May Day 2009 and Freedom for Imprisoned Trade Unionists in Iran!

Around the world, for over one hundred years, workers and their trade unions have celebrated May Day – International Labour Day. It is the day on which workers internationally show their shared commitment to justice and freedom. Since the first International May Day in 1890, it has been celebrated in public gatherings but also in jails and prisons – for there are still governments which forbid unofficial gatherings on the first of May.

Iran is one such country. For years, workers attempting public May Day demonstrations have been harassed, beaten, and jailed. For the past two years, workers and labour rights supporters seeking to organize May Day gatherings have been sentenced to public whippings. Mahmoud Salehi, leader of an independent bakers union in Iran’s Kurdistan province, served one year in prison for attempting to organize a public rally on May Day 2004.The government-sponsored Workers’ House or Islamic Labour Councils organize annual official ceremonies on the first of May, designed for workers to speak about the things officials like to hear rather than the real issues they face. But free trade unions are illegal in Iran and independent trade unionists have always been prevented from joining this ceremony.

But it isn’t just for celebrating May Day that trade unionists are attacked in Iran. All expressions of free trade unionism face the prospect of repression.In June 2008, five thousand workers at the Haft Tapeh Sugar Company in the southern city of Shush formed an independent trade union following a 46-day strike for the payment of 6 months’ back wages. On December 20, 5 elected leaders of their union were charged with “endangering national security” and “anti-government propaganda” in connection with the strike and the formation of the union. Following a low turnout to the February 24, 2009 election to the Islamic Labour Council at Haft Tapeh, union officers were arrested again, including Haft Tapeh union President Ali Nejati. As a result of pressure from his work mates and trade unionists globally, Nejati was freed on bail following 45 days’ detention – 33 of them in solitary confinement. On March 14, Ali Nejati and 4 other Haft Tapeh union leaders were sentenced to one year imprisonment.

Mansour Osanloo and Ebrahim Madadi, leaders of the Union of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company, are currently serving five-and three and a half-year sentences, respectively, solely for their union activity. In his current prison term, Osanloo has been harshly treated and denied essential medical treatment. Just weeks before the establishment of the union in 2005, activists including Osanloo were attacked severely by company thugs and members of the government-sponsored organizations. Some workers remain unfairly dismissed after supporting union actions.

Teacher and trade unionist Farzad Kamangar, in detention since July 2006, was sentenced to death in February 2008 and transferred to Tehran’s notorious Evin prison.

All trade union activists currently imprisoned in Iran solely for their peaceful, legitimate trade union activities must be released immediately, and charges unconditionally dropped against all those facing jail.This year’s May Day!Inside and outside Iran, individuals and organizations have campaigned for the release of these imprisoned workers’ leaders, who are struggling for the advancement of basic trade union rights in Iran and for worker and human rights everywhere.The government of Iran is intensifying its repression against independent trade unionists ahead of May Day 2009 and the June presidential elections.

As we near May Day 2009, EI, ITF ITUC and IUF again wish to draw international attention to our common struggle in support of fundamental labour and trade union rights in Iran. The right of workers to organize, to bargain collectively with employers and the right to strike are essential human rights as enshrined in the ILO Conventions. Workers in Iran must be free to exercise these rights that workers everywhere are entitled to. We call on the authorities to let workers in Iran freely join their sisters and brothers around the globe in celebrating this May Day, and we demand the immediate and unconditional release of, Mansour Osanloo, Ebrahim Madadi, Farzad Kamangar and all other Iranians currently imprisoned or facing imprisonment for attempting to exercise their fundamental rights as workers and trade unionists.

April 27, 2009
International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations (IUF)
Education International (EI)
International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF)
International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC)

Join the International Coalition for Women’s Rights

On April 19, 2009, the Somali parliament unanimously endorsed the introduction of Sharia law across the country.

A few days earlier, the imposition of Sharia law in Pakistan’s northwestern Swat region was approved.

Last month, a sweeping law approved by the Afghan parliament and signed by President Hamid Karzai required Shi’a women to seek their husband’s permission to leave home, and to submit to their sexual demands. Because of international and national protests the new law is now being reviewed but only to check its compatibility with Sharia law.

Sharia law deems a woman unequal and subordinate to her husband or male guardian. Under Sharia, women’s testimony is worth half that of men’s, women have limited rights to divorce and child custody and women can be executed for apostasy or stoned to death for adultery. It imposes sexual or gender apartheid and the veil and denies women rights, equality and freedom.

The imposition of Sharia law in the legal codes of Somalia, Pakistan and Afghanistan brings millions more under the yoke of political Islam.

Local and international pressure and opposition are the only ways to stop the rise of this regressive movement and defend women’s universal rights and secularism.

From Iran and Iraq to Britain and Canada, Sharia law is being opposed by a vast majority who choose 21st century universal values over medievalism. We, the undersigned, support this international struggle and call for:

* the abolition of discriminatory and Sharia laws
* an end to sexual apartheid
* secularism and the separation of religion from the state
* equality between women and men

List of initial signatories:

