WPI Briefing 208
February 28, 2009
Monthly of the Worker-communist Party of Iran
Editors: Maryam Namazie and Fariborz Pooya
Layout: Babak Kasrayi
In this Issue:
* The History of the Undefeated, A few words in commemoration of the 1979 Revolution, Mansoor Hekmat
* On the Fight against Religion, Radio International interview with Mansoor Hekmat
* Iranian Schoolteachers went on Strike, Siyaves Azeri
* Snapshot of the Worker-communist Party of Iran’s Activities, February 2009, Siyaves Azeri
The History of the Undefeated
A few words in commemoration of the 1979 Revolution
This article is being reprinted to mark the 30th anniversary of the Iranian revolution.
It is said that in recent years, a process of ‘review’ has been taking place among revolutionaries and the leftist opposition of Iran. A glance at the numerous publications, which this grouping publishes particularly outside of Iran, confirms this, though it is seriously doubtful whether the term ‘review’ is suitable to describe this development. In solitude – when pronouncing the truth does not harm anyone – one could call this a process of repentance. But publicly where political correctness holds sway especially during these days, perhaps the term ‘new thinking’ is a more suitable equivalent. The concept of revolution and revolutionism in general and the 1979 Iranian revolution in particular have been the first victims of this ‘new thinking’. Every month, mountains of materials are published by individuals, circles and groups made up of remnants and aged revolutionaries of the 1979 revolution. To read and follow all these and share in the preoccupations and illusory worlds of their writers is both extremely difficult and futile. It is not difficult, however, to see the development of this ‘new thinking’. One can use the association method used by psychologists to check the reaction of this literature to key words such as the very concept of ‘revolution’. The picture that emerges leaves no room for ambiguity. Revolution: excess, revolution: violence, revolution: oppression, revolution: destruction.
And why not? Who of these survivors of the 1979 revolution can shut their eyes for a moment, think about the past 17 [now 24] years and have one pleasant recollection? Millions of people have been condemned to life under the most reactionary and brutal social system, a society based on terror, poverty, and lies in which happiness is forbidden, being a woman is a crime, living is torment and escape impossible. An entire generation, perhaps more than half the population, has been born in this hell and has no other recollection than this. And for many others, the most living memory is that of the unforgettable faces of admirable human beings who were slaughtered. Wasn’t 1979 – the year of the revolution – the beginning of this nightmare?
Perhaps for some, the tragic fate of the 1979 revolution plays a role in the development of this ‘new thinking’. Neither the extent of this repentance nor the bitter tone and hysteria of today’s ‘new thinkers’, however, can be explained by the defeat of the 1979 revolution. It is as if you are sitting by a bridge and witnessing the return of a defeated army. It isn’t unexpected to find them melancholy, bewildered, silent, and depressed. This crowd, however, has clenched their fists. When you listen more carefully, it’s as if they are whispering an anthem. Yes, you are not mistaken; they are going to war – a war on their own ‘land’ and ‘camp’ and ‘fortress’ or whatever they previously called it. They are returning to take revenge on ‘themselves’ and yesterday’s ‘insiders’. For someone who looks out from within the fortress, this is definitely a dreadful scene.
Few unsuccessful revolutions and defeated movements have so bitterly been bidden farewell by their former enthusiasts. The constitutional revolution, the movement for the nationalisation of the oil industry, the period during Allende’s rule, the Portuguese revolution and the miners’ strike in Britain, for example, have always received the greatest respect from their own veterans and participants. The reason for today’s ‘new thinking’ by yesterday’s revolutionaries must be sought elsewhere. The reality is that these years, the years after the 1979 revolution, coincided with a much more important development on a global scale. The fall of the Eastern Bloc – only lately called the ‘socialist camp’ by the propaganda of the most deceptive spokespersons of the Warsaw and NATO pacts and their idiotic supporters – was a political and social earthquake which shook the entire world. The elimination of one pole from a bipolar world was in itself earth-shattering enough – a world in which for many decades, everything from economics and production to science and art took shape based on the confrontation between these two poles. However, what was decisive in the realm of ideas and thoughts was the fact that the rulers of the world and their vast herds of spokespersons and scrounging propagandists in the universities and media were able to portray the fall of the East as the fall of communism and the end of socialism and Marxism. All these theatricals did not last more than six years, and all indications today suggest that this period of deceit has reached its end. These six years, however, shook the world. This was not the end of socialism, but was a glimpse of what a nightmare the end of socialism could really be and what a swamp the world could become without the herald of socialism, the hope of socialism and the ‘dangers’ of socialism. It became clear that the world – both ruler and the ruled – identified socialism with change. The end of socialism was called the end of history. It became clear that the end of socialism is the end of the expectation for equality and prosperity, of free thinking and progressiveness and of hope for a better life for humanity. They interpreted the end of socialism as the unchallenged rule of the laws of the jungle and the right of might in economics, politics and culture. And immediately fascism, racism, chauvinism, ethnocentrism, religion, and bullying spilled out of every crack in society.
