Revolution #275, July 22, 2012
From A World to Win News Service:
Iranian regime launches pogrom against immigrants from Afghanistan
July 16, 2012. A World to Win News Service. A new round of attacks against people from Afghanistan living in Iran reached a particularly horrendous moment on June 30, 2012, when groups of thugs assaulted the homes of Afghan residents in a poor neighborhood in Yazd, a city in central Iran. The regime had arrested two Afghans after the body of a young woman who had been raped was found in a well near the city. Whether or not the two were genuine suspects, the regime's decision to announce their ethnic identity can hardly be unrelated to the campaign of harassment and threats against Afghan residents launched by the Islamic Republic authorities, especially in recent months.
Iranian security forces have been harassing, beating and sometimes shooting Afghans crossing the border. They rob exiting Afghans of their cash, often representing the savings from months or years of work. Within Iran, Afghans are continuously stopped and searched by the security forces, then arrested and expelled from the country without informing their family. Afghan laborers are employed in particularly difficult jobs by employers who take advantage of their status to drastically underpay them. The employers bully them and sometimes refuse to give them their wages.
Afghan workers and refugees in Iran and their families are denied access to education and health services. This has been true even for people who have been registered and supposedly categorized as legal residents, and children of Afghan parents born in Iran.
This denial of basic human rights has taken on a qualitatively higher dimension in recent months, outraging many people in general.
According to pro-regime media, the authorities in Fars, one of Iran's biggest provinces, in south-central Iran, have made it illegal to sell many items and services to so-called illegal foreign citizens. This means that people cannot buy bread or milk for their children and other basic necessities, not to mention medicine, even for patients under a doctor's care, as well as services such as transport.
Earlier, the northern Caspian province of Mazandaran outlawed the presence of any Afghan, whether registered or unregistered, legal or illegal, starting June 21. The authorities gave two reasons for declaring Afghans unacceptable. One is that they supposedly represent a threat to the people of Mazandaran. The other is that the presence of Afghans is supposedly incompatible with the province's attraction as a tourist destination.
This kind of measure is not limited to Mazandaran. Twenty-eight out of 31 Iranian provinces have disallowed the presence of Afghan citizens in the whole or part of the province.
These measures are a blatant expression of Persian chauvinism (the Fars, or Persians, are the dominant and oppressor nationality in Iran). The regime's all-around reactionary nature also comes out in the way this is combined with its anti-woman policies. Under Islamic law children are usually considered to have the nationality of the father and not their mother, and according to the Iranian regime's legislation children from the marriage of an Afghan man and an Iranian woman are not considered Iranian citizens. Consequently they are denied access to all social services and many are considered "illegal" because the status of their father is "illegal."
But the Islamic Republic went even further a decade ago by completely banning marriage between Afghan men and Iranian women. If they do wed, the government will not officially register the marriage. This has given rise to tens of thousands of unrecognized or so-called illegal marriages—32,000, according to governmental statistics, a figure often considered an underestimation. The regime has refused to provide birth certificates to at least hundreds of thousands of children from such marriages. As a result they remain vulnerable and marginalized throughout their whole lives.
This kind of behavior by the Islamic regime puts the thoroughly rotten character of its ideology on full display. Such acts give the lie to the proclaimed "kindness of Islamic morality." The regime has bared the ugliness of its real face with its treatment of millions of Afghans, just as it has with Kurds and other oppressed nationalities and religious minorities, and of course in a myriad of other ways.
The Islamic Republic of Iran tries to justify its reactionary policies by calling the Afghan refugees a burden on the country's economy. This is a double lie.
First of all, in order to be able to feed themselves and their families Afghan immigrants have withstood hardship and had to tolerate the most difficult jobs at the lowest possible wages and without any basic rights. Their wages are often not paid, or if they are paid, are then stolen. In other words, Afghan workers and other toilers in Iran are producing wealth many times greater than what they could consume from social services or other resources, even if they had access to them, which they do not.