Boaz Adhengo, Humanist and Ethical Union of Kenya, Kenya
Nazanin Afshin-Jam, Coordinator, Stop Child Executions Campaign, Canada
Mina Ahadi, Spokesperson, Council of Ex-Muslims of Germany; Coordinator, International Committee against Stoning, Germany
Mahin Alipour, Coordinator, Equal Rights Now – Organisation against Women’s Discrimination in Iran, Stockholm, Sweden
British Humanist Association, UK
British Muslims for Secular Democracy, UK
Caroline Brancher, UFAL, France
Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, Chair, British Muslims for Secular Democracy, UK
Nazanin Borumand, Never forget Hatun‚Campaign against Honour Killings, Germany
Clean Break Theatre Company, UK
Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, UK
Council of Ex-Muslims of Germany, Germany
Council of Ex-Muslims of Scandinavia, Sweden
Richard Dawkins, Scientist, UK
Patty Debonitas, Coordinator, International Campaign for Women’s Rights, UK
Sonja Eggerickx, President, International Humanist and Ethical Union, Belgium
Equal Rights Now – Organisation against Women’s Discrimination in Iran, Sweden Tarek Fatah, Author, Chasing a Mirage: The Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State, Canada
Jacqueline Fichet – Professeure en Retraite, France
Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association, UK
AC Grayling, Writer and Philosopher, London, UK
Rahila Gupta, Activist and Writer, UK
Maria Hagberg, Chairperson, Network Against Honour-Related Violence, Sweden
Katie Hickman, Writer, UK
Humanist and Ethical Union of Kenya
Leo Igwe, Nigerian Humanist Movement, Nigeria
International Committee against Stoning, Germany
Iranian Secular Society, London, UK
Asqar Karimi, Central Committee Member, Worker-communist Party of Iran, UK
Kenya Association of Humanists in Aid of Women Atheists
Ruth Kithei and Teresia Naomi, Kenya Association of Humanists in Aid of Women Atheists, Kenya
Derek Lennard, Chairperson, Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association, UK
Doreen Massey, Peer, House of Lords, London, UK
Caspar Melville, Editor, New Humanist magazine, UK
Reza Moradi, Director, New Channel TV, UK
Maryam Namazie, Spokesperson, Equal Rights Now – Organisation against Women’s Discrimination in Iran, Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain and One Law for All Campaign against Sharia Law in Britain, UK
National Federation of Atheist, Humanist and Secular Student Societies, UK
National Secular Society, London, UK
Never Forget Hatun Campaign against Honour Killings, Germany Network Against Honour-Related Violence, Sweden
Nigerian Humanist Movement, Nigeria
One Law for All Campaign against Sharia Law in Britain, UK
Lucy Perman, Executive Director, Clean Break, UK
David Pollock, President, the European Humanist Federation, London, UK
Fariborz Pooya, Founder, Iranian Secular Society, London, UK
Pragna Patel, Founding Member, Southall Black Sisters and Women Against Fundamentalism, UK
Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, Pakistan
Terry Sanderson, President, National Secular Society, London, UK
Sohaila Sharifi, Editor, Unveiled Persian, London, UK
Joan Smith, Writer and Activist, London, UK
Southall Black Sisters, UK
Issam Shukri, Head, Defense of Secularism and Civil Rights in Iraq; Central Committee Secretary, Left Worker-communist Party of Iraq, Iraq
Hanne Stinson, British Humanist Association, UK
Annie Sugier, Ligue du Droit International des Femmes, France
Peter Tatchell, Human Rights Campaigner, UK
Women Against Fundamentalisms, UK
Ibn Warraq, writer

To join the coalition, click here.

To help organise a rally in your city on November 21, 2009, please contact coalition coordinator Patty Debonitas +44 (0) 7778804304, ICFWR, BM Box 2387, London WC1N 3XX, UK, email icwomenrights@googlemail.com.

To support the coalition, please send your donations to One Law for All or the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain earmarked for the coalition.

Unveiled No 4: We have to stop them now

The English publication of Equal Rights Now – Organisation against Women’s Discrimination
Unveiled
Editor: Maryam Namazie
Issue no. 4, April 2009:

We have to stop them now
Sohaila Sharifi
Join the International Coalition for Women’s Rights
The fight against Sharia – a historical task and duty
Maryam Namazie
We will not allow Shahla and Delara to be executed
Declaration against sexual apartheid

Unveiled, No. 4

May Day, G20 Summit, Labour movement in Iran, Turkey’s elections and more

WPI Briefing 209
May 1, 2009
Monthly of the Worker-communist Party of Iran
Editors: Maryam Namazie and Fariborz Pooya
Layout: Babak Kasrayi

In this Issue:
* May Day, International Workers’ Day
* G20 Summit: people’s rage and the socialist perspective, by Hamid Taqvaee
* Worker’s movement in Iran during the past year, by Shahla Daneshfar
* After the local elections: the state of the Islamists in Turkey, by Metin Sarp
* Snapshot of WPI activities in March 2009, by Siyaves Azeri

* May Day, International Workers’ Day

International Workers’ Day approaches while the world is dominated by the monster of Capital and its crisis. We are told to consume less, to tighten our belts, not to make too much ado, and to give them an opportunity to reenergise the economy. They forget to mention that crisis, poverty, austerity, unemployment, and rights deprivation are part and parcel of the bourgeoisie and their states. They promise us new regulations in the market and stock market and ask us, in return, to pay for the massive losses so the interest rate can go up and production resume. They shamelessly tell us that we cannot manage without exploiters and their institutions and states, without their thefts and luxury spending and without their wars and conflicts! If we resist, they have their stockpiles of tear gas, taser guns, police, jails, courts, mosques, churches, parliaments, politicians, and professional liars to unleash upon us. This stockpile has been built upon our shoulders and its expenses alone are more than enough to uproot hunger, infectious diseases, illiteracy, drug addiction, prostitution, and the destruction of the environment worldwide.

Whilst political power is in their hands and they make the decisions for the world the situation won’t change. If they burn the entire world in their wars and competitions, in the best scenario, they will get through this crisis by inflicting unprecedented poverty and austerity on us. They might cave in to some reforms out of fear of our protests, but the hell of wage slavery and the rule of capital, profit, market, crisis upon crisis will continue.

