Imperialist pose

Chris Strafford reports a Hopi success in Manchester

Hands Off the People of Iran held a successful meeting in Manchester on June 24, titled ‘Can imperialism liberate women?’ The meeting discussed how imperialism cynically claims to support the rights of women and others to legitimate its own actions, including its military adventures.

The meeting was opened by Ruth Bergan from the Greens, who reasserted her party’s support for Hopi and spoke about the growing military threat to Iran and its use by the theocracy to attack the social movements. The driving force was not concern for democratic rights, but the pursuit of the west’s economic and political interests, she said. She spoke about the need for change in Iran to come from the Iranian people without the interference of the western powers, and slammed Britain’s hypocrisy in regard to nuclear energy and nuclear weapons.

Tina Purcell of Permanent Revolution condemned those sections of the left that are so appalled by islamist reaction they have fallen in behind imperialism. But that should not lead us to take the opposite approach and act as apologists for Tehran. Comrade Purcell went on to describe how women’s rights have been used to justify colonialism - yet at home everything has been done to stand in the way of women’s liberation.

She also talked about the role of a section of the feminist movement in the USA which has backed imperialist plans to ‘bring freedom’ to the women of the world. But comrade Purcell pointed out that the women of the Middle East can clearly see what kind of ‘liberation’ imperialism has to offer when they look at Iraq and Afghanistan.

The final speaker was Hopi secretary Yassamine Mather, of Workers Left Unity Iran. Comrade Mather discussed at length the effect of sanctions and the increasing inflation within Iran, particularly their effect on the working class. She explained the intricacies of and contradictions within the Iranian women’s movement and how these are being played out in the ‘one million signatures’ campaign. Comrade Mather gave an account of the new generation of women, who are far more radical, and how they have linked up with the students’ movement.

She dismissed claims that the islamic republic has some kind of pro-women agenda - it is the strength of the women’s movement itself which has enabled women to make gains, which are constantly under attack by the regime. Comrade Mather described gender segregation within Iran. Sexual apartheid was a class issue, she said, as the upper echelons of Iranian society can buy their way into private institutions and buy their way out of dress codes.

The discussion which followed was kicked off by Gordon Shand, who questioned the Green Party’s support for international law and the United Nations. The UN is not a forum for democratically addressing differences: rather it is an imperialist instrument, he said, responsible for the starvation and murder of millions. Discussion touched on the Stop the War Coalition, the pro-war left, the double exploitation of working class women in Iran and the hypocrisy of the British state.

Hopi Manchester will be spending the next few months strengthening links with the trade union movement and looking to get more organisations involved in the fight against imperialist war, as well as strengthening international solidarity with the Iranian social movements. If you want to get involved, email us athopimanchester@googlemail.com