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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 Socialists; Frieda 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:
Update, January 15, 2019:
Oaklandsocialist has received the following note from Radical Women and a reply from Medea Benjamin to them:
Codepink has replied: