Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Save Delara Darabi from Execution!

Delara Darabi was sentenced to death at the age of 17 for a murder she did not commit. She is now in a state of shock and can no longer speak since being told that her execution is imminent. Mina Ahadi and Nazanin Afshin-Jam have begun a campaign to save her life.

Join the campaign to save her life.

Sign the petition here

More info here
Maryam Namazie

Friday, February 23, 2007

From: Mrs. Nazek Audi Hariri.

Attn: Sir/Maddam,

Greetings to you, with warm heart I offer my friendship, and greetings, and I hope this mail meets you in good time.

However strange or surprising this contact might seem to you as we have not met personally or had any dealings in the past, I humbly ask that you take due consideration of its importance and the immense benefit it will be to you.

After careful consideration with my children, we resolved to contact you for your most needed assistance in this manner. I duly apologize for infringing on your privacy, if this contact is not acceptable to you, as I make this proposal to you as a person of integrity.

First and foremost I wish to introduce myself properly to you. My name is Mrs.Nazek Audi Hariri, mother of five, my husband Mr. Rafik Baha al-din Hariri a very successful businessman and proficient politician in Lebanon.

Though I was involved in some of my husband's business, which was very vast and successful. My beloved husband was among those killed in the massive explosion that rocked central Beirut's fashionable seafront district, on his way back from Lebanon parliament on 14th February.

When my husband died, I was contacted as next of kin by a private
security firm in Europe to come forth to claim the consignment with the Certificate of Deposit and claim a safety deposit my husband has in their Vault in his name.

I discovered a Certificate of Deposit for the safety deposit with this private security firm, and other documents relating to the safety deposit in a book. The safety deposit, which is a trunk box, is stocked with hard currency (US Dollars) totaling $36,000,000 (thirty SIX Million US Dollar),which was generated from cash payments from hisbusiness associates.

Though I knew my late husband was a politician and the money was
reserved for May election campaign.

This came as a shock to me and my children, and we have decided to have this fund invested immediately in commercial and residential properties in abroad as well as profitable ventures, now that the U.S.A Govt. has ordered Syria Govt. to leave and not to intervene in any Lebanon affair and we dont know what is going to happen, hence we sincerely propose to you to render us your most needed assistance in this regard.

If you agree to render us your assistance, your role in thisproject will be to act on my behalf as a trustee to receive the safety deposit containing the funds from the Security firm.

Though I believe this transaction should be based on mutuality,we are offering you 20% 0f the funds and another 5% for the miscallenous expenses that may comes up during this transaction.

When my late husband was alive he was accepted among the populace, but most of the politician here they did not agree with his policy, after my late husband's death,we went to poll,but we lost the election to opposition party.the set of people that could not accomodate the opposition party.
Ever since,member of my late husband family and his political associate has been subjected to witch-hunting by the incumbent goverment this affected some of my late husband's bussiness.

I thank you in advance as we anticipate your assistance in enabling us achieve this goal.

As you may understand, due to my husband sensitive position in the
present government, it is not safe to communicate with me via phone or fax.

Please all your correspondence should be forwarded to( and I will like us to keep this way, for the safety of this transaction.

Whether or not you are interested in assisting us. This will enable us make alternative plans, in the event of non-interest on your part.


Dear Ms:

I read your letter with great interest. I'm sorry for your loss.

I'am interested in doing business with you. I have a representative in Lebanon, who can meet you. I'm sure you will think of him as a comrade.

You will be happy to know, that the money will be used in Lebanon, to help promote social change, in all the federated states in the Middle East.

When my representatives meets with you, for security, he is bringing his body guards. With so much $$$ involved, I'm sure you'll understand.

Dr Theo Seuss


Friday, February 16, 2007

Maryam Namazie Addresses Audience in Paris

On Saturday 9 February, I spoke at an international gathering of secularists in Paris, France, which was attended by hundreds of secularists on a panel regarding equality and political Islam. Here's my speech:

Political Islam and Islam are antithetical to women’s rights, equality between men and women, and other rights and freedoms.

You do not need to look far to see ample evidence of this.

Wherever Islam in particular and religion in general plays a role and the degree to which it has influence or access to governing, state institutions, education, the law and so on, the more detrimental it is for society; the more women and men are unequal and rights and freedoms are restricted.

