Workers in Iran, Ahadminejad popular!?, plans to reduce time of study for girls in Iran; Afghans in Iran…

In the November 27, 2008 TV International English programme, Maryam Namazie talks to Bahram Soroush about the latest situation of workers in Iran (we also discuss the comments made on my blog on this topic); discusses the ‘ poll ’ that claims Ahmadinejad is the most popular politician in Iran; the news that the Islamic regime in Iran not only aims to provide girls with different text books than boys but also plans to reduce the time of study for girls; US Code pink peace activists ’ visit to Iran ; and the outrageous claim by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees that the regime treats Afghan refugees generously.

To view the programme, click here.

Fatemeh Haghighat-Pajuh faces execution in Iran tomorrow

Press Release
November 25, 2008

Fatemeh Haghighat-Pajuh faces execution in Iran tomorrow for killing her husband, Bahman, when she found out he had attempted to rape her 15 year old daughter from a previous marriage.

Her daughters called Mina Ahadi of the International Committee against Executions today to ask for increased international support against the execution. Public pressure has been able to halt a previous execution date and can do so again.

The International Committee against Executions is calling on political parties, governments, organisations and individuals to contact the Islamic regime of Iran’s authorities and demand an immediate stay of execution.

For more information, contact Mina Ahadi at 00491775692413 or Maryam Namazie at 00447719166731.

Beat back the onslaught against labour leaders in Iran

15 Nov, 2008

Friends,

The Islamic regime of Iran has intensified its onslaught against labour leaders. That is, in fact, the regime’s response to the expanding workers’ protests aimed at gaining their demands as well as their relentless endeavours to create their independent organizations. By pressurizing and threatening labour leaders the regime is, indeed, trying to oppress the growing labour movement. The following are a few recent examples of such pressures and threats:

- Tayyeb Mollaa’i, the spokesperson of the Iranian Workers’ Free Trade Union, was arrested, for the second time, on November 12, 2008, and is currently held incommunicado. Mr. Mollaa’i is one of the 13 workers arrested in Sanandaj on May 1, 2007, and sentenced to 91 days’ imprisonment and 10 lashes. Those sentences were later overturned as a result of the protests by Iranian Workers’ Free Trade Union, labour organizations and humanist institutions throughout the world.

- Taahaa Aazaadi, substitute member of the Board of Directors of the Iranian Workers’ Free Trade Union, has been summoned by Deputy District Attorney of Kangaan and ordered to present himself in 7 days’ time. Mr. Azaadi was also arrested on the charge of participation in holding May 1 ceremonies in the southern town of Asaluye, along with Mr. Javaanmir Moraadi, and was put under various forms of physical and psychological torture for 47 days at the police detention centre in Asaluye and then at central prison of the city of Bushehr.

- Imprisonment sentences of 6 to 14 months have been handed down for five members of the Board of Directors Tehran Public Bus Transit Company (Vaahed) Syndicate, namely, Messrs. Said Toraabiyaan, Ali Zaadhoseyn, Abbaas Nazhandkudaki, Yaqub Salimi and Ataa Baabaakhani. Also Ebraahim Gowhari, a member of the syndicate, has been brought to trial. These have occurred against the backdrop of Mansur Osaanloo, the President of Vaahed Syndicate, having been in jail since January 10, 2007, and recently beaten severely again.

- on November 1, 2008, Afshin Shams-e-Qahfarkhi, a member of Co-ordinationg Committee for Assisting to Create Independent Workers’ Organizations, also a member of the Iranian Cartoonists’ Association, was sentenced to 1 year imprisonment with Islamic punishment, i.e., lashing.

- Reza Abdi-e-Sonbolaabaadi, a high school teacher at the Southern Tehran district of Naaziaabaad, has been sentenced to 5 months imprisonment and 20 lashes for his taking part in the teachers’ protest gathering on May 9, 2007, in front of the Parliament building. It has been ruled that he may pay $200 instead of going to jail for 5 months and $50 instead of receiving 20 lashes.

- Board of Directors of the newly formed Union of Haft Tappe Sugar Cane Complex Workers have been threatened for their “illegal” act of organizing a union.

- leaders of the on-going protests of Kiyaan Tire factory in Tehran have been threatened many times and subjected to various forms of pressure.

- …

The above have transpired only within the past month.

The condition of the working class in Iran is such that the workers’ wages are, according to the state’s own statistics, as low as a third of the poverty line. Even those meager wages fall into arrears for months at a time, and are only partly paid every time after the workers strike and/or take other protest actions. Every effort to get organized, every attempt to organize a strike, etc., in order to oppose those unbearable conditions, is confronted with threats as well as persecution and prosecution of the activists. Attempts to hold May 1 rallies and ceremonies are answered with incarceration and lashing. These and other oppressive actions on the part of the regime have intensified during the past weeks. The regime is increasing the pressure with the intention of intimidating the workers into consenting to imminent, far more unbearable economic conditions. It is attacking labour leaders in order to drive back the society as a whole. Today the workers, as well as the people at large, in Iran are in need of an international solidity more than ever before.

We demand the immediate and unconditional release of Tayyeb Mollaa’i, Mansur Osaanloo and all other political prisoners in Iran. We demand the expulsion of the Islamic Republic, this anti-worker and anti-human regime, from International Labour Organization as well as all other international bodies of the global community. The immediate cessation of pressures and threats against labour leaders and political activists is the urgent demand of all of the workers in Iran.