May Day is the day to confront this fundamental dilemma with our international ranks; this confrontation has to be first and foremost political. We have to come to the fore and take hold of our own destiny. All the traditional May Day demands, ranging from reduction in work hours to unemployment insurance, provision of healthcare, a living wage, freedom of organisation and strike, and political freedoms are all crucial. However, May Day 2009 has to be about more fundamental issues. It has to be against capitalist rule, wage slavery and its states. Capitalism has to go. Socialism is the only real response to the world’s problems. This is being reiterated by many. But the first step towards socialism is a conquest of political power, and giving the control of society to workers and people who have no interest in wage slavery or exploitation. That’s why the fundamental issue of this International Workers’ Day is preparing all workers and underprivileged people to determine the political fate of society.

In Iran, the Islamic regime of capital is undergoing an all-out, intensive economic, political and social crisis. Any serious and permanent improvement in the interests of people has an objective pre-condition: bringing down the ruling bourgeoisie and establishing a socialist republic. May Day is an opportunity for workers and all people who are fed up with the Islamic Republic to declare their hatred for the regime of billionaire mullahs and display their resoluteness and will for overthrowing the Islamic government.

Leading the working class and freedom-loving people, the Worker-communist Party of Iran will attempt to turn the International Workers’ Day, in Iran and abroad, into a day for advancing the camp of freedom and equality (the camp of welfare, happiness and socialism) and exposing and isolating the Islamic Republic of Iran and preparing the conditions for its overthrow by the revolutionary force of workers and people.

Long Live May Day, International Workers’ Day
Long Live Solidarity of Workers of the World
Down with Capitalism, Down with the Islamic Republic of Iran
Long Live Freedom, Equality, Workers’ Rule

Worker-communist Party of Iran
April 2, 2009

* G20 Summit: people’s rage and the socialist perspective
by Hamid Taqvaee

Governments and the world’s people each welcomed the G20 Summit in their own way. Thousands of people, in London, Frankfurt and Paris did so by protesting and demonstrating against the capitalist system; and governments did it via behind-the-scenes wheeling and dealings to save the system by imposing further poverty and unemployment on workers and people across the world.

People are rightly enraged saying “We won’t allow you to solve your crisis by ruining our lives”. They hoisted the picture of Marx and declared: “The World still needs Marx to Change”. Governments continue to discuss how to counter the threat of the “hunger rebellions”.

Capitalism has reached a dead-end all over the world; it is economically, politically and ideologically bankrupt. All those serving f capital, from states and economic experts to professors, the media and intellectuals who used to be hard-core advocates of capitalism are confessing that there is no way out. Billions in bailouts of near-bankrupt banks and institutions have not helped and no one has an answer. Economists question the workability of capitalism and demand fundamental changes, but nobody knows the content and aim of these changes. Wall Street, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank are called dinosaurs whose time has passed but nobody knows what age it is now. The media talks about people’s anger and officials, aiming to keep their seats, sympathise with enraged people and compete with one another in accusing Wall Street and the greedy managers of companies. No government or politician confesses to being the cause or target of people’s rage. Nobody talks about changing these dinosaur states, ending the age of parliamentary democracy and the political-social bankruptcy of capitalism. More realistic thinkers of capitalism confess that Marx may have been right about the crises of capitalism. Marx, the economist has perhaps been right but nobody will talk about Marx the political being. They have caved into Marx the economist but Marx the revolutionary is still taboo.

This is of course natural and as expected. You cannot expect from any state, official, intellectual or expert in the camp of capital, no matter how confused and clueless, a political criticism of the capitalist order and state, not even in its mildest form. For enraged people, however, the solution remains in politics. People’s legitimate and radical protest will go nowhere if it doesn’t proceed to a political critique of the capitalist system and state. The capitalists’ response – shared by all from Bush, Obama, Sarkozy and Gordon Brown to the Economist, CNN, Newsweek and BBC – is that if people’s problems are to be solved, capitalist production has to be resumed, thereby implying that helpful capitalists are helping people! That is their logic when they justify hundreds of billions that goes to banks, companies, insurance firms, etc. It is also the logic for freezing wages and cutting benefits and rights. They have always said “if you demand a raise, the factory will be closed down” in order to silence workers. Capital’s slump time is a boom for these kinds of justifications. Trade unions and all those who don’t want to enter politics have no way but to submit to this logic. If you accept the fact of the existence of the capitalist system and state, “realism” forces you to share the government’s attempt to resume capitalist production and this kind of realism is a long-lasting policy of trade unions in western countries, especially in times of crisis.

For workers and masses of angry people, however, the solution is political. Restricting things to the economic sphere and putting forward economic slogans of protests and demands can only lead to a voluntary sacrifice by workers, and by working and waged people. Today, the American people are enraged at the massive amounts of money that went to AIG bosses but if this anger does not turn into political protests, it will be suppressed with a slogan like “AIG Bankruptcy means more unemployment and poverty”. This is what the Obama government is skilfully doing right now. One could only refuse to accept this logic by saying “a system that needs to pay capitalist billionaires from workers’ pockets for the supply of jobs has no legitimacy and has to be reversed”. You need somebody who will criticize capitalism not only in its crises but during its booms. Somebody who will declare “an economics whose perquisite for boom is more misery for people is an inhumane system”. Somebody who will tell G20 governments “the only humane solution to the crisis is for you to resign and give power to people!”

