Monday, July 17, 2006

Report Back From Hunger Strike In NY

With his permission, I've reproduced an email my friend Siavash sent me containing his thoughts about the New York gathering in front of the UN which was part of a worldwide solidarity strike asking for the release of political prisoners in Iran.

The following is the text of his email. There are some portions that Siavash asked me to take out, and I have noted that in the body of the text. I've also italicized the persian words that siavash uses and put a link to a blogger he met, but other than these changes, the text is the same as i received it.


hi niki jan,

the 3 day action ended yesterday and despite the underwhelming turn-out, i think for me it was a positive event; i talked to some very cool and devoted people and got a better sense of the debates and questions surrounding ganji and what he represents. a few quick points, in addition to the conversation we had yesterday:

-ganji talked about the fact that this was the 1st time that people from different groups (minus saltanat talabs) had gotten together for a common cause which everyone could agree upon. i don't know how well every group was represented, i don't even know if there are very many well-defined groups asides from MEK or S.T's, but my sense of the crowd was that it was diverse: the old "konfederasion" and marxist guys, new iranian arrivals/student fob's/ belogger types, some iranian-americans like me, a few soosools. the people that stayed away were the average iranians, people like my parents. to be honest i can't assign significance to
this kind of demographics, i don't know what it means; but clearly there is a common cause, and for the first time someone credible to rally around, and in that sense i'm glad i did it. i think there really haven't been any opportunity for activism in the past years because there has been no clear, legitimate organizing group/person.

-second, from all credible sources, including ganji himself, acts of solidarity really matter to political prisoners. these people will not see the pictures on iranian dot com or whatever, they'll just hear that people went on hunger strikes in 18 cities, and i'm sure, that will matter. in that sense, im glad i did it, too.

-we didnt get into it with nazlee, but from our conversation, i sensed that it is ganji's talk about economic development and globalization that you think is naive. i agree with that one hundred percent; in iran, everybody from the leader to hashemi to
khatami to ganji fetishizes tose-e, sazandegi, global economy...here is where iran's isolation from the world is really obvious, that there is no intellectual discourse about globalization, just shallow talk about development etc. but clearly its not just ganji, its universal, and i think it is something that if iran is ever free, it will pay a huge price for. it is paying a huge price for it right now, as china is dumping manufactured goods in the iranian market already, and decimating many industries. just go to the bazaar and talk to shoe makers and weavers and others...anyway, i forgot what i was going to say... oh yeh, this critique
should be articulated to ganji (i was surprised that the old marxist guys didnt pounce on him, although to be fair, he was talking about econ development in the social democracy style of european countries, but any way, this wasn't a central theme of his talk, and the marxists have grown soft...)but it is not a reason for
me to not support his human rights advocacy.

-[here, siavash noted some very astute and hilarious observations about Amir Abbas Fakhravar, who had showed up at the end of one of the days. But because Siavash is a nice person who doesnt want to publicly trash fakhravar (he thinks fakhravar does a good job of showing his true colors on his own), he asked me to edit out that portion of his email. Darn!]

anyway, hope all is well. i met sibil tala. she is really funny. we had a beer together with some other people afterwards. she's living here for the summer.