Monthly Archives: March 2008

Obituary:Maryam Firouz a life long militant of the Communist ‘Tudeh’ Party of Iran

Below is the obituary of Maryam Firouz which appeared in the Guardian.*

Maryam Firouz by Haleh Afshar, member of the Communist Tudeh Party.

Princess Maryam Firouz Farman Farmayan, who has died aged 94, was one of the last surviving members of the early and mid-20th century political feminist movement in Iran. The daughter of Prince Abdol Hossein Mirza Farman Farmayan and Batoul Khanoum, Maryam Firouz was born in the provincial city of Kermanshah and was educated in Tehran at the French school, école Jean d’Arc.

When she was 16 her father arranged her marriage to Colonel Abasali Esfandiary, an aristocrat, a graduate of Saint-Cyr, the French military academy, and son of the speaker of the Iranian parliament. The marriage lasted 10 years and they had two daughters. Out of respect for her father, the couple waited until his death before their amicable divorce.

By then it was the 1940s, and Maryam, embarking on an intellectual quest that was to have a lasting impact on her life, began to move towards communism, to the dismay of much of her family. Her conviction led her to disown the family name, Farman Farmayan, as too aristocratic for her Marxist ideals, and she adopted her grandfather’s name, Firouz, as her surname.

In the early 40s she joined the communist Tudeh (people’s) party, which had been founded in 1941, a move that attracted huge media attention and she was dubbed the “Red Princess”. She then married the architect Noureddin Kianouri, another upper-class radical, who had been trained in Germany, and taught at Tehran University. In 1945 he became a member of the party’s central committee.

Maryam meanwhile was one of the founder members of the Tudeh women’s organisation – the party having initially banned women members. She was also a famous hostess; she opened her drawing-room, very much in the French tradition of literary salons, and entertained artists and intellectuals. Her circle included the authors Sadeq Hedayat and Bozorgheh Alavi and the poet Fereydoun Tavalloli. Maryam was also connected to left-leaning members of the higher echelons of the armed forces, through her close friendship with Captain Khosrow Rousbeh, one of the founders of an informal Tudeh network in the army. Rousbeh was to be executed in 1958 by the Shah’s government.

In 1950, that government was under attack for its handling of negotiations with the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company – later British Petroleum. In April that year the secular nationalist, Mohammad Mossadegh, a cousin of Maryam, became prime minister. Mossadegh was committed to oil nationalisation, which triggered a crisis with the British. Maryam, by then part of politics at the highest level, was said to have been involved in the 1953 revolution that led to the brief departure of the Shah.

An Anglo-American-backed coup, Operation Ajax, toppled Mossadegh in August 1953, the Shah returned, the Tudeh party was banned, Mossadegh was arrested and Maryam and her husband went into hiding. It was the end of an era of optimism which was to have serious long-term implications for Iran – and for Maryam and her husband.

After three years the couple went into exile in eastern Europe. She continued her activities, working with Iranian women abroad and at the same time obtained a doctorate in French language and literature. She worked as a university lecturer, teaching French in East Berlin and Leipzig. These resulted, in the late 1950s and early 1960s, in two trials in her absence in Iran. The first sentenced her to five years’ hard labour and the second to life with hard labour.

After the 1979 Islamic revolution, which brought Ayatollah Khomeini to power, Maryam and her husband returned to Iran. He was by then general secretary of the Tudeh party and during that short period, when the party was permitted to function, she headed the Iran Democratic Women’s Organisation.

In February 1983 Maryam, who was then 70, and her husband were imprisoned, and Kianouri was accused of spying for the Soviet Union. That April the party was banned and many of its members were executed. Maryam was kept in solitary confinement and fell ill. The severity of her illness eventually led to her release to house arrest. She rented a house with her daughter Afsaneh and lived on her German pension. A year later, her husband was allowed to join them, on the understanding that he would never speak to the media. In an open letter to Khomeini, Kianouri recorded a horrific catalogue of maltreatment and tortures meted out to him and his wife during their imprisonment. His death in 1990 was a sad blow to Maryam, whose health deteriorated.

But Maryam never lost her interest in politics and women’s issues. She devoured the papers and the few visitors, who were permitted to see her, provided her with gossip and the information that Iran’s press could not publish.

