[Marxism] request for signatures for letter to Code Pink

Rebecca Ruth Gould rg.cu.archive at gmail.com
Sun Dec 2 06:39:02 MST 2018

As someone who has spent significant time in Iran over the past few years,
who has written <https://hcommons.org/deposits/item/hc:18855/> about my
there, and who maintains contact with many leftist colleagues in Iran, I
want to offer a different perspective to the one contained in this letter.
I don't dispute any factual claim made in the letter and have no wish to
trivialise those documented abuses. It is right that they should be
denounced and that we protest them. But, together with my Iranian
colleagues, I fully support 'legitimizising' the regime as much as
possible. I am struck by how welcome this letter would be to the current US
administration because it perfectly supports their agenda with regard to
Iran: violent regime overthrow, and starvation of the Iranian people until
that happens. This would inflict much greater harm on the Iranian people
than the normalisation of its current authoritarian system.

Iranians today are excluded from the global economy. They cannot access
basic technology. They cannot travel freely. Most importantly, their
currency has entered a free fall
due to US sanctions which dramatically increases their economic insecurity.
All of this is being done by the US, and often under the cover of the same
reasons given in this letter.

During my many trips to Iran (2012-6), what most impressed me was the
strong mobilisation among the youth for democratic change. The voter
turnout in the last Iranian Presidential elections was higher than in any
Western democracy. Women constantly violate and challenge the hijab
restrictions, and, yes, sometimes they are punished, but often they are
not. The latest Iranian elections were conducted more openly than the
recent US elections and the reformist candidate won by running on a
platform of decriminalising the refusal to wear hijab and promoting civil
liberties for all. Afghan migrants are brutally mistreated, but (in
contrast to US treatment of its migrants) they can also access free
university educations. There is a strong movement for reform within Iran
and many progressives are active in politics. That they are being silenced
and overpowered by hardliners due to US sanctions is the biggest tragedy of
all, and a threat to peace in the Middle East. I very much hope US leftists
and socialists will oppose the US agenda.

Finally, my understanding of the Haft Tapeh strike is that the workers are
seeking economic justice, as do workers everywhere. This is great, but
hardly a reason to refuse contact with the Iranian regime, or to support
its overthrow.

In geopolitical terms, the only alternatives are normalisation of the
Iranian regime or its violent overthrow by the US. We can speculate about
other long-term goals (such as a true democracy and a socialist government)
but there is no other geopolitical option at present. I therefore strongly
support normalisation, and hope others will do the same, whether through
campaigning against the US agenda, reading and watching work
by Iranians (in Iran) or travelling to Iran (with this delegation or

Best wishes,
Rebecca Gould


Rebecca Ruth Gould <https://bham.academia.edu/RebeccaGould/>

Professor, Islamic World & Comparative Literature

College of Arts & Law | University of Birmingham

Author, Writers and Rebels
UP, 2016)

Director, "Global Literary Theory: Caucasus Literatures Compared

University Profile
Website <https://rrgould.hcommons.org/> Twitter

On Sat, Dec 1, 2018 at 9:31 PM John Reimann via Marxism <
marxism at lists.csbs.utah.edu> wrote:

