Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Iranian Fury in the SWP Meeting

Yesterday, the Stop the War Coalition, and the Socialist Workers Party organised a meeting about Iran. Amongst the speakers were a couple of Trade Unionists, Iraqi author, Haifa Zangana, a mother from Military Families Against War, and the SOAS lecturer Elaheh Rostami.

We went along with leaflets which basically said "Oppose any Attack on Iran but Oppose the Tyranny of the Islamic Republic Too". We started handing out some leaflets outside and had a few discussions with the SWP members. It was amazing to find out how ignorant these so-called Socialist Workers activists were about what was happening in Iran. I asked a few of them what they knew about the 1300 jailed Iranian bus drivers and how the families of the Iranian bus drivers were beaten up, simply for demanding an independent trade union and better wages. None of them knew. So much for international workers solidarity they keep on about.



The meeting started with speeches by two Trade Unionists. They didnt say much about Iran but more about the plight of London Mayor, Ken Livingstone, claiming that the mayor was victimised because he was anti-war.

Then a mother who had lost her soldier son in Iraq spoke. I felt for her and passed her one of our leaflets with a note saying, "by supporting the democratic opposition in Iran we can avoid war and more suffering by families like you. My condolences to you. Your son did not die in vain". She read the leaflet and my note, and with tears visible in her eyes, whispered "Thank You" to me.

Then the chair of the panel stood up to speak. I can only describe her as a frustrated looking feminist who was craving for a little authority and attention. She was wearing the type of head band worn by domestic workers in hotels but it just looked completely out of place, making her look even more of a weirdo. Perhaps she thought she looked more working class by wearing the head band, but when she started speaking, her accent soon revealed she was some upper class drop out.

She started speaking some nonsense about Islamophobia in UK, and how she was on the side of the Muslims who felt insulted by the cartoons row. Amazingly she then went on about the erosion of freedom of speech by the UK government. She continued by going on about the horrors of the Guantanamo Bay prisons. Her nonsense was just too much for another Iranian in the room, who had suffered in Islamic Republic prisons.
"Why just Guantanamo? What about when I was in Islamic prisons and was beaten and raped with a bottle? Where were you lot then? You can have these meetings in UK but we dont have this privilege in Iran".

The SWP activists then surrounded the Iranian guy and told him to be quiet, showing no sympathy to what he had endured. This reminded me of how the old age pensioner was man handled by the security guards in the Labour Party conference for heckling Tony Blair. To these lot that old age pensioner was a hero for heckling, but when they get heckled themselves, it is a different story.

Next speaker was Elaheh Rostami. She continued and amplified the previous nonsense. First she talked about Afghanistan. She claimed nothing, not even one road was built for the Afghans since the Taliban overthrow but the Afghans had internet coffee shops where they watched porn on the internet.

I thought to myself "But at least girls can now go to school and women can work and wont have to die of basic illnesses for not being able to see male doctors" but I bit my lips and thought I will say all this in the question time.

Rostami then claimed that the majority of Iranians inside and outside Iran are in favour of having nuclear power. Again I thought to myself "What free poll did she use to come to that conclusion?"

When Rostami claimed that the Iranian women had more rights and family protection after the revolution than before, it was just too much for the Iranians in the room. There was an uproar of protest at her nonsense, especially from the Iranian women.

Another Iranian walked up to the panel and placed pictures of Islamic Republic crimes before each panel speaker. The chairperson with the headband, showed no sympathy and turned the pictures over, but another Iranian in the audience walked up to the panel, turned over the page and showed her the pictures again. The chairperson of the panel then tried to look away from the pictures of human rights abuse in Iran. I sort of sensed she felt if Americans were not responsible for human rights abuses, she was not interested.

I was innocently writing down my questions, thinking soon we will be given time to question the panel. I was perusing which questions I should ask. Some of which were:
"
- You have the privilege of protesting and marching against nuclear power in this country, do the Iranian people have this right too?

- You mentioned you are siding with the Muslims who felt offended by the cartoons, what about the Sufis in Iran who had their shrine completely raised to the ground recently and their members, including women and children who were beaten and maimed. Do you not think they were insulted too?

- You say you value your freedom of speech, are you not worried about Muslim extremists taking that freedom away?
"

But as I was ponderig over these questions, Elaheh Rostami finished and the chair declared the meeting was over. What? No time to question all this nonsense that was spluttered out at this poor English public? The Iranians were furious. Even I, normally a placid person, couldn't stop myself from going to the panel and shouting
"You talk about freedom of speech. You have a meeting about Iran and yet you don't let the Iranians in this room speak?" I roared at the panel.

By this time SWP activists were calling for more reinforcement on their mobiles. Elaheh Rostami finally had to be escorted out of the room surrounded by a ring of SWP activists, while Iranians were shouting "Shame on You, Shame on You" at her.

It is amazing that a party - SWP - based on teachings of Karl Marx, who said "religion is the opium of the people", is now siding with Islamic Fascists in Iran and worrying about cartoons offending the sensitivities of some religious people.
But I had to remind myself that the Left in Iran also made a similar mistake and helped the Islamists take control of power, and soon they became the very first victims of Islamist Fascists.

Elaheh Rostami, will also be speaking at the following event. It is important for all Iranians, who can, to attend this meeting and don't let her get away with disseminating misinformation to the unaware British public.

