Crisis, Repression and Coup in Iran

Posted July 1, 2009

It should go without saying that socialists anywhere in the world must stand on the side of the Iranian popular democratic resistance to election fraud, violent repression and tyranny. For those of us in the imperialist states and particularly in the USA, an important part of that solidarity with the Iranian people is our demand on our own government: HANDS OFF! The U.S. ruling class has no role to play in the struggle for Iranian democracy and freedom.

At the same time, those of us who are opponents of the empire must be partisans of people anywhere struggling to free themselves. The unfolding events in the Iranian crisis – beginning as a controlled competition within the clerical regime, which stirred democratic passions among the people far beyond anyone’s initial intentions — remind us, on the one hand, of the magnificent democratic mobilizations in Iran’s own history and globally, from the fall of the Berlin Wall to the Palestinian Intifada.

Today, on the other hand, they also remind us of some of the great tragedies of our era – the Sharpeville massacre in 1960 in South Africa, the Pinochet coup of September 11, 1973 in Chile, the pre-Olympic massacre in 1968 of students in Mexico City and last year’s brutal military repression against the people of Oaxaca, the 1981 Jaruzelski coup against Solidarity in Poland, the Burmese junta’s slaughter of protesters last year and, of course, the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989 in Beijing.

What has happened in Iran? It is plausible, though it will now remain forever impossible to determine, that the Ahmadinejad presidential regime might have been able to win a close victory in an authentic election. Evidently the massive pre-election demonstrations for Moussavi convinced the presidential apparatus, the Revolutionary Guards and the “Supreme Guide” Khamenei that nothing could be left to chance – and certainly that no second runoff round would be permitted.

Even with candidates vetted for their loyalty to the system, the expectation of a massive popular turnout meant that unlike past electoral exercises, the outcome and the aftermath might not be easily controlled. Therefore, a massive election theft was perpetrated, essentially undisguised in broad daylight – ballot box stuffing, unmonitored fraudulent counting (before as well as after the vote), and above all a pre-planned massive mobilization of repressive force against the outraged response.

The pretext of democratic institutions underlying the Islamic Republic has been sacrificed. Indeed, not only the “republic” part of the façade but also much of the “Islamic” part has been stripped — what’s occurred appears to have many qualities of a military quasi-fascist coup, albeit with Khamenei as an important figurehead.

The question now is whether this still unconsolidated presidentialist-Revolutionary Guard dictatorship can be imposed both on the population and on the decayed and divided clerical elite of mullahs that took control following the 1979 revolution. Moussavi and Rafsanjani, the main figures in the current opposition, are of course part and parcel of that old elite. If the Ahmadinejad-Revolutionary Guard repression succeeds in crushing their efforts, the democratic resistance will find new forms although the struggle will be protracted and costly.

The popular opposition lacks coherent leadership and above all, institutions capable of sustaining a long hard fight under repressive conditions. The statements of Iranian trade union militants for workers’ rights and against the dictatorship are an important stirring and powerful promise for the future, but these are only at an incipient stage. Nonetheless, the Ahmadinejad regime can neither produce economic prosperity nor satisfy people’s demands for freedom from crippling social and cultural repression. Increasingly this regime presents itself to the population as a government of gangsters.

To repeat: Nothing is so harmful to the democratic struggle in Iran as any hint of imperialist intervention, whether in the guise of “sanctions” or anything else. The right-wing politicians and “neoconservative” types who denounce Barack Obama “for failing to speak out forcefully on Iran” understand this perfectly. The existence of an unpopular and discredited Iranian dictatorship is perfectly suited to their agenda of escalating confrontation and ultimately war with Iran – an agenda they share with the Netanyahu government in Israel, threatening the most catastrophic consequences for the Middle East and the world.

Standing up FOR the Iranian people’s democratic struggle and AGAINST the imperialist agenda are one and the same struggle.


9 responses to “Crisis, Repression and Coup in Iran”

  1. hoshang Avatar


    NIAC Calls for the Release of Kian Tajbakhsh, an End to Political Detentions and Abuse
    Source: National Iranian American Council (NIAC)

    Kian Tajbakhsh

    Washington DC – The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) condemns the arrest and imprisonment of Kian Tajbakhsh, an Iranian-American intellectual who was taken from his home in Iran and jailed late last Thursday. NIAC calls for his release and the immediate release of all those who have been arrested and detained for demonstrating in the weeks following Iran’s disputed presidential election.

