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Iranian militant speaks in Dublin

Kevin Keating

22 February 2008

The of 6th and 7th  February saw a modest success for the campaign ‘Hands off the people of Iran!’ in Ireland,  centred on the visit to Dublin of leading Iranian activist Torab Saleth.  Torah was an activist in the original uprising that overthrew the brutal dictatorship of the US-backed Shah. He was forced into exile by the reactionary Mullahs who now rule and continues to organise from exile in defence of Iranian Workers.

Torab was originally invited over by Trinity Philosophical society but went on to speak at a HOPI meeting in the Teachers club and a lunchtime student meeting in UCD. He was interviewed by RTE by Pat Kenny and on News talk by Karen Coleman.

The message to Dublin workers was that the revolution against the Shah was a genuine workers revolution, crushed by the reactionary counter-revolution of the Mullahs. The workers had been ground between the twin pillars of imperialist aggression by the US and Israel on the one hand and the class oppression of a corrupt theocracy on the other hand.  Now there was a new mass radicalism sweeping through the Iranian working class. A new upsurge, a new struggle for workers power, was on the way and actions by the Irish workers in solidarity could have a genuine effect.

Some of the points he emphasised were that the left made crucial mistakes in the aftermath of the revolution by buying into the anti imperialism of Khomeini and the mullahs who slaughtered them in return. Something between 40,000 to 120,000 political prisoners were executed by the mullahs as opposed to 500 under the Shah. Many on the left make the same mistakes today on the nature of the regime in Teheran.

In 1979 the Mullahs had made deals for a smooth transfer of power with the U S and the Shahs security forces, it was the technicians at the air force barracks who opened the arsenals and armed the working class who prevented this from happening. 

As Torab said to the students in UCD, it was not the mullahs who organised a 4-month long general strike against the Shah nor did they set up the workers councils to organise production and distribution of necessities during such a prolonged shutdown of capitalism. Nor had they much to do with the occupation of the universities or the mass mobilisations of women. 

The other crucial issue is that of sanctions imposed by the   U N Security Council. The regime has cut more commercial deals with member states in the last 2 years than in the previous 10. The victims of sanctions are the opponents of the regime and not the mullahs who are rolling in oil money and have used the sanctions as a pretext for the current wave of repression against Iranian workers. 

Radicalising workers and students increasingly see a new revolution as the only way out of the twin threat posed by the regimes violence and the imperialist horror which is occurring in Iraq.

For those on the left who see the regime as part of some sort of anti imperialist bloc it is clear that the occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan would be next to impossible without Irans collusion and their influence, particularly among the Shia population. 

The visit was quite a good illustration of the strengths and weaknesses of the solidarity campaign at the moment. The large Philosophical Society meeting was hampered somewhat by the unserious nature of these affairs, nonetheless there were some very informed speakers and the audience voted almost unanimously against intervention in Iran.  The HOPI meeting and the student meeting were more directly political but quite small.  Overall, the evidence is that there is ground for a solidarity movement but a great deal more work will need to be done.

HOPI is planning a number of activities around international women’s day and Torab is speaking again in Ireland in Belfast on April 3rd.


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