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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Religon has everything to do with terrorism

Today, I will be joining a debate at Oxford Union entitled this house believes religion is not responsible for terrorism.

The event will be held in conjunction with Strategic Foresight Group, a global 'think tank' based in Mumbai, which recently published the report - 'An Inclusive World - In which the West, Islam and the Rest have a stake'.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

WPI's 6th Congress ends in Success!

To hear a live performance of the Internationale in Persian by a renowned Iranian singer, Fereidoun Farahi, at the 6th Congress of the Worker-communist Party of Iran click here.

To see some pictures, click here.

More information to follow.

Islamic regime of Iran's crackdown on Women

To see David Fuller's piece on the Islamic regime of Iran's attack on women and their resistance on More4 TV, click here.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Women and people in Iran resisting the veil

This picture is representative of the Islamic regime of Iran's treatment of women. She was beaten in this way for filming the regime's thugs harrassing and manhandling women who were 'improperly veiled.'

An Iranian women's organisation quoted a cab driver as saying: 'In the morning, the police tried to drag a girl into their vehicle for improper veiling, but her cries enraged passersby'. The organisation also mentioned a shopkeeper in 7-Tir square in Tehran who said: 'The secuity agents were harshly questioning three women aged 25- 30 so they reacted. A female agent started pulling a girl's hand to get her in their vehicle but she resisted. Then, a male security agent attacked the girl. That was when passersby intervened. The girls escaped via a passing car without any veils and torn clothingas a result of the altercation.'

On 20 May, when this happened, later in the evening nearly two thousand people gathered in 7-Tir square to protest.

Here are some more pictures of the regime's thugs harrassing women for 'improper veiling'.

Also, as I've mentioned before, removing the veil is a form of protest in Iran.
To see one woman doing so, click here.
Boys and men by the way are also rounded up for not being dressed modestly.
No matter what the regime does, though, women and men continue to resist and demand to live lives worthy of the 21 century.

Their lives are important

In commemoration of International Day against Homophobia

Tonight, all across the world, there are people facing harassment, arrest, torture, and execution solely because of their sexuality.

Last Sunday, 80 people were arrested at a party in Isfahan, Iran, and beaten and tortured for being gay.

Several weeks ago, on April 29, Hani, a 34 year old nurse was arrested and tortured in Baghdad for being a gay rights activist.

A few months ago, in November 2006, Shahab Darvishi was hanged in a city square in Kermanshah, Iran for ‘moral corruption’ and ‘sodomy’.

Last autumn, two lesbians who ran a Najaf safe house were murdered with their throats slashed by the Iraqi police.

And of course there are the two Iranian youths – Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni – who were pictured sobbing and being publicly hanged in Mashad on July 19, 2005 – a day that has now become an international day of outrage and action.

The list is endless.

What is clear is that these examples are only the tip of the iceberg.

For every report that reaches the international media and organisations, there are thousands of nameless, faceless individuals whose fate goes unreported.

Mostly because states like the Islamic regime in Iran are so repressive and have strict censorship rules.

They don’t always announce the full names or real reasons for which they have executed or imprisoned people.

Those put to death are often accused of trumped up charges. A case in point is the two teenagers hanged on July 19.

One outrage after another.

And not just in Iran or Iraq.

Homophobia exists everywhere including in countries that do not impose Islamic law. But Islam in power or political Islam has raised homophobia to another level.

Islam is similar to other religions which are just as inherently homophobic and misogynist but there is one important fundamental difference and that is that it is a religion in power or vying for power in many countries in the 21st century.

In the Koran, homosexuality is condemned as 'indecency', 'lewdness', 'degenerate', 'transgressing beyond bounds' and in need of 'punishment'.

In the Hadith, which are the sayings of the prophet Mohammad and part of Sharia or Islamic laws, it states: 'Kill the one who sodomises and the one who lets it be done to him.'

These ancient religious texts are all the more relevant when they are translated into the laws of countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia and affect real live human beings.

Under Islamic Hudud laws, 'illicit' gay or straight sex are considered offences for which the punishment is mandatory and corporal in nature - including torture, execution and stoning to death.

