Iran Trade Unionist, former Political Prisoner, on the Iranian election: “neither free nor fair”

June 13, 2013

Reading Marx in Tehran

By MANSOUR OSANLOO

IRAN’S presidential election on June 14 will be neither free nor fair. The candidates on the ballot have been preselected in a politically motivated vetting process that has little purpose other than ensuring the election of a compliant president who will be loyal to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Regardless of the outcome of the vote, the most urgent challenge for both the next president and Ayatollah Khamenei will be to confront a rising tide of discontent resulting from a rapidly deteriorating economic situation.

The outside world is primarily focused on whether the election will signal a shift in the Iranian regime’s stand on the nuclear issue. But for the average Iranian the most important issue is the impact of this election on her pocketbook — especially for the hardworking masses, whose purchasing power has drastically decreased as they struggle to provide the most basic necessities for their families.

Iran’s industrial workers, teachers, nurses, government and service-sector employees have been hit hard. The profound mismanagement of the economy by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s government, coupled with stringent international sanctions, has made these workers’ plight the most important aspect of Iran’s domestic politics. Continue reading

“Hands off the People of Iran” exposes Tribunal on Iran’s 1980’s massacre of prisoners

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by “Hands Off the People of Iran”

1. Payam Akhavan (chair and spokesperson of the tribunal’s steering committee) has links to organisations that have accepted large amounts of money from the US government

2. The tribunal refuses to take a stand against war and sanctions on Iran
3. Mainstream lawyers and politicians like Sir Geoffrey Nice, John Cooper QC and Maurice Copithorne ideologically support the tribunal – why?
4. The pro-war Mujahedeen is closely involved with the tribunal
5. Many organisations and witnesses have withdrawn
6. Critical voices have been silenced
7. Conclusion: The tribunal has become part of the campaign to legitimise war and sanctions to enforce pro-western ‘regime change from above’.

The arguments in more detail: Continue reading

The Iran Tribunal and the crimes of the Islamic Republic

12 November 2012. A World to Win News Service. “I was only 19 years old when I went to the coffin room, but I… can’t escape thinking about it… I was with those who lost their lives, or lost their minds. I live with them all the time. I still both work and cry, I both live and mourn, I think about what happened.”

Another person testified, “Once they came for me and asked if I had repented. I said yes. They asked me if I was prepared to take part in executions. I said yes. I wanted to pretend that I had repented, others had thought the same way, but one day…”

These are the examples of testimony given by witnesses at a symbolic tribunal held in The Hague (Netherlands) on 25-27October that found the Islamic Republic of Iran guilty of crimes against humanity for the mass execution of political prisoners in the 1980s.

The Iran Tribunal, as it was called, took place in two stages. The first was held 18-22 June this year in London, where 75 witnesses testified in front of a “Truth Commission”. At the second session, in The Hague, around 20 witnesses testified in front of a commission of international judges.

Johann Kriegler, who led the judges, introduced himself as a member of the Truth Commission held in South Africa after the end of apartheid. Other judges had experience with similar tribunals, including British barrister Michael Mansfield who is a member of the jury panel on the Russell Tribunal inquiry on Palestine.

According to the organizers, the Iran Tribunal was inspired by the original Russell Tribunal initiated by the philosophers and Nobel Prize winners Bertrand Russell and Jean-Paul Sartre and other intellectuals in 1966 to put the United States on trial for its war crimes in Vietnam. This current campaign was launched after a gathering of survivors and families of the victims. Continue reading

The imperialist threat and the Islamic Republic of Iran, 33 years after its foundation

27 February 2012,  A World to Win News Service.

By N. Peyman

The threats against Iran, the sanctions and other economic pressures and the military movements and manoeuvres all testify to the intensification of the contradictions between the US and Iranian regime, 33 years after its foundation. These contradictions have reached such a critical point that an air strike or other form of military intervention against Iran by the US and some of its allies has become a clear possibility.

Why have relations between Iran and the Western powers, especially the US, been so tense for most of the last three decades, and why are they now fast approaching such a dangerous point? What are the forces driving the imperialist powers to another war in a region that is already overloaded with various wars?

These questions are even more striking if we take into account the fact that both the Western powers and the Iranian regime are undergoing crises internally.

According to the constant barrage from the mainstream media, the main concern of the Western powers is Iran’s nuclear programme. They argue that the Iranian regime intends to build nuclear weapons. So the Western imperialists are pushing harder and harder to force the Iranian regime to stop enriching uranium, while Iran denies this charge and claims its nuclear programme is for purely civilian purposes.

The pressure so far has included UN Security Council approval for several rounds of economic sanctions against Iranian institutions and the personnel involved in its nuclear programme. Now the US and EU have taken it upon themselves to impose further sanctions against Iran’s central bank. On July 1 of this year a ban on the importation of Iranian oil will take effect. These measures are meant to block Iranian exports and make it impossible for the country to import for lack of foreign currency.

