1. Regarding the history of our group, our goals and collaborators
We are a group of anarchists that at first worked in isolation in various social and political spheres but for a year now have combined our efforts, considering it vital to work together and be coordinated in our activity and through the internet. Most of us have experience and backgrounds in activism with a various leftist groups but like all anarchists do not believe in statism or joining political parties.
Currently we are active in Iran, Australia, Canada, Turkey, Lebanon, Germany, France, Norway, Sweden, Kurdish areas of Iraq, Turkey and Iran, among other locations. We are the only farsi-speaking anarchist group outside the country in the sense that we each speak farsi and communicate in farsi, though we each speak different languages as well, such as the language of the country in which we reside and are active in those languages. We are hoping to attract activists from Afghanistan and Tajikistan soon.
Any anarchist whether they speak Farsi or another language such as Kurdish, Arabic, French, German, Norse or other can consider themselves part of our group and join our virtual meetings since our goal has always been to coordinate more and more with anarchists across the globe. We especially want to strengthen the Middle East anarchist movement and are hoping to organize an anarchist conference in the Middle East in upcoming months through our comrades in Israel, Palestine, Kurdistan-Iraq, Turkey, Jordan, Syria and Iran.
We also seek to learn from and translate the experiences of anarchists from around the globe into farsi and have reports and contacts from anarchist movements from each country. We have partnerships with non-farsi speaking anarchists from Canada, Germany , France, and England; in other words, we each participate in the anarchist movements in our local community as well as being coordinated together in farsi. Our friends from Kurdistan-Iraq have played a very positive role and really strengthened our group and increased our connections in the Middle East. If you would like, you could interview them separately about the anarchist movement in Iraq and Kurdistan.
Our members have a number of weblogs and facebook pages that they started individually and we have a shared page called the Voice of Anarchism both on the web and on facebook. We have a paltalk chat room, radio, and hope to expand our internet radio as well as initiate a satellite television channel. Also we are trying to make videos in farsi about anarchism and put them on youtube because there is not a single youtube video on anarchism in farsi. Youtube and yahoo are blocked in Iran, but people find ways of access and it is nonetheless a very effective promotional tool.
2. Our view about the situation in Iran
Though we don’t have a formally recognized anarchist movement in Iran, if we bring the voice of anarchism to the Iranian masses a much larger anarchist movement can take effect around the world. When people in Iran become familiar with what anarchism is they show very positive responses.
Due to the centuries of various forms of dictatorship and oppression in Iran, there is relatively little understanding and literature, articles and books, on anarchism. We don’t have anarchist songs in farsi and eventhough we have rap artists that consider themselves anarchists they have yet to sing an anarchist song. There is only one John Lennon song that has been sung in farsi. We don’t have recognized anarchist poets, caricaturists, painters and artists generally. Yet, artists can have a tremendous impact on the social and political thought of any society and the lack of anarchists in art is one of the challenges we currently face. Iran has hundreds of thousands of bloggers and only a small number of these write about anarchism, though we have seen an increase in bloggers who consider themselves anarchists but refrain from writing about anarchism.
From our beginning, statist-leftists have been engaging in critique of anarchism and the regime has become aware of us as well. Due to our philosophy of action and the security issues in Iran, anarchists in Iran often can not work with us directly. There are pockets of anarchists that have their own methods of action but are unable to communicate with each other and make groups, preventing the regime in Iran to infiltrate them. If anarchists are arrested, they are arrested individually, though there will be other anarchists in prison. Lately, anarchist-minded comrades who participated in the movement throughout the past 18 months have been interested, but we have very little information on them. The point is that in the mass movement in the millions of the past 2 years, anarchists, naturally, were also involved.
What is interesting is that the thought processes of women and youth is very anarchistic, and in the worker’s movement women and youth also have very anarchist mindsets. So for a mass anarchist movement to start in Iran is very possible. This is very powerful as anarchism is most aligned with the goals and demands of women, workers and youth, and no other leftist or right-wing centralized alternative is able to attract as many people as anarchism. There is a trough in the movement and anarchism can bring hope and the movement back to a peak level.