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> The following is an open letter to Code Pink, which is organizing a "peace
> delegation" to Iran. This delegation will be used to legitimize the Iranian
> regime, both at home and in the US. We are requesting additional
> signatures. If you are willing to sign, please let me know, either on this
> list or to me personally. Please include how you wish to be identified.
> Open Letter to Code Pink
> December 1, 2018
> Dear Code Pink:
> You have recently announced
> <
> https://www.codepink.org/peace_with_iran_delegation_to_iran_2019?fbclid=IwAR2nNOZTkEVMADQa5HoAAOc9Wb6PYar6Uedbp_5iLrmbnggF-RDgn2K63pY
> >
> that you will be organizing a trip to Iran. You state the purpose is to
> help
> "move our two nations from a place of hostility and military threats to a
> place of mutual respect and peace with one another."
> As socialists, and as supporters of the international working class, we, of
> course oppose any aggression - economic, political or military - by US
> capitalism against Iran or any other country. However, we also do not think
> that the issue is simply a matter of lack of “mutual respect” between this
> aggressive and repressive US government and, we have to say it, the smaller
> and less powerful but also aggressive and repressive capitalist government
> of Iran.
> We think that the real issue for discussion between Americans and Iranians
> is that of organizing links and mutual support between the working class
> and the oppressed peoples of our two countries. This is as opposed to
> talking about “mutual respect” between the “nations”, which always means
> between the governments. Any agreement reached between the US and Iranian
> governments will simply be an agreement for how to “peacefully” loot,
> plunder and repress the peoples of the world as well as the global
> environment.
> We are concerned that your visit will actually help facilitate the
> repressive role of the Iranian government. We note that you plan to meet
> with “representatives of the Foreign Ministry and Parliament” - that is to
> say, representatives of the regime. You say you will be meeting students
> and professors. But who will be selecting the students and professors you
> will be meeting? In the absence of any hint to the contrary, we think it is
> safe to say it will be the same regime that will be selecting those
> students, professors and anybody else you will meet with.
> Your plans to meet with Iranian regime officials fly in the face of what
> has been happening in Iran this year.
>    -
>    There have been a number of major labor strikes in Iran. These include
>    the strikes of 4500 Haft Tapeh sugar cane workers and of 4000 workers at
>    the National Steel of Ahvaz. (See Alliance of Middle East Socialists
>    <
> https://www.allianceofmesocialists.org/new-wave-of-strikes-protests-in-iran-need-solidarity-from-international-socialists-and-progressives
> >
>    )
>    -
>    There have been protests of ethnic Arabs in Iran, and these protests
>    have been viciously repressed, complete with sweeping arrests and even
>    executions. (See Amnesty International
>    <
> https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2018/11/iran-hundreds-arrested-in-vicious-crackdown-on-ahwazi-arabs/
> >.)
>    The Iranian government has also executed Kurdish political prisoners and
>    continues to imprison other Kurdish political prisoners.
>    -
>    We have seen the courageous acts of Iranian women who have taken off
>    their head scarves in public. They too have been repressed, arrested and
>    imprisoned. Other feminist human rights activists such as Nasrin
> Sotudeh,
>    Narges Mohammadi, Zeynab Jalalian, Golrokh Iraee, Atena Daemi as well as
>    feminist men such as Farhad Meysami and Arash Sadeghi languish in
> prison.
>    Some are currently on hunger strike.
>    -
>    There is also the continued mistreatment of Afghan migrants/refugees who
>    do not have basic civil rights and are treated as a source of even
> cheaper
>    labor.
>    -
>    Finally, we note that the Iranian regime has been involved in mass
>    murder and ethnic cleansing in Syria, and intervening militarily and
>    politically in Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen as well.
> We are alarmed that while you will be hearing the position of the
> repressive right-wing government in Iran, you evidently have no plans to
> hear from any of the progressive opposition forces mentioned above. That
> can only mean that the end result of your visit will be to help legitimize
> this right-wing, repressive and reactionary regime.
> Recognizing the nature of the Iranian regime does not mean supporting the
> capitalist / imperialist government of the United States. We can and should
> oppose both by supporting the struggles of the oppressed and exploited in
> both countries and around the world. The enemy of my enemy is not
> necessarily my friend.
> We hope you will reconsider your plans for your visit to Iran.
> Our true allies in Iran are all those struggling against this regime, not
> the regime that is even more repressive than the Trump regime.
> Yours for international working class solidarity and for socialism,
> John Reimann,
> former recording secretary, Carpenters Local 713
> Editor, www.oaklandsocialist.com
> Cheryl Zuur
> former president, AFSCME Local Union 444
> Sarah Morken
> former candidate, Tacoma City Council
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