Woman, Life, Freedom: Manifesto of the Iran Solidarity Movement in Austria
This statement was decided on the 23rd of October at a conference of the Iran Solidarity Movement in Vienna with over 60 people attending:
Woman, Life, Freedom
Long live the revolutionary movement in Iran:
Manifesto of the leftist solidarity movement in Austria
Since the brutal murder of Jina (Mahsa) Amini by the so-called morality police in Iran, a broad movement has spread across the country that has shaken up one of the most repressive regimes in the world. It is no exaggeration to speak of a revolutionary movement, led by women, students, youth. Scenes of women and men burning hijabs together, students fearlessly throwing representatives of the regime out of their schools, workers going on strike, students staging daily rallies, have all deeply inspired us.
The regime has responded with extreme brutality. The average age of those arrested is 15 years old. Political prisoners were in serious danger in the Evin Prison fire. Students have "disappeared”. School students are being arrested in their classrooms. From Kurdistan to Baluchesten, the regime has carried out massacres that have turned hundreds more Jinas into symbols of the movements. In spite of all this, the masses have not been stopped. This movement has the potential not only to bring down the Iranian regime, but also to spread throughout the region. We see this in an impressive way in Afghanistan, where there have been ongoing protests by women and girls against the Taliban for months. The movements will increasingly inspire each other and in turn encourage others.
The Kurdish liberation movement's rallying cry of "Jin, Jiyan, Azadi" has already become a rallying cry from Iraq to Afghanistan, from Syria to Lebanon. The global solidarity movement is bigger than ever: from the US to the UK, Germany, Canada, France, Austria - people see this movement as a glimmer of hope in the face of the all-encompassing crises of this capitalist system: war, economic crisis, attacks on our rights as women & LGBTQI+ people, the climate crisis.
We, activists of the solidarity protests in Vienna, write this manifesto as a political call to build a leftist, feminist, anti-capitalist solidarity movement. There are many different ideas and approaches within the solidarity movement and in Iran. It is necessary to discuss both inside and outside of Iran what program and perspectives the movement needs to fight for real freedom and democracy. This is about which program and methods can help the movement in Iran, but also around which demands we can build real pressure outside of the country. We call on everyone who agrees with our ideas to join us and unite and organize around this political call.
A feminist revolt: the heart of the movement
This movement hits the regime at key pillars: The oppression of women & LGBTQI+ people, discrimination against all ethnic, religious and national minorities. The struggle for women's rights, democratic rights, the right to self-determination and bodily autonomy is at the heart of a movement that is directed against the entire dictatorial, repressive regime and system. Mandatory wearing of hijabs was one of the first measures introduced by the mullahs' regime - women have protested it from the beginning. They took to the streets in numbers on International Women's Day in 1979 against the threat of the mullahs taking power and curtailing their rights.
For decades, the regime has used its reactionary ideology to control women and LGBTQI+ people and their bodies, pushing them into family isolation, brutally exploiting them, dividing the population, and thus stabilizing the regime’s power. This ideology has been falling apart for a long time, and now this process has reached a new quality. An entire generation is radically turning away from religious institutions and are no longer tolerating the deep-seated misogyny, the violence and the all-encompassing oppression.
It is about much more than the abolition of misogynistic dress codes: it is about equal rights, full autonomy over one's own body, access to jobs, health care and an independent life. It is about abolishing all repression and the security apparatus - from the morality police to the Revolutionary Guards. From the corrupt mullahs to the violent police.
Iran is one of the clearest examples that shows much the oppression of women and LGBTQI+ people is connected to the entire capitalist system - It is the same mullahs who preach the misogynist ideology and are responsible for this systematic oppression and discrimination, who at the same time have control over the entire economy and society, exploit the poor and working population immensely, and profit from it all.
The role of the working class
This movement did not come out of nowhere. In the last few years, the economic crisis in the Iran has intensified. We have seen a historic wave of strikes during the pandemic by oil workers, bus drivers, teachers and many others. The struggle of these workers for secure jobs, for the payment of their salaries, for the release of their imprisoned colleagues and much more has long indicated the emergence of a new, militant workers' movement across the country.
Today, women, students and youth are recognizing what is needed: the unity of the students' and workers' movements. They chant at their rallies "Students & Workers: Unite and go on strike!". Teachers went on strike early on in the movement and workers in the oil and petrochemical industry followed. This is the crucial path to successful revolution - it is about all aspects of power – political, as well as economic. It is the working class that has the power, through widespread general strikes, to bring the mullahs' system to a halt and wrest wealth and resources from them. Those who created the wealth must own it in order to end hunger, poverty, misery, price explosions, corruption, pollution, and the oppression of women, LGBTQI+ people, and ethnic minorities once and for all.