Anarchism would be a new path and method in Iran, a country that has always experienced oppression, brutality, submission and domination, where minimum human needs are not met and with the legacy of statist right and left wing movements always taking advantage of the people’s trust. Such a society is prepared to determine its own fate. Many people have the anarchist mentality without putting the label of anarchism on their mentality, so a correct description and explanation of anarchism in society and entrance into the social and political psyche has the potential to create a huge force in pursuit of the goals of the masses and towards anarchism. There is currently really no common political language or common literature between everyone, or goals and demands that are that are explicitly shared throughout the movement in the millions. Really there are strategies and actions and goals that are anarchist but have not realized a common label; in other words there is an identity crisis in the movement. Though everyone is saying the same thing, without a common label everyone becomes lost. And although sometimes a common label is used, there are also various definitions of that label. So we see various words but without a common definition such as anarchism, social libertarianism, freedom-seeking, direct democracy, reign of councils, anti-authoritarian, rebellion....
3. Problems of anarchists in Iran
Anarchism like any other sort of activism is not permitted and is heavily brutalized by the regime. Tere has never been enough free space to allow anarchists to find each other or openly discuss their thoughts. There are very little farsi sources on anarchism. There is very little that we can do to help free our anarchist comrades.
4. Evaluation of the situation in the Middle East
From what we have learned, there are strong anarchist movements in Turkey, then Kurdistan, Iraq and then strong anarchist tendencies in other places such as Iran and elsewhere in the Mid East.
5. Who do we work with?
As explained in Answer 1, we work with fellow anarchists in the Middle East, Europe, Canada, as well as with autonomists, anti-authoritarians and anti-authoritarian leftists, in coordination and campaigning.
6. What is our view of the Israel-Palestine conflict?
Like other anarchists, we believe in a world without borders. So with regard to the I-P conflict we also believe in no borders and no government, and that instead local communities should have the autonomy to solve their problems.
Our policy is to support anarchists in Israel and Palestine and to promote anarchist thought in that region which can gradually solve their problems, though one must not forget that the right-wing religious government forces in both Israel and Palestine has made the task quite complex. Our hope is that through a Mid East conference with our comrades particularly in Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and... , that we will be informed by them about promising strategies.
7. Our activity during the fall of the Shah and last year’s protests
Some of us were active as individuals during the fall of the Shah but not as an anarchist movement. As explained in answers 2 and 3 above, anarchists were involved in last year’s protests, but again as individuals rather than as part of an anarchist movement.
8. How can we cooperate?
a) Interviews introducing various anarchist groups to each other, knowing how much resources each of us has, what each of our needs are, and methods to communicate with other to be coordinated
b) Combining resources for a stronger anarchist front
c) Shared anarchist television programming with each other’s help and the help of other anarchist groups
d) Translating and publishing anarchist literature in different languages
e) Shared internet meetings once a month for reporting each other’s activities and exchanging views
f) Publishing and translating anarchist news from all over the world into different languages
g) Engaging in a joint global event at least once a year if possible
Our Questions for Our Comrades in Czechoslovakia
1. What is the status of the global anarchist movement?
2. What is the history of your group? Under what name do you work? What types of activities have you had so far? What resources for promoting yourselves have you had so far?
3. How many anarchist groups are there in Czech and Slovakia and what is the status of the anarchist movement there?
4. With anarchists of what other countries and localities are you connected with?
5. In what countries do you see anarchism as the most desirable? In what countries do you see a stronger anarchist movement socially, culturally and politically?
6. What kind of effect has your group had in your resident country?
7. How did you learn about us (Voice of Anarchism)?
8. Before contacting us, what information did you have about anarchism in Iran and what was your perception of the anarchist movement in Iran?
9. What kind of limitations and challenges to anarchists face in your country?
10. Has anarchism gained strength or become weaker in your country and throughout the world in your view?
11. What is your view on Israel-Palestine?
12. How can we cooperate?