In Europe, another example is that Islamic groups portray sexual apartheid and the veil as a matter of choice and belief yet where religion is in power, one can quickly see how rights and choice are empty rhetoric to justify their movement and nature, to pacify the general population and to gain access to mainstream politics in the west. However where they rule, things are brutally different. In Iran, women were forcibly veiled under threat of acid, imprisonment and flogging. Another example is Saudi Arabia where girls’ schools are locked as usual practice to ensure the segregation of the sexes. In 2002 when a fire broke out at a school in Mecca, the guards would not unlock the gates and religious police prevented girls from escaping – to the point of even beating them back into the school- because they were not properly veiled; moreover they stopped men who tried to help warning the men that it was sinful to touch the girls. 15 girls died as a result and more than fifty were wounded.

As I said, the degree to which Islamic and religious groups and institutions have access - that is the degree to which equality, rights and lives are at risk.

And I would like to stress this point.

Of course, there may be and are people with beliefs that belong in the Middle Ages and it is their right to believe in whatever they choose so long as they don’t cause harm but organised religions is a very different matter.

Let me clarify; there is a big difference between Muslims and political Islam - as a contemporary right wing political movement like many others, as well as between Muslims and Islam, which is the ideological aspect of this contemporary movement and a belief like many others.

Blurring the distinctions between the two - as Islamists and their apologists often do - and the use of rights and anti-racist language here in the west to do so are devious ways of silencing criticism and opposition – criticism which is particularly crucial given the havoc that political Islam has inflicted in the Middle East and North Africa and more recently here in the west.

As I have said before, the call of organised religious groups for restraint rapidly becomes one of threats and intimidation when they have some form of political power. In Iran, Iraq and elsewhere, they kill and maim indiscriminately, tolerate nothing and no one, hang the 'unchaste', 'kafirs' and 'apostates' from cranes in city centres, and say it is their divine right to do so.

Interestingly, freedoms and rights used by religious groups to further their stranglehold on European society were originally gained to protect people from discrimination, persecution and oppression not the other way around.

When it comes to the political Islamic movement or other religious groups, the Catholic Church, the Muslim Council of Britain, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Saudi government and so on, then it is no longer a question of freedom of conscience or belief though they often portray it as the right to discriminate against gays; the right to veil women and children; the right to segregate; the right to threaten to death or kill anyone and everyone who transgresses their religious mores…

Various freedoms and rights of conscience, belief, expression, speech, and so on were gains for the powerless vis-à-vis the powerful and often vis-à-vis religion.

How ludicrous that today powerful religious groups, lobbies and even states are now using these very concepts in an attempt to actually deny and restrict rights and freedoms of individuals and of the society at large.

These Islamic organisations, imams and ‘leaders’ are self-appointed to help keep so-called minorities in their regressive fragmented communities and run them on the cheap. Deeming religious organisations and repressive Islamic states as representative of the so-called Muslim community – which they aren’t - implies that masses of people choose to live the way they are often forced to and imputes on them the most reactionary elements of culture and religion, which is that of the ruling elite.

Even if it was the belief of a majority that women are sub-human and unequal, and that honour killing is justified, it is erroneous and dangerous to confuse the right to a belief and conscience of individuals with the right to then impose said beliefs and ‘conscience’ on society or segments of it.

Unfortunately, cultural relativism has lowered standards and redefined values to such depths that not only are all beliefs deemed equally valid, they seem to have taken on personas of their own blurring the distinction between individuals and beliefs (whether theirs or imputed).

As a result, concepts such as rights, equality, respect and tolerance, which were initially raised vis-à-vis the individual, are now more and more applicable to culture and religion and often take precedence over real live human beings.

This is why any criticism and ridiculing of or opposition to beliefs, cultures, religions, gods and prophets are being deemed racism, disrespecting, inciting hatred and even violence against those deemed believers. This is not the case.

We saw this during the organised protests by political Islam against the Mohammad caricatures.

The distinction between humans and their beliefs is of crucial significance here.

It is the human being who is meant to be equal not his or her beliefs. It is the human being who is worthy of the highest respect and rights not his or her beliefs or those imputed on them.

It is the human being who is sacred not beliefs or religion.

The problem is that religion sees things the other way around.

And this is the main reason why religion must be relegated to being a private matter.

More importantly than the fact that it divides, excludes, denies, restricts and so on is the compelling fact that when it comes to religion, it is not the equality, rights, freedoms, welfare of the child, man or woman that is paramount but religion itself.

The promotion of secularism is therefore an important vehicle to protect society from religion's intervention in people's lives, especially in the face of religion’s rising access to power.

