Genuine solidarity

Anne Mc Shane reports on the successful launch of Hands Off the People of Iran in Ireland

The launch of the Hands off the People of Iran campaign in Ireland last week was an important success. It showed the potential of Hopi to draw others in and give real solidarity to left and progressive forces in Iran.

Yassamine Mather spoke at all three meetings - in Cork, Dublin and Belfast. She put forward forceful arguments against many misconceptions. She explained the political realities in Iran and the struggles that are ongoing against the theocratic regime.

In particular she argued against the idea that the development of nuclear power by the Iranian state was the impetus behind any US intervention. The true reason is that the Iranian state is far too influential in Iraq - where the government is also shia - for the liking of the Bush administration. We should look to the politics of Iraq and the Middle East to inform us as to the motives behind the cranking up of tensions against Iran.

On the Iranian side, the theocratic state is using the present crisis to crack down on dissent below. But despite repression, arrests and many dangers, struggles erupt again and again throughout Iran. The student and workers' movements are particularly progressive and leftwing - against the regime, but also against imperialist aggression. The women's movement is vast and has a long history, but is far more divided.

These movements are using the internet in order to organise themselves and debate with each other. They also want to speak to those outside Iran who are in solidarity with them. Technological advances now allow us to take this opportunity to set up links with them and begin to exchange ideas and work together.

The discussion at the launch meetings touched upon important areas of contention. In particular 'For a nuclear-free east in a nuclear-free world' brought out differences. Some thought it was essential that it be included, while others thought that all states should have the right to have nuclear weapons. Also it can make it appear as though nuclear weapons are the issue in Iran, rather than US supremacy. It was agreed that this is a question that needs more debate within the campaign.

The question of taking sides if a war breaks out was also debated. Yassamine agreed that the US is the greater enemy. However, there is no reason to believe that the Iranian regime will stand firm in the event of attack. It will most likely splinter into pro- and anti-US forces. Our role is to support independent progressive forces, not choose between opposing enemies.

Des Derwin, vice-president of Dublin Trades Council, joined Yassamine as a speaker at the meeting in the capital. He said he was glad to be associated with the campaign and offered the support of the trades council. He also suggested that we put forward resolutions to union branches and organise meetings during the forthcoming conference season.

Residents Against Racism, an organisation that has been active in defending migrants, raised the need to give support to Iranian political refugees. The Irish government currently collaborates with Tehran in making enquiries about asylum-seekers - greatly endangering their lives. It is also refusing more and more applications for political asylum. It was agreed that the campaign should build links and defend Iranian migrants and refugees in Ireland.

Other suggestions for work were linking students, busworkers and teachers with their comrades on strike in Iran. People raised the need for more information and for contact to be made between the campaign and those in struggle in Iran. A teach-in was also proposed and we will look at the possibility of having one in Dublin.

To get involved with Hopi in Ireland, email Anne@hopoi.info; or call 08623 43238 (+353 8623 43238).