But is the US and Western powers’ concern about Iran’s nuclear programme the real driving force behind the current crisis?

Despite the claims of the mainstream media and political officials whose job is to repeat and spread Western imperialist ruling class propaganda, the claims about the Iranian regime’s nuclear programme are highly questionable. In fact their assertions have repeatedly been challenged by genuine experts, investigative reporters and observers familiar with the issue.

First of all, the Western powers and the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)  have not, so far, been able to provide any credible evidence, let alone proof. Even their intelligence and military officials have not been able to back the claims of their leaders. So they seem to be making so much noise and heading toward war based on a case built on the “suspected intentions” of the Iranian regime that no one has been able to prove.

The US and its allies also claim if Iran succeeds in making nuclear bombs, it would start attacking other countries, especially Israel, and endanger American and Western security.

There seems to be a consensus among experts, however, that even if the US and its allies are right about the Iranian regime’s intentions, it could become capable of making only one or a very few bombs in the near future. There is no way that it could match the nuclear arsenal of Israel, said to include more than 200 warheads, let alone the nuclear capability of the imperialist powers. According to experts, this cannot change the military balance of power in the region.

There is also the argument put forward by some imperialist apologists that if Iran goes nuclear, that would start a nuclear arms race in the region, so that Egypt, Saudi Arabia and other countries would have to compete. First of all, experts familiar with the region’s economic and political situation argue that political problems in some countries such as Egypt and the lack of infrastructure in others such as Saudi Arabia would make it impossible for them to undertake full-scale nuclear programmes. Secondly, this nuclear arms race has already been started with India and Pakistan. Thirdly, countries such as Turkey are not waiting for Iran to go nuclear. They are already working on it.

So not only is there no definitive evidence that Iran is making nuclear bombs, the arguments about the danger that an Iranian nuclear programme would represent for the security of the world and the stability of the region are exaggerated and do not match the reality. In fact, these arguments are little more than justifications for a hidden agenda – the preparations by the US and its allies for a war against Iran.

Also, as everyone now knows, or should know by now, the US and its allies have repeatedly made up various excuses to start wars in different parts of the world. The most memorable example is the 2003 invasion of Iraq under the cover of accusations about the Saddam Hussein regime’s possession of weapons of mass destruction that proved to be a pure invention by George W. Bush and Tony Blair. This has cast even more doubt on the Western powers’ real intentions. Many people all over the world simply don’t trust the US imperialists and their allies on this issue.

Thus it is not difficult to conclude that even if the Iranian regime’s nuclear programme is a concern, it is not the main issue. It cannot, in itself, explain the US’s agenda –  why it is intensifying the contradictions with Iran and building a case for and preparing military intervention.

If that is not the real issue, what are the real contradictions that are pressing so hard on both sides, and what are its real sources? Why are the US and its allies unhappy with the Iranian Islamic regime? Continue reading

Danger of War Grows..U.S.-Israeli Assault on Iran Escalates

3 January 2012--the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) has ordered US warships out of the Strait of Hormuz, where nearly one-fourth of the global petroleum shipments pass every day. The US is maneuvering to cutoff Iranian exports while ensuring ongoing oil exports of neighboring countries. The EU says it will join the call for US sanctions on Iran, by the end of the month

by Larry Everest, Revolution

The danger of a U.S.-Israeli war on Iran is escalating rapidly. The U.S. and its allies are ramping up their all-around assault on Iran, including new crippling sanctions, and openly threatening to attack. Ground is being laid daily in the headlines and statements by politicians of every stripe in mainstream U.S. politics calling for aggression against Iran—all justified by unsubstantiated assertions that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons.

Whether or not Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons technology (and there is no proof they are), this U.S. imperialist narrative and framework is an outrageous effort to turn reality upside down—the reality of which of the clashing oppressive forces in the region is the dominant threatening oppressor and bully.

Iran is a non-nuclear, Third World country. The U.S. is the world’s most powerful nuclear weapons state—with over 4,000 warheads.  It’s the only country to ever use nuclear weapons, killing 150,000-240,000 people in the 1945 bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan (with many more dying of the effects of radiation for years after). It’s the main backer of the one country in the Middle East that actually does have nuclear weapons—Israel.

Now the U.S. and its allies have launched a massive, all-around campaign of aggression against Iran in the name of stopping the spread of nuclear weapons. These weapons are horrible, and they should be banished from the earth. If the U.S. rulers were really against these tools of mass murder they’d insist everyone get rid of them—but they’re not. They and their media mouthpieces aren’t saying word one about getting rid of their nukes, or Israel’s nukes, or Britain or France’s nukes.