Those of us who have fled political Islam know full well the level of threats and intimidation those with 'unchaste' and 'perverse' lifestyles have faced and continue to face.

Apologists will say that Islam is in fact ‘tolerant’ of homosexuals and homosexuality – as if that is enough anyway.

Well then maybe someone should tell the Islamists that.

77 countries around the world criminalise same sex relations, but those that punish it by death all have Islamic law.

This abysmal situation has to be looked at within the context of serious rights violations across the board.

In all countries under Islamic rule, sexual 'crimes' are dealt with most severely because of their 'shamefulness' and 'perversity', especially since a religious state is usually most preoccupied with the control of sexuality and sex in order to assert its own 'divine' and 'moral' legitimacy.

Of course gay sex is thriving in many cities in Iran and elsewhere. Despite the serious repercussions, people continue to live their lives, have sex and express their sexuality.

But this does not mean that restrictions and repercussions are exaggerated as some claim. They are not.

It just shows clearly that the restrictions and impositions are not 'people's culture and religion' as the cultural relativists keep regurgitating but rather that of the ruling class.

Not to see this fails to make a distinction between the regime imposing these inhuman and medieval laws and the people forced to live under them.

Now there are Iranian gay rights activists doing very good work who say that they are not concerned with the Islamic regime of Iran.

Even if the government changes to the most democratic in the world, they argue, the problem will remain.


Get rid of Islamic states in Iran and elsewhere (as is being done by the way in Iran by a magnificent and powerful movement) and you already have an end to some of the worst mass murderers in contemporary history.

A good start I would say.

Also, the battle for rights is often times a battle for changes in the law.

Getting rid of discriminatory Sharia laws will change the situation for lesbians, gays, and others from day one.

But this does not translate into a defence of the US’ attack on Iran.

Opposing Islamic states and defending people’s rights has nothing to do with adding ammunition to the ‘US’ goal of possibly attacking Iran’ as the founders of Queer Iran Alliance have said.

How come criticising western governments is not pooh poohed as adding ammunition to the Islamists’ goal of terrorising people on buses and trains in Europe?

What has one got to do with the other?

Unless of course one identifies with one state over the other as do many in the anti-imperialist, nationalist European Left these days.

Saying a defence of people’s rights living under Islamic rules supports the war on terror or the USA’s militarism or imperialism is like saying sex education promotes promiscuity.

Saying so is more an attempt to defend religion and its political movement than anything else.

Unfortunately, there have been some international gay rights groups like the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission who have accepted this cop out and their responsibility towards the rights of those living in Iran.

The Commission backed out of the July 19 protests asking ‘how do we avoid reinforcing stereotypes and playing into hostilities prompted by our own government.’

I ask them, why must it reinforce stereotypes unless you believe the Islamic regime is a representative of the people living and struggling under its rule?

I ask them: what has solidarity amongst people got to do with what governments are doing?

The USA government and political Islam have a lot more in common than with their ‘own people’. In practical terms - notwithstanding the differences – they are two sides of one coin.

They have the same agenda, the same vision, the same infinite capacity for violence and terrorism, the same reliance on religion and reaction, the same need for hegemony and profit-making.

They represent the same new world order for 21st century humanity.

We on the other hand – a vast majority – a third camp - oppose both and can only oppose both if we want to defend humanity, human values like humanism and secularism, and the demand that people live lives worthy of the 21 century.

We mustn’t accept any excuses or apologies for the Islamic regime in Iran and its like – whether in Saudi Arabia or right here in the UK.

They all belong to the same movement and want the same thing.

The only difference is that the Manchester Imam who has said that the execution of sexually active gay men is justified or the Muslim Council of Britain’s claims that it is ‘unacceptable’ or ‘sinful’ is that for now they cannot mete out their Islamic justice with hangings in Trafalgar Square.

This vile movement needs to know that we are watching them, holding them responsible and won’t let them do it whenever they try.

Most importantly, though, those being abused and violated; those resisting; they need to know they are not alone.

That their lives are important.

That they are not just nameless, faceless individuals languishing in prison or facing torture and execution.

They need to know that for us every day is IDAHO.

The above speech was given at the MAy 17 IDAHO event in London.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Does this offend you?

I am on BBC World Service's Heart and Soul Programme this week talking about religion and offense. If you want to listen, click here.

May 1st detainees and Mahmood Salehi must be released

To all Trade Union and Labour Organisations

As you are aware, on May 1st this year workers in Iran held many protest meetings and demonstrations in a number of cities to mark International Workers’ Day.

Unfortunately one of these gatherings in the city of Sanandaj which had 300 workers protesting in front of the Office of Labour Ministry was attacked by the security forces of the Islamic regime and the participants were subject to severe physical assault and beatings. Around 20 of the protesters were arrested. Later, on the same day, some were released with no explanation of charges. The following day on Wednesday 2 May, the Islamic regime’s police and security forces raided the home of and arrested Tabib Chatani, a well known and respected labour activist. On the same day, Mr. Amani and Mrs Karimi who were attempting to submit a complaint to the public prosecutor’s office regarding the treatment of the demonstrators were arrested there and then. The following day another labour activist and organiser, Mr. Khaled Savari was arrested in the Sanandaj city centre. In the city of Kermanshah, the security forces attempted to arrest Javanmeer Moradi and Faramarz Ghorbani, two labour activists, but the protesters prevented their arrest and helped them escape.

This brings the number of arrested labour activists and organisers for celebrating May 1st to 13. The following is the list of those arrested in the last few days and who remain in prison:

Mr. Amani, leader of the unemployed and dismissed workers of Iran
Sadeeg Karimi: executive member of the unemployed and dismissed workers of Iran
Khaled Savari, Deputy head of the unemployed and dismissed workers of Iran
Egbal Latifee
Yadolah Moradi
Najmoldeen Rajabi
Faroogh Gavili
Anwar Mafakheri
Sadeegh Amjadi
Habeebolah Kalkani
Maheealdeen Rajabi
Sadeeg Sobhani
Tabeeb Chatani

These arrests are taking place while Mahmood Salehi, a labour activist from the city of Saqez is still in prison. The International Labour Solidarity of the Worker-communist Party of Iran strongly condemns these assaults and detention on the labour activists and campaigns for the release of the imprisoned workers.

We call on all labour organisations and trade unions all over the world to back our campaign and demands and write to the Islamic regime to immediately release the imprisoned workers.

Celebration of May 1st is the workers’ basic right.
Long Live International Solidarity!

May 3, 2007
International Labour Solidarity of the Worker-communist Party of Iran

Head office:
Co-ordinator: Shahla Daneshfar
Public Relations: Bahram Soroush
Publicity: Hasan Salehi

Condemn the brutal stoning to death of Doa - a young girl whose only crime was to fall in love

To sign this petition, Click here.

Doa was stoned to death in the centre of the town of Bashiqa, Iraqi Kurdistan, in front of hundreds of people and the authorities did not prevent this crime from happening. On the contrary, they were present and paving the way for this horrific crime to be carried out.

Doa was a 17 year old girl from a family of Yazidi faith; she was snatched from her house by some Yazidi men who discovered that she was in love with a Muslim Arab man and had visited him. They stoned her to death in public on 7th April 2007 in the town of Bashiqa.

It is known that women in Kurdistan and Iraq are oppressed. The few rights they do have are very limited and in most cases they are treated as sub-humans.

Killings, suicide, and violence against women are an every day occurrence in this region. Although a crime of this nature is very new to Kurdistan, this is an indication that such crimes against women are now tolerated. Doa’s killers are still free.

The government’s failure to protect women, and enforce laws against criminals, has created a situation where thousands of women become victims of so called “honour killings”. Violence has risen as result of patriarchal and religious traditions.

We strongly condemn this barbaric act, and call upon all human rights and women’s rights organisations, political parties, and activists in Kurdistan and globally to condemn this crime.

