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A year has passed since the massive protests in Iran against the dictatorial and theocratic regime. The working class rose up against a capitalist regime that keeps them oppressed where a clerical ruling class increases its profits on the exploitation of a majority. The class struggle is shown in all its dimensions. For América Rebelde it is an honor to publish this document of the 5th Plenium Session of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Iran that allows us to know first-hand what is happening in those lands.

Proletarians of the world, unite!

Iran is thirsty for revolution!

The statement of the fifth plenum of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Iran on the first anniversary of Zhina revolutionary movement

September 2023

Backgrounds, achievements

A year has passed since the 16th of September 2023, the day when the state murder of Zhina (Mahsa) Amini, ignited the anger and protest of the masses tired of poverty and unemployment, skyrocketing prices, gender violence and discrimination, deprivations, and lack of political and social freedom. This revolutionary movement is the result of the accumulation of contradictions, discriminations and inequalities and the suppressed anger of the masses from these conditions. The structural crisis of Iran’s capitalist economy mixed with institutionalized rent-seeking and corruption throughout the Islamic regime and its devastating effects on the work, life and livelihood of workers on the one hand, and the growing trend of labor strikes and protests and the occurrence of revolutionary uprisings on the other hand, had provided the objective and subjective grounds for the society to enter a revolutionary period.

The current revolutionary uprising, which is a continuation of the previous uprisings of December 2017 and November 2019, is one of the most widespread and long-lasting revolutionary uprisings in the past four decades in Iran, where the street protests and confrontations lasted for about three months. The previous uprisings had ploughed and strengthened the ground for the Zhina uprising and had created huge changes in the consciousness and mentality of the workers and masses of people, especially women who rebelled against the gender apartheid system.

The uprising of December 2017, which ended more than two decades of reformist insiders’ dominance over Iran’s political environment, left no room for the reformists’ humble political maneuvers and thus marked a new chapter in the political and class struggle of the Iranian masses to overthrow the Islamic regime. The November 2019 uprising, by attacked the banks as well as military and religious centers, as the symbols of the rule of the Islamic capital regime, accompanied by the persistence and the determination of the protestors in the face of the brutal and bloody repression by the government forces, dealt a blow to the strategy of the peaceful transition of the bourgeois opposition from the Islamic regime and strengthened the discourse of the revolutionary transition from the regime of the Islamic Republic.

These two uprisings became powerful drivers for the economic and political struggle of the working class and intensified the inner desire of the workers to fight in such a way that in recent years we witnessed thousands of large and small strikes and protests by the labor movement of Iran. The current revolutionary uprising, which was code-named Zhina, relied on all these achievements and objective data to appear again with power many times greater than the previous uprisings. In the very first days, this revolutionary uprising connected the women’s emancipation movement, the revolutionary movement of Kurdistan, the student movement, and the poor on the outskirts of the cities, and it spread so quickly that it caught the leaders of the Islamic regime and its repressive forces and even the world capitalist powers by surprise.

This revolutionary movement was led by Iranian women and with the slogans «Women, Life, Freedom», «No headscarf, No suppression, Freedom, Equality» and «Death to the dictator» and with symbolic actions such as throwing headscarves away or into the fire and burning them and dancing around the flames of the fire, created its most beautiful scenes and crushed the ideological foundations of the Islamic regime. By attacking the strongest base of political Islam in the Middle East and North Africa, this uprising brought the women’s emancipation movement into a new phase and became a model for the women’s emancipation movement in this region.

This magnificent revolutionary movement also closed the case of that part of the religious opposition which, after the end of the current religious tyranny, wanted another bourgeois religious government under the name of the «Islamic Democratic Republic». With the slogan «Death to the tyrant, be it the king or the leader», which echoed in the streets and universities, the uprising also showed that the monarchist opposition had no place among the oppressed women, the workers and the destitute of the society. The revolutionary movement also recorded a unique place in the history of the emancipation movement of the Iranian people in terms of its global reflection and the support and solidarity of progressive people around the world.

Beyond these political achievements, this revolutionary uprising appeared more evolved than the previous uprisings also in its tactics and ways of expression. The tactic of combining street protests with general strikes at the city level, setting up neighborhood-based street protests in several points and neighborhoods of the city simultaneously and creating blockades to limit the maneuvering power of the repressive forces, trapping and chasing these forces, reciprocal attack on the military bases and centers of the regime in retaliation for the attacks of the regime forces against the protesters, capturing several areas of the city for a few hours, turning universities and schools into protest and strike centers where the political cost of repression in these places is heavier for the regime, were among the tactics that were used in this period.