    “Tajbakhsh’s recent arrest is part of an ongoing effort by the government of Iran to silence dissent,” said NIAC President Trita Parsi, “and it shows the Iranian government’s continued disregard for the basic rights of its people in the wake of last month’s election.” NIAC has condemned the use of violence and political detentions against demonstrators in Iran, and called for a new election as the only plausible way to end the turmoil.

    Tajbakhsh was not involved in the current demonstrations, but had been arrested in 2007 along with four other dual citizens on charges of trying to foment a ‘velvet revolution’ against the Islamic Republic. He spent four months in Tehran’s Evin Prison before his was released. Following his release in 2007, he remained in Iran and deliberately avoided politics, his friends and family members say. Tajbakhsh, a Columbia University graduate, taught urban policy at the New School for Social Research in New York City from 1994 until 2001.

    According to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, over 240 other prominent Iranian lawyers, activists, journalists, professors, human rights defenders and students have been arrested without charge, and have been taken to undisclosed locations since the demonstrations began. NIAC has also received many reports of detainees in Iran’s prisons being mistreated, including prisoners being tortured and raped.

    NIAC calls on the Iranian government to restore basic human and legal rights to its prisoners, including a halt to torture and guaranteed access to legal representation in accordance with the Iranian constitution

  2. salah Avatar

    General Strike in Iranian Kurdistan

    PDKI – Press release

    On the 20th anniversary of the assassination of the Kurdish leader and former General-Secretary of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI), Dr. Abdul-Rahman Ghassmlou, the people of Iranian Kurdistan staged a general strike.

    Every year, since the assassination of Dr. Ghassemlou on 13 July 1989 by the Islamic Republic of Iran, the PDKI has called on the Kurdish nation in Iranian Kurdistan to commemorate Dr. Ghassemlou as well as to condemn the Islamic regime’s policies of assassination and terrorism by engaging in various forms of peaceful political protest.

    This year, like previous years, the markets, shopping centres and individual shops all over Iranian Kurdistan were closed. Furthermore, the inhabitants of Iranian Kurdistan have assembled in large numbers dressed in traditional Kurdish clothes to symbolically express their condemnation of the assassination of Dr. Ghassemlou by the Islamic Republic of Iran.

  3. Hoshang Avatar

    ” Sectarians of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your sects!”

    The reason for asking such a question should have been very obvious, but in case of our dear Worker Communist friend it just does not register.

    The same question put another way would be: ” If you are not able to even get together, and unite with your own x-comrades and friends, how exactly are you going to unite the working class of Iran; what makes you think you have anything to offer Iranian people for a united action against the regime?”

  4. hoshang Avatar

    Hunger Strike in Support of the Iranian People and for the Release of Political Prisoners
    Press Release by
    Hunger Strike by A Coalition of Leading Iranian Intellectuals, Pro-Democracy Activists and Scholars

    Date: July 22-24 (all day)
    Location: United Nations Building, New York
    Contact: (720) 317 1016 or

    The people of Iran have, with their vast presence in the June 12 presidential elections, showed that despite the fundamental faults of the electoral system in Iran, they preferred to change their destiny by peaceful and democratic means. Unfortunately the government did not respect the right of Iranian citizens to effectively participate in determining their destiny. With widespread fraud, it violated this basic right of the Iranian people on a vast scale and blatantly unleashed massive repression against its own people. Even more regrettably, the government that emerged from the coup resorted to extreme and merciless brutality against the wave of peaceful protests and arrested a large number of political activists, intellectuals, reporters, and ordinary people, in violation of legal procedures, and dispatched them to solitary confinement. According to reliable reports, the detainees are subjected to various forms of extreme psychological and physical pressure to confess to crimes they have not committed.