Imperial College Student Respect Society presents:
"Iran - Women, Workers and Islamic Republic" - a talk and discussion with Elaheh Rostami-Povy on Thursday 2 March 2006 at 6.30pm in Room 3,
Imperial College Union,
Beit Quad,
Prince Consort Road,
London SW7 2BB.

Interesting thing quoted in the poster of this talk was the following sentence:

"Most people in the West, including many on the left, still have an image of Iran as a theocratic state dominated by medieval mullahs. What is the reality today?"



55 comments:

Alex said...

Heh. As FFI says, "useful idiots", aren't they?
Or are they actually sincere idiots?
Maybe they get something oildollary for this crap?
Indeed religion is the opium of the nations.
Karl Marx was in many aspects a great thinker, and not even close to the idiocy of his so-called followers nowadays.
How sad.

Anonymous said...

Good article.

People only want to hear what makes them feel good, it’s a basic human instinct.

They are not there to make the world a better place, but to beat their chests and get a nice buzz.

Anonymous said...

Nice article.

Not being Iranian myself I am pleased to see an Iranian pro democracy movement.

The SWP are a bunch of cranks. It is incredible that a so called socialist party has aligned itself with the Muslim Assocaition of Britain which is basically the British arm of the Muslim Brotherhood that is just another Islamofascist movement.

Still most of the members couldn't probably point to Iran on a blank map of the world.

Juan Golblado said...

So they have a poster that says,
"Most people in the West, including many on the left, still have an image of Iran as a theocratic state dominated by medieval mullahs."

Now what makes this interesting is that word "still". That word implies something has changed. The poster recognises that Iran was once run as "a theocratic state dominated by medieval mullahs", but then there is that word "still" telling us it is no longer that way.

This means they have to have some idea in mind about when and how Iran was able to throw off the theocratic state and its medieval mullahs.

Tell us please, SWP, when and how this change happened? What was the process of change?

In other words, what the fuck are you talking about!?

Are they all so unused to critical thinking that they don't realize the poster implies an important change has taken place? Are they naive enough to think this magical change took place while they weren't looking, yet some people in SWP central know all about it so it's OK?

But even if they think there is some leadership in SWP who know better, surely the SWP leadership themselves know that Iran is still run as a theocratic state by a bunch of medieval mullahs.

And those people are lying.

Those people are objectively and subjectively -- knowingly -- serving the cause of the medieval mullahs and their theocratic state.

Anonymous said...

I am an Iranian and a member of the SWP. We had an article on the bus strikes the other week in our paper so I find it very unlikely that our activists didn't know about it.

The point the StWC is trying to make is that the west will lie about Iran to make it look worse in order to justify an Imperialist invasion of the country.

No one is arguing that Iran is a democracy and if you ask any member of the SWP they will tell you that they oppose the regime there.

You people know nothing about the SWP apart from regurgitated lies and hearsay.

Shame on you all.

pete said...

Opponents of the war and of the Iranian regime seriously need to get our act together. We have launced a statement from activists in Nottingham including Labour MP Alan Simpson that people maay want to look at.
http://iraniraqworkersol.blogspot.com/

fimani-la said...

So, 'anonymous', how is the 'imperialist' West lying about Iran? With its references to suspected nuclear weapons programmes?

http://www.iaea.org/Publications/Documents/Board/2006/gov2006-14.pdf
http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/world/iran/nuke.htm
http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/world/iran/nuke2005.htm

Clearly that capitalist lackey Mohamad El-Baradei has a lot to answer for.

Or maybe its record on human rights?

http://hrw.org/english/docs/2006/02/27/iran12724.htm
http://hrw.org/english/docs/2005/12/15/iran12245.htm

Or perhaps on President Ahmadinejad's blatant anti-semitism and Holocaust denial?

http://www.economist.com/displaystory.cfm?story_id=E1_VPNRDPP

Or maybe about the violation of the rights of the Arab minority in Khuzestan, and the mysterious connection between unexplained bomb-blasts in the region and the regime's claims that the British government are involved?

http://www.iranfocus.com/modules/news/article.php?storyid=5967
http://www.unpo.org/member.php?arg=06
http://www.unpo.org/news_detail.php?arg=06&par=3880

I suppose anyone with a social conscience might want to ask questions about all this, but clearly this doesn't apply to members of the SWP. Listen to your Politburo, don't engage your brain, there's nothing to see here, move on move on, learn your 'Bushitler' and 'Bliar' slogans by rote ...
How sad. How very sad.

Azarmehr said...

To the "Iranian" Member of SWP:

Actually I know a lot about the SWP and have been aquainted with SWP members for many years. Ask Simon Assaf. I knew him right when he converted from being a Lebanese Falangist to a Marxist. Dont get me wrong, I dont choose my friends because of what they believe, I still consider Simon as my friend. Just want to let you know that because you have read a couple of books by Marx dont think you know everything.

A brief article in the SWP newspaper about the bus drivers in Iran, is hardly international solidarity. You need to put pressure on the Iranian government to release the bus drivers. Rallies, marches, petitions all the sort of things you do for other causes. Like other UK groups on the Left do. Take Workers Liberty for example. They keep their distance from Islamic hardliners, they are not opportunistic like SWP.