During this uprising, the funerals and commemorations for those killed in different cities became a symbol of solidarity and an effective tactic to keep this revolutionary movement alive and expand it. This uprising, accompanied by writers, poets, revolutionary artists and progressive cinematographers, portrayed its beauty more than any other political movement. Wide distribution of images of burning and spinning scarves in the air, symbolic action by the girls and their defiance of the security forces with clenched fists, revolutionary and protest songs, symbolic parade of women without scarves, collective dancing around the fires made by burning women’s scarves, turban tossing, graffiti, etc. were all part of the aesthetic features of this glorious movement. The organizers of these protests humiliated, exhausted and confused the regime’s officials and its repressive forces by using these various tactics and aesthetic arts.

Organization and leadership

The current revolutionary movement, contrary to what the leaders of the bourgeois opposition forces state and describe it as a spontaneous movement, has had a relatively high degree of organization and leadership at the local level. At the same time, teachers’ nationwide strikes and protests and the continuation of pensioners’ nationwide protests on Sundays, Mondays, and Tuesdays show the existing potential for nationwide organization and leadership. During the past year, we have witnessed the presence of a generation of leaders, activists, and organizers of the current protests, who, although young, have experienced two massive revolutionary uprisings in the past five years, mass uprisings against

Water shortages, mass protests against poverty and the effects of the wave of labor strikes in recent years on the political atmosphere of the society. Revolutionary young men and women in the neighborhoods of some cities are connected in struggle networks and have a living and relatively organic relationship with their environment of activity. Various student institutions and organizations have been formed at the heart of these protests. Student organizations have been formed in some schools as well.

The fact that this revolutionary uprising has been the longest revolutionary uprising in Iran in more than four decades, and despite the regime’s brutal repression, it continues in various forms despite its ups and downs, is partly because of this degree of organization, political maturity of its leaders and the various tactics that they have adopted. However, the activity of this network of local leaders and existing organizations has faced serious obstacles and challenges under the increasing pressure of oppression and arrests, constant internet shutdown, filtering of social media networks by the government, and the extremely difficult economic situation. This leadership has been lacking a clear political strategy and a defined plan to lead the current revolutionary movement due to its mainly local characteristics and the challenges it has faced. Of course, the activities and publication of the charter of demands of twenty labor and mass organizations inside Iran was a step in the direction of shaping this country-wide leadership and expanding an anti-capitalist horizon. But despite these efforts, the current nationwide movement still suffers from the lack of a nationwide leadership with a revolutionary and socialist horizon, a void that places special tasks on the agenda of the communist activists of the social movements as well as parties and organizations in the communist movement of Iran.

The key to advancing

The current revolutionary movement, despite its important achievements and the passion and hope it has created in society, has not yet brought all the social forces to the battlefield. Although Iranian society quickly entered a revolutionary phase after the state murder of Zhina, and protests and street fighting continued in many cities of Iran for three months, although workers’ protests and strikes were already going on right before the Zhina uprising, the labor movement as a class could not join the uprising as expected. Workers’ efforts to organize strikes and protest gatherings in the oil and petrochemical industries, in Haft Tappeh Cane Sugar Company and several other labor centers in solidarity with this revolutionary uprising were met with severe repression and the arrest of dozens of workers by the repressive forces of the Islamic regime. The severity of repression in dealing with the labor movement, unemployment, poverty and concern about the consequences of the strike on workers and their family’s lives, the lack of workers’ mass and class organizations, the absence of a strong labor and socialist alternative that workers could rely on to achieve their demands were among the obstacles to the strong presence of the labor movement in this revolutionary uprising. This phase difference in the Zhina uprising and workers’ strikes and protests showed us that all the components of a revolutionary situation are not prepared simultaneously and in harmony with each other, and the ups and downs of the struggle in the revolutionary period are caused by this fact.

During this revolutionary movement, although millions of workers, the poor and even the middle-class layers had their hearts with their children in the streets and supported their protests, they did not join these protests. This phenomenon was not considered a weak point at the beginning of the uprising because all the great revolutions in history have been started by a revolutionary and determined minority, but later this passive support became one of the effective factors in the subsidence of street protests. In the absence of these millions of masses, the enemy’s repressive forces were able to disperse the protesters’ ranks and drag the protests into street fighting. There is no doubt that regime’s ability to brutally suppress the protests and start mass arrests has been one of the main obstacles that prevented more masses from joining the movement, but at the same time, the concern of repeating the failed experience of the 1957 revolution, the concern of the danger of a civil war and the Syrianization of Iran, which are frequently uttered by the government reformists and part of the bourgeois opposition forces, and also, the lack of a strong emancipating alternative in the political scene of the society upon which the masses of people could lay their hopes, were among other obstacles that hindered many from joining this revolutionary movement.

