Friday, 26 June 2009

Free SOAS 9: 4 events/protests. 1st one tmrw

Sorry for such a long email. Our google group is not working for some reason (please call me if you have any technical knowledge on this)

Please distribute this message widely.

1) Call for action at Yarlswood tmrw, Saturday 27th

2) Lobby Home Office on Tuesday 30th

3) Bloomsbury Living Wage Campaign Wednesday 1st July

4) SOAS Occupiers host lunchtime filmshowing and food at Marxism, 4th July


Let them stay..

Our cleaners are not criminals!

Staff and students at SOAS are calling for Alan Johnson, Secretary of State
for the Home Office, to grant leave to remain with permission to work for
Marina Silva and Rosa dePerez, two of the SOAS cleaners picked up in a
brutal immigration raid on 12th June. Marina, who is 63 and has applied for
asylum, following het brutal honour killing of her husband and threats to
her own life, and Rosa, who has four children to support in Nicaragua,
remain in detention following the raid. Their colleagues, including six
months pregnant Luzia, were deported within 48 hours of the raid.

Cleaners at SOAS had demanded and organised for dignity at work with many
joining a union. They had succeeded in winning union recognition from the
privatised cleaning firm ISS and raising their pay to the London Living
Wage—higher than other colleges in the area. It is of grave concern that the
raid, organised by ISS, took place shortly after this campaign and on the
very day on which UNISON was due to protest in support of an activist who
had played a leading role in organising the cleaners at SOAS.

Please support our campaign:

*Lobby the Home Office, Tuesday 30th June, 5.30-6.30pm*

2 marsham st, millbank, Sw1

*Sign the letter requesting leave to remain is granted to Marina and Rosa*

For more information go to:

*Stop the Deportation of SOAS University Cleaners!*

*Supported by SOAS UNISON and UCU*

In solidarity

Please distribute widely

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Call to action in solidarity with detainees at Yarl's Wood detention centre:



Two weeks after nine cleaners at SOAS were taken into
detention, take action for justice for the SOAS 9 and in solidarity with
detainees in Yarls' Wood on hunger strike for demand including: freeing
children who are detained, adequate access to health care, quality food and
real privacy. Hundreds of people in Yarls Wood are being denied the medical
care they need including a woman with epilepsy and a 5 months' pregnant woman
in the families' section. Families have been on hunger strike for over a week
now and we need to show them our support!

Forward this message widely>>>>>>


Morning – Action to let
the Yarl’s Wood detainees know that we stand with them in opposing the
injustice of immigration controls, the imprisonment of innocent people and the
denial of basic access to healthcare. Call 07952 254487 for more information.

1pm – March and speak out against cuts in ESOL Teaching

Meet Bethnal Green Gardens (Next to Bethnal Green
Tube) for march with UCU (University and College Union) and Tower Hamlets
College students and staff, over cuts in Jobs primarily in ESOL (English for
Speakers of Other Languages). March to Altab Ali Park, Whitechapel, for
speakers and rally.

4.30 pm – Picket the Home Office's Communications
House 210 Old Street, London, EC1V 9BR (1 minute from
Old Street tube, 205 bus goes straight from Whitechapel)

Speak out and rally including speakers from migrant
workers struggles and Yarl’s Wood.

The building looks anonymous but immigration reporting
centres are places of fear for asylum seekers, who have to report to them
monthly, weekly or even several times a week. They are places of
detention and several SOAS Cleaners were held here on the day they were

TAKE ACTION NOW - Send messages of solidarity for

the hunger strikers to:

* Contact SERCO (who run Yarl’s Wood) and demand that
the strikers’ demands are met - 01344 386300 -

* Contact Yarl’s Wood and demand that the strikers
demands are met: The duty manager01234 821517; The switchboard is 01234 821000;
Health'care' 01234 821147

* Forward news about the SOAS 9 and the hunger strike
as well as this call-out to any email lists you are on or press contacts you

* Take action to demand exceptional leave to remain

for the SOAS 9:

* If you can donate towards credit for detainees’
mobiles or travel costs for solidarity visits, email

More information on SOAS 9:

A detainee involved in the hunger strike's story:

More information on the hunger strike:


Dear Bloomsbury living wage supporters,

The Bloomsbury Living Wage campaign will meet at 1pm Wednesday, the 1st of July, in the Institute of Education canteen.

All are welcome! Please bring a friend and come with practical ideas to discuss, possibly including:

* supporting the promising living wage campaign happening within the
Institute of Education, itself.

* building support for Rosa de Perez and Marina Silva, two of the "SOAS 9"
currently detained at Yarlswood removal centre in Bedford who were arrested
Friday the 12th of June as part of a strategy to undermine SOAS cleaners'
struggle for better pay and conditions.

Jesse Oldershaw


The Bloomsbury Living Wage campaign is the network of living wage campaigns
at UCL, SOAS, Birkbeck, Institute of Education, London School of Hygiene and
Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and Senate House. It seeks the better pay and
conditions for low-paid contract workers across the Bloomsbury (WC1) area,
in line with the GLA's London Living Wage. The London Living Wage (LLW)
takes into account London's high cost of living. It was increased in May
2009 to £7.60/hour - 25% higher than national minimum wage. The LLW package
also includes fair sick pay and holiday pay and respect for trade union
rights. There have so far been successful living wage campaigns at SOAS,
Birkbeck and LSHTM.

Email for more information and join the Facebook
group at



Meet SOAS Occupiers at Marxism. Outdoor film showing and food.
Please reply to event if you want to come so we know how much food to prepare.

We filmed the whole thing. We want you to show you what we did and will answer questions and discuss where next for the campaign.