When they massacred the Iranian political prisoners in 1988, mostly left wingers, I begged the SWP members whom I knew - I can name them too - to help us raise awareness of the massacre that was taking place. They did not want to know, they told me the main issue was the anti-imperialist stance of the Islamic Republic!! Exactly what I heard outside the hall in Hackney by those who were selling SWP newspapers.

In the meeting in Hackney, you brought a speaker who goes back and forward to Iran, and has tirelessly promoted the Islamic Republic. She had the sudacity in SOAS to say that it is easier to be critical of the Islamic Regime inside Iran than outside!!! she had the audacity in Hackney to say women have more rights after the revolution than before.

I let you to put your comments on my weblog but you lot did not let us question the bullshit that was dished out in that meeting and then you blabber on about freedom of speech.

For once try to put your country and your people first.

Anonymous said...

well, what Karl Marx said was 150 years ago. Today, religion industry is means of mass murder and attrocity, not just in the mideast, but across the world.

This SWP(socialist-islamists) should be treated as islamist fanatics.The only difference is these have'nt decided when they will be ready to take part in suicidebombings.politically there is no differences at all.
M.F

Anonymous said...

Good blog, good post, good on you.

I particularly like the 'Iranian' SWP comment above that 'if you ask any member of the SWP they will tell you that they oppose the regime there.'

Note: 1) That is all they have to say about it (they oppose it? What do they oppose? How? How often? etc).
2) that they will 'tell you' they oppose it, does that mean that they believe their statement, or that they genuinely *do* oppose it? not at all unfortunately, they're just 'telling' you that.

eugene plawiuk said...

The SWP poltics are lowest common denominator common front politics to encourage folks to join their organization. Typically they follow the stale left politics of the enemies of my enemies are my friends. They are no Marxists.

Anonymous said...

Potkin... John Game says hello. Good to hear that we Old Royals are still causing a furore. pip pip

Azarmehr said...

:) Say hello to John, (Simon?). I wish I had seen you two at the meeting. We could have caught up with some past memories.

Best wishes to both of you.

Darren said...

frustrated looking feminist

Sorry,but I think that the power of your report is cheapened by this silly statement. It was unnecessary.

Azarmehr said...

You are entitled to your view, but thats how I felt about the insensitive, mean and nasty looking woman who was chairing the meeting.

A lot of people have told me the way I described her helped them visulaise her much better.

Anonymous said...

Potkim,

Of course that post was sent by that trouble maker Simon. Obviously we in the SWP are all cultural relativists now but not when it comes to Maronites. Seriously though, Potkim, you can't honestly believe that Iran is going to be liberated by US imperialism (or that Iranian communists and progressives are going to come to power on the back of a US tank?). Any left opposition which gets tied to US imperialism is writing its own death warrent. For one thing the machinations of Bush and co have left the regime stronger then it was before. Whats happened in Iran is just one example of what is happening around the world. As US imperialism flails around in increasing desperation the result is the strengthening of reactionary regimes on either side of the famous 'clash of civilizations'. Yes it would be good to meet up some time.

John.

Azarmehr said...

:)) Dear John,

You and Simon will always be my friends, Maronites or misguided SWP opportunists :)) After all we had so many laughs together in the past.

However I expected someone like you to put up a more intelligent post. When did we say we want the US to attack Iran???????

Did you not read any of the stuff?
We deliberately came to the meeting to say "OPPOSE ANY MILITARY ATTACK ON IRAN but OPPOSE THE TYRANNY of ISLAMIC REPUBLIC TOO".

Sadly your comrades at the meeting didnt give us a chance to talk, and thought they know best.

This petition by "Pete" is much more sensible : http://iraniraqworkersol.blogspot.com/
than the SWP position.

You are going to bed with Islamists, thats the same mistake the Iranian Left made and paid a heavy price for it.

Its not the machination of Bush & co that have left the mullahs stronger, its the lack of support from the "progressive" organisations for teh democratic opposition in Iran thathas emboldened the mullahs.

Anonymous said...

Hi Potkim,

Well beginning at the end of your post, I don't believe at all that the Iranian regime has been strengthened by whatever the SWP has or has not done. I think this is the politics of cloud cuckoo land. Its quite clear that the regime has been strengthened by a wave of nationalism created by the behaviour of George Bush. Its not that unusual you know. In India the BJP came to power about a decade ago on the basis of enthusiasm for promises to conduct a nuclear test and a promise to defy 'double standards' (which they promptly bought into by signing up to NPT the minute they were allowed to).

More importantly in terms of our differences I think that sometimes it is possible to learn the wrong lessons from history. Take the Iraqi Communist Party. They had gone into an alliance with the Ba'athists. They got slaughtered. Why had they gone into an alliance with the Ba'athists? Because they lacked confidence in the masses. What did they do five years ago? They agreed (albeit with the kind of qualifications which I fear are the same as yours) to enter into a putative government made possible by US imperialism. Why? Because they believed in the end that the masses could not do the job. For some people allying with the US is the opposite of allying with the Ba'athists and is 'learning from mistakes. For me (and I think my organisation) its exactly the same mistake and expresses the same rotten politics. And the consequences? I very much fear identical (and I do mean fear).

