[Marxism] Gays/Iran debate

Yoshie Furuhashi critical.montages at gmail.com
Thu Aug 17 08:37:30 MDT 2006

On 8/17/06, Louis Proyect <lnp3 at panix.com> wrote:
> http://www.gaycitynews.com/gcn_531/peopletopeople.html
> People-to-People Dialogue Key to Human Rights Progress
> The Persian Gay and Lesbian Organization (PGLO), which supported but did
> not initiate the July 19 actions, is following a road that is politically
> and strategically misconceived. We fear that the PGLO is in danger of
> placing itself outside of a strong and inspirational movement within Iran
> for democracy. Within this movement of intellectuals, trade unionists, and
> journalists, none has called for economic and political hostility as
> advocated by the gay activists with whom PGLO has become allied. In fact,
> the most prominent Iranian activists—from the Nobel Prize winner Shirin
> Ebadi to the journalist and former political prisoner Akbar Ganji—have
> specifically called for an opposite kind of politics that does not buy into
> the "clash of civilizations" rhetoric of racism and hysteria that the
> Western gay crusaders have fallen into. It is absolutely essential for the
> PGLO to also distance itself from such people and positions.

This is a decent article.  A couple of points.  Shirin Ebadi published
a widely circulated op-ed this January, in which she advocated putting
political and economic pressures on Iran, some of which may eventually
become adopted by all Western nations, with or without the next UN SC
resolution on Iran's nuclear program, though they may not be
conditioned on human rights (in which the West has only instrumental
interest at best) as Ebadi hopes.

Link the nuclear program to human rights
Shirin Ebadi and Muhammad Sahimi Tribune Media Services International

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

So, what can the West do?

First, Western nations with clean human rights records should urge the
United Nations to appoint a special human rights monitor for Iran, to
raise Iran's human rights record annually at General Assembly, and to
condemn it if the record keeps deteriorating.

Contrary to the general perception, Iran's clerics are sensitive to
outside criticism. There has been tangible improvement in Iran's human
rights record whenever it has been criticized at the United Nations.

Second, the World Bank should stop providing Iran with loans. Instead,
it should try to work with nongovernmental organizations and the
private sector in Iran to strengthen institutions of civil society.

The West should support Iran's human rights and democracy advocates,
nominate their jailed leaders for international awards and keep them
and their cause in the public eyes.

Third, if the hardliners continue violating the basic human rights,
the West should downgrade its diplomatic relationships with Iran.

Fourth, the EU must declare unequivocally, backed by practical steps,
that new investments - which Iran badly needs - will be provided only
if Iran takes practical steps towards establishing a democratic
political system.</blockquote>

Informal economic sanctions by Washington, Tokyo, etc. have already begun.

As for Akbar Ganji, he can't be exactly counted to oppose a "regime
change" funded by the West, according to Hoder, an Iranian blogger
based in Canada:

<blockquote>July 18, 2006
Is Ganji joining Sazgara?

Things have been changing in the past few days for Akbar Ganji.

Since he arrived in London, he's started using the term 'regime
change' more often and also, despite what he had previously said, it's
very likely that he meets with Bush. So I suspect he's now joined the
"Regime Change" campaign.

There are also other evidences.

Amir Taheri, a Paris-based journalist close to the American
Neo-conservatives, reports that the hunger strike is a project
organized by a new coalition of Iranian opposition groups in which
Ganji only plays a symblolic leadership role. Because, as the
well-connected Taheri suggests, "there is agreement that the initial
phase of action against the Ahmadinejad administration must be led by
independent personalities with no partisan affiliations." Then he
notes that "the new consensus is already facing its first test over
the campaign launched in favour of political prisoners."

Earlier this year, as revealed by Connie Bruck in the New Yorker,
Shahriar Ahy, a key figure in the Bush's favorite Regime Change
strategy, has started to transform the Referendum movement (was
started by Mohsen Sazgara and some Iran-based pro-American student
activists such as Akbar Atri, Ali Afashari, etc.) into something
bigger like a national congress, similar to the Iraqi National
Congress led by Ahmad Chalabi.

For that, Ahy has been constantly traveling, from London to Dubai, to
meet with influential groups and political figures, Bruck writes.

He finally managed to convince some activists from some nationalistic
or leftist groups such as Kambiz Roosta, Mashallah Adjoudani, Bagher
Parham, Victoria Azad, Abdolsattar Doshooki, and Hossein Bagherzadeh,
among others.

There's been several meetings of this kind in Goteborg, Berlin, and
London which have not exactly been uniting. Some of the leftists
groups had boycotted the London meeting and even Nasser Zarafshan, a
leftist lawyer who was imprisoned in Iran and was a founding members
of the Referendum movement, protested in a letter that they had
mentioned his name for the London meeting's invitation without his
consent. Some other groups have also objected to the efforts by the
"the Reza Pahlavi's advisor and CIA agent" and has refused to join the

Now despite Ganji's sometimes contradictory statements which makes it
difficult to fit him into a single political agenda or group, the
hunger strike which he led was totally organised and covered (Radio
Farda has had reports from every single city on the hunger strike and
still closely covers Ganji's tour) by new and old supporters of the
Referendum movement and the new coalition.

Ironically, they were mainly the same people who advocated the boycott
during the last presidential elections which saw the moderate Khatami
leaving and the hardliner Ahmadinejad coming as the head of the
government. Ganji was also a key supporter of the strategy which was
also benefiting the regime for it was only lowering the turn out among
the middle and upper class who were more likely to vote for moderates.

I'm not still confident if Ganji is conscious about what's happening
around him. After all, he's never lived outside Iran, doesn't speak a
word of English or French or any other language, and is quite unaware
of the larger picture in which his activities gain meaning. He also is
a human being and loves the media attention and be treated like an
alive hero.

At best, he is being tricked by the Regime Change to help their
agenda, the same way he was used by some radical reformists in Iran to
destroy Hashemi Rafsanjani before the sixth parliament's elections. At
worst, he's consciously joined Mr. Ahy's new coalition.

His possible meeting with Bush and events for the rest of his trip,
especially what he's going to do in Ramin Ahmadi's center center for
Human Rights at Yale will determine which path he's chosen -- and
whether he returns to Iran soon or stay in the U.S. for the "medical


See, also, <http://hoder.com/weblog/archives/015453.shtml>.

> 1. Challenge official policies that limit people-to-people contacts between
> Iran and the West. The U.S. government has put severe limitations on the
> ability of American citizens and institutions to help and form relations
> with their Iranian counterparts. The Iranian government has taken similar
> steps, and in the process, the ignorance and mistrust are growing on both
> sides. With the emergence of independent organizations advocating for the
> rights of groups like women, transsexual people, prisoners, and disabled
> people, among others, the Iranian people have extended their hands, and we
> need to fight for our right to reach out to them.

There are American organizations sponsoring such people-to-people contact:

Fellowship for Reconciliation:

Global Exchange:

To the extent that the US government funds Iranian and exile
organizations eventually to use them for "regime change," however,
contact between Iranians and Westerners becomes difficult.  There will
be fewer visas for Westerners wishing to visit Iran, and Iranians who
have Western contacts -- even innocent ones -- will come under more
intensive surveillance and even repression, especially if they
advocate putting external pressures of any sort on Iran (e.g., Ebadi's
organization is said to have been banned recently:
<http://www.payvand.com/news/06/aug/1093.html>).  It goes without
saying that it has never been easy for Iranians to get visas to the
USA or other rich nations.

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