Sunday, August 15, 2010

Iranian regime is not "anti-imperialist", it is is anti-working class and anti-humanity


AN Iranian woman appeared on TV last week and confessed to having conspired with an in-law to murder her husband. Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, who was originally sentenced to be stoned to death for adultery, having been lashed 99 times to confess that, could now be hanged for the 2005 murder.
Sakineh, a 43 year old mother of two, who has been held on death row in Tabriz since 2006, also criticised her lawyer Mohammed Mostafaie for "interfering" with her case. "Why has he taken my case to the TV? Why has he disgraced me?"

Mr Mostafaie has fled Iran and is now seeking asylum in Norway.
Another of Ms Ashtiani's lawyers has said that she was tortured for two days in prison to force her to make her televised confession on Wednesday.

The TV confession came after an international outcry over the stoning threat. It may have been intended as reassuring the regime's conservative supporters, answering critics, and defying foreign governments. Following up President Obama's calling for stepped up sanctions over Iran's nuclear programme, and expressions of concern for three Americans held in Iran, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton expressed fears for Sekina Ashtiani and also for an 18-year old Iranian facing a possible death sentence for homosexuality.

But Brazil, too, which is friendlier to Iran, had offered to give asylum to Sekina, only to be rebutted by the Iranian authorities.

Many people in Iran, including not least Sakineh's son and daughter, were horrified by what they saw on TV and the renewed death threat, and international human rights and women's organisations raised further protests. Amnesty International condemned the "so-called" confession and said the independence of Iran's judiciary was "tattered" by the broadcast. "This makes a complete mockery of the judiciary system in Iran," said Drewery Dyke of Amnesty's Iran team. "Iran is inventing crimes ... it is an unacceptable practice that flies in the face of justice."

What kind of regime retains such archaic laws and punishments as stoning to death for "adultery", subjects men and women to lashings, and executes young people for homosexuality? The Iranian regime is not unique in being reactionary and repressive, but while eager to embrace modern technology it is outstandingly barbaric. Having ridden to power on the backs of the revolution which overthrew the Shah, it poses as anti-imperialist and employs words like "revolutionary", but uses social backwardness and religious fanaticism to sustain its power and suppress the forces of progress, women, students and most important, the workers.

There were reports last month that Tehran busworkers' leader Mansour Osanloo was about to be released from prison. But instead, he was convicted of new crimes last week and as a result was once sentenced to an additional year in jail, all in the absence of his lawyers. This additional year in prison will begin once his current prison term ends in one year.

According to reports from Jaras, Mansour head of The Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company, was sentenced last week in branch 1 of the Revolutionary Court in the city of Karaj.

During his sentencing, Brother Osanloo was deprived of the presence of a lawyer and his lawyers were not even aware that he had been taken to court. Osanloo has suffered a number of ailments while in prison, including a heart condition,severe back pain and an eye condition. Under the existing laws, court appointed doctors have voted three times to release him from prison.

Additionally a report written by a medical commission consisting of five doctors who had examined Osanloo for several hours concluded that he should be freed based on his deteriorating medical condition.

The busworkers' leader has been incarcerated repeatedly over the past ten years. He was attacked in prison by a former policeman held on murder charges and believed to be acting as an informer.

Before the news came of his fresh conviction Mansour's wife had said: “They are seeking to build a new case based on false testimony from other prisoners, for example, to take testimony from witnesses who claim that Osanloo was creating problems in jail; this when Mr. Osanloo is a law abiding citizen. I know my husband well and I am certain that he is not interested in creating problems. I am sure that his behaviour in prison is no different. Unfortunately they are determined to build a case against him in order to keep him in prison for a longer period of time.”

Whatever the apparent tensions and conflict between Iran and the Western powers, which it suits the Ahmadinejad regime to maintain, the real struggle is between the regime and ordinary Iranians who want their democratic rights and a better life. The threat of war enables the regime to appeal to patriotic unity and crush dissent. The sanctions which America and its allies have hypocritically imposed - while supporting a nuclear-armed Israel and its occupation in Palestine - have actually weakened the Iranian opposition and strengthened Ahmedinejad's regime.

These articles bear out what the campaign Hands off the People of Iran (HOPI) has been saying for some time. HOPI is for the defence of the Iranian people against imperialism and supports their struggle for their rights against the Islamicist regime. It has links with Iranian workers and socialists, abroad and within Iran.

Any confusion such as we have heard in parts of the anti-war movement and the Left, upholding the Iranian regime's supposed "anti-imperialist" credentials, received an answer this weekend from an interesting direction. Writing in the Morning Star, John Haylett says that notwithstanding its relations with other governments and movements standing up to US bullying, Ahmadinejad's regime is not anti-imperialist

Referring to the big democracy struggles which broke last year on to Iranian streets, he concludes:

"Solidarity cannot be withheld by trade unionists and other progressives in Britain simply because US imperialism opportunistically criticises Iran for practices it excuses or ignores in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere.

Nor should revulsion against the vile punishments and repression visited on Iranians be misused to justify imperialist intervention, as the B52 liberals did with regard to Iraq.

As Tudeh Party of Iran general secretary Ali Khavari, the leader of the country's banned communists, makes clear, "Regime change from outside, such as occurred in Iraq, is neither possible nor acceptable by any means in Iran. Any foreign force that attempts such a dangerous provocation will burn its fingers, set the whole region on fire and seriously endanger world peace."

John Haylett is a long-standing Morning Star journalist and its political editor. He is an executive member of the Communist Party of Britain. Whatever our historic and present differences, I would find it hard to disagree with what he says here. I see no reason to.

Andrew Murray, chair of the Stop the War Coalition since its inception, is a former Morning Star journalist and also a member of the Communist Party of Britain executive. Does he disagree with John Haylett's position?

If not, and he agrees both with opposition to war on Iran and support for its working people's struggles, how can he justify his stubborn, adamant opposition to HOPI's request to affiliate with the Stop the War Coalition? At one time Murray claimed without a shred of evidence that HOPI was against everything that the Coalition stood for. More recently, when he had the opportunity to change this stance in the light of what we'd seen in Iran, he chose instead to triumphantly brandish a remark by one individual - not a HOPI statement or even made in a HOPI meeting - as 'proof' that HOPI was somehow out to infiltrate the Stop the War Coalition with hostile intent.

Why it should do so by asking for discussions, after openly applying for affiliation, when members could simply join the Coalition if we were not already members, who knows?

But the more important question most people will ask is, how does such bureaucratic exclusion of a group with whose stand you can't reasonably disagree, help the credibility of the Stop the War Coalition? Are there issues here that the Stop the War leadership would sooner not discuss? Or are we dealing with petty, trivial considerations, compared to the need to strengthen the anti-war movement and give solidarity to those struggling against inhumanity in Iran?

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