Opposition forces

With the emergence of the Zhina revolutionary movement, the bourgeois opposition forces gained new momentum. Reza Pahlavi, at the leadership of the extreme monarchists, tried from the very beginning to distort the nature of the goals of this movement and lead it astray by promoting the patriarchal and nationalist slogan of «Man, Homeland, Prosperity» against the slogan of «Woman, Life, Freedom». By organizing the lumpen and falangist gangs and attacking the gatherings of leftist and progressive forces abroad, he demanded that the Lion and Sun flag, this symbol of the reaction of the Pahlavi monarchy, be imposed on the marches abroad. He then tried to advance the project of consolidating his authority by organizing the campaign «I give my representation», a pledge of allegiance in fact, under the title of political representation. Later, Reza Pahlavi with some celebrities supporting him, together with the leadership of the Organization of the Toilers of Kurdistan, in a charter under the name of “Mahsa”, announced their manifesto and road map to defeat the Mahsa (Zhina) revolutionary movement. While the driving force of the Zhina revolutionary movement was in the streets of Iran, in the universities and schools, and on the outskirts of the cities, this anti-revolutionary coalition focused on gaining the support of the imperialist powers and practically became their pressure lever for controlled actions on the Islamic Republic regime for behind-the-scenes compromises. This project lost its face as a result of the enlightening efforts of the forces in the left, communist and revolutionary movement of Iran, and was finally crushed by the publication of the charter of demands of twenty labor and mass organizations inside Iran.

In another development, five Republican parties and organizations formed the Republicans Coalition. This coalition of bourgeois opposition forces believes in a non-violent transition from the Islamic Republic to a secular and democratic republic as their political strategy. Also, the «Iran Transition Council» and «National Decision Council» expanded their cooperation with the vision of unification and emphasizing the preservation of national sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iran and acceptance of parliamentary democracy. Emphasizing the non-violent transition by this part of the opposition is the code name for counter-revolution. They fear the revolution more than the regime of the Islamic Republic. The two main points of the strategic plans of all the bourgeois opposition forces are to maintain the army, the Islamic Revolutionary

Guard Corps (IRGC) and the large apparatus of the state bureaucracy and to try to save capitalist relations. Achilles’ heel of these coalitions and various other sections of the Iranian bourgeois opposition is their economic plans. They want to keep the same capitalist economic relations based on which the Islamic government has taken people’s bread, work, freedom and life as a hostage for more than four decades.

Among the opposition forces, the political and intellectual influence of the leftist and communist movement of Iran, especially the forces in the Cooperation Council of the Leftist and Communist Forces, on the current revolutionary movement is undeniable. This influence becomes even more prominent when we compare it to the volume of activities of several Persian-speaking imperialist media giants such as BBC Persian, Iran International, Voice of America (its Persian service), Manoto, etc., and their propaganda bombardment for showcasing their political alternative and for misleading the current movement. The forces of the left and communist movement stood against this propaganda regardless of their limited media facilities while exposing the true nature of this propaganda and the political projects of the bourgeois right opposition, and while drawing a clear line between itself and the populist left forces, they tried to put a revolutionary and socialist horizon in front of this movement. However, the communist movement is still far from playing a field role in leading and organizing the social base of the socialist alternative. The current developing situation requires the Cooperation Council of Left and Communist Forces to appear in the role of political leadership more than in the past and to act in a planned way towards consolidating the left and socialist poles both inside and outside Iran.

Balance of power

One year after the current revolutionary movement, an objective assessment of the situation of this movement, as it could be predicted, shows that this movement has not been able to achieve its clear goals, which were to overthrow the regime of the Islamic Republic and end the various forms of oppression. This movement has not brought all its forces to the battlefield and has not provided the necessary for the revolutionary overthrow of the regime of the Islamic Republic. But if the revolutionary movement has not been able to overthrow the Islamic regime, the regime of the Islamic Republic has not been able to defeat and intimidate the rising masses either. Even though the street protests and demonstrations are not happening right now like in the first three months of the uprising, but the movement is still going on in many other forms, for example, in the form of nationwide protests by pensioners, the women’s resistance movement against the Islamic hijab, the continuation of mass protests in the province of Sistan and Baluchistan, labor strikes and protests, student protests and other protest gatherings throughout the society. If the regime was able to quell the street protests through brutal crackdown, the rising masses with the struggles, resistance and courage that they showed on the street, and by continuing their struggles, have fueled the differences inside the internal factions of the government and have shaken the unity of the repression forces. The meeting of the commanders of the IRGC and Basij (Islamic Republic’s paramilitary forces) with Khamenei and their confessions about the collapse and disobedience of the forces under their command is an indication of this simple truth.

