By Yasmine Mather, Workers' Left Unity-Iran
Although Iranians are well known for blaming foreign powers for all
the country's social, economic and political problems, there is some
truth in their resentment of the United States and its role in
ensuring the survival of the clerical regime in Tehran and thus
bringing about the presidency of the fascist Ahmedinejad.
If it wasn't for the policy of "regime change" in Iraq and the
disastrous war of the last three years, Iran's Shia rulers would not
have retained power and strengthened their position in the region.
Thanks to the US/UK occupation and the "dawn of democracy" in Iraq,
Iran's Ayatollahs and their proteges are in power not only in Iran,
but also in Baghdad. They now control two thirds of Iraq.
By spring 2005 the Iranian clergy was so confident of its own
position that it allowed all factions of Islamic Republic Party to
compete in the presidential elections. That led to the election of
Ahmedinejad on a populist platform. These elections marked the end of
the rule of so called "reformists" who had produced very limited and
conditional "personal" freedoms for the rich while imposing increased
destitution and abject poverty on the majority.
Ahmadinejad got elected with promises of a return to the "principles
of Feb 79" - revolution, social justiceŠ Of course his promises
proved as empty as Khomeini's, and so far the Ahmadinejad presidency
has been marked by his ignorance, superstitions (in the autumn he
claimed during his speech at the UN General Assembly, that God
intervened through the appearance of a "light" that dazzled the
audience of high ranking presidents and heads of states and at the
same time covered him in a halo of light) and outright fascism in
denying the Holocaust.
In social and economic policies he is following in the footsteps of
his predecessor Khatami. Privatisation leading to mass unemployment
is the order of the day. Hundreds of thousands of workers have not
been paid for months (in some cases years). Any attempt to organise
workers is attacked using security forces and the military. The
following letter by the lawyer Nasser Zarafshan, who is in prison for
defending the families of left-wing writers, victims of serial
political murders, reflects the opinion of many in Iran. The letter
was written earlier this month.
"Finally the government of the 'disinherited' has shed its mask,
showing its true nature with a savage attack on the Syndicate of
Tehran bus workers. This was predictable as workers would have
inevitably overcome their fears and illusions, reaching the
conclusion that no one but members of their own class and their
representatives will defend their interests and their rights.
That is why they formed a syndicate to pursue the issue of the
livelihood of their families and of course this is a major crime in
Iran's Islamic Republic.
Clarification of social issues and destroying illusions is dangerous
and the power built on the strength of such illusions is forced to
react, when there is a danger of such thoughts spreading throughout
the country. Society's progress over the last twenty five years has
wiped out many such illusions; for many years now everyone has
realised what those in power do with the nation's wealth. The stories
about "Aghayan" [Gentlemen, a reference to high ranking clerics] and
"Aghazadegan" [sons of high ranking clerics], their hidden jetties
and foreign investments is repeated in every gathering and circle of
In any case, as soon as the workers realise what is happening to them
and try and organise in defence of their most basic rights, those in
power shed their mask with little hesitation attacking the workers
and in this way now everything is clear and in the open.
First the thugs and club wielders of the regime attacked the workers
to punish them. Then they turned the facts upside down, claiming that
it was the workers who 'attacked' the security forces in the location
of their own syndicate! And the workers were arrested for 'breach ofsecurity'.
But this wasn't enough to silence the workers. The state then
intervened directly, the workers representatives were sent to Evin
prison so that they can taste 'Islami kindness' on behalf of fellow
I have heard that amongst other accusations, Ossanlou (leader of the
syndicate of Vahed Bus workers) was accused of 'smuggling weapons'!
If anyone is in any doubt about the significance of this accusation,
I am very familiar with this accusation and its consequences. What
isn't clear is why the authorities failed to follow and arrest
Ossanlou when he allegedly smuggled weapons and waited until they
attacked the syndicate offices! How come they suddenly remembered
that these union activists were also involved in 'gun smuggling'! I
wouldn't be surprised if they later suggest that at the time of his
arrest, Ossanlou had been drinking but they forgot to mention it at
The rest is clear. As always they will try and divide the workers.
They will enchant a few and threaten the rest trying to create a
The more conscious workers will be identified and will face all sorts
of accusations. However these methods have lost their effectiveness.
Is it the mercenaries who attacked Tehran Bus workers with carpet
cutting blades and those who sent them endangering the country's
security or the workers who had gathered to discuss trade union
issues? Those who are putting this level of pressure on workers and
toilers, don't they realise that nothing endangers the country's
'security and independence' more than the dissatisfaction of the
majority of the people who cannot feed their families? Instead of
relying on atomic weapons to maintain 'national security' they should
stop suffocating the toilers."
Nasser Zarafshan, January 2006, Evin Prison