The Iranian experiance and the lessons drawn is different in many ways but not I think (and fear) in kind. Essentially was it the problem that the left did not 'denounce the mullahs'. Well. Not really. The real problem was that they placed all their faith in the liberal bourgoisie to rescue them due to a mistaken teleological view of history based on notions of a 'democratic stage'.

The street fighters of Hizbollah were it turned out as unimpressed with such theories of history as they were unimpressed by the fighting qualities of the Iranian bourgoisie. I don't believe, fundementally, that this issue has been addressed properly by the Iranian left, and I think the various rather pathetic arguments between sections of the British left and the Iranian exile left are largely irrelevent as well.

Impressing British people or American people is not the point. You need to look at what is happening ideologically in Tehran. What kind of revolution is coming? What kind of social forces are involved? How should the left position itself? And what is the relationship between all this and the very real possibility of western imperialist aggression against the country.

I see no evidence of any proper discussion of these kinds of problems. Thats the problem.

And hey, Potkim, what leads you to expect an intelligent argument from me?

Anonymous said...

It is interesting to read the SWP spout lies on its front page this week: http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/article.php?article_id=8411 .

Nearly everything in the article is wrong and deliberately misquoting an FT article, on which it was based.

1. It says "Marines produce road map to ethnic strife", but no "road map" exists. The FT does not mention this and the SW produces no alternative source to back up this claim.

2. "Washington bankrolls separatist groups": the Ahwaz Human Rights Organisation states in the article that it does not receive funding from the US government (nor is it a separatist organisation)

3. "As with the planning for the war in Iraq, the Pentagon has recruited exiles to help with its survey.": There is no suggestion in the FT article that the exiles it quotes have been recruited by the Pentagon. On what basis is the SW making this claim?

4. "A similar group of Iraqi exiles told the Bush administration that US soldiers would be welcome when they invaded, and fed them false information about weapons of mass destruction.": Yes, the Iranian double agent Ahmad Chilabi sought out US officials to construct a case for war and invasion. The groups interviewed by the FT are against US military action in Iran.

5. "Many groups representing Iran’s minorities refused to co­operate with the study because they fear the US is planning to break up the country." But the FT aricle actually states "The Financial Times interviewed several Iranians in the US who were invited to help. Some refused, seeing it as part of an effort to break up Iran. However several exiled politicians representing minority groups opposed to the Islamic regime did agree to take part, although they said they wanted a peaceful transition to a democratic, federal Iran and were opposed to any US military action." So where is the evidence to support the author's claims that minority groups refused to take part in the survey because they were afraid it would lead to a break-up of Iran? In fact, the FT is quite clear. Those who participated are against military action and separatism.

6. Regarding the assertion that the US is bankrolling "separatists" (a term commonly used by the Iranian regime to justify the oppression of minorities, but adopted by the SWP), the proposed programme by the US State Department is aimed at supporting Voice of America's Radio Farda, which broadcasts only in Farsi and is run by royalists. The Kurds and others have serious misgivings about this as Radio Farda takes much the same position as the regime on ethnic minorities, sometimes far worse. The FT article did not claim that separatist groups were being bankrolled by Washington. It quotes Reuel Gerecht, a former CIA specialist on the Middle East, as saying that the State Department was "'nowhere near the point' of trying to use separatist tendencies among minorities as traction against the Tehran regime."

7. The original FT article specifically refers to the "Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan" and not the Iraq-based "Kurdish Democratic Party", which the SWP claimed participated in the Marines survey. Both parties were at war with one another at one point, so it is disingenuous to conflate the two and suggest the PDKI supported the occupation of Iraq, as the SW does.

8. SW states that Iran has a "right to fear US and British troops on its borders" due to bombs in Khuzestan. It is the common belief among opponents of the Iranian regime and even some in the reformist camp that the bombs are the work of the Basij. For instance, Mustafa Moin stated that the June 2005 attacks were probably the work of those seeking the election of a military candidate. The SWP has, however, chosen to reprint Iranian propaganda without looking at alternative explanations.

The SWP's intention is to malign minorities opposing the Iranian regime by portraying their representatives as lackeys of the US. In fact, there was never any suggestion by the FT that these groups were funded by the US. On the contrary, the Ahwaz Studies Centre stated that it receives no government money and the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan says it is opposed to military action against Iran - facts that the SWP has deliberately chosen to ignore. The SWP is a mouthpiece of the mullahs.

The SWP is worse than the Neo-Nazis of the BNP. Last night, I received a report on the incarceration of Ahwazi Arab women: Sakina Naisi (40) and Mousma Kaabi (28). Sakina is pregnant and reportedly bleeding from the vagina, which suggests that she is in danger of a miscarriage and possible death due to her prison conditions and beatings from prison guards. Masouma is the wife of Habib Nabgani, an Ahwazi political activist. She is in prison with her four year-old son Aimad, who is reportedly ill due to poor conditions, and her mother-in-law.

The depressing fact is that Elaheh "Ellie" Rostami-Povey, who is speaking about how women are free in Iran, was a lecturer of mine - and a pretty good one. I took her course "Gender and Development" while I was a Masters student at SOAS. Her opinion of the regime appears to have changed in the past few years. I have met her daughter, a journalist in Tehran, who constantly challenges the regime to a degree that Ellie fears will lead to her incarceration - particular her tendency to flout women's dress codes. Under SWP influence, Ellie appears to have changed her mind.