The pressure of this movement with its revolutionary potential and its breadth and complexity has threatened the rule of the Islamic system so much that the IRGC leadership and Khamenei have concentrated all their efforts and energy on the war against the protesters to save their system. The regime’s de-escalation policy and expedient compromises with regional rival powers in the Middle East, a region where the regime was at the center of all its crises before the mass uprising, the regime’s open and hidden compromises with the US and other Western powers over prisoners’ exchange and the release of its blocked funds, its attempt to join the Shanghai Pact and the BRICS group, all of this can be explained by the regime’s attempt to strengthen its position in the fight against the ongoing revolutionary movement. The regime of the Islamic Republic, as a counterrevolutionary that came to power by suppressing the 1979 mass revolution, has no intention of compromising with the workers, toilers and poor layers of Iranian society. Just as today, the compromise with regional and global powers has been accompanied by the intensification of repression inside, any opening, even partial in the economic life of the people, like a few percent reduction in the inflation rate, in the future will be also accompanied by the intensification of repression. Of course, the regime’s desperate reliance on tactics of repression has only made its position more fragile. The preservation of the potential and capacity of this movement is also because the regime of the Islamic Republic has been able to partially reduce the scope of street protests and continue to survive only by relying on the expansion of the scope of repression. While the fear of the masses has collapsed and the ideological apparatus of the regime has lost the ability to legitimize this situation, this has kept the people’s anger and protests alive.

What is to be done?

Ensuring the advancement and victory of this movement depends on defining a clear and revolutionary political strategy and vision and organizing and shaping the nationwide leadership element. Therefore, one should not promise an easy victory to the masses but should try to respond to the real needs of this movement provide the essentials for the revolutionary overthrow of the Islamic regime and make the masses aware of the difficulties of this rocky road. This movement is not just a passive movement to overthrow the Islamic Republic. The rising masses have come forward against poverty and economic misery, against inequalities, discriminations and oppressions that have their roots in Iran’s capitalist relations. For this reason, this movement is not only trying to overthrow the Islamic Republic, but it is also an anti-capitalist movement.

People are rightly eyeing the possibilities hidden in Iran to establish a free, equal and prosperous society. Therefore, the socialist horizon, the horizon of the workers council government should be placed in front of this movement. Slogans such as «Bread, Work, Freedom, Council Management» and «Freedom, Equality, Council Management» which were raised by the protesters during the revolutionary movement should be promoted as much as possible with political propaganda campaigns. We need to explain to the masses our interpretation of these slogans. We must consistently and unceasingly expose and explain the positions and political strategy of different sections of the bourgeois opposition of Iran that is aiming at defeating this movement. We should clearly show the contradictions of their economic programs which are based on the free market model and neoliberalism with the promises they make to the people. They, whose alternative is capitalism with non-Islamic management, cannot promise prosperity to the people. Capitalism with non-Islamic management is also an authoritarian government.

The emergence of the working class with unified and nationwide strikes is a key element in the advancement and victory of this revolutionary movement. Despite the many obstacles in its way, the working class, relying on the achievements of its struggles so far, relying on the existence of its experienced leaders, relying on the experience of forming strike and factory committees which are the buds and seeds of the labor councils, can overcome these obstacles. By overcoming these obstacles and organizing in a communist party, it is possible to help secure the hegemony of the working class over the current revolutionary movement. One of the important lessons of this revolutionary uprising for the working class has been that it is not enough to weaken and limit the power of the Islamic regime; this power must be destroyed, and to destroy the bourgeois state, the leaders and vanguards of the labor movement must organize in their communist party. Without a communist political party, the working class cannot defend its special class interests in various fields of economic, political and social struggle, bring other leading social movements, especially the women’s movement along with them, and move towards organizing the labor revolution and seizing political power.