The wave of ‘new thinking’ that followed on a global scale was a spectacle. In an international race of repentance and ingratiation, yesterday’s virtues were disdained, principals were scorned at and ideals were ridiculed. Contemptuousness and submission became the meaning of life. In the repentant culture of the new world order’s intellectuals, anyone who wanted a better life for human beings, believed that the current situation could and must change, believed in people’s equality and called them to a better life, spoke of the necessity for people’s collective efforts to influence their fate and share in the world, and held the state and society responsible for the individual and their peace of mind and freedom was labelled idealist, old fashioned, naïve and dim-witted from a thousand and one corners. Despair became the symbol of wisdom. Forsaking high human ideals was seen as a sign of realism and insight. It suddenly became evident that any newly appointed journalist and assistant lecturer or any recently retired general had ready-made answers to the intellectual giants of the modern world from Voltaire and Rousseau to Marx and Lenin and that the entire complexities of freedom and equality seeking and the efforts of hundreds of millions of people in recent centuries, was nothing more than a complete waste of time on the road to the grand monument of the ‘end of history’ that must be forgotten ever so quickly.
It is within this international environment that yesterday’s revolutionaries are engaged in the ‘review’ of the 1979 revolution and revolutionism in general. Rather than being the result of the defeat of the 1979 revolution, their conclusions owe themselves to global trends, which mocked ideals and principals, and became fashionable for some years.
It is said that history is written by the victors. It must be added, however, that history, which is written by the defeated is ever more false and venomous, since this latter is nothing but the former dressed in mourning, surrender and self-deceit. If history is the story of change, then real history is the history of the undefeated – the history of the movement and people who still want and are struggling for change, the history of those who are not willing to bury their ideals and hopes of a human society, the history of people and movements that are not at liberty of choosing their principles and aims and have no choice but to strive for improvements. In the history of both the victors and defeated, the 1979 revolution is a step for the rise of Islam and Islamism and the cause of the current situation in Iran. In real history, however, the 1979 revolution was a movement for freedom and prosperity, which was smashed.
The calamities of the period after the revolution in Iran must be attributed to those responsible. People were right to reject the monarchy and the discrimination, inequality, oppression and degradation that went with it and rise up in protest. People were right to not want a king, SAVAK [the secret police], torturers and torture chambers at the end of the 20th century. People were right to take up arms against an army, which massacred them at the earliest manifestations of their protests. The 1979 revolution was an act for freedom, justice and human dignity. The Islamic movement and the Islamic government were not only not the result of this revolution, but were rather a deliberate means of suppressing the revolution, and brought to the fore when the fall and failure of the Shah’s regime was confirmed. Contrary to commonly held views, the Islamic Republic did not primarily owe its existence to the network of mosques and the swarm of petty mullahs. The source of this regime was not religion’s power among the people; it was not Shiism’s power, people’s lack of interest in modernism and their hatred of Western culture, excessively accelerated urbanisation and lack of ‘practicing democracy’, etc. This nonsense might be useful for the career of half-wit ‘Orientalists’ or media commentators, but it does not have the slightest relation to the truth. The very forces that were supporting the Shah’s regime and training the SAVAK until the day before brought the Islamic current to the fore of the 1979 revolution – those who recognised the radicalisation and left leaning potential of the Iranian revolution and had learnt their lesson from the oil workers’ strike; those who needed a green belt for Cold War rivalries. Money was spent for the ‘Islamisation’ of the Iranian revolution; plans were drawn up, meetings were organised. Thousands of people – from Western diplomats and military attachés, to the ever honourable journalists of the world of democracy – worked intensely for months until a backward, marginal, rotten and isolated tradition in the political history of Iran was turned into the ‘revolution’s leadership’ and a ruling alternative for the urbanised and newly industrialised society of Iran in 1979. Mr. Khomeini did not come from Najaf and Qom and as the head of a swarm of donkey-riding mullahs from en-route villages but from Paris via air. The 1979 revolution was a manifestation of the genuine protests of the deprived people of Iran but the ‘Islamic revolution’ and the Islamic regime were the result of the Cold War, the result of the most modern political dealings of the world at the time. The architects of this regime were the strategists and policy makers of Western powers, the very same ones who today, from within the swamps of cultural relativism, once again legitimise the very monster they created as the natural product of ‘Islamic and eastern society’ and worthy of the people of the ‘Islamic World’. The entire West’s economic, political and propaganda resources were pulled together for months before and after February 1979 in order to establish and maintain this regime.
