You can see a letter to DNA magazine about their excluding my quotes from their piece on the situation of gays in Iran by a reader of my blog, Martyn, and the response by the magazine below.
Before you read it though I must say that I find it appalling that DNA magazine chooses to effectively blame myself and other rights activists that are opposed to the Islamic regime of Iran for what the regime does and for accusing us of in a way of disregarding the safety of activists on the ground because we question the regime that carries out heinous atrocities against gay people and others.
According to their logic (or lack thereof) no one could have called for an end to slavery (as it would put slaves at risk) or apartheid in South Africa (as it would put blacks at risk)…
I believe this line of thought and [in]action must be a great relief to oppressors everywhere. Luckily it is not a line taken by most activists inside or outside Iran.
What DNA magazine forgets is that I too am an activist like the nameless ‘others.’ We have differing positions on how to defend gay rights in Iran. DNA magazine, however, has made the choice to side with those who prefer to remain silent about the regime. Whilst it must makes DNA magazine feel better about themselves for feigning concern for activists on the ground, we mustn’t forget that this is a political choice that’s been made by those particular mostly nameless activists and DNA magazine.
To me the issue is clear.
DNA magazine has used the matter of safety as a ploy to avoid a more fundamental political question and to effectively shield the regime from the blows it well deserves.
And as an aside, I am not sure what living in Sydney has to do with it or why DNA must ask about Martyn’s involvement with Iran. As far as I recall, none of the other activists quoted in the piece were living in Iran either. Plus according again this logic, I am not sure how anyone can be opposed to the war on Iraq or rape in Congo since they don’t live there and may not be as ‘involved’ as DNA magazine would like them to be. Please take note: this is yet another ploy from this political viewpoint that is often used to prevent good old solidarity with people because you don’t happen to live there or aren’t as involved as the ‘rights activists’ that prefer you to remain silent.
Anyway, enough said. Here is Martyn’s letter:
Dear Nick Cook,
I feel this has been a wrong move, and as fan of your magazine, I felt compelled to write to you.
I can appreciate your concerns about not wanting to make the situation worse for those persecuted in Iran, but women and homosexuals are always the first victims of fundamentalism and there is no hiding from it.
Maryam notes that we don’t know when good old-fashioned international solidarity ever became unhelpful.
I don’t know when it ever became unhelpful either.
Solidarity amongst ordinary people – wherever we may reside – is the most powerful weapon we’ll ever have when facing such totalitarian movements and by removing her piece from your magazine, you are doing the people of Iran a huge disservice. You also do your readership a disservice by not publishing material that is important to us.
Gay people are being murdered systematically in places such as Iran and therefore it is vital the international gay community are aware of it. It needs to be written about, read about, discussed and challenged. This can only happen by allowing activists such as Maryam Namazie the voice your publication has denied.
I hope you reconsider your decision and that the piece in question finds a place in a future feature.
Here is Nick Cook’s response from DNA magazine
Thank you very much for your email. This is a difficult issue, one we have wrestled with in the office, and we appreciate your input.
I’m curious to know, what is your exact involvement with Iran and the various groups involved?
As I’ve told Maryam, we removed her quotes because several of the other activists, who I respect immensely, convinced us that included her quotes in the story would put gay people on the ground at greater risk. I live in Sydney and cannot possibly judge the truth of that, so we erred on the side of caution and took their word for it. Our highest responsibility is to do nothing that will put anybody at risk of harm.
We do intend to give Maryam a chance to voice her thoughts and feelings in a future issue, where those who do not want to be quoted alongside her can simply not say anything.