Join the counter demonstration against the clerical-fascist regime in Iran, this Sunday

September 21st, 2008

We urge all anti-fascists to join us on Sunday 28th September, at Piccadilly Circus, London at 1pm.

This will be the site of a counter-demonstration against a march in support of the Islamic Republic of Iran and Hizbollah, commemorating an event called ‘Al Quds day.’ This was first set up by Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979, ostensibly in support of the Palestinians, but in reality a propaganda day to promote the Iran regime world wide.

Potkin Azarmehr of the Committeee of Iranian Students [CIS (UK)] says: “the main point of the Al-Quds counter demos has always been to say that the Islamic Republic has brought nothing but repression and destitution for the Iranian people, and therefore it will bring nothing else for the Palestinians either. We want to expose the fact that the Al-Quds rally is nothing but a propaganda exercise for the Islamic Republic in the streets of London to recruit more Islamic radicals.”

Iranian Groups supporting the counter demonstration promote the cause of secularism and democracy in Iran . Contrary to claims by supporters of the Khomeinist regime, none of those groups are monarchist groups, and none displayed the monarchist flag (the Pahlavi flag has a crown on it unlike the Iranian flags displayed) at a similar event last year. What is without doubt was that people on the Al Quds marches openly display the flags of the Islamic Republic, plus pictures of the past and present Supreme Leaders Khomeini and Khamene’i, along with a forest of Hizbollah flags. It is therefore quite clear what their march is about.

Our agenda is to show solidarity for freedom and democracy in Iran . This has nothing to do with the Pahlavi dictatorship.

The supporters of the Al Quds march are promoting a backward, murderous, clerical fascist regime along with its sidekicks in Lebanon , Hizbollah, who openly use the Nazi salute in public. Iran is not a democracy and its elections and parliament are a farce. The Guardian Council group of mullahs decide who can stand for election, can and do overturn candidates who are elected, and can veto any laws their useless parliament passes if they consider them “un-Islamic.”

This regime is so incompetent that it has to import wheat from its supposed enemy, the USA ; in a country swimming with oil there is a petrol shortage and in some cities they cannot get water out of the tap but the streets are flooded.  A tiny elite of less than one percent of the population, including the mullahs, monopolise the wealth of the country while the rest of the country live on meagre incomes.

Per capita of population Iran is the most prolific user of the death penalty in the world. It is prescribed for crimes including acting against national security, apostasy from Islam, homosexuality, and repeated fornication. Adultery is punished by stoning to death. Brutal whippings for a whole range of crimes are carried out with still more frequency, including 80 lashes for being caught drinking alcohol. Death is the penalty if caught drinking a third time. Women are whipped with 74 lashes if they breach the Islamic dress code in public. Legally, they may not even leave the house without their husband’s permission.

Children are executed, including in public. The brutal public strangling of 16 year old Atefeh Sahaleh Rajabi took place in 2004. In the following year Mahmoud ‘Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni, who were both quoted as saying they were 17 in an early report in the official Iranian press, were also publicly killed by slow strangulation – they took 20 minutes to die. All three were killed for having consensual sex, though publicly the regime claimed the latter two were rapists and that they were above 18. It is a lie that contrary information about Mahmoud and Ayaz’s case came from the exiled Mojehadin-e Khalq group – it comes from local people in Mashhad with no connection with that group, one of whom was a witness at their trial. In Atefeh Rajabi’s case, much of the information came from her own father, who again has no connection with that group.

The act of rape, frequently used as a weapon against political prisoners in custody, is considered less reprehensible than consensual receptive anal intercourse for which there was medical evidence in Mahmoud and Ayaz’s case. Their “president” Ahmadi-nezhad actually denied homosexuality exists in his country. By contrast, claims of rape by Atefeh Rajabi were rejected by the mullah’s kangaroo court and her execution for extra-maritial sex was ordered. Officially it is claimed she was 22 not 16 when executed. A copy of her real birth certificate proving that she was 16 was broadcast by the BBC. Iran now executes more children under 18 than any other country in the world – since 2005 of 32 known executions of children in the world, 26 took place in Iran. Hypocritically the organisers of Sunday’s Khomeinist march demand an end to child killing by the Israelis.

Others are killed for their political opinions. It is often falsely claimed they are connected with terrorism to justify their executions. Examples of this include Ya’qub Mehrnahad executed in August 2008. The regime claimed he was mixed up with terrorism but he was a known opponent of terrorist tactics. Other dissidents are simply murdered in prison without bothering with the judicial process. Recent examples include Akbar Mohammadi and Valiollah Feyz Mahdavi – both killed in prison in Iran in 2006. Those who try to organise genuine trade unions such as Mansour Osanloo are subject to arrest and torture.

Some on the left claim that such dissidents are stooges of the US government – this was exposed as a lie by a recent incident in London . Arash Mohajeri-nejad is one of many bona fide Iranian asylum seekers who have had trouble with the British Home Office who wanted to expel him back to Iran . He went to the US embassy. They called the British authorities and he was arrested on the doorstep of the US embassy and taken to a detention centre. This is not the first time something like this has happened. Were there any truth in the Bush stooge claim against dissidents such as Arash he would have been whisked to a US military air base and flown out of the country without a bye or leave from British passport control.

We see the counter demonstration as an example of anti-fascist action and in solidarity with those engaged in the revolutionary struggle for freedom, democracy and secularism in Iran . They operate under terrible conditions which we in a country like ours can not imagine.

Yet some of the left are actively supporting the pro-regime march and are happy to get into bed with the far-right. They howl, quite correctly, against human rights abuses by Israel , but ignore or even deny abuses that are as bad and often worse in other countries in the region, including Iran .

Stop the War Coalition are one of the sponsors of the march. They claim to be a peace group but the march they sponsor is not a peace march, it is a war march. It is a march in favour of the indiscriminate killing of Jewish civilians and the violent destruction of Israel and the ethnic cleansing of the bulk or even all of the resident Jewish population from Palestine . Nothing less than an Islamic Republic under brutal Shari’a Law in Palestine as a whole will satisfy them. This exposes the hypocrisy of the Stop the War Coalition. They banned the group Hands off the People of Iran from their ranks because HOPI were too critical of the regime in Iran .

Stop the War Coalition are no longer a peace group worthy of the name. They have degenerated into a propaganda mouth piece for the regime in Iran , and are prepared to provide cover for a variety of murderous clerical fascist militias elsewhere in the Middle East . They even refused to condemn the recent invasion of Georgia by the right-wing nationalist Russian government, blaming the Americans for it. Invasions, occupations and interference in the internal affairs of other countries should be condemned whoever is responsible.

Neturei Karta are another sponsor of the Al Quds march. The organisers of the march say ‘look we have Jews with us.’ The Neturei Karta group went to Iran to attend and support a holocaust denial conference in December 2006. They object to the state of Israel because they believe that one should not be set up before the coming of the Messiah and because it is secular and does not impose brutal punishments of Mosaic Law, which are similar to Shari’a Law, including stoning for adultery and homosexuality. It is little wonder that they are joining this march along with people of like minds.

Other sponsors include the Hizb ut-Tahrir group and Galloway ’s Respect Party.

We urge you to join us on the counter demonstration. It commences at 1pm at Piccadilly Circus on Sunday 28th of September.

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