Society, public opinion, intellectuals and masses of people have all declared the condemnation of the capitalist economy. Crisis and capital’s bankruptcy are so evident and undeniable that they all talk about fundamental changes, Marx, socialist or quasi-socialist alternatives. The protesting population should be present in politics and in the struggle over political power. It has to have its own party and alternative against the capitalist governments. Movements like Anti-Globalization and the Green movement, or Anti-Americanism of those like Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan president, and Lola da Silva, Brazilian president, (who declared recently while meeting Gordon Brown, that the blonde and blue-eyed are responsible for the world crisis!) or the anti-imperialist traditional left that has taken refuge in the arms of Political Islam in its struggle against the United States, have nothing to do with people’s rage and do not represent it. They have nothing to do with slogans like “Don’t Bail them, Jail them!” that was demanded by American workers in protesting government plans to aid banks or “No solving of crisis with workers’ pockets” that was the banner of European demonstrators against the G20 summit. the continuation and result of these slogans in the realm of politics would be a socialist critique of the state. The solution is a political critique and challenge against the whole capitalist system.

Important and unprecedented political events are taking place. We have to challenge the formation and political order of the capitalist world and this needs a political party. This needs one to go beyond economics and enter the realm of political criticism. Only a humane communism, a post-Berlin Wall communism, a communism critical of the state capitalisms of China and the Soviet Union and free market capitalism in their boom times, a communism of the civilised world against both Islamic Terrorism and US-led militarism, a worker-communism, can be a solution to this situation. This communism will fiercely criticise not only the economics of capitalism but its religion, nationalism, politics and state. Mansoor Hekmat declared, years ago, “What a swamp the world could become without the herald of socialism, the hope of socialism and the ‘threat’ of socialism.” Today this swamp have taken hold of the world but “the herald of socialism” in the heart of Europe, US and the industrial world still needs its party.

This party exists in another part of the world; in Iran. And “the hope of socialism” starts there. In Iran, the Worker-communist Party is a strong and effective actor in the political conditions and people’s struggles and protest movements. A party that counters the Islamic Republic of Iran (this most brutal, and at the same time weakest chain, of global capitalism) representing freedom-loving people. This party has hoisted the banner of “the herald of socialism” in a turbulent society that is ready for a revolution. This herald, in the context of an all-out crisis of global capitalism, can be and should be global. The victory of worker-communism in Iran will show the way to emancipation to the entire world but our struggle is already global. It is our duty to introduce worker-communism and its humane socialism to the enraged people of the world in the context of the world crisis. It is our duty to use all our capacities, as much as we can, to present a perspective of socialism to the world. Our party has been hitherto active in the struggle against political Islam, religion, women lack of rights, children’s rights, and a critique of cultural relativism and defence of secularism in Europe, Northern America and in Australia, Japan and Turkey. In all this countries and spheres of international activities, we have pursued a strategy for overthrowing the Islamic Republic of Iran and for a victory of socialism in Iran. Today we have to give preference to a socialist critique of capitalism in our international activities. The political and economic expropriation of the capitalist class in every country has to be carried out by the workers and people of that country itself. As long as the bourgeoisie is organised along the lines of nation states, the headquarters for worker’s struggle has to be as such, too. But in the global left, especially in advanced industrial countries, there is a hole that can be filled faster with thirty years of our experience, struggle and achievements. The objective grounds for the growth of worker-communism in the world have never been this fertile. Let’s roll up our sleeves and welcome a world that is demanding the radical and humane critique that worker-communism has to offer.

The above was translated by Babak Kasrayi.

* Worker’s movement in Iran during the past year
by Shahla Daneshfar

Last year was a high point in the workers’ movement in Iran.

SHALA DANESHFAR: Yes, it was. If I want to stress the most important apects, I would have to say it was a year of unity, a year of organising and a year of huge protests. We saw some events last year that proved the workers’ movement has made some advances. Last year, the Union for Sugar Cane Workers of Haft Tapeh was formed. A nation-wide “Free Union of Iranian Workers” was formed. We witnessed the formation of a General Assembly shared by five factories in Sanandaj city. We saw workers forming their own General Assembly in Kian Tire factory. They chose their representatives and fought the Islamic Council to vacate their offices to make way for the elected representatives of workers. This also took place in Metal Industry No.2 Factory. Another example were the workers of “Chini Kord”. In this factory, workers, on the first day after New Year holidays, gathered at the Kermanshah Labour Department and demonstrated against lay offs. They were told to wait for 10 days and then workers gave an ultimatum, decided to gather, form a General Assembly and chose their own elected representatives to pursue their demands.

When we gather and chose our own represent, make decisions amongst ourselves and form General Assemblies as sources of our own will, this means that we are close to forming workers’ councils. That’s why we have seen huge progress in the labour movement. Workers have declared that labour organising is to be done by workers themselves. They don’t need permission. We heard this from the Sugar Cane Haft Tapeh workers. We also heard it from other workers and we have seen how they are forming their own organisations and how they used it as a model for forming workers; organisations.

Last year was also the year of New Channel TV. It attracted huge audiences and everybody was talking about it. A major segment of this came from progressive, radical and leftist workers who joined our Party and I think this has effected the workers’ movement. I think these are important turning points.

The other thing is workers’ demands. Last year a protest campaign began against low wages. They declared that a humane life is our definite right. We will not accept a wage under the poverty line. We will not cave in. More than fifteen thousand have signed this petition. The Union of Sugar Cane workers of Haft Tapeh and Free Union of Iranian Workers were behind this and numerous workers in other factories mobilised around it. This was, in itself, another important turning point in the labour movement. This led to a movement for pay rises.

In short, last year was a year of huge protests of Kian Tire workers, Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane workers, Metal Industries No.2, Long-distance Communications and Petrochemicals. It was a year of protests in different factories in Qazvin, Sanandaj, Asaloyeh, etc. Eighteen thousand workers in Zob Ahan, Esfahan declared their protests. These protests and this climate of protest continue.