Maryam died in Tehran. She is survived by Afsaneh. Her other daughter Afsar, predeceased her.

· Maryam Firouz (Princess Maryam Firouz Farman Farmayan), political activist, born 1914; died March 23 2008




Filed under communist-party Iran, internationalist., Obituary

Afghanistan/Iraq:“It’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that."

One of the most revolting acts to witness of late, is the preponderance of British government Ministers, their shadow Tory equivalent and MP’s who voted in favor of the war on Iraq, appearing on TV and radio to tell us that we ordinary mortals must be ever grateful to the members of the British armed forces who are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and who in the process are risking life and limb so that we citizens can sleep safe in our beds. Of course there is nothing new in such jingoistic drivel, Rudyard Kipling, who paid a terrible price for his war mongering wrote his poem Tommy long ago in which he partially deals with such wretchedness.

“For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Chuck him out, the brute!”
But it’s “Saviour of ‘is country,” when the guns begin to shoot;
An’ it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ anything you please;
But Tommy ain’t a bloomin’ fool – you bet that Tommy sees!”

To hear a British Defense Minister or a member of the opposition front bench, blabbering away about how our boys are fighting on our behalf in Afghanistan and Iraq, is not only gut retching nonsense. It is also an attempt by the Government and conservative opposition, whom I might add supported the Blair government without question when it came to sending British troops into Iraq, to share the guilt around for these disastrous and totally unnecessary wars. That the Government and opposition front bench seriously believe that the British people are going to take the guilt for the Iraq war from the politicians shoulders and place it on their own, simply highlights how far these politicos are out of touch with the public mood on this issue.

The last time such jingoistic drivel was heard on this scale from leading British politicians, was during WW1, when almost all mainstream politicians acted as recruiting sergeants for the slaughter that was taking place; and by doing so they helped send millions of young men to their deaths in what was a cruel and unnecessary war. The slaughterhouse that was WW1, eventually cut into the British psyche deeply and to such an extent that even Thatcher dare not come out with the trashy warmongering of the type we have heard from todays crop of leading Westminister politicians. She simply stated the Falklands war was being fought for the freedoms of people who were as British as those who lived in Kent.

What Brown and Cameron have been saying to their ever lasting shame is that young squddies and aircrew have been laying down their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan for those back home. Of course the squadies themselves are having none of this opportunist rubbish, when asked who they were fighting for in a recent documentary, a group of British soldiers serving in Afghanistan replied almost in unison,”each others survival.”

They understand perfectly that they are engaged in a futile endeavor and the only way their presence in Iraq and Afghanistan will have an impact on their families lives in the UK, would be in a detrimental manner, when some young Muslims become so enraged by the deaths of their co-religionists due to the British armed forces presence there, they take it into their heads to explode a device within the UK.

As with the thirty year conflict in the north of Ireland, both government and opposition due to the sterility of their political position, cling together for they realize if they do not they will be damned individually. Both the Labour Government and Tory opposition voted for what they both new was an illegal war and was regarded throughout most of the world as a criminal enterprise. These political minnows could only see the big fish in the pond, opportunists to the core and with little concept of history they clung to Bush for dear life believing the USA was all powerful and there would be spoils for all. Failing to understand that eventually a collective shoal of Piranha fish can do more damage than a great white.

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Filed under Afghanistan/Iraq, British-army, peace, UK, war, withdraw-british-troops-now. EU

Fitna: Crass Islamophobic bigotry

The Dutch islamophobic provocateur and right wing politician Geert Wilders has finally released his short film Fitna. Having seen it, its about the nastiest piece of anti Islamic propaganda as it is possible to make, the likes of which Leni Riefenstahl Hitler’s favorite filmmaker would have been proud. It would be extremely interesting to know who funded this cinematic rant.