Azarmehr said...

John

I agree with your last sentence :
"And hey, Potkim, what leads you to expect an intelligent argument from me? "

As always you talk complete bollocks :)))

Lets meet up sometimes and have a laugh and a chat.

Anonymous said...

I love the line 'the swp is worst then the nazi bnp' and then the curious idea that Ellie Povie 'supports the Iranian regime' simply on the basis that she regards opposing a US invasion against Iran as a priority for any Socialist at the moment.

The whole way in which the argument is constructed leads one to suppose that all the problems in Iraq have been created by an Iranian double agent the conclusion being?

Anyway yes Potkin lets meet up after fisticuffs in a meeting some time...

Azarmehr said...

definitely John, lets catch up.

However one last point, if "Ellie" says:
"Its easier to criticise the Iranian regime inside Iran than outside"

"Women have more rights now than before the revolution"

Is that not supporting the Iranian regime in some way? or is it just that the intellect levels of SOAS lecturers is not critical in their employment criteria?

Anonymous said...

Yes, oppose the Iranian regime by all means. But Ellie is going further than that. She is acting as an apologist to the regime by pretending that women are somehow empowered. I have met her daughter who thinks very differently. I don't think she is an active supporter of the mullahs, but she is doing what all leftists tend to do at some point. She is defending the regime because it is coming under pressure from the US. It is a sell-out of principles.

Anonymous said...

Its not a sell-out of 'principles' to discuss the contradictory nature of Iran at the moment as against the 'axis of evil' nonsense of the Bush regime. Seriously you guys really better do some thinking. Before the Iraq war there was a large constituency of anti-regime leftists who nevertheless did everything possible to place themselves at the centre of opposition to the actions of imperialism. This meant explaining why an attack was a bad idea, in detail. It did not mean that these people became 'supporters of Ba-athism'. Do you really want to be held responsible for the complete destruction of your country? Giving out a few leaflets saying that 'oh by the way we do of course oppose the possibility of an imperialist occupation, the death of possibly hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens, and the complete destruction of any kind of future at all for generations of people (just look at Iraq), but on the whole we think its a bit more disturbing that some people on the left 'sell out their principles' (which ones?) whenever the US attacks third world countries, and so we would just prefer to carry on as usual talking about the Mullah's' is not going to help one bit.

What the heck is the Iranian left up to? You'll be dead in the hearts of the people for generations if you carry on like this...Why were the Iraqi left not so supine? Can't you learn lessons from the experiance of your brothers and sisters in Iraq?

Anonymous said...

And also...to state that change has to come from within (and is possible) is in no way to 'support the regime'. It is however to oppose the possibility of regime change from outside (which any kind of leftist inside or outside is bound to do).

Its also true that to support the overthrow of the shah in no way means to support the regime. After all the last elections demonstrate the populist appeal that revolution still has in the minds of the masses confronted by the daily reality of corruption and widening gaps between rich and poor. Again recognising this in no way supports the regime.

But it is those voters who will overthrow that regime if anyone will. Not you, not me, not a bunch of kids using the internet. Unpalatable perhaps but thats the actual task. And if you want any influence at all make sure that you in no way are associated with calls for western imperialism to invade, blockade, or otherwise cause difficulties for your country.

Any chance of progressive change would disapear faster then summer snow in that case. We can see this reality now. It plays straight into the hands of the regime.

Anonymous said...

Povey would have had more credibility if she stated that she was opposed to military action against Iran but also said she favoured the overthrow of the mullah regime. She didn't. Instead, she justified the mullah by claiming that it had liberated women. This is nonsense. Even her own daughter, a journalist in Tehran, is challenging women's oppression in Iran. You know what Ellie said to me? She said she was scared to walk alongside her daughter because the religious police might arrest them both for her daughter's flagrant abuse of women's dress codes. So Ellie is a hypocrite for claiming that women are empowered in Iran. She knows they are not empowered but rather are oppressed. So what game is she playing here? The biggest shame is that Ellie is, in fact, a very genial and intelligent person if you get to meet her. I am very surprised that she has abandoned her principles and is now siding with the regime.

EvilPundit said...

Anonymous 8.01

We do know something about the SWP. We have an eyewitness report from Iranians who went to an SWP meeting on the topic of Iran, and confirmed the lies and suppression of dissent used by the SWP.

Anonymous said...

I doubt very much that Ellie said that the Iranian regime 'empowers women'. What she probably said was that it just is the case that the experiance has been contradictory over the last decade. Iran is not for example Saudi Arabia, and women as a proportion of the work force is probably higher then in most neighbouring countries. This simple fact does not imply support for the dress code or the religous police that enforce them. The grotesque attempts, largely on this basis, to claim that the SWP is 'worse then the nazi BNP' that Povey 'supports the regime' etc demonstrate just how seriously its possible to take the discussion on this board (sorry about that Potkin). A greater concern is expressed here with fighting sectarian battles with sections of the British left then the real and present danger of military action against Iran which would probably mean the destruction of hundreds of thousands of lives. Its something to ponder. And to wonder at.

Matt M said...

Excellent blog.

