Middle East

Open Letter to Code Pink

Workers on strike in Iran

The following is an open letter to the US “peace group” Code Pink. At a time of widespread confusion in the working class around the world, and a time of increased war, what’s needed more than anything is international working class solidarity. That is why we think the issue dealt with in this letter is important. If you as an individual or as a group want to add your name to this letter, please let us know. Send a note to us at oaklandsocialist@gmail.com. We also appeal to you to help publicize this letter on Facebook, Twitter, or any similar means. We think this letter will end up being translated into Farsi and distributed in Iran also. For those who are interested in reading further on this massive confusion on the left, see this article. And for those who are interested in reading more about the strikes in Iran, see this article.

Open Letter to Code Pink

December 1, 2018

Dear Code Pink:

You have recently announced 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. This includes opposing all US government economic and political sanctions against Iran as well, of course, as opposing any potential US military attack. 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)
  • 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.) 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 sectarian cleansing in Syria, and intervening militarily and politically in Iraq and Lebanon.

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 and against imperialism, 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, Oaklandsocialist
Cheryl Zuur, former president, AFSCME Local Union 444

Sina Zekavat, Alliance of Middle East SocialistsFrieda Afary, producer of Iranian Progressives in Translation and member of Alliance of Middle Eastern Socialists; Mona Afary, Iranian socialist psychologist, U.S.A; Fatemeh Masjedi, Iranian history scholar, Europe; Sara Dehkordi, Manjanigh Collective (Iranian socialist collective, Berlin): Sarah Morken, former candidate, Tacoma City Council;  
Reza Fiyouzat, independent writer; Jason Pike, socialist/activist, Poland;  Art Francisco, member, Carpenters Local 30; Irene Kellogg, member (retired) United Federation of Teachers, NYC; Michael Karadjis, Western Sydney University, socialist and solidarity activist; Ruth Riegler, editor; Les Evanchick, human being; Felipe Messeguer, Costa Rica; Marilyn Kimmerling, member, Industrial Workers of the World; Roger Silverman, West Ham Labour Party & Newham Momentum and member, National Education Union, Newham; Jon Bekken, american Association of University Professors, Chair of the Faculty, Albright College; NYC Syria Peace Vigil Group; Mike Howells, New Orleans; Dennis Brasky; Johannes Waardenburg, historian, Italy; Timothy Close, Retiree member, Ohio Association of Professional FireFighters; Rohini Hensman, writer and researcher; Yasser Munif, Emerson College; Jason Schulman, co-editor, New Politics; Harald Etzbach, journalist/translator, Berlin; Dr Shon Meckfessel; Peter Bohmer, faculty in Political Economy, the Evergreen State College, Olympia, WA, IWW and United Faculty of Evergreen, and Economics for Everyone; Steve Ongerth, member IWW; Javier Sethness, family nurse practitioner and libertarian socialist; Black Rose/Rosa Negra Anarchist Federation International Relations Committee; Earl Silbar, retired teacher, member AFSCME Local 3506; Coalition for Peace, Revolution, and Social Justice; Shahin Navai, Feminist activist; Robert Rasta Robert, Socialist Workers Alliance of Guyana

Unless otherwise specified, mention of organizational membership is for organizational purposes only.

Update: We are proud that our letter has been translated into Farsi and is being distributed in Iran. Here is the translation:

نامه سرگشاده به گروه صلح طلب و فمینیست آمریکایی CODE PINK در مورد برنامه سفر این گروه به ایران 

• جمعی از فعالین کارگری و سوسیالیست در آمریکا از گروه صلح طلب و فمینسیت CODE PINK خواسته اند سفر خود به ایران را لغو کند …

اخبار روز: www.akhbar-rooz.com 
شنبه  ٨ دی ۱٣۹۷ –  ۲۹ دسامبر ۲۰۱٨

نامه ذیل از سوی جان رایمن و شریل زور، دو فعال کارگری و سوسیالیست آمریکایی تهیه و توسط جمعی از فعالان بین المللی نیز امضا شده است. اگر مایلید به جمع امضا کنندگان این نامه بپیوندید، لطفا مستقیما با جان رایمن و شریل زور در اوکلند سوسیالیست تماس بگیرید:

کود پینک گرامی:
گروه شما اخیرا اعلام کرده که در حال برنامه ریزی سفری به ایران است. دلیل این سفر را “کمک به حرکت کشورهایمان در جهت احترام متقابل و صلح با یکدیگر و دوری گزینی از خصومت و تهدیدهای نظامی” اعلام کرده اید.