The very fact that this social engineering became possible in Iran, however, owes itself to the situation and condition of the political and social forces within Iran. There was enough material available for this task. Islamic currents existed in all countries of the region. Until the events in Iran, however, this movement did not at any point become a notable political force and a main player on the political scene of these countries. The Islamic (counter) revolution was not constructed on the insignificant force of the Islamic current, but rather on primary political traditions of the Iranian opposition. The Islamic counter-revolution was built on the nationalist and so-called liberal tradition of the ‘National Front’, which more than anything else feared workers and communists and had spent its entire life biting its nails under the monarchy’s cape and religion’s robe. It was a tradition, which in its entire history had been unable to organise even a semi-secular offensive against religion in Iran’s politics and culture. It was a tradition in which its leaders and personalities were among the first to swear allegiance to the Islamic movement. The Islamic counter-revolution was built on the Tudeh Party’s tradition in which anti-Americanism and strengthening its international camp at any price, made up the philosophy of its existence and which saw the Islamic regime, irrespective of its consequences for the people and freedom, as a playground for manoeuvre and manipulation. The Islamic counter-revolution was built on a corrupt anti-modernist, anti ‘westernisation’, xenophobic and Islam-ridden tradition dominant in a majority of the intellectual and cultural segments of society in Iran, which shaped the initial environment of the youth and student protests. Khomeini triumphed not because superstitious people saw his reflection on the moon, but rather because the traditional opposition and this corrupt nationalist and regressive culture saw him – who was the most imported and manufactured personage of Iranian contemporary political history – as ‘made in Iran’, anti-Western and one of their own and thus rose to praise him. The Islamic counter-revolution was the result of the fact that the modernist-socialist oil industry and big industries’ workers lost the initiative in the protest scene to the traditional opposition of Iran. It was they who received Khomeini’s personage and the Islamic revolution scenario from the West and sold it to the protesting masses of people.
Despite all this, the Islamic theatrics only created a delay in the development of the 1979 revolution. The events immediately following the February uprising showed that the dynamics of the revolution was still there. Irrespective of what was said, it showed that people had nevertheless come to and remained at the fore for freedom and social prosperity not for Islam. Eventually, the 1979 revolution, like most revolutions, was defeated not by deceit and lies, but by an extremely bloody suppression. During February 11, 19791 and June 20, 19812 was all the opportunity Islam and the Islamic movement managed to obtain for the guardians of the Shah’s regime. And of course, that’s all they needed. In the real history of Iran, June 20, 1981 is joined to September 8, 19783 and is the next link in the chain. Khomeini, Bazargan, Sanjabi, Madani, Forouhar, Yazdi, Banisadr, Rajaie and Beheshti are the names which must follow Mohamad Reza Pahlavi, Amouzgar, Sharif Emami, Bakhtiar, Oveisi, Azhari, and Rahimi as characters that came to the fore one after the other to block the revolution and people’s protests. The continuous blows of the protest movement defeated the monarchist regime and its various characters. In contrast, the Islamic government managed to buy time, restore the forces of reaction and smash the people’s revolution in the bloodiest form. The agenda of both regimes was one and the same.
More than half of the people of Iran are too young to hold even a vague recollection of the 1979 revolution. Their connection to the events of that period is not unlike the connection of the 1979 revolutionary generation with events during the Mossadegh period and 1953 coup – a spent and inaccessible period, which is only in the minds of and regarded as important by its own contemporary generation. Interpretations of that period are many and numerous, but more than saying anything about an historical truth, they pass judgement on the narrator and their place in today’s world. Human beings always look at the past from a contemporary perspective and seek justifications for their current will and deeds. In looking at the 1979 revolution, our ‘new thinkers’ are looking to raise a banner in today’s Iran. This banner, however, has always existed. Each time, who, and through which ceremony, and by reciting which verses assembles under this banner is secondary.
