Far left collusion with Islamo-fascism

Tribune, 18 November 2005

Peter Tatchell urges solidarity with the Iranian people's struggle
against clerical tyranny

Guess who was the key-note speaker at the Campaign for Nuclear
Disarmament's annual conference last month? No, it wasn't the veteran
peace campaigner Pat Arrowsmith.

Surprise, surprise. It was the Iranian ambassador, Dr Seyed Adeli. An
odd choice. Why would a progressive movement like CND give a platform
to the representative of a clerical fascist regime that executes
apostates, unchaste women, gay people and even children?

"Given the possibility of an attack on Iran.we wanted to hear the view
of the Iranian government," explained CND Chair, Kate Hudson. "There
was no implied support.but a desire for peaceful - but firm - lobbying
and dialogue."

So when is CND hosting anti-nuclear activists from Iran? Not any time
soon, it seems. Moreover, when a handful of delegates heckled Dr Deli,
they were ejected by CND stewards. All of which leaves Iranian
left-wingers rather puzzled about the politics of the British peace
movement. Peace at any price? With any blood-stained dictatorship?

The ayatollahs view Dr Adeli's speech to CND as a big propaganda coup;
giving them kudos and respectability. Anti-fascist Iranians feel
totally betrayed. With good reason. As Dr Adeli addressed CND, a
Tehran court found a young woman guilty of adultery. Identified only
as Soghra, she was sentenced to be stoned to death.

The good folks at CND were presumably unaware of this latest judicial
barbarity, but I doubt they would have been much fussed had they
known. Their agenda is anti-nuclear, not pro-human rights. They
applauded the ambassador's speech.

In the Islamic Republic of Iran, stoning people to death is not
against the law, it is the law. The only crime is to use the
wrong-sized stones. Too big, and the victim will die quickly without
suffering enough pain. Too small, and they might not die at all.

Welcome to the new medievalism that is modern Iran, where the
barbarism of Sharia law holds sway, and where superstitious, bigoted
clerics have the power to decide whether people live or die for the
most trivial offences. Women are threatened with lashing for
"misplaced smiles" that arouse "satanic desires" in men. Last year, 14
year old Kaveh Habibi-Nejad was flogged to death in the town of
Sanandaj for "eating in public" during Ramadan.

Franco's Spain and Pinochet's Chile were tea parties by comparison to
Iran's Islamist bloodfest. Since the ayatollah's seized power in 1979,
nearly 100,000 Iranians have been murdered - including socialists,
trade unionists, communists, feminists, journalists, students,
lawyers, writers, doctors, human rights activists and religious and
ethnic leaders.

In the four months following the June election of hardline President,
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, over 80 people are known to have been executed or
sentenced to death. Under Iranian law, girls as young as nine and boys
as young as 15 can be hanged. So far this year, seven children have
been executed.

Torture is endemic. The barbaric tortures inflicted in the name of
Islam include the cutting out of prisoner's eyes, crushing their heads
in metal vices, and forcing boiling water into their ears. The Dark
Ages are alive and kicking in modern-day Iran.

CND is not the only supposedly progressive movement that is lost for
words when confronted by the crimes of the ayatollahs. The Labour
government also ignores the cries of the Iranian people.

The Home Office says Iranian asylum seekers with torture scars all
over their bodies are "not genuine." It wants to deport them back to
Iran, where they will face further torture and possible execution. The
Foreign Office has prioritised action against Iran's nuclear
programme. Human rights concerns have been quietly dropped; much to
the delight of the ayatollahs. When two gay teenagers were publicly
executed in the summer, the Foreign Secretary declined to protest to
Tehran. The government's commitment to uphold universal human rights
apparently does not apply to Iranians, or at least not to gay ones.

Despite its socialist rhetoric, the far left is no better. In Iran in
mid-2003, a wave of strikes and demonstrations by workers and students
was violently suppressed, with over 4,000 arrests. Where were the
protests from the workers' defenders, the Socialist Workers Party?

Only last week, two labour activists were jailed for taking part in a
peaceful May Day rally in the city of Saqez in 2004. Mahmoud Salehi
got five years and Jalal Hosseini three years. It is thanks to
international trade union protests that these men did not suffer a
more grisly fate. Even now, who can say what will happen to them in
prison. If they are not tortured it will be the exception, not the
rule.

Since the beginning of 2005, Iran has erupted with episodic protests
by workers, students and the Arab minority in the south. These heroic
struggles have been blanked from the pages of Socialist Worker. Why?

June's general election in Iran was marred by widespread fraud. It
bought to power the anti-democracy, fundamentalist candidate, Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad. Yet the Stop The War Coalition (STWC), which is dominated
by the SWP, boasts that ordinary Iranians are "making advances towards
democracy." Some advance.

The STWC and SWP are campaigning against a US invasion of Iran. Good.
But they have shamefully vetoed any protests against the Tehran
regime. This refusal to support Iranian democrats and socialists
replicates their failure to back the anti-Saddam opposition in Iraq.

The indifference of the SWP to the tyranny of the ayatollahs is
nakedly opportunistic. They know that criticism of the Iranian
Islamists would fracture their political alliance with the Muslim
Association of Britain, which is pro-Islamist and supports Sharia law.
They fear it could also alienate pro-Islamist Muslim voters, who are
being targeted as a support base for the SWP's electoral front,
Respect.

The SWP's atheist leadership used to dismiss religion as the opiate of
the people. Now, for the sake a few votes, their hide their
irreligiousness and collude with the right-wing Islamists of the MAB;
selling out liberal and progressive Muslims, and turning their backs
on the Iranian people's freedom struggle. SWP. Socialists Without
Principles?

ENDS