Revolution #273, June 24, 2012
From A World to Win News Service
CPI(MLM): On the death of comrade Azar
June 11, 2012. A World to Win News Service. Mehri Ali Malayeri, known as comrade Azar Derakhshan, a member of the Communist Party of Iran (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist) and one of the founders of the 8 March Women's Organization (Iran-Afghanistan), died on May 26 at the age of 53 after battling cancer for almost 11 years.
Hundreds of people from all over Europe and beyond gathered at the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris on June 8 for her funeral. The diverse group included family, friends and many supporters of the 8 March Organization, as well as activists and other people of many nationalities. They marched to the Wall of the Communards, where the last fighters of the Paris Commune were executed, to pay their respects to these men and women who held out to the end in the first proletarian revolution, and then to the crematorium.
A cultural program to celebrate comrade Azar's life was held that evening, with singing, dancing, poetry and a short film about this well-known comrade, featuring interviews with her and excerpts from her public speeches. A number of groups and individuals, including several from Iran, sent statements of condolence and solidarity. Also read aloud was a message about Azar written by young women students in Iran.
The following is a statement by the Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist) of Iran.
One of the stars in the communist and women's movements has gone out and left a painful hole in our hearts. Losing those who stand against thunder and light up the sky is especially difficult and grave.
From the bottom of our hearts we want to express our deep appreciation and thanks to the dear friends and comrades, parties and organizations of the left movement in Iran and other countries, our fellow fighters and comrades in arms all around the world who have extended their solidarity to us and Azar's family.
No words can fully describe the beauty of this solidarity. It is an expression of human beings dreaming of building a society where people can live their social existence directly and without barriers.
We all share the sorrow of someone dying too young, not just because she was only 53 years old, and not just because many of you beloved people had just established ties of friendship with her, but fundamentally because each of us, in our own way, feels that her revolutionary intellectual capacities were still unfolding, still blossoming, still constantly being born anew.
At the same time our common profound feelings of love for Azar are a reaction to our common experience on the revolutionary road to uprooting class society. All of us who have dreamt of radically transforming our society have faced similar nagging questions and have been influenced by our defeats and advances on this road. On this road we made great sacrifices as well as committing great errors.
Rethinking this experience concerned Azar. She recognized the contradictions, gave explanations for them and pointed to an emancipator road with all of its complexities. Her words contained a powerful force that made the spirits of those she touched tremble. What she believed she lived.
Azar joined the Union of Communists of Iran (UIC) for the first time in 1979, at a time when the flames of revolution were soaring and the struggle of the masses was spreading day by day. But the Azar that we knew and the party she was a member of were fundamentally products of the period when the UIC rose from its ashes and advanced along tortuous paths. As the poet Ahmad Shamlou wrote, only the storm can give birth to unexpected children.
She left Iran in the mid-1980s with her two small children. She again joined the UIC. It was a period when the survivors of this trend, mainly people in their 30s, had buried their lost comrades and healed their wounds, and were grappling with the burning questions posed by defeat. Not only the defeat of revolution in Iran but also the world-historic setbacks, the restoration of capitalism in the formerly socialist countries and the emergence of oppressive regimes from what had been several decades of national liberation movements on three continents.
Under the burden of the defeat of revolution in Iran and the destruction of the communist organizations, many people lost their bearings, while others were tempered and continued on the revolutionary road. Azar was one of the most steadfast among the latter.
Those who continued on this difficult road through the period of crisis were still able to draw great energy from the 1981 Sarbedaran uprising, which aimed to overthrow the Islamic Republic of Iran. But without providing answers to the questions posed by the great defeats, perseverance on this road was impossible. We were inspired by the same spirit that moved Eugène Pottier to write the words of the International after the defeat of the Paris Commune, but we also needed what Marx did with his summation of that historic experience.
To recognize what was correct and what was wrong, uphold the correct and rupture with the incorrect, was a very difficult task. Azar was among the comrades who had the courage to break with old ideas as well as defend past achievements.
Exile provided an exceptional opportunity to reestablish ties with the world's communist revolutionaries. We rediscovered proletarian internationalism on a higher level and with a broader scope. Azar consistently drank from the spring of this internationalism and grew. She had a big heart and wide horizons. She saw herself as belonging to all parts of the world. Her heart beat with every struggle against oppression and injustice in any corner of the world, from Palestine, India, Bangladesh and Nepal to Peru, Colombia and the United States. She carefully followed the theoretical debates in the international communist movement. She eagerly devoured the theoretical leaps in scientific communism. Every understanding that had the power to explain the problems brought her immense joy. She was open to any theory that could explain problems more correctly.
Her unbreakable ties with the oppressed and exploited masses made her all the more eager to absorb this understanding, because she knew that the masses are doomed to eternal enslavement without this science of revolution. Many years ago she had done the page layout for a book entitled The Science of Revolution. The sentence on the back page of the book was one she always repeated at the sight of mass rebellions: will they break their chains or only rattle them?