What Wilders has done is search the worlds film achieves for the most bigoted and hateful Muslims he can find and then cut images of them ranting into his movie. He has also enhanced the suffering the West has experienced at the hands of those who claim to be acting on the will of god, whilst totally excluded the countless Muslims who have been the victims of organizations such as al-Qaeda in Iraq. More Iraqi Muslims have been killed in terror bombings etc carried out by the likes of al-al Qaeda in Iraq than all the people killed in Madrid, New York and London at the hands of the same wretched fanatics. Yet Wilders does not feel these victims deserve a mention in his film, for he has a hierarchy of victims and Muslims do not figure on his scale. Nor does he consider the role United States foreign policy might have played in allowing some of the ghastly people who are pictured in his film coming to prominence. Bin Laden for example first came to prominence in Afghanistan due to having gained US support, the same is true of Hamas and Israel.

IM not against this video being shown, as unlike many on the right, whether Christians or Muslims, I am opposed to censorship, although I cannot see what purpose it will serve bar bringing the bigots out of the woodwork and playing tricks with the minds of the gullible. For me all religion is the curse of human kind, although I accept millions are sincere in their religious beliefs, but I believe firmly that religion must be a personal choice and society must be secular. In this I oppose the prominent roll of the Church of England in the UK and the same goes for the Islamic faith in countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran. The state must be secular for it is the only way all religions and non believers can be treat equally.

I could have, if I had the skill or the cash, have made a similar movie about any one of the world major region’s. Indeed historically the record of Islam compared to Christianity is almost pacifist. For in the age of imperialism the Christian faith was exported throughout the word on the end of a bayonet and with disastrous consequences for the indigenous populations of the countries who fell victim to it.

As Robert Runcie MC, a former Archbishop of Canterbury once said, without Christianity there would have been no Auschwitz. Runcie new what he was talking about, for not only was he a religious scholar, he was among the first British troops to enter Bergen-Belsen. True indeed, but only a fool would judge one of the words great religions by the behavior of some of the most evil and brutal people who profess to practice it. Thus Fitna and its maker Geert Wilders should be treated with contempt.

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Filed under EU, Finta, Geert Wilders, Islam, Organized Rage, political Islam

Sinn Fein: A Case of Circuses when what is needed is bread.

One does not have to be a clairvoyant to see where Sinn Fein’s response to the recent disquiet expressed within the core Republican working class heartlands might lead. The party intends to shirk its own responsibility for the rise in anti social behavior in places like West Belfast by placing the blame on the community as a whole. ‘Bad parenting’ is the most common words one hears from SF reps these days, followed by, ‘these young hoods need to be dealt with by the courts far more harshly.’ In other words the SF party has reverted to the standard right wing speak so beloved of the English middle classes, although there is one major differences. When the English middle class media parrot such unthinking rubbish to avoid getting to the heart of societal problems that have there roots elsewhere, they are demanding that someone elses children be punished, i e those of the working classes. One can only hope that wiser heads will prevail and this response by SF was a knee jerk reaction after the leadership were taken by surprise by the anger that erupted after the murder of West Belfast man Frank McGreevy.

The press are doing what they can to take the pressure off Gerry Adams, one former Loyalist who now writes for the Irish Times even told his readers that, ” It is hard to know what precisely Gerry Adams and his party should be doing”
Oh really, perhaps I can help him here, what Sinn Fein’s leadership should start doing is resisting and by this I do not mean a call to arms, but a return to the pavement politics SF once excelled at, instead of spending all their time at Stormont or traveling the world. To a man/woman all the SF speakers at the Easter 1916 commemorations failed to deal with the issues that their constituency prioritise, Jobs, education, anti social behavior and policing. Instead they prattled on about the bright sunny uplands of an Irish Republic and boasted that SF presence in the Stormont administration had brought massive gains to the Republican heartlands,

Take Pearse Doherty, an able and likable up and coming Sinn Fein politician who told a crowd of more than 1,000 people at an Easter commemoration in Derry that progress was being made towards a united Ireland, that he was “greatly moved” by the sight of 125 Tricolors over graves of republicans, including the graves of 45 members of the Derry Brigade of the IRA who were killed on active service.

“Much has been done in the last twelve months. We are now in government, leading a power-sharing Executive at Stormont. We set ourselves a series of objectives, all of which have been achieved. We have Irish politicians taking decisions on Irish affairs.

