The regime in Tehran is officially celebrating the 31st anniversary of the 1979 revolution, made by the oppressed, workers and poor. At the same time, thousands of people are imprisoned for the “crime” of demanding democratic rights. But the movement continues: from the protests against the rigged elections, the struggle has moved on to demand the bringing down of the dictatorship of the new elite. If the movement for democratic rights is linked to mass struggle of the working class and the poor, the regime will fall.
- Down with the dictatorship! As the workers and poor brought down the Shah, down with the oppressors now!
- Release all political prisoners, stop the death penalty and torture
- For the full right to form parties and workers’ organisations, free trade union rights, and the right to form unions for all workers and soldiers
- Democratic rights, democratic elections for a revolutionary constituent assembly to decide on the future of Iran
- To develop the protest: For the creation of committees of the movement, to link them up regionally and nationally. Those committees should ensure and organise the free elections.
- For workers’ rights to organise, strike and to defend their living and working conditions
- Stop the use of the military against the people. Full rights to build unions for all soldiers, the right to elect their officiers, subject to recall. Dismantle the Basiji and the Pasdaran.
- Equal rights for women
- Stop the dictatorship over all fields of everyday life and culture
- Stop the oppression of Kurdish, Arabic and all other minorities
- Free media, free access to the internet, for an end to censorship
Iran is a rich country. But as before 1979, only a small minority gains from this wealth, while millions suffer with unemployment, short term contracts and poverty - without even the right to organise and protest against the situation - just like pre-1979! But the example of the revolution 31 years ago also shows that the masses cannot be stopped by brutal oppression.
The celebration of the revolution (on 2 February) by this regime is as cynical as its use of the mass movement 31 years ago: Millions demanded an end to the autocracy of the Shah and the capitalist dictatorship of big business, run by the US, which treated Iran like a colony. But the anti-imperialist feelings of the working class and poor, as well as the demand for a “republic of the poor”, was exploited to establish a new system under which now, the national capitalists, together with the new elite, claiming to personify Islam, exploit the country to serve their own interests.
The US and other imperialist powers who supported the Shah’s regime until its fall now shed crocodile tears about the actions of the regime in Tehran. At the same time, the capitalist governments of the US and Israel threaten to attack Iran, possibly starting a new war - along with the imperialist wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Many workers and youth around the world have expressed their solidarity with the people in Iran. This is where the mass movement in Iran can get real help from. But there is a world of difference between this solidarity and the hypocritical ’protests’ from the big capitalist powers.
- Stop the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan!
- No war by the US or other capitalist powers against Iran!
- International solidarity based on the workers movement worldwide, solidarity with the revolutionary movement in Iran and against the hypocrisy of the western powers who only want to increase their influence in the region.
The threat posed by imperialism is used by the regime in Iran to attempt to stabilise its power and ’unite the nation against the foreign threat’. But Iran is not a ‘united’ country: A few rich people benefit from the exploitation of the masses by the capitalist businesses or in the so called ‘foundations’, run by the Pasdaran and under the control of the families linked to the ruling part of the clerical bureaucracy, the millionaire mullahs. On the other side, people suffer mass unemployment and poverty while the state tries to dictate everything, even people’s everyday lives and relationships.
Officially, unemployment is at 12%. According to unofficial estimations more than than double this figure - up to 30% - are without jobs, with unemployment particularly affecting young people. Those who have work are often on short term contracts, without any rights and in danger of losing their job at any time. The official minimum wage is far below the poverty line. Any attempts to organise independent unions or strikes are brutally suppressed.
Despite this, the struggles of the Tehran bus workers and sugar mill workers in Haft Tapeh give encouraging examples. The regime responded by imprisoning the Tehran bus workers’ leaders and several of the leaders of the independent union in Haft Tapeh.
At the same time as oppressing the opposition movement, the Iranian regime is preparing another neo-liberal attack on workers and the poor. The subsidies given to limit the prices of some goods, for example for gasoline and food, are to be cut by the equivalent of US$ 100 billion by 2015, starting this April, with cuts of 10 to 20 billion. Despite all the talk of replacing these cuts with subsidies directly paid to the poor, this will drive inflation above the offical 15.7% present rate, which is far from the real rate.
The same Ahmadinejad who based his first presidental election campaign in 2005 on criticism of Rafsandjani’s neo-liberal policies and won some support from the poor, now further undermines his support with this kind of shock-therapy capitalism, trying to implement pro-market prices.
- Stop to all attacks on living standards and workers rights!
- For a decent living, for the immediate raising of the minimum wage above the poverty line, as a step towards a living wage. Link the wages and income of the poor to the rate of inflation.
- Democratic rights for all workers and unemployed, for the right to organise, build unions and to strike
- For the release of all prisoners of the workers’ movement, such as the Haft Tapeh union leaders
- For the nationalisation of the big banks and companies controlling the economy and the running of all foundations and nationalised industries under workers’ democratic control and management
- Fight against capitalism and imperialism! For a democratic, socialist Iran as a part of a socialist federation of the Middle East as part of a socialist world with full rights to all national and ethnic minorities in Iran
Mousavi and Karroubi, two of the few allowed candidates for last years elections, don’t offer any real alternative: In Mousavi’s time as prime minister under Rafsandshani’s presidency in the 80s the biggest slaughter of opposition prisoners in Iran’s history took place. Karroubi declares himself to be “a member of the [Islamic] system, the child of the system and my fate is tied up with the system”. Today’s movement needs to act independently from the capitalists and elite. It has also to learn from the bitter disappointment of 1979/80, when a new elite used “revolutionary” and religious phrases to seize and consolidate power. Only a workers’ and poor people’s government can guarantee democratic rights and begin the transformation of the country by breaking the grip of the elite and capitalism.
- Strengthen the opposition - rebuild the workers’ movement, build and defend independent unions!
- To develop the revolutionary movement: For the creation of democratically elected committees of the movement, to be linked up regionally and nationally.
- For workers’ committees to defend working conditions, linked to the movement. Out of these committees, new formations, in the tradition of the Shoras of 1979, can be developed, with the right to elect representatives, subject to recall, on an average workers’ wage
- Organise to build a workers’ party. The revolution 1979 was derailed by those who argued that workers’ struggle and organisations should be subordinated to an alliance with Khomeini’s fundamentalist Islamic opposition. We need a workers’ party with a programme to overthrow dictatorship and capitalism
- For a workers’ and poor people’s government!
- For an internationalist, socialist strategy to overcome the threat of war and fight imperialism