When we look at all these events, we have to remember they are taking place in a political context. The whole society is in turbulence – from universities to streets and everywhere else. The Islamic regime of Iran itself is forced to talk about a social crisis. The coming year will be a year of nation-wide labour strikes. I am very optimistic and I believe this year we will witness even more important events.

What will help these protests advance?

SHALA DANESHFAR: My first appeal to workers is to join New Channel TV and the Worker-communist Party of Iran en masse. NCTV, as the voice of our party and a tool for the party’s access to society, is an opportunity to be used by everybody. Workers can use this channel to broadcast their news and issues. They can use this tool for reaching across the country, and for organisation, for unity. Those who are yet to join the party should contact us and join. I think this is an important political factor. We also have to have NCTV-watching groups and party branches in all factories and everywhere else.

My second point is about the unity of the movement. Workers are forming their own General Assemblies. They are choosing their own representatives. This has to become nationwide. This achievement is to be used everywhere. Workers should start forming their own General Assemblies. They should chose their own representatives and stand organised and united against the regime’s aggressions. Look at the situation. The Islamic Republic, under the pretext of a crisis and bad economic situation, has shamelessly reduced minimum wage. All I am saying is that Islamic Republic is preparing for an aggression next year and we have to counter it with our united ranks. Right now unemployment is a threat for workers in many factories including in Haft Tape Sugar Cane, Ahvaz Pipes and etc. we have to counter this aggression all over Iran.

The third point is about many factories that haven’t paid workers. Protest movements have started in many of them, and many are waiting for the holidays to finish so as to protest. I think workers should gather in all these factories and go on strikes with ultimatums and this way, with a nation-wide protest, they can pursue their struggles more strongly. They also have to join in large numbers the campaign that has started over the issue of pay raise. I am talking about the campaign that has demanded a monthly wage of 1000 dollars in the first instance. Workers have to sign this petition and make it something more than a petition. They have to organise protest meetings around it. I think this way we can prepare ourselves to welcome May Day, International Workers’ Day. We can turn this day into a vast social day for all society. And this is how we can show our unity and solidarity as a huge and glorious show of power in May Day. I believe these are the main areas of our work. Leftist and radical labour activists have to start thinking along these lines, plan what they want to do and welcome the May Day. I call once more on workers to gather around NCTV and around the Party so we can unite around a platform and a strategy and go forward. The situation is critical. But it is also a very fertile situation for us.

Briefly, what do you want to say to Worker’s activist and leaders?

SHALA DANESHFAR: My message is first and foremost for the labour movement’s leftist and radical leaders and activists. This is what they have to do. My brief appeal to them is: “Let’s join hands and march forward with this movement”. I think this is possible and practical. The regime has shown how much it fears us. Let’s turn next year into a year of nation-wide worker’s protests and overthrowing the Islamic Republic.

The above was translated by Babak Kasrayi.

* After the local elections: the state of the Islamists in Turkey
by Metin Sarp

The recent local elections in Turkey on March 29 had a historical significance in the determination of the course of the Islamization of the state and society in Turkey. The Islamist government of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) aimed at getting a higher percentage of votes than it had in 2007 elections in which it received 47% of votes. In this way, the AKP planned to claim legitimacy to accelerate its Islamization policies coupled with aggressive neo-liberal economic policies. However, while still retaining the majority votes, the AKP has received ten points below its previous 47% votes share. Leaving aside strong evidence of electoral fraud in favour of the AKP, this is a very significant decrease given the conditions the elections were carried out in and an important result pointing towards the shattering of illusions about the Islamist AKP and the disempowerment of the AKP by depriving it of one of the most important weapons for a “peaceful” imposition of the Islamist state in Turkey by claiming “democratic legitimacy”. In this context, the secular bourgeois opposition hopes that in the coming general elections in 2011, the AKP will lose the government. However, the AKP rule is diminishing almost all the minimum conditions for free elections in a “parliamentary democracy” by way of which one bourgeois party replaces another for the management of the common affairs of the bourgeoisie. The socio-political situation in Turkey is very severe given the substantial achievements of the Islamists in the Islamization of both the state and the civil society. They are doing and will do whatever they can for the total seizure of power, and they will not leave their power so easily without a serious confrontation. Given the non-existence of a credible secular political alternative for the masses, bourgeois or socialist, the economic, societal, and political conditions that led to the erosion of the voting constituency of the Islamist AKP are at the same the favourable conditions for the establishment of the Islamo-fascist state in Turkey. Even a bloody civil war and Iraqization of Turkey is a possibility. A snapshot of six and a half years of the Islamist AKP rule and the socio-political and economic context will reveal the severity of the political situation in Turkey.

The Islamist AKP rule follows a very aggressive policy of partisanship. Especially after the Islamist Abdullah Gül took over the presidency, the Islamists have swiftly dominated every state institution. And securing a position as state employee is increasingly becoming dependent on following Islamic rules. The educational system is a special target for the AKP, as it is one of the pillars of secularism in Turkey. Advances in the Islamization of the educational curriculum and in the Islamization of administrations of schools and universities are noteworthy. Recent events of censorship, which stirred up worldwide protest of science organisations, of publishing a special “Darwin” issue of the Bilim ve Teknik journal (Science and Techniques) which is so far responsible for the popularization of free scientific thinking shows the extent of the Islamists’ reach. Conquering the judiciary, especially the high courts, is one of the most crucial targets of the Islamists. AKP’s attempt to abolish the Islamic veiling ban in the universities was prevented by the Constitutional Court. Moreover, after hearing the closure case of the AKP in the July 2007, the Constitutional Court ruled that the AKP is the focus of the anti-secular, Sharia activities but due to an immense international and national political pressure of bourgeoisie, it did not dissolve the AKP. In the face of these judicial decisions, the AKP leaders said that they did not accept the legitimacy of court decisions. Prime Minister Erdogan went so far as to say that they would shut down the Constitutional Court. A judicial reform that will completely subjugate the judiciary including the high courts to the AKP is one of the immediate goals of the AKP rule in order to remove obstacles in the course of Islamization.

However, with the help of AKP dominated state offices, conquering institutions of civil society and the Islamic domination of civil society through Islamic religious communities, Islamists become more effective and pervasive in Islamization. Especially the Fethullah Gülen community, as the dominant economic and political Islamic community, which is also a global Islamic force operating as a close ally of the US, is decisive in this realm. Their main method of domination is intimidation. Especially in the central and eastern Anatolian cities of Turkey, this community has dominated business life. Business people are enforced to obey Islamic rules; otherwise, they are excluded from the business life. People are forced to vote for the Islamist AKP. Their domination goes to the extent that Islamic veiling is imposed on women. Conquering the governing bodies of trade unions, bar associations, business organizations, medical associations, etc. is their immediate aims and to some extent they have become successful.

Islamists also follow, not surprisingly, a policy of suppressing any opposition to their rule. They use Cold War rhetoric and methods. Any defence of principles of secularism and human rights is deemed as being fascist. Political intimidation has become the norm. Even the limited freedom of expression is de facto suspended. Illegal and legal phone tapping by police intelligence service that is dominated by the Islamists authorized to listen practically to the entire country has become a very serious tool of suppressing the political opposition. “Ergenekon terror organization investigation”, supposedly about the trial of an illegal network of militarist-fascist organisation, has turned to be about the suppression of secular, nationalist and progressive left opposition. “Ergenekonist” became a catchword of the Islamists and the pro-AKP so-called liberals for the suppression of any kind of mass organisation opposing the Islamists’ rule and defending their rights. A very recent example of this is the condemnation of the resistance of leather workers against the DESA leather manufacturing that laid-off these workers because of their unionization attempts in the leather workers’ union Türkiye Deri-İş in the Islamist press. The Islamist press recently presented these workers’ struggles as a tactic of so-called “Ergenekon terror organization” in order to create chaos in Turkey. This anti-labour stance of Islamists is not a contingent factor of their policy and almost seven years of the AKP rule proved this. Actually this is what brought the AKP into the government, made their rule so lasting and tolerable for the bourgeoisie in Turkey.

The AKP rule has aggressively pursued a policy of neo-liberalism that a polarisation between extreme poverty and extreme accumulation of wealth is the necessary result. Capitalist development within the context of the global economic crisis aggravated the plight of the working people in Turkey. The rate of unemployment in Turkey has reached the historical records. Wages are extremely low and millions of people are forced to work for less than half of the minimum wage. A very high percent of the economic sector is informal, that is, millions of labourers work uninsured and non-unionised. Child and women labour are very pervasive in these informal highly labour-intensive sectors whose working conditions are extremely anti-human. Massive de-unionisation is continuing apace. Organised workers are special targets for lay-offs. Any attempt to unionisation is met with lay-offs. And the Islamist AKP rule did nothing to better the conditions of working people. On the contrary, Islamists use the plight of working people as an opportunity to subjugate society to further Islamization. Given the aforementioned economic conditions, the state-backed Islamist charity organisations gained the upper hand. People have been made dependent on the Islamists for their minimum livelihoods. In this context, the Islamist rule has been supported by the bourgeoisie for silencing workers via religion in order to sustain their capital accumulation maintained by the extremely cheap labour-power.

However, the local election results indicate signs of the failure of the AKP’s mission. Despite all the threats of the AKP cadres and the Islamist communities, despite all the illegal use of state resources for getting support of the impoverished people, despite all the attempts to suppress the opposition and intimidate the people, the inability of coping with the economic crisis, extreme corruption, its terrorist response against any criticism and opposition, aggressive Islamist partisanship, its extreme anti-labour stance and anti-secularism is reflected in the electoral retreat of the AKP. Yet, the strong entrenchment of the Islamists in civil society and in the state means that the Islamization process cannot be undone so easily. And in the conditions of such a deep economic crisis of capital and extreme impoverishment, deprivation and desperation of the working people, even if the AKP will lose the government in the future, an Islamist takeover of the state and dictatorial imposition of Islam on the society is an actual possibility. Within the permissible framework provided by the Islamist AKP rule, Islamist political groupings from the terrorist Al-Qaeda to the Hezbollah have gained a remarkable presence in the society, which could start the unfolding of the “Dark Scenario” in Turkey.

All of these demand the urgent formation of the Worker-communist Party in Turkey. Only an uncompromising struggle for the equality and freedom can provide the unity of the whole working class and the majority of society against the Islamists (and other bourgeois parties) representing capitalist barbarism that is the fundamental reason of the inhuman conditions. Only a radical secularist and communist programme can be a real political alternative against anti-labour, anti-human Islamists and can throw them into the dustbin of the history by abolishing their conditions of existence, i.e. capitalism, and establishing a socialist republic through a communist revolution. Worker-communism has a great opportunity to answer the real demands and desires of working class, youth, women and human beings in general in Turkey. For a decent humane free life, the banner of “civilized humanity” must be raised in Turkey.