    In solidarity with the Iranian people’s Green Movement and condemning the widespread electoral fraud, the merciless repression of the popular protests, and the illegal arrest of hundreds of citizens and activists in Iran, we the undersigned are going on hunger strike between 22 to 24 July in front of the UN building in New York. We intend to have the voice of the long-suffering Iranian people to be heard. We ask the responsible members of the world community to demand the release of all political prisoners. Considering the alarming condition of the recent detainees, with their health and even lives in jeopardy, we demand they be visited by representatives of the General Secretary of the UN and immediately freed.

    In addition, we the undersigned call on all our compatriots living in the United States and people of conscience to join this protest, meeting on the above-mentioned dates in front of the UN to declare their solidarity with Iranian people’s Green Movement during these dangerous and crucial days.


    Akbar Ganji, Fatemeh Haqiqatjoo, Mehrangiz Kar, Abdol-Ali Bazargan, Hamid Dabashi, Mansour Farhang, Mostafa Rokhsefat, Majid Mohammadi, Arash Naraghi, Ahmad Sadri, Mahmoud Sadri, Hossein Bashiriyeh, Ali Reza’i, Kazem Alamdari, Ali Banuazizi, Mohammad Borghei, Reza Fani-Yazdi, Nehzat Farnoody, Nader Hashemi, Abdee Kalantari, Hossein Kamali, Ahmad Karimi Hakkak, Mehrdad Mashayekhi, Ali Mirsepassi, Ebrahim Soltani, Nayereh Tohidi, Shireen Neshat


    Abdolkarim Soroush, Mohsen Makkmalbaf, Hassan Yousefi Eshkevari, Moussavi Khoeiniha, Ervand Abrahamian, Janet Afary, Taher Ahmadzadeh, Mehrzad Boroujerdi, Mohsen Ghaemmagham, Ali Keshtegar, Reza Moini, Mohammad Reza Nikfar, Shahrnoush Parsipour, Ali Qodsi, Masoumeh Shafiee, Shayla Vahdaty

  5. Nasser Asgary Avatar
    Nasser Asgary

    The name says it all. There is only one Worker-communist party of Iran (WPI). The other groups that have been named are not WPI, neither known as such, and are not calling themselves WPI. One is calling itself Hekmatists and are known as such and the other one is Unity of Worker Communism. I am not really sure why would the person leaving comment ask such a question?!

  6. Anonymous Avatar

    Our place is at the side of the Iranian people!

    Statement by the executive bureau of the Fourth International
    Fourth International

    Since June 13th, after the faked presidential election, millions of Iranian are expressing their anger with cries of “down with the dictatorship”. Their mobilization increases the crisis of the regime. Ferocious repression has already caused hundreds of dead and wounded. Our place is at the side of the Iranian people!

    With the announcement of the re-election of Ahmadinejad, the underground war between the various factions in power was transformed into open war. Four candidates had been authorized to participate. Four of the regime’s dignitaries who share responsibility for the bloody balancesheet of the thirty years of the Islamic Republic. But the Supreme Leader [1]and the clan in power designated the winner well before the first round. In a context of strong tensions between factions, crisis and social instability, it was unthinkable that the Guide be repudiated by the people. In the same way, the immense economic and financial interests in the hands of Pasdaran and their desire to take control of important sectors of the economy, controlled by the clan of the former president of the Rafsandjani Republic, made it impossible for Ahmadinejad and his cronies to give up power and its privileges. In this fight to control oil revenue, the wealth of the country and power, Khamenei and Ahmadinejad carried out a true coup d’etat intended to oust their rivals.
    For democratic liberties and the claims of working people

    Faced with increasing economic difficulties, with unemployment, with which galloping inflation, corruption and nepotism became increasingly unbearable. The determination of the population throw off the suffocating weight of the mullahs’ regime and put an end to the repression against the youth and women who are fighting for their rights, is more and more intertwined with the specific labour demands. The courageous mobilization of the Iranian people accentuates divisions within the regime and weakens it.

