Sunday, December 09, 2007

Hands off the People of Iran conference

Tami has done a very thorough post on the conference yesterday over at Shiraz, I won't repeat it all here , have a look over there. I will though just add my thoughts on the day.

I went along because I thought it was wrong that HOPI were not allowed to affiliate to the StWC coalition. The reports of the StWC coalition made for depressing reading. Hopi accused of being a CPGB front, yet CPGB allowed to affiliate . Hopi being called disruptive . Platform speakers acting as apologists for a repressive regime.

What the fuck is wrong with the left !! It is perfectly possible to oppose an attack on Iran whilst acknowledging the repressive regime and supporting the struggle of women, trade unionists,students, socialists and LGBT people to overthrow it.Its possible to do both, really its not that hard !
To me its seems both unprincipled and tactically wrong not to.

The media will report on the repression in Iran and it will be used by Bush to justify an attack. The left trying to argue that its not really undemocratic or really that bad does not help tactically. It discredits us to be seen to support the Iranian regime . Surely as the left we should clearly state that we oppose reactionary religious regimes that deny basic human rights to their people and actively enforces a religious code through brutality .

We should state that we do not support a war or sanctions on Iran as its the people who will suffer and it is not for their benefit and that we support those who are struggling , the women, secularists, LGBT people, socialists, students and trade unionists.
In terms of principles what message do we on the left send to those people at the sharp end of a repressive religious regime if we minimise whats happening? We have failed them.

So that's why I went to the conference . What I saw was open debate, a mix of views and groups represented and a number of Iranians , mainly women, who felt betrayed and angry at the left siding with reactionary religious groupings and dismissing their struggle. A steering group was formed that included people from the Green party, CPGB, PR , Workers Communist Party of Iran and the Workers Communist Party of Iraq and probably other views as well. Everyone had a chance to speak . It was democratic . Changes were made to the founding statement and the constitution . Debate was comradely .

As Tami has pointed out we had a few grumbles about the issue of women and LGBT people. LGBT were not included in either the founding statement nor the constitution. I proposed the amendments to the founding statement and Tami to the constitution . These were passed.
When Tami proposed the aim of having 50% women on the steering committee another man felt it was not needed on the left. We both felt a 'Kylie's arse' situation occurring and did make some comments about yes the left still has issues about involving women. Another felt that the problems of the Labour Party were down to having quotas for women (which was not what Tami proposed, she said an aim). And I though it was the New labour agenda, silly me its those damn women.It wasn't passed. In the end there were I think at least half women on it, including Tami!

There was motions on workers and students but none on women or LGBT people. Azar Majedi put together one on women and asked for the steering group to fine tune it as it was done quickly in thwe lunch break. I spoke to Tami afterwards about an LGBT one and she will raise on it the steering group .

Oh and of course there was the catching up with people and putting some faces to bloggers . I met the infamous Andrew Coates who comments on UKLN ,Dave's site and lurks here I found out. We had a chat about the left over lunch and I introduced him to one of his sparring partners who he had never met, one Tony Greenstein.They looked at each other quite warily but then seemed to get on quite well :-)Both quite pleasant in real life I might add!

And quite unlike me I stayed for one drink afterwards and headed off home .