Solidarity and its enemies
Haleh Esfandiari and Robert S. Litwak point out some ironies of Ahmadinejad’s visit.
While in New York, President Ahmadinejad, at a dinner arranged by the Iranian Mission to the United Nations, met with American scholars who work on U.S.-Iranian relations and with representatives of nongovernmental organizations. Yet the Iranian president failed to explain why he was inviting comments from this group even as his government was curtailing the activities of Iranian NGO’s and preventing their members from attending workshops outside Iran. The Ahmadinejad government’s broad crackdown on Iran’s civil society, described by some observers as a cultural revolution, has essentially criminalized the activities of academics, journalists, and activists for women’s rights and human rights.
And labor unions, I believe; in other words all the engines of reform and improvement. And, very unfortunately, all such groups (except probably unions, which is perhaps why they weren’t mentioned) are suspected of entanglement with Bush administration plans for regime change via ‘velvet’ revolution – which makes international support very tricky. I’ve mentioned before that I worried about this to Maryam Namazie when she interviewed me for her radio programme last year. It’s a terrible (though unsurprising) situation when international solidarity risks compromising people.