Pouran Bazargan who died after a year long illness on the 6th of March 2007 was truly a symbol of resistance for the Iranian socialist feminist movement.
Her political activities started in a religious organisation oppose to the Shah in the 1960s, (she a was founding member of the Organisation of Iranian Peoples Mojahedin) . However Pouran was amongst the many members and cadres of OIPM who left the organisation in 1974 to set up a Marxist Leninist organisation, OIPM (ML) later known as Peykar.
During the 1970s she spent some time in exile and as a representative of the Organisation Peykar Baraye Azadi Tabaghe Kargar (Struggle for the emancipation of the working class) in Middle Eastern countries including South Yemen, Iraq … and with Palestinian organisations. She was a member of Peykar until 1982 when she was forced into exile.
Over the last 25 years, in exile in Paris, she remained a committed socialist, a fighting feminist, resisting reformist tendencies time and time again, tendencies that took so many victims amongst her contemporaries.
Pouran was well known amongst Iranian exiles for her straight forward attitude to political debate, her anti imperialism and continued commitments to Palestine and Iraq. She disliked sectarian divisions and spent most of her time defending the struggle of Iranian workers.
She was a member of the Paris based 'Committee against Lapidation' (death by stoning) and an organiser of their activities throughout the year and on International Women's day, the 8th March every year.
Pouran was a founding member of the Paris committee in solidarity with Iranian workers and over the last few years she played an important role in opposing the imperialist war in the Middle East, while reporting and supporting the daily confrontation between Iranian workers and the capitalist state.
Although she was a symbol of the political involvement of Iranian women in the political struggles of the last 45 years, Pouran was too modest to give interviews or to speak of her own involvement in four and a half decades of struggle.
However over the last 4 years, infuriated by the fiasco caused by US invasion of Iraq, she spoke publicly for the first time in many years about the history of Iraqi feminism, the role of Iraqi women in secular, leftist political groups fighting Saddam's regime.
Throughout these years Pouran remained true to her Marxist ideas, she was an avid reader who followed new debates and arguments amongst various tendencies of the International left. Her many article and contributions are available in the web site Peykar Andishe. Amongst them are:
* Iraqi Women, A talk by Pouran Bazragan. Paris March 2004
* 'My memoirs of women's involvement in two decades of armed struggles (1960s and 1970s-Iran)' (in Farsi)
Iranian socialists and communists will never forget her unique role as one of the first women involved in the politics of the New radical Left in Iran, a symbol of resistance against two dictatorships, the Shah's regime and Iran's Islamic Republic, against imperialism but also against reactionary political Islam. Our thoughts are with her husband Torab Haghshenass and her many comrades inside Iran and in exile.
Yassamine Mather Deputy Editor of Critique, Journal of Socialist Theory, published by Centre for the Study of Socialist Theory and Movements, Glasgow University.