Doherty’s oration to my mind smacks of circuses today and bread tomorrow, perhaps someone should remind Pearse that it is Ian Paisleys Democratic Unionist Party that leads the Stormont administration, and SF merely holds the position of deputy first minister. He also failed to mention exactly what the objectives he and his SF colleagues achieved in the last twelve months, without being over critical, about the only thing that stands out is that SF reps have joined the PSNI committees in the North, which to-date has brought the republican heartlands diddly squat.

Across the island of Ireland, SF speakers spoke almost identical words and contained with in their speeches is the worm that is destroying Sinn Fein as a party for progressive change. If all that was required was for Irish politicians to make decisions on Irish affairs there would have been no need for 800 years of struggle. As sadly throughout history; the English have always been able to find Irishmen to do their bidding, and as James Connolly once wrote,

“If you remove the English Army tomorrow and hoist the green flag over Dublin Castle, unless you set about the organization of the Socialist Republic your efforts will be in vain. England will still rule you. She would rule you through her capitalists, through her landlords, through her financiers, through the whole array of commercial and individualist institutions she has planted in this country and watered with the tears of our mothers and the blood of our martyrs.” *

The Sinn Fein speakers boast that they have power and influence but it is an illusion, however from where they sit life might seem fine, a regular wage, the ability to gain a mortgage on a nice home, subsidized travel at the tax payers expense and god knows what else, British civil servants calling them sir.

Yet none of the aforementioned means power as Doherty claims, it is merely the widow dressing of power. For real power within the northern Statelet resides where it always has within Whitehall in the bosom of the UK State.

The daily lives of those who live in working class West Belfast, and a number of other similar nationalist communities are an abject lesson in just how powerless politically SF has become. Jobs are still far and few between, eduction is not up to scratch, streets remain unswept, an underclass element amongst the youth are beginning to prey on their own communities, not least because idle hands do the devil’s work. Plus for the overwhelming majority of working class nationalists the PSNI is a British police force which is still unaccountable to the local communities it is supposed to serve. [Dirty streets are always the first sign of political incompetence, for if MPs,MLA,s and Councillors cannot jointly get the streets swept they are hardly likely to be able to deal successfully with more serious issues that weigh heavy on their constituents]

Instead of looking at the core reasons that lay behind this list of failure, all we are getting from SF is talk of tougher sentencing, bad parenting and such reactionary crap, which in itself raising the question, if SF are running the northern statelet as they claim, how come sentences are not tougher and bad parenting is not a thing of the past.

* James Connolly, from Socialism and Nationalism in Shan Van Vocht, January 1897.    

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Filed under north of Ireland-Polıtıcs, Organized Rage, Sinn Fein, socialism, unity

Rupert Murdoch seems to be a law unto himself.

Last month Organized Rage carried a piece entitled ‘Tommy Sheridan: Already vindicated by a jury of his Peers’. In the article I looked at the perjury changes that Sheridan, his wife and a number of comrades from Scottish Solidarity now face. I wrote that approximately forty-thousand police and support staff hours have been spent so far investigating this case, police who had been working on other more serious crimes were drafted in to work on this inquiry. Plus if you consider that in some areas of the UK when your home is burgled you are unlikely to be visited by a police officer, one gets an idea of the priority the Chief Constable of the Lothian and Borders Police gave to this enquiry. It is difficult not so conclude that Tommy Sheridan and his wife and comrades have been singled out for special treatment by elements within the UK State establishment, whether they be Businessmen, police, politicians or members of the judiciary.

Understandably Scottish Solidarity have questioned the objectivity of the Crown Office and the police in matters relating to the Murdoch press and when one takes into account the aforementioned one can hardly blame them. A recent decision made by the Crown Office not to prosecute the News of the World for a breach of UK electoral law, again highlights the fact that Rupert Murdoch and his media Empire seem to be a law unto themselves.

During last year’s Scottish local government election campaign, The News of the World published a story concerning Irene Lang, a Solidarity member who was standing as a candidate for a council seat in the Glasgow area, the story in the NoW breached the ‘Representation of the People Act 1982’ by lying about Mrs Lang’s 
personal circumstances. The paper accused her of fraudulently being 
on benefits by claiming a non existent back injury. There was no truth in the story 
and as such, under the act, it becomes a criminal offense during an 
election campaign to publish an untruthful article about a candidate which can clearly have an impact on their electoral campaign.