1 February 11, 1979: the date of the Iranian revolution – Ed.
2 June 20, 1981: the eventual juncture that the Islamic regime’s suppression took place. – Ed.
3 September 8, 1978: the date when the Shah’s army massacred demonstrators in Jaleh Square in Tehran. – Ed.
First published in Persian in 1995. The English version is a reprint from WPI Briefin g and was translated by Maryam Namazie and Fariborz Pooya.
On the Fight against Religion
Radio International interview with Mansoor Hekmat
Azar Majedi: In a recent interview you said, ‘secularism is a set of minimum conditions’, and that [you] ‘do not just want just secularism, but a conscious fight against religion on the part of society.’ What are the characteristics of such a fight?
Mansoor Hekmat: In talking about religion, and particularly Islam in this period [in history], we should bear in mind that we are talking about a phenomenon that can be shown to be the source of suffering, oppression, indignity and humiliation for people. So, we are confronted by a problem, by a disaster that has to be mitigated in very much the same way that one deals with drug addiction, for example. Drug addiction is not considered a private matter alone, and there are efforts to eradicate it. [In other words,] even if people are allowed to use drugs, you will still not consider that enough of a reason for them to do so, and believe something must be done to urge them to grow out of that habit. It is the same with religion. Religion is a phenomenon involving the freedom of the individual to believe in anything, and yet believing in a set of intellectual, political, and civil beliefs called religion, [in general,] and Islam, [in particular,] has played havoc with people’s lives and, as a result, you fight against it in the same way you would fight against any other disaster. Relinquishing it to the ‘private affair of the individual’ is not, in my view, sufficient in and of itself. What I mean is society must do something so Islam is eradicated. Simply put, we must do something so the people themselves eradicate it willingly and voluntarily, are not influenced by it, held captive to it, and oppressed, made wretched, and drowned in superstition. What is the solution? Education. A free state that educates its citizens on political, social, civil, historical, biological, physical, and natural facts [of life]; civil laws that protect the people against the encroachments of religious firms, against the religion industry. In my opinion, religion is to be looked on as something like the tobacco industry. Everyone is free to smoke, yet you legislate against tobacco companies so they are not able to take advantage of people’s addiction, not cause too much damage to their health, and not have a free hand in drawing children and youngsters into addiction, etc. In the same way, there must be similar laws with regards to religion. There must be laws so that the religion industry, quite a business in its own right, cannot ruin people’s lives. It is possible to do something during a generation’s time so a free society would be built which will have eradicated religion just like malaria or drug addiction.
Azar Majedi: You finished your argument with exactly the point I was going to ask about. You spoke of the religion industry, and compared it to the tobacco industry. Did you mean that comparison as a joke?
Mansoor Hekmat: Not at all! I call it an ‘industry’ because there are people who think religion is, essentially, a combination of the people’s beliefs. That is not so. Religion is an industry. It has owners; there are people who benefit from it; it begets material wealth and political power for a certain social spectrum and serves the interests of a class-political rule. Religion is a multi-billion-dollar business. This money pays for its propaganda. And this money is swindled out of the people. As far as Iran, it is the state which takes care of that job! Religion is an apparatus for the propagation of falsities. It delivers lies to the people, frightens them, and scares them of violence in this world and of punishment in the next. Just like the Mafia! Religion, as an institution, be it Christianity, Islam or Judaism is a huge social structure standing on its own before being a set of social beliefs. It taxes [the people]; it takes money, and spends it on the survival of its rule. As a result, religion industries are great phenomena in the world. If you put together the money spent on Islam and the money spent on the Christian Church, you will see that the sum is comparable with the wealth of the largest multi-national corporations. It is comparable with the military budget of dozens of countries put together. Religion should therefore be looked on as an industry, one that consciously tries to sell its product, own its markets, and make addicts out of consumers.
