Revolution #274, July 8, 2012

In Memory of Azar Derakhshan

The following statement was sent sent by Mary Lou Greenberg to the memorial in Paris June 8 for Azar Derakhshan who died May 26 after a long battle with cancer. Azar was 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).

It was with deepest sorrow that I learned of the death of our beloved comrade, Azar Derakhshan. She was not only a part of the Iranian people, but of people everywhere who fight against injustice and all the horrors of the world as it is today. Her great heart for the people and her deep understanding of what is required to get to a totally different and far better world—a communist world—led her to commit her life to do everything possible in her lifetime to bring about that new world.

As a communist, Azar fought passionately against the oppression of women and for their full liberation as an integral and critical part of the struggle for the emancipation of all humanity from all forms of oppression and exploitation. I heard her speak in the U.S. at an international conference of Iranian women students and saw how she struggled against both cultural relativism and bourgeois feminism; against Islamic theocracy and those who would conciliate with it, as well as against the harmful notion that western capitalist imperialism could liberate women.

I had the great honor and pleasure of working with Azar on several occasions, especially in March 2006 on the Great March Against Anti-Woman Laws in Iran where Iranian and Afghan women and their supporters rallied and marched in several European cities. I will never forget her, confident and fierce, leading defiance at the embassy gates of the Islamic Republic of Iran in The Hague, and declaring:

"For 27 years we have been talking about the criminal things you've done. Today, we have news for you. A united and organized force is being born. When you took power, you celebrated by attacking these people. But these newly birthed forces will put the nails in the coffin of the Islamic Republic of Iran."

She had nothing but contempt for the theocratic Islamic Republic, for U.S. imperialism and for patriarchy in all its hideous forms, based on a great certitude in the absolute necessity and possibility of bringing about a fundamentally different society and world. While scorning the enemy, Azar exuded warmth toward the people, especially women, including those who disagreed with her—but she also struggled forcefully with passion and science against incorrect ideas and fought to understand more deeply the oppression of women and its relation to transforming the world.

In July 2007 Azar came to New York City where she spoke at a program at Revolution Books and to the media. The U.S. was intensifying war moves on Iran—as they are today—and Azar was firm in speaking out against the view that there are only two sides—Islamic theocracy or the U.S. "The voice of the people is almost completely absent in the U.S. media," she said in one radio interview. "We don't need the U.S. to liberate us...We want to decide our future ourselves. We want to fight our native enemy by ourselves." This voice had not been heard in the U.S. before, and it both challenged and inspired people.

As a member of The Revolutionary Communist Party USA, I want to convey the great sorrow of the comrades here for the loss of this passionate communist who gave her life to the struggle for the emancipation of humanity, who fought for others to step forward and take up this path, and who fought to the very end of her life to contribute all she could—for this we cherish and honor her memory.

Our comrade Azar Derakhshan will not see the bright future she fought so hard for, but her complete dedication and leadership have surely brought it closer.

Mary Lou Greenberg
June 4, 2012


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