I'd rather read an Iranian's take on current events than a group like the SWP's.

Anonymous said...

Any Iranian or just one who agree's with you? I'm often struck by the selective use of authenticity in these discussions (especially as the 'decent left' who occassionally pop along to patronise any Iranians who agree with them are generally terribly worried about the whole notion of 'authenticity'). Real Iranians are liberals. Just like them. Now there's a surprise. Any Iranians who disagree (even on a matter of emphasis) are 'worse then BNP nazies'. Popular Frontism has many drawbacks but one understands how tricky working with the decent left must be.

Matt M said...

Any Iranian.

Anonymous said...

This Pozkin is not an Iranian. He may have been born there, but he hasn't been there since his childhood. He is obviously frustrated but doesn't know how to deal with his frustration. So he pretends he is a nationalist but he opposes nuclear energy for Iran (the right of all nations). He will pick anything in newspapers and TV which is slightly anti Iran and he expands them to prove his views. Wake up Pozi. May be a visit to your home c

Anonymous said...

I went to an SDP meeting once, it was one of the wierdest things I've ever done.

A bunch of dole scroungers, ner-do-wells and 70's union throwbacks.

On the pub TV was a picture of Saddam on trial.

"Look" I cried "Itsn't it great" They turned away, in unison.

They'd just spend 2hs talking human rights but wouldn't cheer for this dictator's demise, as it was US lead.

I thought them a bunch of lying, cheeting, immoral posers, using human rights for their own power.

I don't believe a person among them gave a toss about it.

I don't care if a dictator's deposed by Mr Bush or Mr Zippy. But then.. I'm not in the SWP.

Anonymous said...

This meeting report is so distorted as to be utterly misleading. First it was organised by Stop the War, not the SWP. Second it was not 'a meeting about Iran' but a rally: 'Troops Home from Iraq - Don't attack Iran'.

120 people came to hear about the campaign against the occupation and the extension of war into Iran. Azarmehr talks of giving out leaflets, but neglects to mention that once the Iranian speaker Elaheh Rostami began to speak, he and his half dozen supporters did their utmost to shout her down.

This was why the chair had to get up and attempt to impose 'authority', incidentally calling for a vote on whether the speaker should be allowed to continue, which more than 90 percent of the hall supported. 'The SWP activists then surrounded the Iranian guy', he complains. I was standing at the back and could see that the person who asked him to stop shouting was one woman, so 'surrounded' is a very elastic use of language.

I don't know whether Azarmehr managed to hear above his own jeering that Elaheh Rostami concluded by saying that there were movements in Iran which have challenged and are challenging the Iranian regime - a women's movement, a student's movement and a worker's movement, but he certainly chooses not to mention the fact. She argued that a military attack will weaken all these internal methods of resistance. His constant shrieking over this suggests that he disagrees with the argument. Bizarrely it was at about this time that one of his group yelled out, 'She's a paid agent of the mullahs'.

Azarmehr also neglects to mention that Elaheh Rostami was not the event's main speaker. This was Lindsey German, the convenor of Stop the War. She was also constantly heckled by the same group, despite saying clearly and repeatedly that she did not like or support the Iranian regime.

The meeting ran long over time due to these lengthy, undemocratic and down right shameful attempts to disrupt it, but Azarmehr still had the bare faced cheek to demand that he should be given further time to speak. Apart from his little group this suggestion received no support.

Azarmehr claims that Stop the War has no interest in struggles in Iran. I refer him to the statement supporting the Iranian bus workers that has been linked from the home page of the StWC site for some time, and has been distributed on demonstrations www.stopwar.org.uk/documents/busA4.pdf.

He also attacks Socialist Worker for not supporting the strike, ignoring the recent feature written by Iranians www.socialistworker.co.uk/article.php?article_id=8313.

I remember a constant stream of commentators in 2003 saying that if the anti-war campaign didn't emphasise the evils of Saddam over the damage an attack on Iraq would cause, that made us apologists for the regime. It was a tragic argument then, and it comes back as an almost comic one now - when we have the experience of the invasion of Iraq and the occupation to learn from.

Azarmehr said...

Reply to "c" ?

Typical isn't it? No argument there so you start to ridicule my name like a school kid, calling me Pozi. How childish.

When did I say I was for or against Nuclear Technology for Iran? What I said is that the people of Iran dont have the privilige enjoyed by the likes of you here to debate the pros and cons of nuclear technology for Iran.

As for being away from Iran. You are right it does frustrate me. It also frustates thousands who flee Iran and risk the perils of life as refugees. We want to be able to oppose our government without being harmed. Why is that difficult for you to understand?

Azarmehr said...

anonymous above forgets to mention Elaheh Rostami, said Iranian women have more rights now than before the revolution. Her whole reference to human rights abuse in Iran was "You can read all this on the amnesty international site"

But there is something you dont understand when IR apologists say there are movements in Iran which have challenged and are challenging the Iranian regime - she doesnt mention how the student movement was crushed, she doesnt mention how the bus drivers and teachers movements were crushed, she doesnt campaign to solicit support for these movements, instead she mentions these to try to give an impression that there is a flourishing democracy in Iran. But you just dont get what she is up to, do you?.