In the 21st century, for such crimes to be carried out in broad daylight is not only a shame on society as whole, but most of all, it is a shame on a government that is unable to protect women from such inhumane and backward practices. The stoning of Doa sets a dangerous precedent for more women to become victims of stoning.

We hold the Kurdistan Regional Government responsible for the lives and protection of women in this region, and we believe that the brutalisation and victimisation of women must come to an end.

We the undersigned therefore demand:

That the Kurdistan Regional Government brings the killers to justice and punishes them.

The Kurdistan regional Government should set laws against terror, killings and oppression of women, and punish criminals.

To avoid this barbaric crime from becoming a norm and a practice in Kurdish society, the Kurdistan Regional Government should criminalise stoning to death.

The initiators of this campaign are:

Houzan Mahmoud: Representative abroad of Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq and campaign coordinator

Raga Rauf: Writer and women’s rights activist and campaign coordinator

Samera Mohammed: Editor of Rasan women’s newspaper in Kurdistan

Yanar Mohammed: President Of Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq

Aram Ali: Coordinator of the Kurdish website

Baker Ahmad: Writer and poet

Dler Colnadar: member of executive board of CHAK organisation

Omar Faris: coordinator of a Kurdish website

Dina Nammi: International Campaign against Honour Killings

Amal Almas: (Iraqi Women’s League) Gothenburg -Sweden

Federation of Workers councils and unions in Iraq/ Kurdistan representative

Chro Sabir: Director of Rasan women’s organisation in Kurdistan

Hana Shwan: Journalist and women’s rights activist in Kurdistan

Hamza Abd: The Iraqi Cultural House in Gothenburg-Sweden

To join this campaign or to show your support pleases contact: Campaign Coordinators: Houzan Mahmoud and Rega Rauf.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

May Day in Iran: Workers turn official rally into a protest rally

· Thousands demonstrate for jobs, higher pay and right to organise and strike
· Worker activists arrested

Workers throughout Iran protested for jobs, pay and labour rights, despite a ban on unofficial May Day rallies. They carried placards and shouted slogans against low pay, poor conditions, lack of job security and persecution of workers.

In Tehran, workers attending an official rally in Amjadiye (Shirodi) stadium, booed the official speaker, Mahjoob, the head of the government-affiliated Labour House, shouting their own slogans. The workers, numbering around 7,000, then left the stadium and marched towards the main Haft Tir square, despite being hounded along the way by the security forces, who arrested a number of workers including Yaghoub Salimi, member of the executive board of Tehran bus workers’ union. Mansoor Ossanlou, the union’s president, was also briefly detained.

One of the slogans (pictured) said: ‘We don’t want nuclear energy; we don’t want £99/month; we work to live; we don’t live to work’. The £99 is a reference to the minimum wage announced for this year, which the government itself admits is around half the official poverty line. Many other slogans and placards called for the right to organise and strike, resignation of the Labour Minister, an end to contract work and for the release of Mahmoud Salehi, the persecuted May Day organiser, who is currently in detention.

In Sanandaj the security forces brutally crushed the workers’ main rally, beating up and injuring a number of workers, who resisted and fought back. Some of the injured have been hospitalised. Those arrested, some of who are members of the recently formed National Union of Unemployed and Expelled Workers, include:

Sedigh Karimi, Eghbal Latifi, Yadullah Moradi, Najmeddin Rajabi, Farogh Gavily, Saleh Rahimi, Jamil Khodakarami, Sedigh Amjadi and Anvar Mafakheri.

The head of the union, Sheis Amani, who was reading out the May Day Resolution at the rally, was beaten up by the police, suffering injuries.

At the May Day rally in Kermanshah workers prevented the security forces from arresting Javanmir Moradi, the main speaker, and Faramarz Ghorbani, a leader of the Metal and Mechanical Workers’ Union, who was taking photos of the event. Workers ended the ceremony early as the police threats and harassment mounted.

The Worker-communist Party of Iran has called for the immediate release of all those arrested and appealed to international labour and rights organisations for support. Please send your protest letters to the Islamic regime of Iran. Please copy to the International Labour Solidarity Committee of the WPI for info and further distribution.