The period of the reconstruction of the UIC was focused on examining line questions, breaking with wrong views and developing correct ones. One of the decisive steps was the UIC's courageous break with the dominant views on the oppression of women. This breakthrough played an important role in Azar's blossoming. She became a skillful and knowledgeable communicator of this line and helped deepen it. She increasingly understood the meaning of being a woman in this world in all of its aspects. She understood that oppressive gender relations impose themselves in a variety of complex ways not only in society and the family but also within a communist organization whose aim is to build a world without classes and without ''men'' and ''women”, and that it is necessary to constantly rebel against those relations that will mark human society until the establishment of communism.
Starting in 1998 Azar's party activities were centered on forging a revolutionary pole within the women's movement of Iran. Her perseverance in developing the 8 March Women's Organization and her overall role in helping to establish a revolutionary pole in struggle against the reformist pole made her well known. Azar became the distinguished spokesperson of this pole.
The Islamic Republic, knowing that Iranian women are a volcano on the verge of explosion, launched a political scheme meant to neutralize them and deployed its ''Islamic feminist soldiers.'' Azar declared that we should never allow women to be trapped in the political projects of a faction of the regime. She fought against them and pointed to another way, calling upon others to take it up and passionately insisting on a different future.
She severely criticized those who persist in siding with one or the other of the squabbling parties in the fight between imperialism and Islamic fundamentalism. She considered political systems such as the Islamic Republic, Iraqi Baathism, the Turkish republic, and similar systems as well as Western democracies to be rotten and obsolete, based on exploitation of human beings by other human beings and gender oppression. She understood that all these political systems and their rulers have to be overthrown.
Azar was a good unifier. In her efforts to forge great revolutionary unity within the women's movement she insisted on principle while showing necessary flexibility toward those she was trying to unite with. She connected easily with comrades of other parties and trends and established intellectual dialogue with them without compromising or seeking a common denominator, but through reasoning. She was very good in teaching as well as learning. She joyfully collected every droplet of understanding and every spark of consciousness and carefully transferred them to her comrades.
She had a deep respect towards progressive art and artists. She understood the important role of art and literature in history, in both reproducing oppressive and exploitative systems and struggling against them. She had a well developed knowledge of this sphere, which helped to sharpen her thoughts, make her language more beautiful and soar higher in her efforts to change the world.
She always told women comrades to develop their capacities in studying theory, thinking and writing and developing ideas. She said that this ability cannot be developed simply through experiencing oppression. She told them that without studying and understanding communist theories, we would be unable to distinguish between correct and false paths, and unable to persist in the struggle for women's liberation to the end.
She herself studied and propagated new communist views during the last period of her life. She used to say that she had tried in different ways to attract people to these theories, especially regarding women's liberation. She said without these theories our movement will die out. She used to say that others may think that these theories belong to us, but they belong to everybody. When something is true it cannot remain in the hands of one party or group alone. These truths are for saving and fortifying a movement without which there can be no emancipation from oppression and exploitation.
Her active mind and militant spirit came to her aid in her struggle against cancer too. She knew that she was engaged in a battle where the end was clear. Even in this battle she inspired everyone.
Which of these qualities most define Azar? Rebelliousness, consciousness and understanding, uncompromising opposition to old ideas and traditions, immense energy, perseverance, hard work in making the impossible happen.
Azar was a communist. She was a communist in a period where the death of communism has been declared over and over again. She considered herself a full-time activist on this road. She fought with all of her being to bring forth a new generation of revolutionary communists. Her message to the new generation was this: Absorb the experience of the past generation, stand on our shoulders in order to see the far away horizons, envision it much better than we have and conquer new heights. At the sight of the young people who got her message, her eyes would sparkle.
When oppressed people produce someone like Azar, they in fact come to believe in their own capacity to change the world. Azars become role models for struggle. They become a powerful proclamation against the world's dominant reactionary social systems. A new sense of confidence sprouts in their hearts, that we can and must bring down the oppressive and exploitative system and create a new world.
Azar did not live to march in the midst of a true revolutionary storm which would bury the hated Islamic Republic of Iran.
She did not live to see the rising of a new wave of proletarian revolution and the establishment of a new socialist society, the kind of socialism that must be a thousand times better than ever before. But she dreamed about its outlines and in her dreams a scaffolding unfolded.
When the new revolutionary waves arise in Iran and around the world, the face of Azar and many like her will shine like a red star at the summit of those waves.
Dear comrade Azar, let us once more compose the music of liberation and revolution. But how painful it is to be doing that without you. We promise that we will persevere to the end to realize our common dreams and goals, and transform our sorrow into persistence in the struggle to overthrow the Islamic Republic and the capitalist system and achieve a communist world. On this lofty road, your memory will always be alive and fuel our struggle. Goodbye, our unforgettable comrade.
A World to Win News Service is put out by A World to Win magazine, a political and theoretical review inspired by the formation of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement, the embryonic center of the world's Marxist-Leninist-Maoist parties and organizations.
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