Instead, the U.S. and its allies are threatening war over the possibility that Iran could get a bomb, a war that would be terrible for the people of the world. In a 2006 statement, Kurt Gottfried, Chairman of the Union of Concerned Scientists, and emeritus professor of physics at Cornell University, said: “The [Bush] administration is reportedly considering using the B51-11 nuclear ‘bunker buster’ against an underground facility near Natanz, Iran. The use of such a weapon would create massive clouds of radioactive fallout that could spread far from the site of the attack, including to other nations. Even if used in remote, lightly populated areas, the number of casualties could range up to more than a hundred thousand, depending on the weapon yield and weather conditions.” And any attack by the U.S. and Israel on Iran would be military aggression to preserve their military dominance—including their nuclear monopoly—in the Middle East. There is absolutely no justice in anything the U.S. is doing in pursuit of this criminal goal.

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The last half of December saw a sharp spike in the U.S.-led assault on Iran’s Islamic Republic. On December 31, President Obama signed a defense authorization bill that included by far the harshest sanctions the U.S. and its allies have yet imposed on Iran. These new sanctions target Iran’s oil exports (which account for well over half of government revenues) for the first time, as well as its financial sector. (One provision calls for punishing foreign firms and banks which purchase Iranian oil, including through its central bank.) Continue reading

Iranian students stage nationwide anti-government protests on National Student Day

[For many decades, Iranian students have waged large protests on the National Student Day of Protest (December 7) which commemorates the massacre of students by the Shah’s US-backed regime in 1953.  This year’s commemoration was marked by condemnation of the Iranian government, and the protests took place on campuses around the country.  The “Green Movement”, led by high-ranking Islamic Republic officials like Mir Hossein Mousavi, praised the students, hoping to enlist them  into his reformist movement. The Wall Street Journal, below, echoed Mousavi’s claim.  But the students in the streets–where they have to beat off attacks by the regime’s pipe-wielding Pasdaran (“Revolutionary Guards”)–are increasingly not bound to the reformism of  Mousavi’s Green Movement.  The students come from different political backgrounds, and they are considering different strategies and forms of struggle for the future. –Frontlines ed.]

 

The Wall Street Journal, December 10, 2010

National Student Day of Protest, December 10, 2007: Hundreds of Iranian students protested a government crackdown on activists at Tehran University. According to on witness, "students chanted against policies by Ahmadinejad's administration."

Videos posted online showed students marching across campus grounds with green banners—the color of the opposition—holding pictures of jailed students, and chanting “death to the dictator” and “free student prisoners.”

Security forces responded with a heavy security deployment, and at least eight arrests, according to the student website Daneshjoo. Official media didn’t cover the protests or report any arrests.

Riot police and security forces surrounded Tehran University, the epicenter of student activism, according to witnesses and online videos. Iranian law prohibits security forces from entering the campus, but students said as many as 400 plainclothes militia members had entered to intimidate students.

Security forces built scaffolding around the entire campus and covered it with tents, in an apparent attempt to cut off communication between student protestors inside and passersby outside, according to videos and witness accounts. “The university is practically under siege, no one can get in and no one can get out safely. It shows the government is still very scared of us,” said a student from Tehran University.

Security forces lined up cars, buses and motorcycles for miles along the tree-lined Enghelab Avenue, where a little over a year ago millions of Iranians staged protests for change and democracy, videos showed. Continue reading

Iran: US government scrambled to understand street protests in 2009, leaked documents show

Washington talked with allies’ embassies and Iranian dissidents and businessmen to gauge the Iranian opposition, according to dispatches disclosed by WikiLeaks.

“”What started as a movement to annul the election now gives shelter both to those seeking the full set of rights guaranteed them by Islamic Iran’s constitution and those seeking a new system altogether,” reads a cable sent Jan. 12 to the State Department.

Los Angeles Times, Special Correspondent reporting from Beirut —
Iranians protest in Tehran last year after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s disputed reelection. The documents released by WikiLeaks do not indicate that the U.S. tried to influence the Iranian opposition.

Iranians protest in Tehran last year after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s disputed reelection. The documents released by WikiLeaks do not indicate that the U.S. tried to influence the Iranian opposition.

As protesters poured into the streets of Iran in the aftermath of the disputed 2009 reelection of President Mahmood Ahmadinejad, U.S. diplomats scrambled to decipher the erupting political crisis and the goals of the opposition’s so-called Green Movement, according to recently disclosed diplomatic cables.

The diplomats hurried to understand without the benefit of an official outpost in Tehran, a result of the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Instead they read news bulletins and spoke with allied embassies in places like Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Turkey and Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

They contacted Iranian dissidents, human rights activists and disgruntled businessmen, according to the confidential dispatches made public in recent days by Wikleaks.

By early this year, diplomats dubbed “Iran watchers” at the U.S. Consulate in Dubai had produced the first in a series of cables examining the Iranian opposition since the 2009 election.

“What started as a movement to annul the election now gives shelter both to those seeking the full set of rights guaranteed them by Islamic Iran’s constitution and those seeking a new system altogether,” reads a cable sent Jan. 12 to the State Department. “But like the regime that seeks to crush it,” the cable reads, the opposition “is not monolithic and there is a clear gulf between the opposition’s elite leadership and the popular movement protesting in the streets.” Continue reading