We are publishing a statement from the comrades of Internationalist Voice about the murder of a young woman, Mahsa Amini, who “died in custody” after being arrested by the “morality police” of the Islamic State in Iran. This grim event has sparked off a wave of protest throughout Iran, by men as well as women, who are driven not only by anger against the regime’s disgusting treatment of women, but also by growing impoverishment and the shameless corruption of this “holy” capitalist state. But the statement also contains a warning that amorphous street protests can be manipulated by the “democratic” forces of capital, and insists that only the struggle of the working class can offer a perspective in the face of all forms of exploitation and oppression.
The death of Mahsa Amini, the 22-year-old woman killed by agents of the Islamic bourgeoisie working for the Guidance Patrol or morality police, has provoked a wave of anger and hatred of the brutality of the Islamic bourgeoisie. Because of its ideological superstructure, the Islamic bourgeoisie not only exerts class oppression but also sexual oppression of women, especially working-class women, who are exploited, harassed, insulted and abused, etc., in society and the workplace. As a result, they find themselves in an even lower position than working-class men.
Mahsa and others like her are dying, and these crimes continue to occur – but not because the Islamic police are omnipotent; on the contrary, they keep happening because the working class does not come forward as a social class to stamp out these atrocities. During the labour protests in the autumn of 2018, Ahvaz steel workers on their way to protest in the Naderi streets found themselves confronted by anti-riot police armed to the teeth. But this show of force could not stop the advance of the protesting workers, quite the opposite: the line of anti-riot police disintegrated in front of the raging and united flood of steelworkers. The anti-riot police had to flee, and the workers marched onwards resolutely. This victory is one of the most beautiful, spectacular and inspirational examples of workers’ power.
Surrounded by anti-riot police in the centre of the city of Shush, the striking workers’ chants of “Bread, work, freedom, council administration” resounded, sending shivers down the spine of the bourgeoisie. At the same time, also surrounded by anti-riot police, Bakhshi continued to use a loudspeaker to repeat the slogan firmly so that the message would ring out, loud and clear, telling the anti-riot police – whose salaries are paid from our wages – that neither threats nor imprisonment will hold us back.
All forms of bourgeoisie have reacted to Mahsa’s death – from right to left; from the White House to Reza Pahlavi (former crown prince); from Karubi (former president candidate) to Amini (Kurdistan’s sharia ruler); from Remini (Hollywood actor) to Gogosh (a singer); from Kurdish nationalism to the radical phrases of the left of capital. They have become defenders of human rights and have condemned the “Islamic regime”. For them, Mahsa’s blood is only in line with their anti-regime propaganda. The suppressed anger, the beaten anger and protest of the working masses and the lower strata of the society are supposed to be channelled into the democratic and anti-regime channel so that the working people would be like a black army of anti-regime struggles in order to ensure that the working class cannot raise its head as a social class, to be the flag bearer and the leader of the class struggles.
Only the working class, through its class struggle, can fight against twofold oppression in society and provide a horizon. Only the working class, through its class struggle, can fight against twofold oppression in society and provide a horizon. As long as the working people are not fighting using their class identity and their class agenda, and not using their struggle to become flag bearers for the working class, we will witness such events in society.
The best way to honour the memory of Mahsa and Mahsas everywhere is to fight the system that she became a victim of: the dirty, barbaric, brutal system of capitalism.
M. Jahangiry 19 September 2022
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