A society seeking to liberate itself should confront religion exactly as that. It should not be under the illusion that religion is a set of beliefs in things like the Anti-Christ or in the weeping and wailing to commemorate Karbala.1 Religion is a huge industry designed to produce superstitions, to intimidate people, and to subordinate them and make them surrender to the power of the ruling class. If you want a liberated society, you have to spend money and assign human resources, in order to oppose that phenomenon, just as you oppose narcotic gangs, just as you oppose companies that steal and plunder and leave devastation behind. The religion industry is to be opposed in just the same way.
It is obvious that everyone is entitled to their opinion and everyone should be allowed to believe in whatever they want. However, if political, military and cultural structures are founded on the basis of those beliefs with the aim of subjugating the people, you should oppose them on behalf of citizens and by citizens.
Azar Majedi: There are people who may see only the Islamic Republic [of Iran], which is a theocracy, or the Vatican, as a state, in the same way as you see religion. But do you see religion in, for example, some parts of Western Europe where it is separate from the state and, in any case, does not play such a big role in people’s lives, in the same light? Would you compare these to the Mafia as well?
Mansoor Hekmat: First of all, I should say that in parts of Europe where religion does not play the role I said it plays, it is because they have done what I said should be done with it during the past centuries. They have confronted it and confiscated its properties and endowments. They have legislated against religion’s interference in education. They have legislated against religion’s interference with people’s social life, and so on. Today’s Europe, therefore, does not provide a good example for us to realise what religion can be; we can go back a hundred years and see what this same religion had been doing to people. After all, the Pope [John Paul II] has already had to apologise for the collaboration of the Catholic Church with Hitler and his human-burning ovens! Another example is Northern Ireland, where Protestants lined up in front of an elementary school and threw rocks, even makeshift bombs and hand-grenades, at school girls going to elementary school, just because those are Protestant and these are Catholic! Or look at the fate of Yugoslavia and the conflicts there! Look at Chechnya and Afghanistan! So, in my opinion, the role I described is the role of religion in general. It is just that in some places the people have reined it in and put it in its place to some degree. As a result, in those places it has taken on a civilised form. However, it is always present as a reserved power. Yes, I also include the Christian church in Western Europe in the exact same category. This religion does not play the same over the top role as Islam does, killing people in Iran and Afghanistan, for example, while it has still retained its role in oppressing women, in suppressing liberating thoughts, in stifling creativity and innovation, etc. Besides, it still has its hand in the people’s pocket. Its hand is still earnestly in the people’s pocket. It takes away resources that must be expended on the people’s well-being and expends them on spreading superstitions among them. The harm that comes from [Christianity] is not as visible as what you see in Iran, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. Nevertheless, it is possible to show the role the church is playing [in Western Europe] with facts and figures.
It appears that in some places the church has turned leftwards; in Latin America, and so on, for example. However, it is not the church that has turned leftwards. It is the people who are left-inclined, and the church, therefore, in its endeavours to maintain a prosperous business, is only trying to keep pace with them. But at every single critical social turning point you see religion, you see Islam, right beside the ruling classes, giving them directions, and justifying social oppression and subjugation.
Azar Majedi: You mentioned that if the business of religion is to be shut down, money must be spent and human resources must be assigned to that task. What forms will this take, should there be a socialist republic established in Iran and will the Worker-communist Party be a partner in political power? You said that the people’s beliefs are respectable.2 But this might not show how exactly religion, the mullahs, and the believing Muslims would be addressed. Would you explain these?
Mansoor Hekmat: In my opinion, the people’s personal beliefs are respectable only for themselves. I may not have any respect for someone’s racist beliefs, which I do not, but if they want to believe in them, it is, to the point where they have not inflicted any harm on anyone, their personal opinion. Every human being is free to think about any part of this world in any way they want. No one is allowed to legislate for the internal world of the individual and say they are not allowed to think in this or that way. This does not mean, of course, that we will not try to change people’s thoughts. People must have choices between various thoughts and opinions. They must be free to choose. It is one of the roles of religion, on the other hand, to deny people access to other, liberating thoughts with prejudice and force, and to legislate against them. The Taliban have captured some people in Kabul and are going to execute them for having intended to bring another religion to the people! This response may be excessive there [in Afghanistan], but it is what all [religions] do characteristically. The master key is education so people would not need to believe in superstitions, and be aware that the world is about something else. Education, however, is not sufficient by itself. Legislation is needed in order to bring religious institutions under control. For example, their finances should be subject to scrutiny like all other firms. After all, the same law that applies to such and such biscuit making or water-heater manufacturing company, the same law that applies to tobacco companies like Winston or Camel, must equally apply to the so-called Islamic structure, that is, the mosques and Ayatollahs. Their books must be opened and reviewed in order to find out where they have got their money from and how they have spent it; whether they have paid their taxes or not; swindled the government or not; committed extortion or not; and so on.
