Struggle for Change in Iran, an Interview


9-11-09, 8:50 am

Editor's Note: The following is an excerpted interview with Ali Khavari, First Secretary of the Central Committee of Tudeh Party of Iran, by Junge Welt (Germany).

Junge Welt: Your party took part in the Islamic Revolution and the overthrow of the Shah in 1979. In 1983 the party was banned by the Mullah-regime and brutally suppressed. Today, it operates solely in exile. Under which conditions the Tudeh Party of Iran works nowadays and what problems and repressions do the members have to face in the Iran?

Ali Khavari: I would like to suggest a small, yet important, change in the emphasis of your question: 'today your party operates solely in exile.' It should be noted that Tudeh Party of Iran essentially, but not solely, operates in exile. Especially, utilizing the means of electronic communications has revolutionized the operations of every opposition party and organization against the police regime and censorship of the Supreme Leader regime (theocratic regime).

The goal of every activity in the struggle of our party outside the country is to have a bearing on the events inside Iran, and to secure more active participation in the process of political struggles of masses and labor movement in the country. Therefore, drawing up the movement (action) of the party simply reflects the content and intent of a party with close to 70 years history of very effective struggle in the destiny of our country; and that is certainly the case. Every aspect of political, social and cultural life of our diverse society is affected by this tireless struggle and effort of our party. The ruling regimes in Iran, both before and after the 1979 revolution, see the Tudeh Party of Iran as one of the most serious and effective opposition forces, operating against them. The reasons and the root of this fact lie in the unwavering struggle of our party with the despotism and subservience of the monarchical regime of the Shah, and with the theocratic regime of the Supreme Leader, which has attacked all the popular and democratic, political-social, and cultural institutions of our nation, and thus has betrayed the goals of the '79 popular revolution, which essentially consisted of freedom, justice and sovereignty. It is enough for the German readers of Junge Welt to compare and understand that a regime which represses the peaceful protests of its own citizens against the fraudulent elections with such a brutality and bloodshed, what would do with the presence and operation of a party that is active in opposing and is directed to discard the theocratic regime of the Supreme Leader. The Tudeh Party of Iran is after discarding the despotic regime of the Supreme Leader, and the Supreme Leader is after complete obliteration of our party. The theocratic regime is pursuing this cruel and wicked intention with all the means of repression, propaganda and treachery available to it.

JW: Mahmud Ahmadinejad won the elections in 2005 -above all with the help of the votes from the poor population. Did these people benefit from his politics in the last four years?

AK: During the first four years of the first term of Ahmadinejad in the presidential office, every possible means of propaganda was utilized to prepare and arrange for the re-election of Ahmadinejad. Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting Service (the state-run radio and television) and other state media were put at the service of his demagogic propaganda. Some of Ahmadinejad's practices to pave the road to his re-election for a second term are: his fully stage-managed visits to provinces and making worthless promises to the local people, taking bold gestures of fanaticism and religious fundamentalism, spending millions of dollars on extravagant propaganda shows, securing the support of the most reactionary factions of the clergy and Khamenei himself, feeding and empowering security-military organs such as the Guard Corps and Islamic Basij militia, tying and linking the financial interests and privileges of a major sections of these state organs to the continuation of Ahmadinejad government, etc. Electoral fraud in the scale of displacing millions of votes of the protesting and opposition people, which is the subject of today's serious protests of the people of our homeland, should be added to this not-so-brief introduction. It should be noted right here that considering the negative and anti-people performance of Ahmadinejad government, whether in economic arena or in the area of social and individual freedoms, or in the foreign relations policy of the country, the overwhelming majority of the population went to the polls consciously in this elections. At the end of the voting and after the polls were closed, only after few hours the result of the 40 million votes cast in polls were announced. This fact, and many other documented evidences and information released afterwards, revealed the obvious fraud of the authorities. This vote rigging and betraying the votes of the people of our country enraged the public and clearly substantiated a reality in the political life of the people, which is the ultimate and absolute shattering of people's trust in the official government of the country.

The reason for what has happened after the elections during people's protests and what is expected to happen in future should be sought in this deep crisis, the deep and beyond-repair rift and rupture between the ruling regime and the people. The majority of the people have now fully lost their faith in the demagogic, repressive and despotic regime, and the era of unrelenting and ever stronger protests on the surface of and deep within the society has begun. This is the beginning of the end of the demagogic, despotic and medieval regime in our homeland.

JW: The Iranian protest movement has been a very important topic in the world news after the presidential elections on June 12 and has found many sympathizers around the globe. Which social groups are parts of this protest movement? How do you evaluate the influence of the political left within the protest movement?