ما سوسیالیست ها، به عنوان کسانی که از همبستگی با طبقه کارگر جهانی حمایت می کنیم، طبیعتا با هر حمله و خشونت اقتصادی، سیاسی یا نظامی از سوی سرمایه داری آمریکا علیه ایران یا هر کشور دیگری مخالفت می‌کنیم. این مخالفت شامل تحریم های اقتصادی سیاسی و همچنین هرگونه حمله احتمالی ارتش آمریکا به ایران می شود. اما ما می پنداریم که مشکل صرفا فقدان “احترام متقابل” بین دولت سرکوبگر آمریکا، و دولت کوچک تر، کم قدرت تر، اما در عین حال مهاجم، سرکوبگر و سرمایه دار ایران نیست.
ما معتقدیم که مساله اصلی که بحث و گفت و گو بین ایرانیان و آمریکاییان را می طلبد، مساله سازماندهی و برقراری همبستگی متقابل بین طبقه کارگر و مردمان ستم دیده این دو کشور است. این مساله با “احترام متقابل” بین “ملت”ها مغایرت دارد، که در نهایت به معنی رابطه متقابل بین دولت هاست. هر توافقی بین دولت های آمریکا و ایران در واقع توافقیست برای غارت و سرکوب “مسالمت آمیز” مردم جهان و از بین بردن محیط زیست جهانی.
ما بیم داریم که سفر گروهیِ شما به ایران موجب تسهیل نقش سرکوبگر دولت ایران شود. در اعلامیه خود نوشته اید که با «نمایندگان وزارت امور خارجه و پارلمان» ملاقات خواهید کرد، یعنی با نمایندگان رژیم. نوشته اید که با تعدادی از دانشجویان و اساتید هم ملاقات خواهید کرد. اما چه کسی تعیین می‌کند که شما با کدام اساتید و دانشجویان ملاقات می کنید؟ در نبود اطلاعات بیشتر درباره سفر شما، ما یقین داریم که رژیم ایران تعیین خواهد کرد که شما با کدام دانشجویان، اساتید و اشخاص دیگر دیدار خواهید کرد.

تصمیم شما مبنی بر دیدار با نمایندگان رژیم ایران متناقض با تحولاتیست که در یک سال اخیر در ایران روی داده است:
اعتصاب های کارگری متعدد و تظاهرات‌ سراسری از جمله اعتصاب چهارهزار و پانصد کارگر کارخانه نیشکر هفت تپه و همچنین چهار هزار کارگر کارخانه فولاد اهواز. برای اطلاعات بیشتر لطفا به تارنمای اتحادیه سوسیالیست‌های خاورمیانه رجوع کنید.

اقلیت ملی عرب در جنوب ایران دست به تظاهرات زده اند. سرکوب خشونت بار این اعتراضات شامل دستگیری ها و حتی اعدام‌های دسته جمعی بوده است. در یک سال گذشته دولت ایران تعدادی از زندانیان سیاسی کرد را نیز اعدام کرده و روند اعدام ها ادامه دارد.

طی سال گذشته ما شاهد اعتراضات شجاعانه زنان در خیابانهای ایران علیه حجاب اجباری بوده ایم. آنها نیز سرکوب، دستگیر و زندانی شده اند. دیگر فعالان فمینیست و حقوقِ بشری مانندِ نسرین ستوده، نرگس محمدی، زینب جلالیان، گلرخ ایرأیی، آتنا دائمی و مردان فمینیست مانندِ فرهاد میثمی و آرش صادقی هنوز در زندان به سر میبرند. تعدادی از آنها هم اکنون در اعتصاب غذا به سر می برند.

رفتار‌های نژادپرستانه و مهاجرستیز دولت ایران با مهاجرین و پناهجویان افغانستانی ادامه دارد. آنها از حقوق بدیهی محرومند و تنها به مثابه نیروی کاری ارزان تر دیده میشوند.

