Wednesday, May 24, 2006

House of Commons Meeting

Went to the House of Commons meeting last night. Speakers were : Chair Jeremy Corbyn, Lindsey German (Stop the War Coalition), Dr Elaheh Rostami Povery (Action Iran), Kate Hudson (CND Chair) and the Tudeh Party.

Lindsey German started her speech, almost identical to what she was saying last time I saw her at the SWP meeting in Hackney. Then Elaheh Rostami started her usual windbag. She went on about the Shah of Iran and how he was such a "famous"! dictator and what a popular revolution it was that overthrew him. Then the same outrageous absurdities about how the women of Iran have benefited from the revolution and regurgitated some statistics on how well off Iranian women are now days (apparently 96% of them have immunisation!). Added to all her usual gibberish, was her new figment of imagination on how well the mullahs have redistributed the wealth! As an example, she mentioned the houses of Shah's supporters which were confiscated and given to the urban poor :)

The Tudeh Party (Iran's pro-Soviet Union Communist Party - does it still exist?) representative was Mohammad Omidvar, who talked about his dismay at the failure of the reformists in Iran, but at least he was not as supportive of the Islamic Republic as Elaheh Rostami was.

The last speaker was Kate Hudson from CND, who said the Islamic Republic had adhered to all international nuclear treaties and has not set a foot wrong, but she condemned the West's use of nuclear technology and weapons.

This however was a more democratic meeting to the one we previously attended to organised by the SWP. Credit to Jeremy Corbyn, and unlike the SWP, we were allowed to question and challenge the speakers.

I stood up and reiterated our position that opposing the invasion must be accompanied by opposing the religious dictatorship in Iran. I listed some of the atrocities of the Islamic Republic in the last 27 years and how the likes of Elaheh Rostami and most of the panel members had remained silent. Throughout the brief time I had been given however, Elaheh Rostami's husband who always sits strategically behind me in the audience, tried to interrupt me by calling me a CIA agent and a monarchist. I tried to continue however and explain how Elaheh Rostami either lies to the British audience or tells them half truths, about the situation of women in Iran and workers etc. For example she mentioned how the bus drivers in Iran went on strike and some were arrested but were then later released, but she didn't mention that they were all sacked and lost their livelihood and how the bus drivers' leader, Mansour Ossanlou, remains in solitary confinement without being charged and how previously he had his tongue slashed by the state sponsored union bashing thugs. I concluded that the best way to stop the invasion of Iran was international solidarity to overthrow the religious dictatorship in Iran in favour of a secular democratic government.

After me, another Iranian stood up and spoke much more eloquently than me. He said right at the start that he was unequivocally against any invasion of Iran. He mentioned his family in fact live in the Natanz area, near one of the nuclear reactors and he shuddered to think what would happen to them if an invasion took place. He continued however by saying that the Islamic Republic is really a nasty regime and how disappointed he was by the chairman of CND's hypocrisy, Kate Hudson, who could not see how the mullahs in any way had tried to hide their nuclear ambitions and listed some of their deceptions. He concluded by saying that at the end of the day, no matter how many meetings are held or how many marches take place, the US will not tolerate a nuclear Islamic Republic and the only way to stop the invasion is to overthrow the mullahs, not to bolster the mullahs.

But if some of the statements made by the panel were outrageous, some members of the audience were real fruit cakes. There was an old man, straight from the Jurassic Park, whom Jeremy Corbyn called him by his first name, George. Prior to the meeting, he refused to read a leaflet I gave him and threw it away. He accused us of having a parish church mentality and not seeing the bigger picture, which was the "global struggle of the oppressed masses against US imperialism". At times when he said the word 'imperialism', he got so worked up, I thought he was going to collapse and die. Then there was another woman from an organisation called Liberation(?). In the brief time she had, I counted the number of times she mentioned the word "imperialism", 14 times! "The US imperialism wants to take away the oil money from the people of Iran, like they did with their puppet Shah"
I waited till she finished and asked her "Is the oil money coming to the people of Iran now?" She stood up again and said, "It is not coming to the people of Iran now because the US imperialism is taking it away"!

Another member of her organisation (Liberation?) stood up. A tall young man, with a la-de-da accent, who referred to everyone in the room as "brothers and sisters". To my amazement, he said how North Korea had avoided invasion by developing nuclear weapons and Iran too should do the same. Just to clear any confusion, I asked him "Sorry are you in favour of North Korea?" and bloody hell, he said he supported the North Korean government wholeheartedly!

I thought to myself here is someone who calls his organisation "Liberation" and wants to "liberate" the world to become like North Korea!
He stood by the door trying to flog his Liberation publication after the meeting was over. As I went past him, I asked him laughingly "How is the Great Leader Kim-il-Sung, and our dear leader, Kim-il-Jung?". His comrade, the woman who mentioned imperialism 14 times in two minutes, replied "Have you ever been there?", to which I replied "Have you ever been to Iran?"

Outside the room, we presented our petition to stop under-age marriage laws in the Islamic Republic of Iran, many signed it and told us we were right in challenging the Islamic republic apologists in the meeting. A gentleman from Bangladesh, told me as he was signing the petition, "these champagne Socialists, sit in their comfortable surroundings and have never lived in an Islamic fundamentalist state to know the horrors of it."

Kate Hudson from the CND also signed our petition but Elaheh Rostami and her husband refused and walked away hand in hand. Which is all good, I like to see people freely expressing their affection for each other without fear, but I just thought to myself, shame they wouldn't be able to do that in the Islamic Republic. A Muslim born woman holding hands with her non-Muslim husband in public? Perish the thought!


Anonymous said...

I thoroughly enjoyed this post, thank you. It reminded me of so many times I've been in similar situations best described as you do by the quote from the Bangladeshi man. Just read a piece on George Galloway in Q-music-magazine, which went well with your post. Thanks for showing up and speaking and writing.

Aryamehr said...


I was laughing on the floor when I read your part on the old man who almost dropped dead out of excitement when he uttered the word imperialism!!! loooool

Good job my fellow compatriot, brother, comrade, countryman (whichever you prefer!)

Anonymous said...

Potkin Jaan,

Bravo you are an asset to our people. I loved the way you challenged these Useful idiots of the regime.

Kia Atri

Hanif Leylabi said...

Which SWP organised meetings are you referring to?