Just like when in SOAS, she said "it is easier to criticese the Islamic regime inside Iran than outside Iran" What total nonsense! Not something one would expect from a university lecturer.

No one heckled Haifa nor the mother of the bereaved soldier. In fact I shook Haifa's hand afterwards and said I have the upmost respect for anyoe who stood up against Saddam, but also asked her, but why dont you mention apart from the occupation forces, there is also the interference from IRI that is making life miserable for the Iraqis, and she replied you are right, the present government is an Iranian backed government in Iraq.

Even outside when we were talking before the meeting started, to SWP members selling newspapers, when we mentioned the human rights abuses, we were constantly told what is important is the Iranian government is standing up to US imperialism! As sick as such a reply is, even that isn't true. Go and find out about "buy back" contracts the Islamic Republic set up.

There were several people who were telling the Iranian guy who was raped in Islamic Republic prisons to shut up and sit down and no one in the panel except the mother of the bereaved soldier showed him any sympathy. We have the proof on video if you want.

Just like if you try to deny that the chairperson did turn the page over with pictures of the human rights abuses in Iran. We have the video to prove it. By the way the chap who was videoing the event was constantly hassled by SWP members not to film.
The pictures I have posted are also a proof of how the chairperson didnt want to look at the human rights abuse pictures and turned her snotty nose at them..

I just had a look at the link you sent with the pdf document about the stop the war coalition supporting the bus drivers. Bit low key isn't it compared to all your other campaigns? Why didnt the SWP turn up at the rally to support the bus drivers? You always produce tons of placards. Why havent you done some for the Bus Drivers in Iran?
why didnt you get the "120 people" in your meeting to sign a petition for the Iranian bus drivers?

Certainly not many people especially your SWP activists knew anything about the plight of bus drivers in Iran.

Now you say 120 people were there. 90% wanted us out and we were half a dozen. So despite not being given the chance to speak, we managed to get 12 people on our side, if you include us the half a dozen in the 10% then at least 6. Fantastic! Given that we Iranians werent allowed to speak about Iran, I am happy that we manage dto change at least according to your own figures 6 minds.

Also in the other link about the bus drivers in SWP. This is very much like a news item printed in any other newspaper reporting a strike. There is no campaign or activity to put pressure on the Islamic Republic to release the 1300 bus drivers or to reinstate them in their jobs. Not the sort of thing one would expect from a party with the slogan of international workers solidarity. The Observer reproted the event better than that SWP article.

But more importantly and cleverly you even use the news of the bus drivers to promote the Islamic regime, by inserting crap like this:
"Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s election campaign was centred on his promise to redistribute the country’s oil wealth to the poor."

You really believe there was an election in Iran? you think people follow a campaign in Iran? You think people knew who Ahmadi-Nejad was? Have you not heard of the unelected Guardian Council vetting candidates before and after "elections"? Even the reformists within the Islamic Republic have said that Ahmadi-Nejad's votes were a fraud.

See:
http://www.iranvajahan.net/cgi-bin/news.pl?l=en&y=2005&m=06&d=19&a=1

Christine said...

Very good article. I am saddened and disgusted by the treatment you received at that meeting. Only to have it repeated here in the comments.

The outright hatred that spews from these types of people just makes me sick.

I pray that the suffering of the Iranians will end very soon.

Anonymous said...

"It is easier to criticise the regime from inside Iran than outside" - Elaheh Povey

Was it easy for these two young men, who were hung in Ahwaz City on Thursday after convicted by a secret kangaroo court of "waging war against God"?
http://www.ahwaz.org.uk/images/mehdi-hanging.jpg"

mohamad fatahi said...

Generally good discussion on SWP. It is just to let you know that SWP supported Imaam Khomeini while this Imaam was executing iranian citizens.
I have known SWP for years. They are allways on the side of the most reactionary Islamic forces across the world. We in Iran too had 'left' forces backing Khomeini and Islamic guards in their battle against infidles like me in Iran. Today, if you ask SWP whether they support worker comunist party of Iraq which is against both accupation and Islamists, You will hear from SWP saying NO, we are brothers of Moqtada Sadr!

The point I want to say is force like SWP are not mistaken. they are not wrong in their brotherhood with Islamists. It is their nature, it is in their blood. They could not bear one moment without backong contemporary facshists(Islamists). If they were in Iran, they would participate in stoning women to death, because those women are westernised, and got imperialist culture!
I am an Iranian comunist( a Hekmatist), and thind SWP should be treated as political wing of Islamic facshists. Forget about what they say about themselves, they deserve to be placed among the reactionary forces and fight against them as we fight against suppotrs of the Islamic and american terrorism.

By the way, we will have a demo on 18th March against the war, where we will have two camps, Islamists who appose america and we comunists& freedom lovers who appose America and Islamist terrorosts both. There, we all will see SWP side by side with Islamists.

Anonymous said...

The SWP article on Iranian bus drivers carries a picture of Shirin Ebadi!

Would it not have been more appropriate to have a picture of the jailed Iranian bus driver, Mansour Osanlou? or pictures of Iranian anti-riot guards beating up the children of the bus drivers?