Despite a clear breach of the law the Crown Office have decided to drop the case. Mrs Lang said:
“When I took the evidence to the police station, the officer told me 
that it was a clear and obvious breach of the law. Yet, for some 
reason, it is deemed to not be ‘in the public interest’ to proceed 
with a criminal investigation or prosecution. My reputation has been 
damaged and there is no doubt this interfered with my election 
campaign as local voters were led to believe that I was fraud.”

Mrs Lang’s lawyer, Aamer Anwar, has written to the Procurator Fiscal and the Lord 
Advocate, seeking clarification on the decision.

Yesterday it was revealed in The Herald, one of Scotland’s leading newspapers through a Freedom of Information request, that Lothian & Borders police had only 
allocated 2 police officers and 800 hrs of police time to investigate 
the bugging of Tommy Sheridan’s car, a mere fraction of the resources 
allocated in the investigation relating to Sheridan’s alleged perjury during the court case that led to his victory over the New of the World. [The cost of the said investigation has now topped a million pounds]

It will be interesting to find out how many man hours etc the Scottish police put into investigating the News of the World’s breach of the election law, which in the many peoples eyes is a serious crime which should have been pursued through the courts.. *


Thanks to Jim M for updating me on this [MH]


Filed under media, murdoch, Organized Rage, socialism, Tommy-Sheridan

Three tales: An Irish Republican who tells it like it is; a devious Englishman; The yellow press.

Throughout the years of the IRA’s long war, (1969-97) the British and Irish media continuously proclaimed that PIRA volunteers were thugs and murderers and their leaders Mafia godfathers. When republicans were arrested and imprisoned the same journalists taking their cue from their political masters, informed their readers that the UK did not have political prisoners, only common criminals were locked up within the British prison system.

After the British government signed the Good Friday Agreement with SF, the most contentious issue arising from it as far as the media was concerned was that the British government had agreed to release all political prisoners, whether members of the IRA or loyalist paramilitaries. (Funny how governmental attitudes change when the need arises)

Under the GFA approximately 450 prisoners were released early, of whom 159 were lifers, many of whom had been involved in some of the most controversial incidents of the ‘troubles’. Yet ten years on only one Republican prisoner is back in jail due to having had his license revoked; and out of the 450 paramilitary prisoners released early under the GFA only 12 are back behind bars.

As many people said at the time these men and women were political prisoners and if the British politicians had recognized that fact at the start of the war and dealt with the shortcomings of the northern statelet, many of those who lost their lives in the troubles may have still been with us today.*

Perhaps Jonathan Powell’s book reveals more than he intended?

Last week the Guardian newspaper serialized Jonathan Powell’s book about the north of Ireland peace process, Powell acted as Tony Blair’s chief of staff throughout his period as UK Prime Minister. In the book Powell writes that after reading Lord Widgery’s Report, which looked at the events on Bloody Sunday when a regiment of the British army shot dead 13 unarmed demonstrators on the streets of Derry, he concluded the report was a white wash.

What he fails to tell his readers is one Brian Hutton was central in drawing up the Widgery Report and Blair, on Powell’s advice went on to appoint the same man to conduct a Public Enquiry into the death of Dr David Kelly and the events that led up to the start of the Iraq war. Although by then having been ennobled Mr Brian Hutton had morphed into Lord Hutton, although with a tap on the shoulder he had lost none of his skills in the art of creating a political cover up. Which is why some think he was given the task by Blair and Jonathan Powell. **

Speech at 1916 Easter Rising Commemoration highlights the traumatic period Irish Republicanism is passing through.

Over last weekend, it being Easter there were commemorations of the 1916 Dublin Rising taking place throughout Ireland. It is a time when Irish Republicans come together and remember their dead and their heroic deeds. With the signing of the Good Friday agreement by SF, Irish Republicanism is going through a traumatic period where old certainties are being questioned and for some being betrayed. Whilst the overwhelming majority of Republicans may have welcomed the ending of the armed struggle, most feel they have no need to apologize for resisting the oppression they suffered in the six country statelet, nor their wish to create a thirty two county socialist republic.