The struggle for real democracy
How can we guarantee that democratic rights, the rights of women and LGBTQI+ people, of national minorities, for union and political organizing can be sustained? What comes after the mullahs? These are questions that the revolutionary movement must answer. We are already seeing the movement becoming increasingly coordinated and organized. These are crucial steps.
The movement needs to expand by organizing democratic assemblies in workplaces, schools and universities to discuss the concrete demands of the movement and elect democratic representatives to coordinate the protests. This also includes the democratic organization of multi-ethnic self-defense structures to protect the movement against the attacks of the state. Such democratic structures and committees in workplaces, educational institutions and neighborhoods can also be used to organize the distribution of food, water and necessary goods. They can begin to take power where the state is forced to retreat and lay the groundwork for the democratic takeover of key industries and the wealth of the country.
This is the only way to ensure true democracy. Examples from the Arab Spring and the 1979 revolution show that democracy is not possible in the long term as long as the economy remains in the hands of a small elite - whether mullahs, Shah supporters or Western capitalists. We create the greatest revolutionary unity through a clear fighting program. It matters with which forces we work with in this struggle - we cannot repeat the mistakes of 1979, where there was the idea of working together with all forces - including the mullahs - to overthrow the Shah. The current regime must be replaced by truly democratic structures based on the committees emerging in the workplaces and cities, which will take democratic and economic power. True democracy at every level of society is urgently needed - A democracy based on the power and strength of ordinary people, workers, women, peasants and youth. To build such a system it is necessary to convene a constituent assembly composed of workers' councils in workplaces and all the democratic forces of the movement. It must exclude all those who have been involved in oppression, discrimination and exploitation in the past.
Don't trust Shah and Biden - build resistance from below.
In this sense, and given the rich traditions of the Iranian workers’ movement whose revolution against the monarchy was stolen by the mullahs in 1979, we trust in the power of the youth and the working class in Iran, in the region and worldwide to take their destiny into their own hands. We know the role of imperialist powers in the region - whether the US, EU, China or Russia. With their wars for resources and spheres of influence, they have plunged the entire region into chaos and destruction.
While always talking about human rights, they have helped Islamist forces such as those in Afghanistan to rise and do business with dictatorships. We must prevent any imperialist interference, especially in this revolutionary situation. The close cooperation of the old Shah family with imperialist powers shows that they are certainly trying to set themselves up to replace one undemocratic system with another undemocratic system. We must always remember the brutality of the Shah regime and its torture structure SAVAK and the massive exploitation of the population in Iran when attempts are made today to present it as "modern".
The sanctions decided by the EU are ultimately toothless symbolic politics. Only after weeks of protests did the EU decide to issue very limited entry bans and to freeze assets. As a labor movement in Austria, we must expropriate these assets. The sanctions already in place hit primarily the poor and working people. We therefore oppose all sanctions against Iran that are starving the Iranian masses and used by the mullah regime as a raison d'être. The task of overthrowing the regime in Iran can only be accomplished by the masses of Iran itself. The governments of the imperialist countries, especially our “own” ones, are our enemies. These powers have their own political and economic interests, also in cooperation with the regime, and want to exploit the working class in Iran themselves. Our allies are not these ladies and gentlemen, not these institutions or governments. It is the students in Afghanistan, the anti-war activists in Russia, the feminists in Latin America, the workers in the USA and all those who stand up against the rich and powerful and their brutal regime.
International solidarity - freedom through socialism!
For us, building a solidarity movement is therefore connected to very concrete demands, wherever we are. Be it the struggle for migrant rights, for equal rights and the abolition of all bureaucratic and financial hurdles for people who flee or have fled Iran. Be it the fight against the Iranian regime's embassies and spy network around the world. Be it the struggle for the seizure of all the regime's assets abroad by the solidarity movement, as well as the profits of corporations that have done or are doing business with the dictatorship.
International solidarity is our duty - as well as that of the entire workers', trade union, youth and students' movement worldwide. The movement in Iran is an example for us, because we fight against oppression and exploitation everywhere. Because we are certain that a world order and a system that produces such repressive regimes is built on sand. And with this movement, the day is approaching when we, as the vast majority of the population, will build an international socialist system - not based on the profits of a few, but on the needs of humanity and nature, and guaranteeing real freedom.