در پایان، نقش عمده رژیم ایران در کشتار‌های دسته جمعی و پاکسازی‌های فرقه‌ای مذهبی در سوریه و همچنین مداخله‌های نظامی سیاسی ایران در عراق و لبنان را خاطر نشان می کنیم.

ما بسیار نگرانیم زیرا در حالی که شما به دیدگاه‌های سرکوب گر و راست گرای دولت ایران گوش فرا خواهید داد، هیچ برنامه مشخصی برای شنیدن صدای سرکوب شده و ترقی خواه اپوزیسیون داخل ایران که در بالا به آن اشاره شد ندارید. این به آن معناست که سفر شما در نهایت مهر تاییدی بر سیاست‌های راست گرا، سرکوب گر و ارتجاعی رژیم ایران خواهد بود.
به رسمیت شناختنِ ماهیت واقعی رژیم ایران به آن معنا نیست که ما از رژیم سرمایه داری و امپریالیست آمریکا حمایت ‌کنیم. ما میتوانیم و می بایست از راه همبستگی با مبارزات ستم دیدگان و استثمارشدگان در هر دو کشور و در سراسر جهان، با هر دو رژیم و هر رژیم سرکوب گر دیگری مخالفت ورزیم. دشمن دشمن ما لزوما دوست ما نیست.
امیدواریم که در مورد برنامه سفر خود به ایران تجدیدنظر کنید. دوستان و متحدان اصلی ما ایرانیانی هستند که در داخل ایران علیه رژیم ایران و امپریالیسم آمریکا مبارزه می کنند. رژیمی که حتا از رژیم ترامپ هم سرکوبگرتر باشد دوست و متحد ما نیست.

به امید همبستگی بین المللی طبقه کارگر و سوسیالیسم.

جان رایمن
منشی سابق شعبه 713 اتحادیه نجاران آمریکا و تهیه کننده تارنمای اولکند سوسیالیست

شریل زور


Update, January 15, 2019:
Oaklandsocialist has received the following note from Radical Women and a reply from Medea Benjamin to them:

Radical Women – U.S.
Jan 8, 2019,  6:13 PM
Re: Concerns about Peace Brigade to Iran
Dear sisters of Code Pink,
We are writing on behalf of Radical Women, a socialist feminist organization with a long history of feminist and antiwar organizing and international solidarity activism.
Our members and friends are very concerned about the political orientation of your impending “Peace Brigade to Iran.” While we understand the limitations imposed on what you can say publicly in order to gain entry to a repressive theocracy, it is startling that your outreach for the tour does not make any reference to problems with how the regime is treating women, workers, and ethnic minorities. We believe that a women’s anti-war organization such as Code Pink should not provide a feminist cover for a country with a notorious record of oppression of women, ethnic minorities, leftists, and workers. It is disturbing to see that even your website’s post-tour report of your 2008 triphttps://www.codepink.org/a_week_in_iran_rae_s_diary is breathtakingly uncritical of the regime’s blatant misogyny.
Like you, Radical Women opposes U.S. sanctions on Iran and the terrible impact they have on the lives of the people. But we also believe feminists and human rights activists must be critical of Iran’s attempts to crush the new wave of women calling for increased freedom and its incarceration of labor activists, dissidents and civil rights lawyers.
Achieving peace is more than the absence of armed warfare between countries. It must also include human liberation, political freedom, and workers’ rights.
In solidarity,
Afra Rajabi
Helen Gilbert

Codepink has replied:

medea benjamin
Jan 8, 2019, 9:25 PM
Dear Afra and Helen,
Thank you for contacting us. We appreciate your concerns. Our trip has been postponed, as we have not received our visas and we don’t know if we ever will—probably because of our criticisms. I wonder if you have had a chance, or if you are interested, in seeing the book I wrote on Iran? I can send you a pdf if you want. You might also want to see the archive of the Iran summit we did in December. I think both will give you a sense of our analysis re Iran, much more than a few paragraphs about a trip or someone’s diary from 2008.
Right now, I am REALLY concerned about the stepped up efforts of the Trump administration to attack Iran. We are seeing that with Pompeo’s trip to the region now (and Boltons). We are putting our energy into opposing a new war and hope you are as well.
Best regards,




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    • It says in the introduction to let us know if you want to add your name. In case that wasn’t clear enough, I added the e mail address along with an appeal to help publicize the letter.

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