Co-ordinator: Shahla Daneshfar
Public Relations: Bahram Soroush
Publicity: Hasan Salehi

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Long Live May Day

No to War, No to Islamic Republic, Long Live Socialism!

May 1st is the solidarity day of the working class in order to change the upside down capitalist world. At present, when the “New World Order” is facing a dead end, in a world where the lives and rights of people are smashed by the war for power between political Islamist terrorism and the state terrorism of the West, May Day should be the day of solidarity of the workers and libertarian humans against these two reactionary poles and towards forming a better world.

In Iran, where political Islam is in power, the working class can play a key role against the war of the terrorists and the danger that threats the people in Iran and all around the world because of the threat of US’s military attack to Iran. Overthrowing the Islamic Republic, actualizing freedom, equality, and the direct self-administration of the people is the shortest and the most practical way in which the people in Iran can confront the threat of war. Revolutionary overthrowing of the Islamic Republic eliminates one pole of this reactionary confrontation and changes the situation in the region and all around the world for the benefit of people. Overthrowing of the Islamic Republic by the revolution of the people can mobilize the world in defense of the workers and the people in Iran against the USA and its allies and begin a massive and global movement.

There is an immense revolutionary movement against the Islamic Republic. Working class is the backbone of this movement and due to the active presence of the worker-communist movement and its party the socialistic and libertarian demands dominate this movement. The continuous workers’ strikes, the nationwide strike of school teachers that has mobilized the whole society, marking the student movement with the slogan “Socialism or Barbarism”, proposition of the most radical demands on March 8th, growth of children’s rights movement and the movement for abolition of the death penalty with leftist slogans and demands, chanting the Internationale anthem in meetings; all these confirm the key role that the working class and its socialism plays in the existing social situation in Iran. The working class in Iran can and should overthrow the Islamic Republic under the banner of its party and as the pioneer of the people. It should form the socialist republic and save not only itself but also the people of Iran and of the world from the horrific fate that the dead end of bourgeoisie and its wars can create. May Day of this year, far and most, should be the reflection of the will and intention of the workers towards changing the world.

“No to War, No to Islamic Republic, Long Live Socialist Republic” expresses the direction of this May Day. However, together with this, demands such as higher wages that can immediately unite the largest factions of the working class, teachers and the workers in the service sector should be emphasized. Unconditional release of all political prisoners is an important demand of workers and of all people and as always it should be underlined in this May Day. Other important demands such as freedom of organization and strike, freedom of expression, the unconditional equality of rights of women and men, abolition of sexual apartheid, abolition of death penalty, separation of religion from the state and education have always been addressed in May Day resolutions and they are of more importance this year.

This May Day independent meetings should be made in larger scales than ever before. May Day should be the show case of the strength of the working class and of the lines of libertarianism and equalitarianism. Because of the criticality of the situation, as we approach the May Day, the Islamic regime is agitated like never before. Arresting the workers’ activists, attacking the students, aggression against the women that object Islamic veiling, attacks against the immigrant workers from Afghanistan, and attacking the school teachers and their activists that are leading a strong movement; all these are parts of one policy and reflect regime’s fear from the revolutionary overthrowing movement and the danger this May Day has for it. Different sections of the working class should appear in unified and powerful lines this May Day. They should emphasize the importance of solidarity between the workers and the teachers and should object in unison trade unionist tendencies that divide the struggle of the working class. School teachers should consider themselves the hosts of the May Day and should struggle against the tendency that separate teachers from other sections of the working class. A vivid, crowded, unified, radical, and socialist May Day, today more than ever, is the consequence of the solidarity between different parts of the society and unifying them under the socialist flag of the working class.

Worker-communist Party of Iran calls upon all libertarian and equalitarian people, workers, students, women and all those that have been fed up with the Islamic Republic and the reactionary and anti-human capitalist order to widely participate in May Day celebrations. Strong picket lines of May Day are the powerful lines of all people to emancipate from the Islamic Republic and to claim their own destiny in order to actualize freedom and equality.

Worker-Communist Party of Iran
April 19, 2007