Republicans are also increasingly bewildered as to why the Adams leadership continues to make concessions to the British State and unionism, when they can see no real sign of social and economic benefits developing within the working class republican heartlands from whence they come. Some of these areas, West Belfast for example which is Gerry Adams own constituency, have been plagued by unruly anti social elements who have become embolden since the PIRA was stood down, as to the PSNI they are about as useful as snow on a fine day. Indeed only last week a former volunteer was beaten to death by one of these youths when he attempted to intervene when the lad was behaving badly.

Whilst most of the speeches which were made at the Easter commemorations were more of the same, especially those made by senior members of SF, Anthony McIntrye made some interesting points at the Republican Network for Unity Easter commemoration at the Republican plot in Derry city cemetery. His speech is well worth a read. ***

Additional material taken from Irish News.
** See R.C. Blackwell letters page, Guardian 25.03.08.
*** Read McIntrye’s speech here,

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Filed under Ireland-Politics., Irish-republicanism, Organized Rage, UK

70th anniversary of the third and last of the infamous Moscow Show Trials

A friend recently reminded me that it was the 70th anniversary of the third and last of the infamous Moscow Show Trials that besmirched the name of socialism throughout much of the 20th Century. This time it was Lenin’s Party favorite Nikolia Bukharin who had been chosen by Stalin to take the lead role in this bloody legal farce, along with 20 co-defendants, all of whom had once been high State and Communist Party officials within the Soviet Union. As if to make it clear to his own supporters that no one was safe in their beds, Stalin placed a number of his own colleagues in the dock alongside Bukharin, amongst them Genrikh Yagoda, who in 1934 Stalin had appointed “People’s Commissar for Internal Affairs.” From this post Yagoda organized and had overseen the first Moscow Trial and set in motion the following two. Having helped Stalin eliminate almost all of Lenin close comrades, Stalin had no further use for him, beyond that is taking Yagoda’s life as a reminder to the core Stalinist clique not to forget who they owed their positions to.

These days we are used to politicians turning black into white by lying through their teeth, but the scale of Stalin’s deceit when he purged the veteran old Bolshevik Party elite takes ones breath away. Between 1936-1938 Stalin purged almost all of Lenin’s closest comrades who had carried through the October 1917 Bolshevik revolution. * These men and women, who had been life long revolutionaries and who after 1917 worked tirelessly in the upper echelons of the Soviet State. Were accused of the most heinous crimes of conspiring with western powers, including Nazi Germany, to assassinate Lenin and Stalin and other Soviet leaders, dismember the Soviet Union and restore capitalism. That these charges were totally and farcically false never seemed to enter the equation when millions of people around the world made their minds up on whether to believe them or not. Not least because due to the brutality of the GPU and the dire threats made against the defendants families, the majority of those in the dock admitted their ‘guilt’ when in reality they were totally innocent of the crimes they had been accused of. **

The elephant that was missing in the room where the Moscow Trials took place was Leon Trotsky, who by a quirk of history was temporarily beyond the clutches of Stalin’s secret police, having been expelled from the Soviet Union in 1929. Trotsky and his small band of young comrades had the colossal task of refuting the filth that the defendants of the Moscow Trials faced. Isolated in Mexico, having just arrived from a Europe which had closed its doors on him, having finally been given sanctuary as an act of revolutionary solidarity by President Lazaro Cardenas, Trotsky began work on what was to become a rousing denunciation of the lies, murderous thugishness, and blood stained deceit that lay at the heart of the Moscow Trials.

What ever one may feel about the political competence of some of Trotsky’s supporters today, he understood above all others that to capitulate to Stalinism would not lead to a socialist future but the reverse, it would be barbarism that would emerge. From his lonely exile not once did he capitulate on his core beliefs, going to his grave certain that the long dark night of Stalinism would finally lift and future generations of socialists would stumble and work alongside working class people to find a way to build socialist societies with a human face that benefited all of humanity.

* See photo of Lenin’s 1917 Central committee and their fate here.

** The Trial of the 21,

Moscow trials

The Moscow Trial – Max Shactman

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Filed under Die Linke-(Left Party), Moscow-trials, Organized Rage, socialism, stalinism, trotsky