Anonymous said...

mohamad fatahi: It is ironic that the non-monarchist elements of the Iranian opposition are generally to the left of centre, but the SWP backs the neo-conservatives of the Islamic Republic. But the Islamists don't give a damn about the SWP or others. In fact, the SWP needs them more than they need the SWP. The shame is that the anti-war movement is now dominated by the SWP, which has chosen to ally itself with the Islamists. This alienates those of us that oppose war and religious fundamentalism. They praise the "resistance" of Moqtada Al-Sadr and his ilk, without thinking of the violent communalism his followers are promoting in Iraq. Any violence is good for the SWP, any atrocity that hurts the occupation is positive in their mind. No matter that the workers are the victims of the suicide attacks, no matter the fact that Iraq can never be strong, unified and democratic as long as the Sadrists are running amok. As an anti-war activist, I cannot go on this march as I cannot bear to hear the support for this "resistance" of the Islamist fascists. These people are fools playing games with a region they don't understand. They are worse than the Americans.

Anonymous said...

So threats of violence against SWP members are ok (we should deal with them in the same way we deal with Islamist fascists), refusing to allow someone to speak in a meeting (heckling, shouting down) to the point where the chair had to have a vote to allow the speaker to speak, all this is perfectly fine.

Analysing what is actually going on in Iran is however a crime which must not be permitted as it might persuade people that invading Iran might not be the best solution to the plight of the Iranian people.

Interesting views of democracy you have Potkin.

Azarmehr said...

Oh, give over as you sound boring repeating your nonsense over and over like a tape recorder.
No one was threatened, no one was hurt. Have you never heckled anyone in a meeting if you think they speak nonsense? was the OAP at the Labour Party conference who heckled violent?

Why did your members try to stop us from filming? Their threats against the guy with camera is actually recorded along with the Iranian SWP guy who was shouting all sorts of profanities in Persian against one of the women on our side. (Also recorded)

Actually I dont think you should analyse Iran as I am finding your intellect extremely low. After all this discussion and wasting my time to answer your comments, you stil havent understood that we oppose invasion before you. But frankly if after 27 years of injustice against Iranian women, you call statements like "Women have more rights now than before the revolution", as "analysis" then frankly I give up.

Anonymous said...

"threats of violence ... refusing to allow someone to speak in a meeting ... heckling, shouting down"

These are normally the tactics of the SWP towards its opponents. Nice to see it got a taste of its own medicine.

Anonymous said...

so the meeting was "analysis"? what sort of "Iran analysis meeting" stops Iranians from talking and just lets the politbureau give out the facts?

Oh yes thats how SWP have "analysis meeting"

Deirdre said...

Why can't the SWP read the Amnesty International reports on Iran? A very good piece, if deeply depressing.

Anonymous said...

Its fairly normal in the labour movement not to allow people to speak who come to a meeting with the intention of breaking it up (this was clearly the case). Its also fairly clear that people who write on public weblists about a speakers relatives political activities in Iran cannot be trusted. But then, as far as I can work out, the politics here are monarchist. So its not a huge surprise.

Anonymous said...

"Its also fairly clear that people who write on public weblists about a speakers relatives political activities in Iran cannot be trusted. But then, as far as I can work out, the politics here are monarchist. So its not a huge surprise."
I only mentioned her challenge to the dress code imposed by the regime on women, not her 'political activities'. Of course, if one were to believe the nonsense Elaheh Povey is spouting, the woman has nothing to fear because Iranian women are free and empowered and as the regime's supporters in the SWP claim, Iran is a democratic utopia.
Oh, and I don't support the Iranian monarchy. Many Iranians who do not support monarchy would react with the same level of disbelief as monarchists to Povey and the SWP's claims about women's empowerment in Iran. Any open-minded person with a certain level of common sense understands the reality of oppression in Iran against women, religious and ethnic minorities and anyone who voices opposition to fascism (look at Akbar Ganji, a man who is ignored by the left in the West).

Anonymous said...

Pozkin
You sound like a Walter Mitty character. Do you think IRI is after a blogger?

Get over your frustration and visit Iran. Get to know its people and culture. It will be good for you.
C

Deirdre said...

Anonymous should mount a personal SWP fact finding visit to Iran (I would suggest that he or she try either Qom or Mashad---both 'very holy' cities).
And if anonymous is female, practise wearing a chador before you leave for the Iranian East.

Azarmehr said...

C, or is it Cyrus Madani? You do your part in the British Council, I do mine. Call me Pozkin and call yourself a small 'c', for thats what you are :))

As long as the mainstream media ignores the plights of Iranian dissidents in Iran, then weblogs like mine are useful to raise awareness amongst the international public opinion. Good luck with your visists to Iran.

Anonymous said...

"c" said :
'Do you think IRI is after a blogger?'

Actually YES. I am surprised that after all these "visits" you make to Iran, you havent known about all these webloggers who have been arrested and sentenced in Iran!!!!!

How do the British Council employ such dim wits??

Peter Wakeham said...

Unfortunately many so-called socialists today follow the writings of Engels who was heavily quoted in Mein Kampf.

Anonymous said...

Hi people!!! Very interesting blog.
CYA later and ...Good Luck!
PinkPony

DGR said...

Following your blog closely ... am moved every time I read.

This post is amazing in its clarity, and clarion exposure of the double standards of the Left (not just SWP, I fear) ... and their deep, profound, numbing ignorance.

At least, I hope its ignorance, for what else could it be?