Revolution #169, June 28, 2009

Correspondence from readers

Spirited Iranian protest at Houston's busiest intersection

On June 16 at least 400 Iranians took over all four corners of Houston’s busiest intersection, in the upscale Galleria shopping area, in a spirited rally that lasted almost three hours. It was a mix of generations, with the youth in the forefront, chanting and waving signs, as cars passed through the heavy rush hour traffic. There were also older folks who had been through the anti-Shah, anti-U.S. upsurge of the late 70s—either in Iran or here in the U.S., where a number of them had been involved with the Iranian Student Association or other organizations.

“Marg Bar Dic-ta-tor!” was a frequent chant, reminiscent of the shouts of the 1979 revolution against the U.S.-backed Shah, when crowds roared, “Death to the Shah!” The main slogan was “Where’s my vote?” and was seen on numerous signs and t-shirts. Placards expressed that the votes had been stolen, and denounced what they called a “coup d’etat” by Ahmadinejad. There were also pictures of Ahmadinejad together with Hitler, with swastikas.  One sign read, “Ahmadine-fraud.” A number of large signs displayed photos of the police and paramilitary beating and killing young protestors.  

Few people showed any real trust in, or specific support for Mousavi, who, after all, was prime minister during the especially bloody early years of the Islamic Republic.   One man made the point that all of the candidates are picked by the leaders of the Islamic Republic (most importantly, by the  “Supreme Leader of Iran,” Ayatollah Khamenei), but some felt that Mousavi was at least  “the lesser of two evils.”

An older man recounted that shortly after Ayatollah Khomeini took power in 1979, the regime killed 5,000 people in 45 days . He lost his father, brother, and nephew to this wave of repression, and shortly after that his mother died from all the grief.  A general sentiment was that frustration and anger had been building up over a long period of time, and that the youth in particular are just fed up.  When the election was so blatantly stolen, people felt they had to act.  One sign read, “30 Years of Silence is Enough.” 

A number of people there said that when they saw young people and others speaking out in the streets of Iran, subject to getting killed for standing up, they had to come out and support their friends and family.  And with the Iranian authorities blocking  Internet and phone connections, and kicking out foreign reporters, it was on them to be the “voice” of their loved ones.

A woman in her 20s said, “It’s just like what happened in Florida in the 2000 election; they stole the votes, but here we’re in the streets.” When one of two sisters saw Revolution newspaper, she immediately got it and said,  “One of our parents is Irish and the other is Iranian, so we have revolution in our genes!”

A young American couple, who had heard about the rally on the local Pacifica station, felt they had to come down. They expressed frustration at the absence of non-Iranians there.  She thought the “Stop thinking like Americans, and start thinking about humanity” button was exactly what needed to be said, adding that  “American lives are not more important than other people’s lives!”  When she heard that the paper is put out by the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, she said, “Awesome.”

People liked the back page a lot, with the picture of Obama as the mask for Uncle Sam. There was a very deep anti-U.S. imperialism stance, especially among the older people who had more political experience and consciousness.  Most people agreed that Obama is carrying out the same program as Bush, while some still saw him as better than Bush—some hoping that something good might come out of his “positive”  speech in Cairo.  Others felt that his Cairo speech showed Obama as a complete manipulator. A number of people said that the U.S. had a hand in Khomeini getting into power, and there was lots of discussion of the struggle against the Shah. One man who got the RCP,USA's  Manifesto spoke of how religion has been used to manipulate people, and quoted Marx about religion being the opiate of the masses.

There was apparently a small group of pro-Shah forces there, and at one point a young woman started agitating passionately, telling people to go across the street, to distance themselves from the pro-Shah people. One guy said that these forces want to put his son back in power.

Both the tragedy of the actual outcome of the 1979 revolution, and the loss of revolutionary China weighed on people. When one man saw Revolution newspaper, he said, “Revolution … that’s what got us into this mess!”  While the demand for democracy was the main thing, and people saw little difference between Mousavi and Ahmadinejad, a few said, “At least its better than communism.  At the same time, many were eager to see what revolutionaries here in the heart of the imperialist empire had to say, and were happy to see that we were talking about “another way.”  All this opened up a lot of discussion of what kind of revolution is needed, and about the first wave of socialist revolutions and Bob Avakian’s new synthesis.  We got out lots of copies of Revolution, including a good number of issue #162 with “An Open Letter to the Revolutionary Communists and Everyone Seriously Thinking About Revolution: On the Role and Importance of Bob Avakian.” We brought up the latest AWTW News Service articles, and several people were interested in checking that out, including the statements by the Communist Party of Iran (MLM).

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