There is a series of laws which will, even in their present form, ensure the prohibition of many religious acts. If we take the Animal Protection Act seriously, a big part of Islamic rituals will be swept away, because the way animals are treated in them are intensely violent. If we protect children with laws worthy of children’s rights, a big part of religious activities must come to a halt, because they negate children’s freedom, for children must be protected against all threats, intimidation, torture, forced labour, etc. If we guard women’s rights properly, the religious will not have the freedom to implement many of their laws. If men and women are to have equal rights in the society, all family, marriage, and inheritance laws prescribed by Islam, for instance, become impractical and have to be set aside, and if someone somewhere makes an effort to raise them, they will be in contradiction to the civil laws of the country. What I am driving at is that if we defend the people’s civil rights, a big part of religion will be swept away. And if we defend science and freedom of thought, yet another part of it will be swept away. Now if at the end of the day about two hundred and fifty people out of the sixty million population of Iran continue to believe that yes, there is a doomsday, and that one must pray five times a day, and that if you do not, this and that will happen, or that one must slaughter a sheep once in while because some day prophet Abraham the Friend of God almost slaughtered and sacrificed his son, and so on, it is their choice. There are even stranger people to be found in the world! Such beliefs will not, however, become social laws, and will not cause anyone any disturbance. And if this group of people, a superstitious bunch, supposedly treat their family, their children, in a way that it has its origins, not in their civil rights, but in their religion and prejudices, the state will confront them and stop them.
I do not believe violence should be used against Islam, or any other existing social issues, for that matter. I do believe, however, that Islam’s business can be shut down with the combination of education and legislation. The head of the Church of England, for example, has stated that Christianity is in bad shape, and that there will not remain any trace of it. Why? Because there the people have no need for it anymore, and it cannot bully them either.
1 A reference to the mourning ceremonies held to commemorate the killing of Imam Hoseyn and his family. The anniversary of their ‘martyrdom’ in the battle in Karbala (in today’s Iraq) is held for ten days in Iran during Moharram, the first month of the lunar-Islamic calendar. The mourning ceremonies come to a peak on the ninth and the tenth day of the month, a.k.a. Taasuaa and Aashuraa, and are accompanied by self-flagellation with chains or cutting one’s scalp, including that of children’s as young as five, with a machete for hours during the processions.
2 The common equivalent of plain, non-glorified English, or Western, rather, expression ‘everyone is entitled to their opinion’ in Farsi is ‘everyone’s opinion is respectable’! Although Mansoor Hekmat has not used the latter in his response to previous questions, but, on the contrary, has used the former expression (in the last paragraph of his answer to the second question), he resolves the misunderstanding arising from the Farsi, or Iranian, rather, expression used by the interviewer in the opening part of his response to this question.
Source: Mansoor Hekmat’s Public Archive website (www.hekmat.public-archive.net).
The above is an edited transcript of Azar Majedi’s interview with Mansoor Hekmat about an earlier interview in Porsesh magazine entitled ‘The Rise and Fall of Political Islam.’ The interview was conducted in Persian and broadcast on Radio International on Feb. 15, 2001. The English translation is by Jamshid Hadian. It has been first published in English in WPI Briefing 208, dated February 28, 2009.
Iranian Schoolteachers went on Strike
As Iranian schoolteachers prepared to go on strike on February 22 and 23, 2009 the Guild of Schoolteachers of Iran (the semi-official organisation of Iranian schoolteachers) called for a postponement. The Guild tried to justify this retreat with reference to Ahmadinejad’s promise that the teachers’ salaries would be regulated based on the Code of National Service Law. The Worker-communist Party of Iran condemned the call for postponement and the collaboration between the Guild and the regime in Iran against the interests of the schoolteachers and called on teachers to strike.