Secondly, contrary to the claims of the Iranian regime, most of these Afghans did not leave their home and work and sometimes their family of their own free will. In this regard, the Islamic Republic is trying to hide its own role in worsening the situation of Afghanistan and thus its own responsibility in producing the plight of the Afghan people.
Millions of people in Afghanistan lost their livelihoods and homes because of imperialist occupation, the brutal civil wars between the various Islamic fundamentalist groups and the intervention and meddling of regional powers. Their lives were destroyed and many had to flee to other countries, including neighboring Iran and Pakistan.
In addition to the two main invasions of Afghanistan, in 1980 by the Soviet social-imperialists (socialist in words but really capitalists and imperialists) and the U.S.-led NATO imperialists in 2001, other reactionary powers in the region including the Islamic Republic of Iran have also intervened to serve their own interests. In a bid to expand its influence, the Iranian regime, like the Western imperialists and Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, has had a big share in encouraging and feeding Islamic fundamentalism in that country that has caused so much misery for the people and especially women.
The Islamic Republic of Iran has given financial and military support to Shia fundamentalistgroups and parties such as the Unity Party, the Islamic Movement party and many more. They supported one Islamic fundamentalist faction, the Northern Alliance, against another, the Gulbuddin Hekmatyar faction, in the civil war after the Soviet withdrawal that resulted in the destruction of Kabul, and later on against the Taliban. The Iranian Islamic regime even cooperated with the occupation of Afghanistan by the Western imperialists.
In sum, the Islamic Republic has played a role in all the crimes against the people of Afghanistan and has been part of the problem. But shamelessly they now pretend that they have to deal with several million uninvited guests and assume they have a right to commit any crime against them.
The Iranian revolutionaries and communists along with broad sections of masses have expressed their extreme anger and outrage towards this reactionary and racist policy. Many Web bloggers have reacted to these policies and published pictures of young Iranians carrying placards that read, "We all are Afghanis." Iranian political organizations and parties and many intellectuals and activists have issued statements against the harassment of Afghans in Iran. There have already been protests in front of Iranian embassies and similar venues in Toronto, Brussels, Frankfurt, Cologne, Stockholm and elsewhere in Europe, and more are planned.
In a statement, "Smash the organized and fascistic attack of the forces of the Iranian government against toilers and other immigrants from Afghanistan" on July 3, 2012, the Communist Party of Iran (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist) said, in part:
"Only a few months ago Afghani toilers and immigrants in Iran were banned from entering a park in Isfahan. The shock of the killing of dozens of Afghani refugees near the border with Turkey by the Iranian security forces is still felt. Now we are hearing that under the pretext of the murder of an 18-year-old woman in the city of Yazd, the security forces and their thugs have attacked the poor neighborhood of Afghan immigrants in that city and burned down their homes, under the pretext of taking revenge for the murder of this young woman who herself was a victim of this chauvinist, patriarchal system...
"(In the province of Fars) the government has warned shops, bakeries, supermarkets and other businesses that provide daily necessities not to sell their goods to 'illegal aliens', and they will be fined and their business will be shut down if they don't comply...
"With these criminal acts the Iranian regime intends to build a bridge between itself and the people, and escape from the people's anger by presenting Afghani toilers as the main cause of the (economic) crisis that has threatened its very existence...
"Immigrants from Afghanistan are part of Iran's proletariat, a class that has a fundamental interest in overthrowing this religious and chauvinist regime, and we should pave the way for them to be in the forefront of the struggle of burying this regime. The future revolution would be a thoroughly internationalist social revolution. The future revolutionary state of Iran, under the leadership of revolutionary and communist forces, will put an end to any oppressive laws against all those who live in Iran. As is stated in our party's programme, 'Their basic political and social rights, including their right to citizenship, work, education, a birth certificate, marriage with Iranians and to enjoy all the rights of citizens will be recognised.'
"All leftist and communist forces, all freedom-loving people and forces inside and outside the country, should stand against these organised and criminal acts and give the proper response to the mercenaries of the Iranian regime and all its thugs in every way possible."
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.
If you like this article, subscribe, donate to and sustain Revolution newspaper.