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Support the protest movement in Iran

Co-ordinating Committee of workers Left Unity
15 th July 1999

The students protests of the last few days are undoubtedly the most significant demonstrations against Iran's Islamic Republic in the last eighteen years. They are the manifestation of a continued dissatisfaction with the rule of a corrupt clergy , a rejection of the interference of religion in very aspect of private and public life , a rejection of dictatorship . This dissatisfaction had already been expressed in the overwhelming rejection of the candidate supported by Iran's supreme cleric in the presidential elections of two years ago , that lead to the election of a 'modernising ' fundamentalist Khatami.

Over the last few months as impatience with Khatami's promises of reform turned to anger , workers were the first group to force the Iranian government to retreat. Changes to the labour law , passed by the Islamic parliament were withheld as workers declared two days of national mourning and threatened strikes. Political dissatisfaction with the regime's new methods of repression including the use of 'death squads' against political opponents and admission of such tactics, had infuriated, students, lecturers, writers and journalists who were paying the price of Khatami's reforms with 'illegal' activities of Hezbollah.

The attack on the dormitory of Tehran University was the reaction of the Islamic regime to weeks of protests by students who , tired of waiting for Khatami's promises of exposing the culprits of death squad activity , only saw repression of newspapers who tried to keep the issue alive. The ban on the paper Salaam was a direct attack on sections of the press who refused to tow the line and keep quiet about the role of the ministry of Intelligence in assassination of political oponents.

Students decided to defend the freedom of expression with demonstrations and protests. The government send Hezbollah to attack students in their dormitory leading to the demonstrations of the last few days. The slogans of the demonstrators calling for the overthrow of the Islamic Republic, and in particular against the supreme clerical leader Khamneii, were unprecedented slogans, destroying once and for all the myth of the invincibility of the supreme cleric. A taboo is broken, Islamic leaders know it and their retreat in the face of the protests far from pacifying the students , radicalised the slogans and the protests.

This week's protest movement should be seen primarily as the final response of Iran's youth , ( under 25 s are 60% of the population ) , to clerical rule, a rejection of policies that have lead to unemployment , poverty and destitution for the majority of Iranians. However they were also an expression of the despair of the youth and their increasing disillusionment with Khatami and his 'reforms'. Hezbollah can still operate death squads from within the ministry of Intelligence, police and state authorities attack students in University campuses , and Iran's "modernising president" is both unwilling and incapable of reforming this archaic republic.

Workers Left Unity has no doubt that the combination of workers struggles , as seen in may and June 1999, with protests by students , women , the unemployed and the shanty town dwellers will bring down Iran's Islamic Republic, but we need International Support to defend these struggles and hope that the International Left will lend us the kind of support that was so vital in the last months of the Shah's regime. the lives of students arrested over the last few days is in danger . Support the demonstartions organised by WORKERS LEFT UNITY in Europe and North America, saturday 17th July.


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