    The regime responds to the legitimate aspirations of the population by bloody repression, massive arrests, prohibition of journalists and cutting phone networks and Internet. It is a true state of siege that the Islamic Republic is imposing. In Teheran, Bassidjis, the anti-riot troops, and the Pasdaran brigades took possession of the city in order to choke off the dispute. But to no avail. The rejection of the power is deep and the protest movement takes various forms. It is not repression which will extinguish the anger and the determination of the Iranian people!
    A new phase of in the struggle

    A new phase of struggle is opening in Iran. It is to the women, to the workers and the youth – to all the demonstrators who defy the Islamic Republic while not hesitating to risk their lives – that all our support is given. Spontaneous strikes have erupted in several companies, in Teheran in particular and strike calls are multiplying. The decisive question of the general strike is put, not by Moussavi, who is trying to ride the wave of the dispute, but by the Iranian workers themselves. The arrival of the working class in this movement can give cohesion and the force necessary to overthrow the Islamic Republic and to establish a new democratic and social republic that stands against imperialist and Zionist attacks. The fight for true democratic rights, the right to strike, the right to hold free elections, to constitute free trade unions and political parties as well as the fight for social justice and the equality between women and men must be based on international solidarity. Their fight is ours!

    -The Fourth International – an international organisation struggling for the socialist revolution – is composed of sections, of militants who accept and apply its principles and programme. Organised in separate national sections, they are united in a single worldwide organisation acting together on the main political questions, and discussing freely while respecting the rules of democracy.


    [1] Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Hoseyni Khāmene’i

  7. Anonymous Avatar

    Wasn’t this group split to at leat three differnt factions: “Hekmatists,” ” Unity of WCP,” and ” WCPI?”

    With a “Leftist movement” so fragmented, and plagued by such abtuse sectariannism, should it be a surprise if Islamic Republic survives this lastest crisis as well?

    “Sectarians of the World Unite, you have nothing to lose but your puny Sects!”

  8. Anonymous Avatar

    Statement by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Iran

    On The Current Protests In the Iranian Cities

    Workers, Liberated People of Iran!

    The regime of the Islamic Republic is facing one of its most extensive political and economic crises in its past 30 years. The extent and dimensions of this crisis has clearly manifested itself in inflation and unbearable high costs, unemployment in millions, successive bankruptcies of production centers and industrial firms, international isolation, growth of social movements and mass protests and intensive differences amongst the different strata of the ruling class.

    The dominant faction of the Islamic regime wants to get over this crisis by strengthening the position of the Guards Corps within the state and through a harsh military dictatorship, and thus guaranteeing the survival of Islamic Republic. In pursuit of this goal, the regime once again pulled out Ahmadinejad from the ballot boxes by utilizing and organizing military-security forces, by playing a behind-the-scene role in the election scenario. At the moment, the dominant faction is going through the last scene of the election scenario and with the aid of Martial Law and various government sectors, public television and radio as well as other publications and media outlets, it is turning the presence of those very social strata it drew to the ballot boxes to a reserve for their own suppression.

    Now, different social strata and groups disillusioned and regretful over participating in the elections shoulder to shoulder with the people who have always been disgusted by the regime’s existence in its totality are turning the streets of Tehran and other major Iranian cities into a space for protest against the electoral coup d’etat by the Guardians Corps. The Security forces are brutally attacking the protesting, angry masses. Universities, streets and various squares in Tehran and other Iranian cities have turned into the field of an unequal clash between empty handed masses and the regime’s security forces armed to teeth.

    The people who went to ballot boxes influenced by demagogy and deceitful campaign commercials by the regimes leaders, government reformers, Western press and that section of bourgeois opposition supporting the regime, should not repeat their historical mistake in another form by following Mousavi, Karoubi or Khatami. These top officials of the regime have always been a constant pillar of 30 years of rule by the Islamic Republic, and have participated in every crime committed by the regime against the people. Now that Mir Hossain Mousavi advises people to chant “Allah o Akbar” at night from their rooftops, people should know that for 30 years bat-wielding thugs of Hezbollah groups have been attacking protesting workers, women, students, and the revolutionary movement in Kurdistan while chanting “Allah o Akbar,” under the guidance of these very same gentlemen. The chant of “Allah o Akbar” is a symbol of theocratic state and as such a manifestation of utter lack of most basic human rights for Iranian people.

    Government reformers have never had the inclination, credentials or the ability to lead Iranian people’s just struggles and they never will. The Iranian masses should not turn into a reserve force for settling the accounts by the candidates that lost to Ahmadinejad. They should not follow their reactionary slogans.

