadcast, Iranian workers were continuing their struggles against privatisation (Ahmadinejad’s first economic priority in his second term is the privatisation of oil refineries) and the non-payment of wages.
These days capitalists who say they are unable to pay their workers blame not only the world economic situation but also current events in Iran itself. Yet many of them do make profits and quickly channel them abroad. Iranian workers have been demanding representation at factory level to monitor production and sales, and calling for the total transparency of company accounts. We must support these immediate demands as part of our own anti-imperialist strategy.
At a time of crisis it is inevitable that the bourgeoisie, both in the developed world and in the countries of the periphery, will act irrationally. However, it is sad to see sections of the ‘left’ adopting a different form of irrationality. If we are to expose the warmongering endemic to contemporary capitalism, we must base our approach on the independent politics of the international working class.
That is why the idiotic, class-collaborationist ‘theories’ of Casmii, Campaign Iran and the current dominant line in Monthly Review are such a disaster for the anti-war movement.
1. Over the last few weeks Monthly Review has published a number of statements defending Ahmadinejad, which has led to resignations by some members of the board and has been condemned by socialists in the US and elsewhere.
2. ‘Truth and reconciliation’, http://www.monthlyreview.org/mrzine/iran010809.html
3. See ‘Lies cannot stop imperialists’, http://www.hopoi.org/lies.html
4. ‘Out of step with the masses’, July 30.
For some excellent video coverage on YouTube, follow the link to the Hamounism Blog
From the LA Times
As far as the occasions of the week are concerned, the most important occasion was the death anniversary Imam Kazem, our seventh [Shiite] imam, who was one of our most oppressed imams who experienced much hardship. His excellency became an imam when he was 20 years old and during his whole life he faced much hardship from the Abbasid dynasty. Throughout his life he was either isolated and under pressure and surveillance or in exile and in prison…A number of Caliphs gave him a hard time and finally Harun al-Rashid sent him to exile in Basra and then to Baghdad, where he was sent to and held in the dark and dim tunnels of Baghdad with chains. They chained his feet. But Imam Kazem was happy about this. He said that for his whole life he had asked God to give him time to worship him and now his prayer has been answered and he can spend all his time praying to God…
I will briefly speak about another issue, the killings in China. Muslims in China are experiencing some bitter days. I would like to mention a few points to the Chinese government. The Chinese government is expected to exercise patience in the face of aggressions that people are facing.
Please allow me. Dear gentlemen! I, as the leader of the Friday prayers, pleaded with you not to chant any slogans. Considering the situation here , the adjacent streets and the entire area, I would like to ask you not to chant slogans.Thank you.
We would like to give a friendly word of advice to the Chinese government that we believe is a wise government working towards the progress of China. We would like to tell the Chinese government that what is going on is not in its interests. They are aware that there one billion and 600 million Muslims in the world. They live in around 60 independent countries.
Muslims in all parts of the world enjoy their own identity and character and all their hearts are linked to those of Muslims in China who are experiencing acts of oppression today. China must be careful and consider its own interests and its relations with the world of Islam and the hearts of Muslims.
And, God willing, from now on we would not witness such acts of oppression against Muslims in China or other parts of the world. Problems in Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan and Pakistan are unfortunately the same as they have been in previous weeks and months, and bloodshed, corruption and clashes continue. Those problems will be solved one day, God willing…
And now to an issue which concerns us and the discussions to which I promised to dedicate the second and third part of my remarks.
As far as the [presidential] election which was held [on 12 June] is concerned, praise be to God we made a very good start. A sound competition took shape and good preparations were made. The four candidates who were approved by the Guardian Council competed against each other and demonstrated a good competition. The people became hopeful that the elections were completely free and they truly demonstrated an unprecedented participation. In these circumstances the conditions were set for the creation of a proud moment for the country. We have to present this glory to the people. It is their right. It was the people who demonstrated a good presence. The people broke a record as far as presence at the ballot boxes was concerned. We all have to thank the people who participated freely in the election at a time when no other country has seen such a level of participation. That was very valuable.
