On the occasion of the 26th anniversary of the massacre of political prisoners in Iran

Holding high the slogan “we will not forget nor forgive”,

It is necessary to build the future!

“Those who are in prisons throughout the country and insist on dissenting are considered militant enemies and sentenced to death. It is naïve to have mercy on the enemies of God.  With revolutionary anger and hatred of the enemies of Islam, hopefully you will gain god’s approval.” Ruhollah Khomeini

Twenty-six years ago, in the summer of 1988, thousands of political prisoners were executed within a single month under the above “Fatwa” (religious edict). They were all executed on the accusation of “dissent” and “apostasy”. This massacre was carried out on the orders of Khomeini with the consent of all the statesmen still in power today. The prisoners were given a hasty trial with only 3 questions: Are you a Muslim? Are you born to a Muslim father? Do you pray? Those who responded “NO” to any question were executed.

The Islamic Regime of Iran came to power with the imperialists’ consent so as to ensure that Iran would remain dependent on the world economy and continue to supply them with oil. It was very clear that the Regime could not hold power even one day without suppressing the mass movement and massacring the country’s best youth, who had overthrown the Shah’s Regime with the aim of building a world without suppression and exploitation. Every imperialist power gave their silent consent to this massacre.

The first attack on the revolution by Khomeini and the newly emerged reactionary theocratic regime was on women: an order made the wearing of the Hejab compulsory. Thousands of revolutionary women were imprisoned for organizing a massive demonstration against this order on 8 March 1979 and formulating slogans like “We did not make revolution to go backward” and “Women’s freedom is the benchmark of society’s freedom”. Many of these revolutionary women were subjected to severe medieval torture and sacrificed their lives for refusing the Hejab. These women were whipped at every prayer time and forced to pray. But all these inhuman tortures failed, and the women did not compromise with the reactionary Islamic regime on the interests of women and all the people.

During the years 1981-88, thousands of women political prisoners, a historically unprecedented number, were determined not to allow the Islamic regime to easily impose these barbaric laws on society. It was because of this resistance that the regime failed to force its Islamic dress codes on the liberated and invincible woman – a regime for which women’s entire existence sums up to her vagina.  The very existence of these women, who dared not only to shake the regime’s ideological pillars by refusing the religious orders but also to directly organize mass struggle, was unbearable to the reactionary and misogynist Islamic regime. They were thus to be punished severely. The notorious prisons of Evin, Gezel Hesar, Gohar Dasht, Adel Abad and Karoon came to constitute fierce battlefields, where women political prisoners mounted magnificent and incredible resistance.

However, to stabilize this trembling and unstable regime they established a constitution based on Islam, and attacked all classes. Even a short criminal record of the regime’s efforts to consolidate itself includes the mass arrest and torture of students, attacks on universities and trade unions, the execution of Baha’is, Arabs and Turkmen, the executions of hundreds of young Kurds and other crimes in Kurdistan, the arrest, torture and execution of thousands of communists and of political activists in the Left and Mojahed, as well as the assassination of political activists abroad. The summer of 1988 marked the climax of the regime’s brutality in that decade.

The rise of the Islamic Republic as the first theocratic regime linking Sharia law to modern capitalism was a result of the failure of mass revolution, but more than that it reflected the growth and expansion of capitalist-imperialist relations, and the alliance of imperialists with local reactionary forces in dominated countries to plunder and oppress and exploit the people – it is this that has led to the spread of Islamic fundamentalist movements in the Middle East, Asia And Africa, which offer no prospect other than the continuation of capitalist relations, ignorance, superstition, hunger and unemployment, and which degrade the lives of millions of women. In the 21st century, in the absence of a revolutionary pole throughout the world, particularly in the Middle East, and with the help of the imperialists, the Islamic Republic of Iran, which has built its rotten barbaric state on the people’s blood, was able to spread ignorance, superstition, misogyny, barbarism and Islamic fundamentalism throughout the world in a way that has revived reaction as never before. It was through the Iranian ISIS, meaning the Islamic Regime of Iran, that a range of ISIS movements have risen in the region and the world, with their aim of implementing the same religious orders in the most brutal way possible. The unleashing of misogyny and patriarchy are the central pillars of these kinds of states. Isis, as well as the Islamic Regime of Iran, announced its codes with the command to women: “women must wear the burqa in public”.  Thousands of women have been taken hostage as war booty.

Now the Islamic Republic is trying to hide its savagery behind Isis’s crimes by shedding crocodile tears for the people of Iraq, in order to restore its discredited self-image, and with its intervention in the Middle East crisis it is trying to position itself as a dedicated and stable regional government for the imperialist system and to consolidate its position within the hierarchies of imperialist-dependent reactionary governments.

In the 1980s, the political prisoners sought to create an alternative to fundamentalism and imperialism. When these revolutionaries announced that the fight against imperialism was not separate from the fight against internal reactionaries, they were trying to target both. They aimed to build a society that represents both the short and long-term interests of the people regardless of their religion, ethnicity, race, gender or nationality. The message of the women political prisoners in the 1980s was to bring forth an alternative in which the emancipation of women was a top priority. Today we know very well that as long as such an alternative is not formed, venomous snakes such as the Islamic Republic, Daesh (Isis) and al-Sisi will continuously arise from the people’s struggles and will use the dissatisfied, rebellious youth as cannon fodder in order to gain power. The dedication and self-sacrifice of the youth and the people should not serve a return to the past, but rather to move forward towards the bright future, towards a day when humanity is emancipated from any constraints of class, gender, religion, and race. A society that does not have any official ideology and where oppositions can freely express their ideas.  A society in which opinions, ideology, gender, nationality and race are do not determine civil rights. A society without prisons, execution and torture.

The first step towards building such a society is the revolutionary overthrow of the Islamic Republic of Iran as the major factor in the subordination of woman and the imprisonment of millions of workers and toilers.  While many of the former criminals and investigators appeal for forgiveness, rehabilitation and moderation, and in conjunction with them the reformist opposition is continuously trying to narrow the horizon of the people’s expectations for fundamental change, in contrast the demands of the survivors and the victims’ families and of the revolutionary opposition is to hold the perpetrators of these crimes to account and prosecute them – to highlight the slogan, “we will not forget nor forgive”. All this is not for revenge or just to reveal the crimes of the past, but is a necessary step for going forward to build the future.

March 8th Women’s Organization (Iran, Afghanistan)- September 2014

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