Of course nowadays, secularism is often portrayed negatively. Religious groups equate secularism as the other extreme of religious fanaticism. But this is untrue.

Religion excludes whilst secularism is inclusive and ensures that a sect or group does not impose its beliefs on all. That a person's religion is a private affair.

Of course, true equality cannot come about without redressing class inequalities but for men and women and children to be equal in society and under and before the law, secularism is needed as a minimum standard to keep religion out of the social sphere.

The law is especially important here.

Religious groups often speak of coercion when opposing laws such as the banning of religious symbols but much of law is just that – to coerce society to do what has become established norms from preventing child abuse to domestic violence– much of it as a result of the struggles of the working class, the left and social movements.

Now I know that there are those who say that the vile political Islamic movement has nothing to do with religion. In Europe, Islam is constantly being repackaged in a thousand ways to make it more palatable for the western audience. There is now moderate Islam, Islamic reformism, Islamic human rights, Islamic feminism, Islamic democracy... These notions would have been ridiculed by the avant-gardes of 18th century enlightenment. Nonetheless, Islam is key here both as the ideology behind and banner of the political Islamic movement; in fighting the movement, one cannot excuse or appease the ideology behind it. The battle for secularists is as much a battle against religion in general and Islam in particular as it is a battle against political Islam.

As Mansoor Hekmat, the Marxist thinker has said: 'It has been proved time and time again that pushing back religiosity and religious reaction is not possible except through unequivocal defence of human values against religion. It has been proved time and time again that preventing religious barbarism does not come about through bribing it and trying to give it a human face, but through the fight against reactionary religious beliefs and practices. What price should be paid... to realise that Islam and religion do not have a progressive, supportable faction?' (Mansoor Hekmat, In Defence of the Prohibition of the Islamic Veil for Children.)

Let me end by adding that this battle has nothing to do with the clash of civilisations. In fact, the clash we are witnessing between political Islam and the US led militarism is the clash of the uncivilised. The majority of humanity, a third camp that wants nothing to do with either side, represents 21st century humanity and values. It is this front that must lead the much needed fight for secularism today
Maryam Namazie

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Yma Sumac: Inca Princess

Peruvian vocalist Yma Sumac, arrived in the US in the 1950s, introducing the country to exotica. Her unique voice that shot in its peak five octaves, brought her success worldwide.

Contrary to urban legend, her real name is not Amy Camus (Yma Sumac spelled backwords), and she was not born in Brooklyn. She is Peruvian, and claims to descend from a line of Inca royalty.

See the Yma Sumac Wiki.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Argentina's social movements

After a major move, a few weeks of vacation and enduring Buenos Aires' heat (it's summer time here), I'm getting back into the swing of things. Which means writing, filming and working. I'd like to make a few announcements about new videos and articles out and about. First, Ágora TV has featured a new section to videos with English subtitles online. Videos Click here to check them out There are several videos on Argentina's factory takeovers such as Zanon and BAUEN, as well as videos on the School of The Americas. This section is growing, so check in from time to time. I've gotten many questions for an analysis or review of Argentina's social movements. I have several articles out in publications that give a review of social movements. There's a lot going on, but many of the struggles have become disarticulated due to President Nestor Kirchner's policy to coopt social organizations. There are some very exciting struggles ongoing, which will come back into momentum in the next coming weeks. Finally, I did a major overhaul on my blog, Latin America Activism. Previous posts and articles are now labelled into categories for easy access.

Northeastern Anarchist

Montpelier Downtown Workers’ Union
Zanon: Class Consciousness Through Self-Management
Resistance in Pyeongtaek
Anarchist Study of Iroquois
Solidarity with Six Nations
Workers, Management, and Worker-management
and more...

Northeastern Anarchist #12, Winter 2007

Zanon building class consciousness through self management

by Marie Trigona

As the largest recuperated factory in Argentina, and occupied since 2001, the Zanon ceramics plant in the Patagonian province of Neuquén now employs 470 workers. Along with some 180 recuperated enterprises up and running, providing jobs for more than 10,000 Argentine workers, the Zanon experience has re-defined the basis of production: without workers, bosses are unable to run businesses; without bosses, workers can do it better. While these experiences are forced to co-exist within the capitalist market, they are forming new visions for a new working culture.