AK: The popular protest movement has engaged all the strata of the society. The people somehow find themselves exposed to the risk and threat of policies of the regime that are mainly unprofessional, voluntaristic, demagogic, and adventurous. People are concerned about their situation and the future of the country as a result of these policies. Right here I have to apologize from the readers of Junge Welt for these seemingly generalizations, but I should add that any one of these characteristics attributed to Ahmadinejad government has been selected carefully and has its own backed up data and reasons, which requires more time to elaborate on them here. Undoubtedly, the left forces with their belief in the interests of the workers and working people and the importance and significance of freedom and democracy, have always participated in every instance of the struggle of our people, including this great mass uprising, and have had, and continue to have, active presence in the fields of publicizing realities and raising awareness. Our party has rightly been at the side of and together with the people both prior and during the aforementioned elections and the popular movement for democratic rights that emerged from it.

JW: What kind of political aims do the oppositional groups have in common, apart from the overthrow of the regime?

AK: Not all the participating groups in the current demonstrations and mass protests against the process of elections and its outcome are in support of overthrowing the current system of government. The current constitution has essentially set the pillars of the regime on two bases of Republicanism and Islamism. The current despotic theocratic regime of Supreme Leader is constantly shifting this balance against the principle of Republicanism and the influence of the peoples' will in the running of the country. Now the majority of the people of our homeland have risen up to protest against this breach of their right to governance, i.e. eliminating the principle of Republicanism. There is now a grave battle going on between the deeply reactionary clerical leadership and its supporters among the ruling forces on the one hand, and the general public that is fighting to defend its right to elect and its will to decide the way the country should be governed, on the other hand. The essence and core substance of the current movement is this battle.

JW: Mir-Hossein Mousavi is a man of the establishment. While communists were persecuted in the Iran, he was Prime Minister until 1989. Today, the Tudeh party of Iran supports him. Is this not a contradiction?

AK: It is true that during the crackdown on our party Mir Hussein Mousavi was the prime minister, But it is also true that particularly in those years, the person who ultimately and conclusively decided on the macro policies of the regime was Khomeini himself. The same is true today, as Khamenei deems this to be his task, and the reactionary article in the current constitution gives this right to him. Nonetheless, and taking all these into consideration, during the sensitive and critical moments of the uprising and protest of people against the extremely despotic position of the police-security minded regime, our party is moving and sees itself at the same side and alongside the people and to a certain extent at the head of the people's protests, and correctly avoids any issue that may harm the unity and integrity of the broad movement of people. Tudeh Party of Iran, and all the progressive forces of Iran, that have been the victims in the past and present time in the course of the regime to pave the road for the rule of theocrats and their allies and supporters in the repressive forces, bear the past in mind for the future (have their historic account). All those who ordered and committed that grand crime and other anti-people crimes of the regime, must answer to the people of Iran for those terrible crimes.

Mir Hussein Mousavi himself, with his declared programs and position against the rule of deceit, tyranny and despotism of the present regime, so far has stood up on the side of the people's movement. This is why the protesting people of our homeland, considering all the existing limitations, have accepted his leadership. Tudeh Party of Iran strongly supports this great movement of the people of Iran.

JW: Which forces can't you, by any means, see as allies of the Tudeh Party in the fight against the regime?

AK: Any force that its motivation in the struggle against the regime is its narrow and factional interests and in contrast with the interests of people and national interests of the country, fits on this list. Unity of action and alliance with the forces that are campaigning to re-establish the toppled historically rejected and hated monarchical regime of pre-1979 revolution is completely out of question.

JW: How do you evaluate the Western support of the protests, above all the one coming from the USA? Do you see a possibility that the protests could be used for international interests? Is there a treat of a color CIA-'Revolution'?

AK: Tudeh Party of Iran welcomes the support of people and democratic and left forces and parties in the western countries for the protests of the people of Iran. This support encourages and strengthens the popular protest movement for the realization of the violated rights of people. However, taking position by the western governments that are in conflict with and at odds with the regime, not only would not help the popular protest movement under the current circumstances, but it might be exploited by the regime and even argued as a reason to confront the movement, as it has happened already. It is also true that security and intelligence agencies of some countries attempt to stir up and to fan dissatisfaction and protest amongst people against the ruling regime in the country. This pretext and ploy has been extensively exploited to its extreme by the regime against the people's movement and its leaders.

But I should firmly stress that the movement of people, and its leadership, have entered this difficult and unequal arena of struggle against the despotic regime merely and solely on the basis of their liberating and patriotic motivations, totally spontaneous, and with absolute reliance on its own power. This devious provocation and instigation of the despotic regime ruling our homeland (to portray the protest movement as being influenced externally) must be comprehensively and firmly exposed.

JW: The Western World wants to prohibit the use of nuclear power, despite the international law. They even threaten to use military power. Which opinion does the protest movement have in the matter of war and peace? Is a regime change from abroad, like in Iraq, an option for you? What does the Tudeh Party of Iran think about the nuclear dispute? Do you think that the promise to strive only for a peaceful use of nuclear power is trustworthy?