International Labour Solidarity Committee of the Worker-communist Party of Iran expects all labour organizations across the world to support the above-mentioned demands as well as the justified struggles of the workers and the people of Iran against the murderous Islamic regime.

Shahla Daneshfar, Coordinator
Bahram Soroush & Jamshid Hadian, Public Relations
International Labour Solidarity Committee of the Worker-communist Party of Iran

www.wpiran.org www.rowzane.com

International Labour Solidarity Committee of the Worker-communist Party of Iran (ILSC-WPI)

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

Letter to Unison: Is the CEMB a fraud?

Thank you for circulating the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain’s (CEMB) report on our October 10 conference entitled ‘Political Islam, Sharia Law and Civil Society and for forwarding member Robert Pitt’s response to that report. Given the inaccuracy of his response, I thought it best to provide you with the below information:

The CEMB is an open and independent organisation with a published manifesto. Membership is open to all atheists, unbelievers and ex-Muslims who agree with our manifesto, irrespective of their political affiliation. The fact that I and a majority of the 25 founding members (though not a majority of existing members) are worker-communists and Iranian refugees has to do with the specific revolutionary situation in Iran and the ongoing battle against the Islamic regime there for the past three decades. This is being manifested more often than not in the struggle against political Islam here in Europe. Whilst our outlook is reflected in the founding manifesto and organisation, our political affiliation is beside the point. It is interesting how any campaign initiated by communists and socialists become ‘fronts’ whereas the same does not apply if say a member of the Labour Party begins an organisation addressing a social or political issue. This terminology may still be useful for those who are prone to hide their political views and have internalised the cold-war’s right wing propaganda against the left but for the rest of the world, organisations like ours receive support because of what they say and do and how important they are for people’s lives.

Pitt says the Worker-communist Party of Iran is ‘Islamophobic,’ implying that criticism of Islam and opposition to political Islam are racist. Clearly, there is a big difference between Muslims and political Islam – as a contemporary right wing political movement like many others, as well as between Muslims and Islam, which is the ideological aspect of this contemporary movement and a belief like many others. Pitt’s blurring of these distinctions and the accusation of racism are devious ways of silencing criticism and opposition and frankly defending the political Islamic movement at the expense of our rights and lives. (You can read more about my position on this here and here.)

Of course we welcome debate and criticism on relevant issues we are raising, including at the conference, such as apostasy, the right to reject religion without fear of death; the right to criticise belief and religion; freedom of expression; Sharia law; faith schools; citizenship rights and so on. But Pitt says the conference was a fraud because there was ‘scarcely an ex-Muslim’ there. I am not sure how he can tell by looking at photographs alone especially since some of the ex-Muslims attending were not photographed at their own request. Anyway, given the fact that renouncing Islam is punishable by death in countries under Islamic rule and mired with threats and intimidation for those living here in Britain, it is more difficult for ex-Muslims to participate in public events. But, again, the number of ex-Muslims at the conference is irrelevant. It is like saying those who are against the war on Iraq are frauds if they are not Iraqis. Clearly to oppose apostasy laws and political Islam, demand an end to Sharia and defend one law for all you do not need to be a Muslim or an ex-Muslim. As you did not need to be black to oppose racial apartheid in South Africa.

Finally, Pitt asserts that our Council was formed as a follow up to the council in the Netherlands. This is factually incorrect. The Dutch council, which is no longer in existence, was formed in September 2007; the British branch was formed in June 2007, the Scandinavian ones in May 2007 and the German one before that. Yes, Ehsan Jami was at the conference, but if you look at the footage of the panel he was on it is clear that the panelists and most of the audience did not agree with him. He faced strong criticism for his views. We felt it important to have him there particularly to show the differences in perspective between the now defunct Dutch council and the other councils. Whilst we unconditionally defend Jami’s right to freedom of expression and to live free from fear and intimidation, we don’t agree with him on fundamental issues. I mean all ex-Muslims don’t think alike just because they have left Islam and in any case, speaking on a panel or platform with people of differing and opposing views does not make us all one and the same. Moreover, Pitt mentions Geert Wilders, the right wing Dutch politician, as an example of why our report should not have been distributed by Unison. In fact, though, at the conference we showed a film called ‘Fitna Remade’ by Reza Moradi which is a criticism of Wilders’ film, Fitna, the Movie, and his virulently anti-immigrant and racist perspective.

Rather than deal with the real issues at hand, Pitt raises irrelevant and erroneous facts and accusations of racism because he believes this will help in his efforts to undermine our important work and thereby defend the political Islamic movement he is so enamoured with. Despite such efforts, though, our work gains strength because it is a necessity of our era. The political Islamic movement’s first victims are ordinary working people everywhere, many of them Muslims. At the end of the day, what matters most – and will be remembered – are where people, unions, political organisations, and so on stood on these life and death issues.

We hope this helps in providing a better understanding of our organisation. We would be pleased to discuss and debate this and any aspect of our work with Unison at your convenience.

Best Wishes

Maryam Namazie

Letter forwarded by Unison Rep

From: Robert Pitt
RE: Conference on Political Islam, Sharia Law and Civil Society a Success

The so-called Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain is a complete fraud. There was scarcely an ex-Muslim at this conference! The CEMB is a front organisation set up by the Worker-Communist Party of Iran, a rabidly Islamophobic far-left sect. It’s modeled on the Council of Ex-Muslims in the Netherlands launched by Ehsan Jami, who was one of the speakers at the conference. Jami’s an ally of the Dutch far-right racist Geert Wilders. UNISON should be more careful about the sort of stuff they circulate.