Revolution #205, June 27, 2010

World in Struggle

"We are all Neda"
Iran: One Year After the Eruption of Defiant Protests

Iran is ruled by an Islamic theocratic regime, with laws based on religion and the clergy wielding a special role in controlling the state (the army, courts, bureaucracy, etc.). This regime has killed over 5,000 revolutionary political prisoners since coming to power in 1979. Women face arrest if they don’t veil themselves in public and people face execution for "homosexual acts." One year ago, simmering anger against this regime erupted into massive protests when sharp conflicts emerged among the Iranian rulers around the June 12 election, which was widely seen as stolen by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In response, hundreds of thousands poured into the streets, many for the first time in their lives. Three days after the election, government forces opened fire on protesters at Tehran University, killing five.

Rather than quell the protests, this massacre further enraged people and delegitimized the regime. The following day, over two million people took to the streets and protests continued for days. Among those who came out was 26-year-old Neda Agha-Soltan. June 20 marked one year since she was gunned down in the midst of these anti-government protests.

Neda’s relatives say that from a young age, she rebelled against the Islamic regime’s repressive restrictions on the basic rights of women. She was the first in her school to refuse to wear the chador, the covering forced on women. When mass outrage burst out at the regime’s open thuggery, Neda joined others who courageously stood up against the rulers, in the face of vicious threats and violent attacks.

On June 20, 2009, uniformed government forces suddenly attacked and began beating protesters. Shots rang out. A bullet hit Neda and she died bleeding on the ground. As cell phone videos of this crime spread around the world, Neda came to symbolize the fearless determination of millions in Iran who are rising up against injustice and for a different future. Many protesters in Iran and around the world have donned masks with Neda’s photo on them and declared "We are all Neda."

One year later, the justified anger at the Islamic regime still rages among millions in Iran. But protests to mark the anniversary have been called off by former prime minister Mir-Hossien Mousavi and the "green movement" opposition he leads, out of concern for the stability of Islamic rule.

Revolutionaries are increasingly working within all this, calling on people to break with siding with one or another faction of the ruling class and to direct the struggle toward the revolutionary overthrow of the Islamic Republic altogether. We should be alert for new rounds of opposition to the regime, ready to politically support the rekindled resistance of the Iranian people. (See for "Revolutionary Eye on Iran.")

Israel’s Criminal Siege of Gaza—and the Need for Powerful Protest

Gaza, a part of Palestine, is known as the world’s largest outdoor prison—1.5 million people are under a lockdown enforced by the Israelis with the backing of the U.S. In 2008 and early 2009, Israel (with U.S. support) launched a massive military assault on Gaza, massacring 1,400 Palestinians, destroying schools, and shelling hospitals. Since then Gaza has been under Israeli siege—a collective punishment of an entire population that has meant even more extreme poverty, malnutrition, health crises, and separation from the outside world. In the pre-dawn hours of May 31, 2010, Israeli commandos attacked an unarmed flotilla of ships—in international waters—that was attempting to break the siege and deliver banned items like concrete, medical supplies, toys, pasta, and chocolate. Nine people were killed by the Israelis. The siege of Gaza is part of maintaining Israel as a nuclear-armed enforcer of U.S. geopolitical interests in the Middle East and beyond. Tens of thousands around the world poured into the streets in outrage over the Israeli massacre on the flotilla. And the continuing siege cries out for powerful, determined political resistance to demand that this horrendous crime, carried out in service of a world of suffering and oppression, come to an immediate end.

Gulf of Mexico: The Capitalist Oil Disaster

An environmental, wildlife, and human catastrophe has been unfolding before the world’s eyes since late April, when BP’s blown drilling pipe a mile deep in the Gulf of Mexico began gushing millions of gallons of oil. Wetlands incredibly rich with life are facing destruction. People’s lives are being shattered. Whole marine ecosystems are threatened with a Chernobyl-like situation. BP and the government have proven themselves unable and unwilling to really do what is necessary to stop this disaster. Millions of people—from fishermen to scientists to students—are outraged, but have been discouraged and prevented from acting. This ecological disaster is a product of a global capitalist system that bases its entire functioning on the extraction of cheap and extremely profitable energy sources from fossil fuels, despite the fact that the burning of these fuels is killing the planet. A call has gone out, from supporters of Revolution newspaper, for all who feel the urgency of this crisis to come to New Orleans and rally people to stop this catastrophe, protect the environment, and spread revolution. On June 19, an Emergency Summit in New Orleans brought together scientists, people from fishing communities, environmental activists, progressives, radicals and revolutionaries, artists, intellectuals and others to thrash out ways to act, now.

The Fight for Justice for Oscar Grant

Oscar Grant was killed in cold blood on New Year’s Day 2009—as he was being forced face down on an Oakland, Calif., train platform by a cop, who shot him in the back. Grant, a 23-year-old Black man, is one of at least 100 people killed each year by police in California. He is one of the many thousands killed and brutalized each year around the U.S. by the police who act like an occupying army in the oppressed communities. No cop in California had ever been tried for an on-duty killing…until now, when Johannes Mehserle, the cop who shot Oscar Grant, has been put on trial. The main reason there is a trial at all has to do with how people resisted. As cell-phone videos of the murder spread, outrage grew—and erupted onto the streets of Oakland. The system has counter-attacked. The cop’s trial has been moved from Oakland to Los Angeles. The fight is at a turning point, and it is urgent that many more people step forward in protest and resistance. On June 14, over 100 people demonstrated outside the L.A. courthouse, including many youth. Oscar Grant’s face was everywhere, on T-shirts, posters, and banners saying "We Are All Oscar Grant!" Among the protesters were Juanita Young, mother of Malcolm Ferguson (killed by the NYPD in 2000), Nicholas Heyward, Sr., father of Nicholas Heyward, Jr. (killed by the NYPD in 1994), and others from the October 22 Coalition‑NY. Protesters have returned daily and vow to maintain this presence throughout the trial.

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