AK: Our party and all the popular forces of our nation are in favor of the right to enjoy the nuclear energy and the technology of this vital and important field. Tudeh Party of Iran and the forces and individuals participating in the popular protest movement oppose any interference, whether military or otherwise, of foreign states in the internal affairs of our country. The peaceful characteristic of these forces stems from their popular and democratic nature. Regime change from outside, such as what occurred in Iraq, is neither possible nor acceptable by any means in Iran. Any foreign force that attempts such a dangerous provocation will burn its hands and set the whole region on fire and will seriously endanger the world peace. It is impossible to predict total repercussions of such a provocation. As for the issue that whether the regime promise to use nuclear energy solely and exclusively for peaceful purposes is trustworthy or otherwise, we must say that such possibility is not totally out of question. The right of nations and countries to obtain nuclear energy and technology is not exceptionable. The right way to prevent the likelihood of this to happen, is confidence building and to build trust between Iran and the countries that are concerned about Iran achieving this energy. On the basis of such likelihood, that could apply to any country, no one country could be deprived of its natural and legitimate right.

JW: Ahmadinejad has been accused of anti-Semitism due to his polemics in the struggle with Israel. How does one interpret his words on the Holocaust in Iran?

AK: In general, the vast majority people of Iran, all left and progressive parties and groups, deem the reality of massacre of Jews by the Nazi Germany (the holocaust) as a known historical fact. But a regime that relies on force and repression and demagogy, needs excuses to advance its policies. The solidarity between the people of Iran and the people of Palestine, and use and implementation of invasive and brutal policies by Israel against the people of Palestine, has provided this excuse to the ruling regime in Iran. An overwhelming majority of Iranians, and all the progressive and democratic forces of Iran, realize and appreciate the principle of respect for reaching an agreement and the need to resolve the critical and dangerous problem in the shape of the conflict between Israel and the Arab world, and its consequences in the region and in the world, and call for its final and comprehensive resolution through peaceful means, with bracing the violated rights of the Palestinians, and establishing peace in the region and among the involved parties.

JW: In the eyes of Israel and the USA, Iran is a main opponent in the Middle East. Third World countries and left wing governments express solidarity with Iran against imperialism. Does the Iranian foreign policy have an anti-imperialistic point of view, objectively speaking?

AK: Tudeh Party of Iran believes that the issue of struggle against imperialism does not have the same meaning and content for the ruling regime in Iran as it does for the left, democratic and progressive forces of Iran and the world. The 1979 revolution put an end to the monarchical regime, that significant base of west in the region, and terminated the exclusive advantages and privileges of imperialist states, and first and foremost the US, in Iran. The conflict and clash between the US administration emanates from the fact that the US could not and did not accept the regime emerging after the revolution, has became the main and principal basis for defining the foreign policy of Iran with the outside world and the US, and even has left a long lasting effect on the domestic policies. Calling this conflict an anti-imperialist struggle is irrelevant and ridiculous.

The type of conflict and anti-imperialist struggle of the theocratic regime in Iran is of the same character of the struggle of Taliban in Afghanistan and Al-Qaeda and Bin-Laden against the US and west. If this could be called anti-imperialist struggle, that could be named the same too!

JW: Considering that: What are the motivations of the regime in Iran to support the Hezbollah in Lebanon or the resistance in Palestine?

AK: Due to the religious solidarity of vast sections of the population of our country with the people of Palestine and the on-going aggression of Israel against the Palestinian territories, we should say that this painful process has turned into a sensitive and effective means influencing people's opinion, has been used and abused as an effective means of propaganda and for playing politics by the ruling regime of Iran. The progressive forces of Iran, including the Tudeh Party of Iran, believe that reaching an agreement between the people of Palestine and the People of Israel for a fair peace acceptable to both sides is the most suitable resolution of the problem and perhaps is the only solution.

The present ruling regime in Iran uses the support for Hezbollah and for the struggle of the Palestinian people both as a tool for its own agenda and also for a positive response to the religious sentiments of the ruling regime's social base. In the meantime, it should not be overlooked that the provocations and threats of the previous US administrations against Iran and including military threats in their agenda, has enabled the ruling regime of Iran to articulate a policy in the region and in the world that is aimed at preventing such a threat, through increasing the possible cost of enacting such threats as much as possible for the aggressor. Looking for allies in the region and in the world and the enormous spending on this path, must be seen at partially in the light of this issue and the likelihood of such a danger for the ruling regime.

JW: The big demonstrations have been defeated, the protests have become calmer. Did the movement give up already? What is your current perspective?

AK: The anti-regime demonstrations could not continue as extensively as in the early days. What occurred has been the splendid start of one of the epics of the century that will lead Iran and its people to freedom, independence and social justice. In our country now the eminence, invincibility, and holiness of the power of the religious rule of the Supreme Leader (theocratic regime) has seriously cracked. The people of our nation have now realized that it is through their movement and struggle that their future will be shaped, and are now advancing this unequal and difficult struggle with their own creative and innovative methods. It is interesting to note that in this spontaneous struggle, the million-strong masses are leading their own leaders. After 30 years of suppression, demagogy, tyranny and despotism ruling over our homeland, we are now once again witnessing the bright horizons of a tomorrow with social justice and freedom, which has filled the hearts of millions of our suffering people with hope. The seething society in our homeland is pregnant with great and epoch making events.