In October 2005, FASINPAT (Factory without a boss - Zanon's cooperative) won a legal dispute, pressuring federal courts to recognize it as a legal entity that has the right to run the cooperative for one year. With the October expiration date nearing, the worker assembly voted to step up actions and community efforts. On October 20, 2006, the workers won the longstanding legal battle for federal recognition of FASINPAT for three years.

Argentina’s working class has celebrated the Zanon workers’ temporary victory. With legal status, the FASINPAT can concentrate on planning production, improving working conditions, and doing community projects. As part of this celebration, the cooperative has invited other workers to visit Zanon to learn that they, too, can function without a boss or owner. The workers’ assembly has resolved that it is now in a position to teach others from its four and a half years of learning from self-management.

The workers at Zanon are rebuilding a national network of solidarity, which sustains the movement. Zanon workers regularly travel throughout the country to support a wide array of labor conflicts. As part of this initiative, several FASINPAT representatives toured the Greater Buenos Aires suburbs, hosting talks and special meetings with local worker organizations. Different from the usual political rallies, these meetings focused on building class consciousness and mutual solidarity among class-struggle-based organizations.

Affinities Journal
Latin America’s Autonomous Organizing
In February 2006 activists met in Uruguay for the fourth Latin American
Conference of Popular Autonomous Organizations. Over 300 delegates from
Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile and Uruguay organized this year's annual event as
a space to strategize autonomous organizing and coordinate direct actions. This
year's conference, held February 24-26 in Montevideo, focused on building
popular power in Latin America among organizations autonomous from the
state, political parties and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs).
Galpon de Corrales, a community center in a working class neighborhood in
Montevideo, coordinated the conference. The Galpon features a community
radio station, a community library and a large indoor space to hold cultural
activities. Activists from the community center take pride in the fact that the
Galpon is completely self-managed and sustaining, and several times a week
they organize a collective meal.
The participating organizations were generally oriented towards class struggle
and libertarian practices such as grass roots organizing, direct democracy and
mutual solidarity. Within the debate of how to build popular power, delegates
discussed strategies for communities to solve their own problems independently
of the state or other institutions.
The current context offered by Latin American state politics emerged as a focal
point during the two-day meeting. In each of the nations represented, social
organizations have faced new challenges due to the resurgence of "progressive"
social democratic governments. Take, for example, the case of Uruguay's social
movements, where many of these have demobilized after the inauguration of
Tabare Vazquez. At the conference all eyes were therefore on Bolivia due to the
recent victory of the Movement to Socialism’s (MAS) leader, Evo Morales. In all of
the workshops, participants discussed how to prevent the growing expectations
populations have of their social democratic governments from impeding the
accumulation of popular power.
Everything at the congress was auto-gestionado

Marie Trigona Latin America Activism


Saturday, February 03, 2007

Molly Ivins: 1944-2007

Syndicated columnist Molly Ivins died Wed of breast cancer. She died the day Senator Joe Biden made tthe remark that Barack Obama, was an articulate and bright black person. I'm sure she would have had some bombs to throw at him.

I met Molly Ivins in Minneapolis, when she was in her twenties, working for the Minneapolis Tribune. She was doing a feature story to run for several days about young radicals. It was also way to actively take part in the anti-Vietnam war movement. .Her columns made uppity women, angry Afro-Americans, antiwar activists and uppity women into heros. Molly was a tall glamourous red head, dating a community organizer involved with housing issues at the time. She was smart and funny. You missed something if you never got to meet her.

This is from her column written just before her death. I had know idea she was dying when I read this. My instincts were telling me she was saying something important. Raise hell. Think of something to make the ridiculous look ridiculous. Make our troops know we're for them and are trying to get them out of there. Hit the streets to protest Bush's proposed surge.

Her columns made fun of the rulers. Although humorous it is wrong how the mainstream media calls her a humorist. Molly was the reporter that exposed the infamous "Downing Street Memo". She was always furious about the laziness of the mainstream media. Her wrath was felt by both major US parties. Based in Texas, just covering local politics in a straight manner, came off as humor. What surpassed her politics, was that she was a darn good writer.

Molly's family was conservative. Her father managed John Connally's senatorial campaigns. I don't have an agenda, I don't have a program. I'm not a communist or a socialist. I guess I'm a left-libertarian and a populist, and I believe in the Bill of Rights the way some folks believe in the

Maya Angelou wrote in her honor:
Up to the walls of Jericho
She marched with a spear in her hand
Go blow them ram horns she cried
For the battle is in my hand

Renegade Eye