No to imperialist threats

Yassamine Mather reports on the latest developments in Iran and calls for international solidarity

Over the last week, the threat of an air attack on Iran has continued to be highlighted, while the US increased pressure on European and Asian banks and companies to follow its lead in imposing further sanctions. Yet in the midst of all this, requests from a Republican congressman to delay $900 million in loans to the islamic republic of Iran were rejected.

Meanwhile, inside Iran the issue of the country's nuclear development has heightened contradictions between the various factions of the islamic regime: "In a rare attack on Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a hard-line newspaper has accused him of behaving immorally towards his political rivals." The daily, close to Iran's supreme leader, ayatollah Khamenei, said on November 21: "Mr Ahmadinejad's behaviour is dangerous for Iran", adding that "the president's treatment of his critics was immoral, illogical and illegal". The paper called on Iran's judiciary to perform its duty and punish people who "make baseless allegations and cause public anxiety".

On November 27 the supreme leader intervened directly to secure the release of former Iranian nuclear negotiator Hossein Mousavian, who was held in prison accused of giving classified information to the British embassy. Ahmadinejad had dubbed Mousavian a "spy" and "traitor". However, in what marks a second setback for the president's nuclear policies, an islamic court has now acquitted Moussavian of spying charges.

Some political activists inside Iran have identified ayatollah Khamenei's direct interventions against Ahmadinejad as the beginning of the end for the Iranian president. Whatever the consequences of the current stage of conflict within the regime, the events of the last week prove once more the unrivalled power of the supreme clerical leader who can at all times overrule factions within the country's single political party, overrule presidents and overrule parliament ... maybe Iran is not the democracy we are led to believe by some apologists for the regime.

Of course, ordinary people in Iran are already paying the price for the policies of the warmongers in the United States and European Union. There are reports of new shortages every day and many workers fear that sanctions imposed on two major national banks - Bank Melli and Bank Saderat - will disrupt payment of their salaries (most major firms in Iran use these two banks to pay wages), not least if they collapse as a result of sanctions.

Throughout Iran protests are planned to commemorate Student Day on December 4. The organisers have made it clear they will use the occasion to express their opposition both to "foreign intervention" and "internal despotism". Their slogans will be: "Hands Off the People of Iran", "No to war - the university is not an army garrison" and "We condemn foreign intervention and internal despotism".

It appears that students in Iran are not "confused" by slogans which oppose both imperialist war and the theocratic regime, as pro-Tehran apologists allege would be the case with workers and students in Britain. Unlike some supporters of the Socialist Workers Party, they do not think that raising the whole issue of the regime's dictatorship, or exposing the islamic government's neoliberal economic policies, will aid the US in its plans to attack Iran. Nor do they think that, in view of the current threats of military intervention, they should cancel their annual Student Day demonstrations.

Many workers have sent messages of solidarity to these leftwing students. They are refusing to be silenced despite the fact that many militants are currently facing jail sentences for organising workers against privatisation and the regime's neoliberal economic policies.

This is how the groups involved in organising the 'week of action in support of Iran's Labour Movement' put it in their mobilising leaflet: "The recent extended wave of oppression against well known activists of the workers' and other movements is not a new development, but routine practice for the islamic regime. However, those in the firing line are most definitely exhibiting new characteristics.

What we are seeing is a very real radicalisation and development of class-based protests, whose actions are located within the specific socio-economic context of both the internal and international situation. Under these conditions the regime itself is threatened, as social and economic crises follow one after the other. It is a proven fact that the promises of the capitalist regime of Iran are false and that this regime has brought nothing but the continuous oppression of working people. This regime has caused ever-increasing poverty and misery for working class.

But now, on top of this, the economic sanctions and threat of military action coming from the warmongering, US-led coalition pose an additional deadly threat to the people of Iran, especially the poor and the deprived masses. These threats have been used by the regime to further suppress the workers' movement and all social struggles. The theocracy is attempting to turn this situation to its own advantage. It claims that the imperialists lie behind all protests inside Iran, and depict the protesters as direct agents of "foreigners". In this climate, accusations of "acting against national security" can be made against every opponent of the regime, leading to the detention of hundreds of activists.

The capitalist regime of the islamic republic combines its propaganda campaign of intimidation with arrests and imprisonment in its attempt to crush collective struggles waged by independent organisations of workers, women, students, teachers, writers and oppressed ethnic communities. The regime is determined to hold back the development of such grassroots organisations and instil within the Iranian people a feeling of hopelessness.

Given such a context, we, the activists of the Iranian workers' movement abroad, are determined not only to expose the inhuman and reactionary nature of the islamic republic of Iran, but also to strongly condemn and oppose with every ounce of our strength any war, military adventure or further economic sanctions on the part of imperialism, which would have catastrophic consequences for the workers and the disadvantaged people of Iran.

We reject with contempt the hypocritical claims made by the imperialists that they support the actions of the Iranian progressive and labour movements. We will continue to strive to expose their true intentions - not only against the regime, but, more importantly, against the Iranian people.

We condemn the assassination of Majid Hamidi. We condemn the arrest of the labour activists of the Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Company and all charges against them, as well as the arrests of Sanandaj workers and all other incarcerated students, women, teachers, writers and ethnic minorities. We demand the immediate, unconditional release of Mahmoud Salehi, Mansour Osanloo, Ebrahim Madadi and the sugar workers. We demand the annulment of all jailings and lash sentences against workers in Kurdistan and an end to the harassment and legal persecution of worker activists. We call for equal rights for all migrant workers in Iran, including workers from Afghanistan. We believe refugee workers should be legally accepted in all countries.

We believe that solidarity with the imprisoned workers and the struggle to free all political prisoners who are jailed because they have been striving for workers' liberation is an ongoing responsibility of all genuine defenders of progressive social movements in every country."

We encourage all labour, socialist and trade union activists and organisations to participate actively in such solidarity as the November 24-30 Week of Action in Support of Workers in Iran, which is backed by Hands Off the People of Iran. Hopi organised various actions and activities, including information desks to get our message across, in a number of countries to coincide with the Week of Action.