From Ben Klein


by yasmine

Iran solidarity Hands Off the People of Iran (HOPI) held a successful fringe meeting addressed by Yassamine Mather and Chris Strafford.

Despite the fringe taking place at the same time as meetings of the Stop the War Coalition and Unite Against Fascism, 18 people attended from campuses across the country. Which is not at all bad.

Strafford talked about Hopi’s principled politics. He condemned the opportunism of the STWC in giving a platform to reactionary organisations like Hezbollah and apologists for the Iranian regime, while moving to sideline any organisation that dared to criticise the theocracy in Tehran, let alone talk about raising the profile of the increasingly radical student movement in Iran.

Y. Mather gave an interesting insight into the dynamics of that movement. She rejected the notion that Iranian students were hoping for some kind of imperialist intervention. Their slogans are against war and against the theocratic regime, whether under the sway of the so-called ‘reformists’ or the hard-liners. She called for the student supporters of Hopi to forge closer links with the Iranian students. Such activists form the core of the movement for radical change in Iran.

Although there was little time for debate, an interesting discussion ensued which largely focused on the British anti-war movement. SWP member Hanif Leylabi was first to speak and defended the SWP’s record. The STWC leadership were not apologists for the Iranian regime and the refusal to allow Hopi to affiliate was based on decisions taken at a mass meeting. Apparently, this is how all decisions are made in the STWC.

Vicky Thompson from the Hopi steering committee pointed out that the decision to ban Hopi was made by the officers of the STWC and then pushed through conference by the skilful Stalinist chairing of Andrew Murray. She said she had left the SWP because it would not support demands similar to those of Hopi. Kath McMahon said it would be stupid to call all STWC activists apologists for Tehran, because her Hopi branch in Edinburgh is actually able to work alongside Stop the War comrades. She did, however, underline the point that the SWP leadership has allowed apologist views on the Iranian regime to go unchallenged within the movement - especially through leading figures such as Abbas Eddalat and Somaye Zadeh.

In response, Leylabi defended Campaign Iran by arguing that there were people and ideas in the organisation with whom he did not agree, but the campaign nevertheless had a good record of raising anti-war awareness. He claimed the reformist movement had scored successes in Iran - particularly in terms of women’s rights and dress codes in comparison to other Middle Eastern regimes like Saudi Arabia. This was refuted by Yassamine Mather. Advances made by Iranian women compared with women from Saudi Arabia could be traced back to the economic characteristics of the country - ie, Iran’s capitalism as opposed to the tribal and semi-feudal system in Saudi Arabia - and to the fight of women and the progressive movement, not the generosity of the hugely discredited ‘reformists’.

On the question of the STWC, Yassamine said she would remain an individual member and encourage others to do the same. She agreed with Hanif that our main focus in Britain is to stop any war on Iran, and that Hopi is first and foremost an anti-war campaign that seeks to bring genuine internationalism into the movement. Two vice-presidents Conference overwhelmingly voted for Iranian student Anoosheh Azaadbar as honorary vice-president of National Union of Students (NUS).

The struggles that she and her comrades have engaged in should be an inspiration to students across the world - not merely for their militancy in the face of the regime’s brutal repression, but also in terms of their fresh and radical ideas, inspired by Marxism. The election was, however, complicated by the fact that the SWP, having seen that ENS and Communist Students put forward Anoosheh, decided at the last minute to propose its own candidate. Namely the co-founder of Military Families Against the War, Rose Gentle. This stunt created a potentially farcical situation where delegates would be forced to choose between supporting an anti-war activist in Britain and an anti-war activist in Iran - as if the two were not in some way connected! However, thanks to an amendment from ENS, conference was able to vote for both


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Lenin is dead!

by Mehdi on

Do you guys know that the Soviet Union has been dissolved? Marxism was sent to Russia (by Hitler) in order to subvert that country and destroy it, which it nicely did, and now you guys are trying to use it for, what again? Based on this article, there are far too many issues between your tiny groups to be resolved before you could really do anything viable for anybody. The amazing number of splinter groups you have is worse than any religion I know. What are you trying to do?