I wish those conditions could have continued until today, and today we would have been experiencing the most proud moments in the world regardless of the election results.
However, developments did not take shape as we wished them to, and I will explain them now. The principle issue concerns what we want, as I mentioned earlier, and, secondly, to ask what is required by the revolution. What you are hearing now is from a person who has been with the revolution second by second from the very beginning of the struggle which began by our leader the Imam [Khomeini]. We are talking about 60 years ago up until today. I know what the Imam wanted and am familiar with the basis of the Imam’s thinking.
Even during the time of the struggles, the Imam would always say; all I am concerned about is the people when it came to a suggestion, for example to use arms, terror [preceding in English], this party [words indistinct]. He would say, you do as much as you can to solve the people’s problems and familiarize them with the struggle. He would tell us who were theology students, that our mission was to go to mosques, prayer houses and villages and explain what we were after…
It took less than 20 years for people to become alert. Obviously the price was also paid in terms of people who were martyred, people who were put in prisons, the Imam himself was sent to exile and many other things. However, our gains were much more. People became so alert that those whose ages allow have seen how in the final couple of years people poured into the streets.
All the streets were full of Imam’s supporters. And, all the forces which were supporters and believers in the Imam were alongside Imam, all ranged against the very arrogant forces of the Pahlavi regime.
The Shah whose coffers were filled to the brim from oil revenues could do anything it wanted. The people came to the fore and the demands of the people were such that they had to abandon everything and go…
We have to be with the people; this people acted very wisely…[Khomeini] was in a hurry to handover the power to the people….Later on, when we had meetings with the leaders of other countries, they were surprised about that. The Algerian leaders said that it took them 20 years, after their revolution, before they could draw up their constitution. They asked: How could you do so in a hasty manner. We said that since we achieved the victory by people’s power [word indistinct] and since the people support their revolution and religion we are not worried. That was a fact.
As you are aware, according to the constitution, everything in the country is determined by people’s vote. People elect the members of the Assembly of Expert and then they elect leader, that is, leader is [indirectly] elected by people’s vote. Presidents, MPs, members of the councils are elected by direct votes of people. Other officials are also appointed [indirectly] through people’s vote. Everything depends on people. This is the religious system. The title of Islamic Republic is not used as a formality. It includes both the republican and Islamic nature.
The title of Islamic Republic is not just a formality. This is a reality passed on to us on the basis of Koran, as well as the religious sayings of the [Shiite] Imams and prophet. We believe in them. We should have them at the same time. Rest assured if one of those two aspects are damaged we will loose our revolution. If it looses its Islamic aspect, we will go astray. If it looses its republican aspect, it [The Islamic Republic] will not be realized. Based on the reasons that I have offered, without people and their vote there would be no Islamic system…
This was our path. We should reach the destination. We should strengthen it day by day. If the problems after the [presidential] election had not emerged, we would have had taken the best largest step towards realizing the Islamic [aspect of the establishment] at the 30th anniversary of the revolution. I am not going to say that we have not taken the step. I want to explain why this happened.
What I understand is that towards the end of the election campaign we were taken over by doubt. In other words, people started to have doubts and the seeds of doubt were sown, for whatever reason. Whether it was unfavourable publicity or the Voice and Vision’s inappropriate actions or other things, seeds of doubt were planted in the minds of the people. We consider doubt as the worst disaster.
Doubt came down on our nation like the plague. Of course, there are two separate currents. There is a group of people who have no doubts, they…and mind their own business. But there is also another group, whose numbers are not few and include a great section of our erudite and knowledgeable people, who say: ” We doubt”. We should take measures to remove this doubt. This period, after the results of the elections , is a bitter era. I do not believe anyone from any faction wanted this to happen. We have all lost in this event. We have all lost and now ask ourselves: why did it happen. We need unity today, more than ever.