    It is important for the people to participate in the struggle with their own slogans and demands; demands which stem from their real everyday lives and needs. They should choose such slogans and demands, which, if implemented, will jolt pillars of the state and function as a genuine prospect in people’s lives.

    The people should turn the demands for the separation of religion from state, unconditional political freedom, freedom for all political prisoners, guaranteeing of complete equality between women and men in every single aspect of social life, abolition of forced veils for women, freedom of self-organization, salary increase proportionate to the inflation rate, securing the individual liberties, end to national oppression, abolition of death penalty… into slogans for their struggles and protests.

    Labor movement and other vanguard social movements should organize their ranks through struggles for attainment of these demands. Overthrowing the Islamic Republic and realization of social revolution goes through this path. Party activists and socialist vanguards in the social movements are required to actively engage in the current situation and take these orientations into the midst of people’s protests.

    Down with the Islamic Republic!

    Long Live Freedom, Equality and the Workers’ State!

    Long Live Socialism!

    15 June 2009


    Statement by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Iran
    On The Continuation of People’s Protests

    It is now five days since people’s mass protests in Tehran and some other Iranian cities against the electoral coup of Khamenei-Ahmadinejad faction took place. A coup to put aside government reformers, and humiliate the people who had gone to ballot boxes based on illusions and wishful thinking.

    Regime’s repressive apparatuses have not spared people’s peaceful protests from barbarism and homicide. Up to now 8 people have lost their lives in the Monday protests after the attacks on protestors. There have been also fatal casualties and a high number of people have been wounded and imprisoned following the attacks on the universities and on the demonstrators.

    Looking at the news and the protesters’ demands and central slogans and the prevention of any other slogan that could express people’s true demands, all point to fact that the reformers in the government have complete control and guidance over these protests.

    This bitter reality is the primary weakness and Achilles’ heel of people’s mass protests. So far reformers have used people, -whose participation in the elections was based on their pent up fury against the regime and all the suffering and afflictions of the past 30 years-, as cannon fodder for settling accounts with the Guardians Corps and Khamenei’s faction.

    Reformers aim to narrow down people’s fury, protests and demands which stem from people’s real life, into a limited demand for “Annulment of Elections.” Mousavi has recommended protesters to not chant “Death to Dictator”. Karoubi has called the black-dressed protestors on Friday to end their march at the Friday’s mass prayer, which is led by Khamenei, to once again demonstrate his loyalty to him.

    The nature of reformers’ goals and the demands that they have set for people during their protests and the reformers’ past experience show the reformers’ incompetency and inability to lead the people’s struggle. These reformers themselves are a part of the Islamic Republic’s establishment, and to protect this establishment they would make compromise over their even limited demands with other faction at any moment.

    In such a context and regardless of how a compromise is reached, suppression and putting an end to people’s protests will make one central component of this compromise. The Iranian people and the masses who have poured on the streets should not allow any of these factions to use them as tools for settling their factional accounts and get slaughtered because of such a compromise.

    In these circumstances where the political crisis is escalating and where the Regime’s political record has been exposed to the society, all socialist activists and progressive and vanguard individuals are to optimally utilize this provided opportunity. In addition to enlightening on the sensitive situation at hand, activists should also promote the necessity of forming a revolutionary alternative and building their independent movements far away from any factional fight inside the ruling class. Activists should intensify their efforts to create labor councils and other forms of workers organizations as well as help other vanguard social movements to organize themselves.

    It is vital for the existing worker organizations, left and socialist women and students to inform the public of their evaluations of the current situation.

    The struggle to fulfill people’s tangible demands, – based on the living conditions of the suppressed majority of population-, and the primacy of this task should be implemented within people’s movement. Separation of religion from state, unconditional political freedom, freedom for all political prisoners, guaranteeing the equality between women and men in all fields of social life, abolition of forced veils for women, freedom of self-organization, salary increase proportionate to the inflation rate, securing the individual liberties, end to national oppression, abolition of death penalty, etc must become the demands of people’s protests and struggles.

    Down with the Islamic Republic!

    Long Live Freedom, Equality and the Workers’ State!

    Long Live Socialism!

    18 June 2009