Peace delegation to Iran says: Stop U.S. war plans
Published Oct 24, 2010 10:35 PM
A people-to-people delegation that included two members of the International
Action Center arrived in Tehran, Iran, Oct. 9 to increase solidarity with the
people of Iran, defend Iran’s sovereignty and stop the accelerated U.S.
push for war against Iran.
An independent, Iranian nongovernmental organization made up of the largest
student organizations in Iran had invited these delegates. This NGO aims to
build anti-imperialist solidarity with Latin American countries. It is aptly
named House of Latin America or HOLA, which is Spanish for “hello.”
Some of HOLA’s activities have been to organize solidarity trips to
Nicaragua and Venezuela and hosting a visit to Iran by the Young Communist
League of Cuba. It has also set up the organization Solidarity with Iran or SI,
which is promoting an appeal.
HOLA coordinators Amir Tareshi and Hamid Shahrabi spoke about the challenges to
building solidarity with the progressive movement in the U.S. By standing the
truth on its head, they said, the U.S. has given the impression that the Iranian
government is dedicated to terrorism and corruption. The great desire of, not
only the government, but every person, is for peace, he said.
After a powerful revolutionary upsurge led by Islamic forces overthrew the
U.S.-installed shah in 1979, the new regime nationalized its oil and, with the
use of this revenue, was able to counter the many years of corruption fed
primarily by U.S. and British hegemony in Iran. The imperialists stole
Iran’s wealth while the puppet shah and his hangers-on siphoned off
enough to allow for their luxurious lifestyle. Once freed of imperialist
control, Iran was able to dramatically increase health and education nationally
using this revenue.
More than 65 percent of Iran’s university students are women, as are more
than a third of the doctors. At the time of the 1979 Revolution, 90 percent of
rural women were illiterate; even in towns the figure was 45 percent.
Now large numbers of increasingly well-educated women have been entering the
Iran’s comprehensive social protection system is equally impressive. The
resources allocated towards domestic necessities do not end at the Iranian
border. More than $8 billion went to aid Lebanon in rebuilding efforts
following its defeat of an Israeli invasion.
Iran’s international solidarity efforts
The funds went directly to grassroots organizations like Hezbollah that, in
spite of government inability, built homes and repaired infrastructure
destroyed by U.S.-supplied bombs during Israeli bombing raids in the 2006
Israeli war against Lebanon. That effort contributed to the overwhelming
response given to President Ahmadinejad by the Lebanese people last week.
In fact, solidarity delegates witnessed live on TV the many hundreds of
thousands of well-wishers in Lebanon — not just the
“thousands” reported in the Western media.
With regard to the flooding in Pakistan, the Iranian news agency Fars reports
that early in October $100 million was allocated for the reconstruction of the
flood-hit areas in Pakistan, and, adding to that was the construction of
medical centers by Iran’s Red Crescent Society. Iran was among the first
three countries which rushed to Pakistan’s aid after floods devastated
large parts of the country, while at the same time the U.S. was busy spending
taxpayer money to kill Pakistani soldiers and civilians from the air with
expensive, high-tech drones and helicopters.
Because Iran combines this type of solidarity in the region with the
increasingly mutually beneficial cooperation with the socialist government in
Cuba and progressive governments like Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia and
Nicaragua, Washington sees Iran as a threat against the imperialist aims of
U.S. banks, the military-industrial complex and big oil and calls it
Criticisms of social inequality, religion in government and any other
contradictions internal to Iran cannot be ignored. But ignoring facts omitted
by the U.S. government narrative distorts the understanding of the overall U.S.
aims in Iran.
The central point driven home very effectively by HOLA members was that Iran
has become Western imperialism’s primary target. They stressed that the
primary work of the anti-war movements, especially those in the U.S., should be
to build solidarity with the defense of Iran and its right to
self-determination, defending Iran from a U.S. or U.S.-sponsored attack. This
same movement should allow the Iranian people to work out the internal
contradictions within Iran themselves.
They pointed out how the program for using nuclear power for peaceful energy
was started under the shah with U.S. support after reports that Iran’s
oil would be depleted in 10 years. But after the 1979 revolution, Washington
began opposing everything Iran did.
Imperialism’s attacks against Iran have already begun. HOLA activist
Shahrabi told the delegation that over the decades of hostility, the U.S.,
Israel and the MKO organization have been responsible for the death of 16,300
At the meeting’s end participants decided to begin an international
effort based on the demands and focus of no intervention or war, and respecting
the sovereignty and self-determination of Iran. This effort will immediately
begin to build solidarity internationally and especially in the U.S. with a
factual campaign to dispel the lies. HOLA drafted a statement to that effect,
which the organizations present endorsed.
A note about Iranian society
The delegation got a great chance to interact with many people at the Fourth
International Digital Media Festival, which is a convention showcasing the
latest advances in Internet and consumer software communications. This included
the latest cell phones and video games, with booths showcasing how
communication technology can promote anti-imperialist ideas. Tehran itself is a
modern city of 15 million people filled with high-rise apartment houses and
well-maintained freeways and infrastructure.
The solidarity delegation was allowed to take advantage of the well-publicized
and well-trafficked event with booths displaying each visiting
organization’s anti-war and social justice messages. None of the
delegates’ materials or displays were censored or challenged by
government authorities at the festival.
The many students, women and men of Iran and visitors from other countries at
the festival spoke freely with members of the delegation at the booths,
expressing both criticisms and praise for the Iranian government. Many young
students even showed they believed the romanticized, rosy and luxurious picture
of the U.S. presented in the Hollywood movies prevalent in Iran. But no one,
especially the students, wanted U.S. war against Iran, nor did they want their
nation’s sovereignty taken away.
At the International Action Center and Bail Out the People booths, videos of
police repression in the U.S. and protests against racism on Sept. 11 helped to
show a more balanced view of life in the U.S.
This free interchange and the wide-ranging questions contradicted the Western
media’s false image of a tightly controlled society in Iran.
Some U.S. delegates asked how many Iranian films were available in the U.S. A
prominent Iranian director told the delegation that he was repeatedly denied a
visa to visit the U.S., even for the purpose of filming President
Ahmadinejad’s latest visit to the U.N.
During the exchanges at the booths, the Iranian sisters and brothers, activists
in HOLA and ordinary participants at the event, even the look in a
child’s eyes, challenged the solidarity delegation to stop U.S. war
against Iran and make that a major component of the struggle to stop all U.S.
wars abroad and at home.
The IAC has put on its website the appeal asking people to sign on to SI
— Solidarity with Iran — which demands that the U.S. (1) Lift
economic sanctions against Iran, (2) Recognize the right of Iran to develop and
use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and (3) Stop military threats against
Iran. See iacenter.org/iran/iran-signon101610/ to sign on.
John Parker and Sara Flounders were the International Action Center delegates to Iran.
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