* Snapshot of WPI activities in March/April 2009
by Siyaves Azeri

On March 6, 2009 members and activists of the Worker-communist Party of Iran’s Canada West Organisation organised a protest with other freedom loving people against the presence of the representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Vancouver, British Colombia. The Islamic regime had kept Ahmadinejad’s deputy Esfandiar Rahim Mashai’s visit secret but WPI activists received the information about the place and time of the gathering a few hours before the meeting took place. Despite this, many WPI members and others joined the protest. At the end of the protest, representatives from the Worker-communist Party of Iran, and others conveyed their criticisms to the hotel management for providing the Islamic regime the place and the opportunity to hold this meeting.

On March 8, 2009 the Islamic regime organised a gathering in Toronto under the pretext of celebrating the Iranian New Year. WPI’s Canada East organisation organised a protest against the gathering. Tens of WPI members and others joined the protest. Protesters chanted slogans against the Islamic regime and held banners condemning the Islamic Republic and its policies against women, workers and people in Iran. A number of WPI members entered the gathering and protested as the ambassador of the Islamic regime entered the hall.

On March 17, 2009 the WPI’s Sweden Organisation along with other opposition organisations organised a protest against the presence of representatives of the Islamic regime in Malmo, Sweden. Protesters chanted anti-regime slogans such as “Down with the Islamic Republic!” Police forces surrounded the place of the gathering in order to prevent people from terminating the gathering of the Islamic regime. The protest continued the whole day. At the end of the protests the participants published a declaration that was read from the tribune. They declared that they would continue their struggles and actively support the fight of the people in Iran against the Islamic Republic.

On April 4, 2009, the WPI issued a press release against the bill passed in Afghanistan for Shi’a women, which legalised marital rape. According to the WPI press release, ‘The existing Afghan government is nothing but “moderate Taliban;” in other words, it is nothing other than the benign, pro-Western political Islam. This recent law, after all, is the product of the conditions, which were formed by these forces. This is just a glimpse of the horrendous nightmare that has been going on in Afghanistan, especially against women. The Worker-communist Party of Iran expresses its deep detestation against this bill and strongly condemns the Islamic government of Afghanistan and its supporters. This law must be immediately abolished. WPI supports the struggles of women and all progressive organisations in Afghanistan and the efforts of all who fight to end this disgraceful slavery of women and who struggle to establish freedom and equality in this country.’
In early April, the WPI highlighted the cases of Delara Darabi and Shahla Jahed on death row in Iran via several live programmes on New Channel TV. The TV programmes have had widespread and strong support in Iran and abroad. Hundreds of people contacted the TV from Iran during these live programmes and expressed their support for the campaign to save the lives of Delara and Shahla. The campaign has been influential to the extent that the authorities of the Islamic regime have suspended the executions once more. WPI has called on all human rights organisations and activists worldwide to step up their campaign in defence of the lives of Delara and Shahla and to advance the international struggle to abolish the death penalty.
On April 20, 2009, members and activists of WPI and others organised a rally against the presence of Ahmadinejad in the Durban II Conference. The WPI stated that Ahmadinejad is the president of a fascist, sexist, and racist state that is responsible for the systematic discrimination against women, sexual apartheid, discrimination against Afghan refugees and deprivation of their rights, and political genocide through executing more than one hundred thousand people. Therefore, he should not be provided with a platform in a conference that claims to fight racism. On April 20, when Ahmadinejad entered the conference room hundreds of people outside the conference hall were chanting slogans against the Islamic regime and its president. Protesters chanted, “Ahmadinejd is Racist,” “Islamic Regime is a Regime of Criminals,” “Ahmadinejad should be Arrested and be Put on Trial.” At 1.30 pm protesters started a rally. After they returned to the place of the conference Mina Ahadi form the political bureau of WPI and others delivered speeches. In her speech, Ahadi said, “we have gathered here to have our protests heard by the UN and Western governments. One of the aims of the UN in this conference is to ban criticising religions, especially Islam and the political Islamic movement. Any libertarian person condemns such an attempt. Ahmadinejad’s presence in this conference is a fiasco for the conference. Ahmadinejad is the president of a misogynist, fascist state that has been discriminating against women, atheists, and all the people in Iran. He is the president of a government of sexual apartheid. The Islamic Republic is a fascist regime that should be isolated and expelled from all international councils. He and his regime are not the representatives of the people in Iran. They are criminals that should be arrested and be put on trial of crimes against humanity.”

The protest in Geneva represented the struggle of the people in Iran against the barbaric Islamic regime. It marked another great victory of WPI, which stands against the Islamic Republic regime in every front and strongly represents the people in Iran who started the countdown to topple the Islamic regime.

Delara Darabi scheduled to be executed in 4 days; stop it now

According to Iran’s state run daily newspaper Etemaad, the young artist Delara Darabi who has spent the last 5 years in Rasht prison in Iran wrongly accused of the murder of a relative, is scheduled to be executed in four days . It was reported that her lawyer Abdolsamad Khoramshahi had been given official notice of her execution date.

Write letters of protest demanding a new trial whereby Khoramshahi will be able to present the new evidence he has obtained which would prove her innocence.

Send a fax to Head of Judiciary, Ayatollah Shahroudi at 0098213904986

For more information, visit Stop Child Executions.

URGENT: Delara is at risk of execution in Iran

Delara Darabi, the young artist who has been in Rasht prison for the last 5 years in Iran, is at great risk of execution at any moment. A few days ago, she was told by prison authorities to prepare herself as she would be executed any day. Her lawyer, Abdolsamad Khoramshahi, is convinced that if she were to be given a new trial whereby they could re-enact the scene of the crime, it would be easily proven that Delara is innocent of the alleged murder she was convicted of. Khoramshahi has said many times that he has new evidence including the crime being committed by a right handed person whereas Delara is left-handed.

In 2007, Stop Child Executions produced a 10 minute documentary about Delara which can be viewed here.

For more information on Delara Darabi, click here.

Please send your urgent action by phoning or faxing the Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations:

Mohammad Khazaee, Ambassador and Permanent Representative
622 Third Ave. New York, NY 10017Tel: (212) 687-2020 / Fax: (212) 867-7086
E-mail: iran@un.int

And writing to the Head of Judiciary in Iran
Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi
Howzeh Riyasat-e Qoveh Qazaiyeh / Office of the Head of the Judiciary
Pasteur St., Vali Asr Ave., south of Serah-e Jomhouri
Tehran 1316814737
Iran
Phone: [00 98 21] 391 1109Fax: [00 98 21] 390 4986
Email: Shahroudi@Dadgostary-tehran.ir

One Law for All needs your support

One Law for All Campaign against Sharia Law in Britain was established on December 10, 2008 – International Human Rights Day – in order to mobilise opposition to Sharia and all religious based tribunals and defend universal and citizenship rights.

12,000 signatures and a successful March rally and meeting

In the short time it has been established, we’ve gathered over 12,000 signatories to our petition calling for a ban on religious tribunals and organised a successful demonstration and public meeting to mark International Women’s Day in March in London.

A free legal and informational helpline

We have also set up a free legal and informational helpline for those who have been denied their rights by Sharia councils and all religious tribunals. Trained volunteers will provide callers with information and referrals to pro bono lawyers. The helpline is being managed by our Legal Coordinator, Yassi Molazadeh. You can contact her at ymolazadeh@hotmail.com if you would like to volunteer to staff our helpline or provide pro bono legal advice. The number of the Advice Helpline is 0800 228 9897; lines will be open daily from 9am to 10pm.

A speaking tour in Canada and elsewhere

Moreover, we have spoken at an international conference on secularism in Paris, France and completed a speaking tour across Canada.

During the last two weeks of March, Spokesperson Maryam Namazie and Outreach Coordinator Goranka Gudelj travelled to Toronto, Vancouver and Victoria and spoke with hundreds of people to network and broaden support for the One Law for All Campaign. The visit was significant because of the success of a similar campaign against Sharia law in Ontario province in Canada, which Maryam was also involved in. Her visit was covered by Canadian media, including: http://www.nationalpost.com/opinion/story.html?id=1379415

Whilst in Toronto, Maryam participated in a panel discussion with Tarek Fatah (Founder of Muslim Canadian Congress and Author of “Chasing a Mirage”: The Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State”, Justin Trottier (Executive Director of Center for Inquiry, Ontario) and Issam Shukri (Head of the Organization for the Defence of Secularism and Civil Rights in Iraq), and spoke at an event sponsored by the Centre for Inquiry. She also spoke at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver and the University of Victoria and at a fundraising dinner with Victoria’s atheist, secularist and humanist group. To see footage of the panel discussion and speeches in Canada, see: http://www.onelawforall.org.uk/video.html

Maryam and Goranka also met with a number of personalities involved in the Campaign against Sharia Courts in Canada, including Farzana Hassan and Hassan Mahmoud of the Muslim Canadian Congress. Farzana Hassan has agreed to act as a Canadian spokesperson for the One Law for All Campaign against Sharia Law in Britain.

Mobilising support for November 20 mass rally

In the coming months we plan to go across the country to raise opposition to Sharia and religious tribunals and mobilise support for our next big mass rally in London on November 20, Universal Children’s Day. To find out where we will be next, see: http://www.onelawforall.org.uk/events.html. And if you want to organise a public meeting in your area, please feel free to contact Outreach Coordinator Goranka Gudelj at olfa_enquiries@yahoo.co.uk to arrange it.

Raising funds

We urgently need money to do all that still needs to be done to get rid of Sharia and religious tribunals in Britain. Every bit helps so please do take the time to send us a cheque made payable to One Law for All or by donating via our paypal account by visiting http://www.onelawforall.org.uk/donate.html

For more information, visit www.onelawforall.org.uk or contact:
BM Box 2387
London WC1N 3XX, UK
Tel: +44 (0) 7719166731
onelawforall@gmail.com

Thanks again for your support.

It can and will make a difference!

IDENTITY THEFT (or FRAUD)

It has been brought to our attention that fraudulent transactions of £1 are being processed through the Worldpay account of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain for the One Law for All Campaign against Sharia Law in Britain. If you have had £1 debited from your account you should immediately contact your bank and inform them of this; it is advisable to cancel your card. Apparently fraudsters use this approach, generally through charities, to test if a stolen card’s details can be used. We are working with Worldpay and our bank to reject any such transactions. Please note that this has nothing to do with our organisation.

Some of my upcoming speaking engagements

April 4-5, 2009
International Conference on Secularism, Paris, France
“Bourse du Travail” of Saint-Denis (93200)
9-11, street Génin – (Enter by street Bobby Sands)
Maryam Namazie will be speaking on a panel on the centrality of the struggle for women’s rights from 16h 30 to 18h 30 on April 4. For more information: www.laicity.info

17 April 2009, 7.30pm, Conway Hall, London, UK
Islam, Human Rights and Homophobia – A talk by Maryam Namazie sponsored by the Gay And Lesbian Humanist Association. For more information: www.galha.org

20 or 21 April 2009, 7:00-9:00pm, Conway Hall, London, UK (to be announced shortly)
The future for Britian Shariah Law or Secular Law?
Maryam Namazie will be debating Sharia law judge, Anjem Choudary in a programme organised by the Global Issues Society.

21 June 2009, 7.30pm – 9.30 pm, Essex, UK
The Friends Meeting House, 82, Rainsford Road, Chelmsford, CM1 2QL.
Maryam Namazie will talk to the Essex Humanists about Sharia Law and women’s rights.