Our country should be united against all the dangers that threaten us. They have now upped their ransom demands and are coming forward to take away our achievements in the fields of hi-tech and particularly nuclear technology. Of course, God will not give them the opportunity to do so, but they are greedy. My brothers and sisters, first of all, you all know me, I have never wanted to abuse this platform in favour of a particular faction and my remarks have always concerned issues beyond factionalism. I am talking in the same manner today. I am not interested in any factions. In my view, we should all think and find a way that will unite us to take our country forward and save ourselves from these dangerous and bad effects, and the emerging grudges. We should disappoint our enemies so that they would not covet our country. What should we do? I have a few suggestions…
We have decided, and I will read them out as solutions and maybe others will accept them and God willing, put them into force with sincerity.
Our important issue is that the trust that brought so many people to the polls
and is now harmed, will be restored. This should be our holy objective, that this trust is returned. One, we should all, the system, government, Majlis, security forces, police and the people, i.e. the protestors, move in line with the law. If we violate the law, then there will be no boundaries left. We should raise our issues in the context of the law and find solutions for them within the framework of the law. We should accept whatever the law says and if there are some people who have problems with some laws, they should wait until those laws are corrected. God willing, all these problems that we have seen, will be resolved one day. But everything should be within the framework of the law.
Two, we must act in a way that the trust of the people is restored. Of course this cannot be achieved in one day. This is a relatively long process.
We have to create an atmosphere that all sides can come and express their views. And all sides must act rationally and without quarrel. Logic should rule. Of course the main task here falls on the Voice and Vision [of the Islamic Republic, meaning state broadcaster] as it has greater audience. And all other media outlets must do the same. They should sit down and talk to each other in a brotherly and sisterly manner and point out their reasons. Eventually the people will find out the truth and we can ask the people too. We have to provide the ground to return this trust to the people. Unfortunately, a good use was not made of the opportunity that the Supreme Leader [Ali Khamene’i] gave the Guardian Council in which an extra five days was given to them to talk to the ulema. I do not of course want to blame anyone for this lost opportunity, but, nonetheless, it did not happen. [Crowd chanting] We have passed that stage. We are going through another stage now.
I believe that for the sake of the future and our unity and for preventing the danger facing the system and for safeguarding the values created by the Revolution and for the sake of the martyrs and the efforts of those who struggled on this path whose achievements are now passed on to us and in order for these achievement to be passed on to the third and forth and following generation, at this juncture we can move along this path. If we accept the above two points that we move in line with the law and leave the door to debate, negotiations and reasoning open, perhaps in a short while we will be satisfied.
Meanwhile, we have to do other things. Under current circumstances, there is no need for us to have people in prisons. Allow them to return to their families.
Let’s not allow our enemies to reprimand and laugh at us and hatch plots against us just because a few certain people are in prison. We should be brave and patient enough to tolerate one another. Sympathy should be shown to the victims of the recent incidents which took place. We should offer condolences to those who are mourning and bring their hearts closer to the establishment. And this is possible. Those who are faithful to the Revolution and know that the system needs them, can cooperate with us with their heart and soul. We have to do this, be tolerant and show them sympathy.
There is no need to make haste here and put ourselves into trouble. We should not limit our media, which have got legal permission for their activities. They should be able to work within the framework of the laws. As I mentioned before, the law is the criteria. Neither the media should expect to have activities beyond the legal framework, nor should the establishment expect them to ignore their legal rights. All should let to create a calm, open, critical, or even confirming atmosphere. I think that our officials, Law Enforcement Force, military and security forces should help to create that atmosphere.
We are all members of a family. All of us have endured hardship in the path of the revolution. All of us have invested in this long holy jihad and given martyrs….Do we not have 30-year experience of running the country? Do we not have ulema? Why should our Sources [of Emulation, meaning senior clerics], who always have been supportive, and our seminary schools, which have never had any expectations for their efforts, be upset today? We should keep their support and rely on them. If we preserve the unity, God willing, I hope that this Friday prayer sermon will be a turning point for the future and we will be able to successfully resolve this problem, which unfortunately can be described as a crisis. I hope that unity, fraternity, and fair competition [in elections] will again prevail, so that people can elect whoever they like.
May God bless you. May God support all of you. May God protect you and help you [word indistinct] to be present at the scene. Thank you very much.