The widespread presence and leading role of women have been one of the prominent features of the current revolutionary movement in the last year, and it has once again shown the influence and role of women in any political and social transformation in Iran. The women’s movement, with its background and the situation in which it is now, only by adopting a socialist political strategy, can use any degree of regime setback and opening in the political space of the society in favor of its advancement in realizing its basic demands. One of the foundations of the socialist strategy in the women’s movement, which is a prerequisite for the advancement of this movement, is to mobilize more masses in the movement and gain a wider social base. To turn the women’s movement into a mass and social movement, the masses of working women must be brought to the field of struggle in millions. Working among these millions of working and oppressed women, especially in the outskirts of the cities, must be the focus of the activities of the socialists in the women’s movement. It is necessary to mix with this huge number of women in their workplaces and their living neighborhoods and show them closely that without fighting the capitalist class system and without a socialist horizon, it is not possible to effectively fight against the patriarchal culture and misogynist laws of the Islamic Republic.

Another requirement for overthrowing the Islamic Republic is the expansion of this revolutionary movement. The mental obstacles in the way of the masses that prevent them from joining the current revolutionary movement should be removed. There is no doubt that this revolutionary movement has the support of millions of Iranian people. The resistance of free men and women against the oppressive forces, the courage of women without veils against the regime’s widespread attack, the militancy and high spirit of the political prisoners in the torture centers and many other examples like this indicate in terms of social psychology that this resistance and spirit of fight has the support of millions and social acceptance. Therefore, it is necessary to pave the way for the active participation of millions of people in street protests. If the continuous and brutal crackdown on protesters has made them wary of active participation in the political scene, it should be shown that only when the masses come to the struggle field in millions, the regime’s repression machine can be grounded and its unity crushed. If people are worried about the civil war and the Syrianization of Iran, they should be reminded that in Syria and Libya only when the masses were pushed to the edge of the struggle as a result of a premature armed struggle according to the plans of those at the top, these countries fell into the trap of civil and proxy war. Therefore, only the presence of the people in the political scene can guarantee that the current revolutionary movement will not suffer the fate of the mass uprisings in Syria and Libya.

One of the other requirements for the advancement of this revolutionary movement is organization. There is no doubt that there are elements of organization in this movement. The network of revolutionary youths in the neighborhoods of different cities, numerous student institutions and organizations in universities and schools that have expanded during this period, the nationwide organizations of teachers and retirees who have organized several nationwide strikes and protests in this period, and the network of labor leaders and circles and strike committees in the labor movement, without which the organization of workers’ strikes and protests cannot be imagined, the organization of the mothers of the victims of this regime, women’s and writers’ organizations, all these indicate the existence of a degree of organization and organized activity. It is also clear that this level of organization does not meet the needs of this massive movement. More efforts should be made to strengthen the element of organization at the heart of this movement.

Another prerequisite for the advancement of the current revolutionary movement is the formation of a nationwide leadership. The phenomenon of leadership is not separate from the element of organization. This movement has had leadership along with the advancement in organizing. Mass uprisings protests and labor strikes in recent years have also raised their leaders. The current leadership of the movement is mainly local and does not respond to the needs of a nationwide movement. However, connecting and joining these local leaders can be a step towards the formation of nationwide leadership. The Communist Party of Iran should help these processes. Through trying to respond to the needs of this revolutionary movement, one can connect with these leaders. The parties and organizations in the communist movement of Iran must meet with this network of local leaders. The formation of a radical and socialist alternative based on a strong social base passes through this path.

Outside Iran, one of the priorities of the Abroad Organization of the Communist Party of Iran in this period is to organize and actively participate in the activities that are held in support of the current revolutionary uprising and to introduce the goals of the movement to public opinion. Many asylum seekers and immigrants who have sought refuge abroad in the face of the repressive policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran are coming to the streets in the societies where they live to raise their voices against the regime of the Islamic Republic and in solidarity with the revolutionary movement in Iran. We, in cooperation with other leftist and communist forces, must make a greater effort to mobilize all the freedom-loving and progressive people against the Islamic Republic, against dictatorship and oppression in Iran and in support of the struggles of the workers, women, youth, oppressed nationalities and all the oppressed people of Iran. For this and to attract the solidarity and support of the world opinion, a new extra-organizational work style suitable for these new conditions should be adopted. Strengthening and expanding solidarity councils or any other organizations that can activate the entire protest potential abroad against the Islamic Republic and in support of the revolutionary movement in Iran can help in this direction.

To commemorate the lives of those lost during the Zhina revolutionary uprising!

Down with the Regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran!

Long Live Freedom, Equality, Workers State!

The fifth plenum of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Iran

September 2023

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