How can we help the Iranian revolution from Australia?

November 14, 2022
November 6 solidarity protest in Brisbane. Photo: Alex Bainbridge

Socialist Alliance supports the current inspiring uprising across Iran, led by young women.

The movement is an attempt by Iranians to reclaim their self-determination from an oppressive regime. From the Shah to the Islamic Republic, the regimes have never delivered for ordinary working people.

The United States and Britain have long played a role in destabilising Iran to advance their imperialist interests.

They helped drive the 1953 coup, in which Iran’s democratically elected government was overthrown when it moved to nationalise the country’s vast oil wealth.

Debated by the Iranian community organising the protests right now is the role of sanctions on the regime, and whether they should be harsher.

This is because the US economic sanctions over the past 30 years has helped strengthen the regime, and disproportionately badly impacted ordinary people.

Iranians’ active resistance has been inspiring. Iranian writer Suzan Azadi described the significance of the protests in Green Left.

“For the first time since the Islamic revolution. Iranians are united are targeting the central pillars of the Islamic republic, including the concentration of power and authority in the hands of the ruling clergy.”

In many ways this movement continues on from the unfinished revolution in 1979. Despite it ending with the Islamic Republic gaining power, the revolution did demonstrate the possibilities of a new society organised by ordinary people taking control of their workplaces.

It also raised the possibility of self-determination for oppressed minorities, whose rights in Iran have been historically denied by the Shah and the Islamic Republic.

The current upraising highlights the struggles of oppressed minorities: the Kurds, Azaris and Arabs have had their rights repressed.

We should note that the Kurds have played a key role in kicking starting this new phase of the movement. Many protests started in the East Kurdistan region of Iran, before spreading towards Mazandaran in the North and Tehran, the capital.

One of the unifying slogans “Woman, Life, Freedom!” (Jin, Jiyan, Azadi!) was first popularised by the Kurdish-led Rojava Revolution in North East Syria.

Unity is being found in opposing gender oppression, socio-economic inequality and political and national oppression.

Women are playing a leading role in this mass upsurge. The Islamic Republic’ imposition of dress codes and its morality police have always served as ruling class tools to dominate, humiliate and commodify women’s bodies.

The fact that women are organising in opposition to these and other patriarchal structures is inspiring people around the world.

The movement also demonstrates the importance of unity against the oppressors. All sections of Iranian society are organising against the regime, unified by common demands and refusing to buy into the divisions — religious or ethnic — being fostered by the regime.

The organised working class is also playing a critical role. With the cost of living crisis growing, and inflation now at 52.5%, industrial struggles are growing — as is the state’s repression.

While, millions are struggling to survive, the Iranian regime is still spending billions of dollars on its armed forces.

The protesters say they continue to fight because they have nothing to lose.

We can show solidarity from Australia by demanding the federal Labor government abandons its oppressive detention system. Many Iranians have managed to get to Australia only to be routinely detained here, or living on temporary protection visas.

We need to continue to pressure Labor to open the doors to Iranian refugees seeking asylum and ensure that no refugee is deported to danger back to Iran.

[This is an abridged version of a speech given by Socialist Alliance national co-convenor Jacob Andrewartha to a public forum in Melbourne titled Behind the uprising in Iran.]

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