The Worker-communist Party of Iran was aware of the pro-regime tendencies of those in charge of decision-making in the Guild. WPI, thus, had published a communiqué a few hours before the official declaration of the Guild to suspend the strike and called on teachers to participate in the strike not only to acquire their demands, but also to prevent the collaboration between the leadership of the Guild and the regime. Their demands included a raise in salaries to guarantee a living wages, regulation of wages, permanent employment for contract teachers, defrayal of the debt to all retired, permanent, and contract teachers, a resolution to teachers’ housing problems, free healthcare, the right to association and strike, and an end to prosecutions against teachers.
According to the news that has been conveyed to WPI and New Channel TV, teachers reacted resolutely and went on strike! On February 22, most of teachers in Tehran, Ahvaz, Shiraz, and Khomein didn’t go to work. In Shiraz, 80 to 100 percent of the schoolteachers of municipal districts 1, 2, 3, and 4 went on strike. Most of teachers in Abadan and Ahvaz didn’t go to work on February 22.
The strike continued on February 23. In Tehran, almost all schools of District 2 were shut down. The schools in other municipal districts were debilitated due to participation of a large body of teachers in the strike. In the province of Fars, almost all schools in the cities of Shiraz, Abadeh, and Mamassani were shut down. In Isfahan all the schools of three municipal districts were closed; all other schools were debilitated by the strike. In Tabriz all the schools were closed. In Province of Khouzestan, in the face of massive participation in the strike, the Ministry of Education had to announce all school closed “due to bad weather!”
The large-scale participation of schoolteachers in the strike despite the pro-regime and collaborationist policies of the Guild’s leadership marked a great victory in the workers’ movement in Iran and in intensifying the anti-regime movement.
Snapshot of the Worker-communist Party of Iran’s Activities
The Worker-communist Party of Iran organised a number of activities worldwide in defence of the struggles of students of Shiraz University to inform public opinion about the situation of students, the regime’s atrocities perpetrated against them and to mobilise support for the cause of the students. To this end the WPI’s Germany Committee formed an information table and photo exhibition in University of Frankfurt on January 23, 2009. Some other German student organisations also participated in this activity. On January 27, the Bremen Unit of WPI Germany Organisation organised a photo exhibition in University of Bremen. Hundreds of students signed the petition demanding an end to the pressures against Shiraz University students and condemning the atrocities of the Islamic regime and the wave of executions. On January 28, 2009, the Switzerland Organisation of WPI also held an information table and photo exhibition in downtown Zurich in defence of the struggles of Shiraz University students. Hundreds of brochures and pamphlets were also distributed among people and passer bys. The WPI Organisation Abroad launched a campaign in defence of Shiraz University students on January 15, 2009, that was reported in the former issue of WPI Briefing.
In response to the international campaign to save the life of Iranian schoolteacher Farzad Kamangar, who is in prison and has been condemned to death by the Islamic regime of Iran on the accusation of “activities against national security” the Union of Schoolteachers of Malmo, Sweden issued a communiqué on February 2, 2009 and demanded the immediate release of Kamangar. In the communiqué that was signed by general secretary of the union, it was maintained, “The Union of Schoolteachers of Malmo strongly condemns the death sentence of Farzad Kamangar, schoolteacher and reporter. Farzad is “guilty of the crime” of defending human rights. The Union demands his immediate release and recognition of human rights in Iran.”
On February 15, 2009 Hamid Taqvaee, leader of the WPI gave a speech titled “The Present Political Situation in Iran and the Characteristics of the Impending Revolution” in Gotteborg, Sweden. In his speech Taqvaee discussed the political conditions and processes in Iran, the situation of the Islamic regime, and the anti-regime movements and parties. He also discussed the questions of “why revolution is necessary and desirable?” and “what are the characteristics of the upcoming revolution?” He also considered the specificities of situation of WPI in Iran and the WPI’s response to the question of political power in contradistinction to the answers proposed by other movements. Taqvaee also considered the role of the New TV Channel and other satellite TV stations in forming the future political developments in Iran. Moreover, he sought to answer the question concerning the organisation of massive strikes and uprisings.
On the anniversary of March 8, International Women’s Day, the Worker-communist Party of Iran has organised a number of activities worldwide including Sweden, Germany, France, US, Canada, UK, Switzerland, and Norway.
TV International English, a half hour program that is broadcast from New Channel TV and which is produced and presented by Maryam Namazie has continued its programme on different issues during the past period. Recent topics of discussion in the programme include Israel’s attack on Gaza and the relation between Sharia Law, political Islam, and Civil society.