Start up your own campaign. If this can happen at SOAS of all places it can happen anywhere. This needs to be stopped. Our fellow workmates should not be living in a state of fear.


Please join us for an outdoor filmshowing of a number of our videos and photos's.

Including food and discussion.

PLEASE RSVP so we know how much food to prepare.

If it is raining we will transfer to our common room.

This is a truly SOAS affair-we hope you join us.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Iranian elections crisis

Iranian elections crisis

Naz Massoumi / Sun 21 June

A pivotal and unpredictable process of events are taking place in Iran that have serious implications, not only for the lives of Iranians, but for the future of political Islam. What the courageous protests and the violent repression on the streets represent is a struggle over the true legacy of the Iranian revolution which established the Islamic Republic 30 years ago. To understand the complexity of the current situation, we need to address a number of important questions.

Sunday’s Chatham House report has answered key questions over vote-rigging. It found a turnout of more than 100% was recorded in conservative provinces Mazandaran and Yazd. But putting the election result to one side, if the protests have demonstrated one thing it is the breadth and scale of Mousavi’s “green wave”. Not limited to the middle-class, northern Tehran ‘elite’ the movement has shown its deep social roots.

Of course millions of Iranians did vote for Ahmadinejad and for valid reasons - in support of his populist hand outs, pension rises and state subsidies. For example, he introduced a law that provided insurance to three million female domestic carpet-weavers. He cleverly grouped Mousavi with the corrupt political powerhouse ex-President Rafsanjani whose family had funded the reformist campaign.

However this tactic was far more effective in 2005 – when he could pit himself against the likes of Rafsanjani as the unknown blacksmith’s son ready to ‘cut the hands of the oil mafia’. He could revive the economic populism of the 80s, which benefited the poor, in stark contrast to Rafsanjani’s 90s economic liberalization which increased inflation and inequality. In 2009, as a President who has failed to deliver on promises of reducing corruption and inequality (both have increased) and against an ‘establishment’ candidate like Mousavi - whose term as Prime Minister in the 80s associates him precisely with those populist policies - it just didn’t wash.

More importantly, with 70-80% of Iranian industry still state owned, organisations that were set-up in the 80s to provide social and welfare programmes have now become massive capitalist enterprises owned and controlled by the state bureaucracy including the military. The Revolutionary Guard, for example, controls 30% of the Iranian economy. In power, Ahmadinejad has shown to defend and represent the interests of this bureaucracy.

Hence during the election campaign it was in fact Mousavi who was greeted as the ‘man of the mostazafin (oppressed)’ even in Ahmadinejad strongholds like the eastern town of Birjand.

Mousavi’s mix of revolutionary credentials and call for greater social and political freedoms, in which his wife Zahra Rahnavard played a decisive role in representing the grievances of women, gathered greater momentum than the campaign which saw the election of reformist President Khatami in 1997.

We cannot underestimate how deep the crisis goes. Twenty years ago, it was Rafsanjani and Khamenei’s conservative alliance that wrestled control of power over the ‘leftists’ (like Mousavi) at the top. Now Rafsanjani’s daughter has been arrested and he himself is in the religious city of Qom (where Khamenei is already unpopular) trying to convince the clergy to move against Khamenei. Five senior clerics have already protested but as Iranian academic Ali Ansari argues a serious intervention from an essentially quietest clergy ‘could be decisive’

What’s behind all this? One factor is Khamenei himself. Lacking the political charisma, popularity and authority of Khomeini, he has relied on constitutional changes and an alliance with radical conservative elements to maintain and strengthen his position as Supreme Leader. Another is the reformist demise. Despite being a formidable force in the 1990s the Presidency and parliament majority, by 2005 they had lost all centres of power to conservatives.

There were reasons for this. Khatami held the movement back at its peak, condemning university students in 1999 who had risen up to defend the banning of a reformist newspaper. A demoralised movement then boycotted the Presidential election in 2005 - another reason behind Ahmadinejad’s victory (interestingly he only just beat Karoubi to second place in the first round).

This time round the reformist voters turned out in huge numbers knowing a high-turnout would benefit them (with 70% of Iranians living in the cities). This explains the explosion of anger over the election result and refusal to halt demonstrations.

But a far more important consequence of conservative control was the debate it precipitated in the movement which questioned the very theoretical foundation of the Islamic Republic - velaayat-e faqih (rule of the jurist). It has now reached a point where the majority opinion in the reformist movement believes the only solution for Iran is a separation of religion from the state.

This does not, as some suggest, spell the end of political Islam. Rooftop chants of “Allahu Akbar” late into the evening (reminiscent of the Iranian revolution) and Mousavi’s ‘green’ (representing Islam and peace) movement is a reminder that religion still plays an important ideological framework. But the call for secularization of the state by an Islamist reform movement is undoubtedly a turning point. So important is this, that Mousavi was ‘ready for martyrdom’ and calling for a general strike if arrested. Indeed, the stakes are high for both the leadership and the demonstrators.

This raises huge questions for the movement in Iran. It’s a no brainer that the interests of a powerful capitalist like Rafsanjani or Mousavi conflict sharply with the office worker throwing rocks at police and putting his life in danger. After all, the maior factor of Khatami’s demise was the continuation of Rafsanjani’s privitisation and neoliberal reforms, which alienated the poor. Unfortunately Mousavi in power is likely to follow a similar path.

So whilst working with them, the left must form a critique of its reformist leaders. It should challenge their ties to neo-liberalism and raise the struggle of the poor and the working class.

It must also try to win over Ahmadinejad supporters. There is evidence of this with slogans like “Baseej why kill your brothers?” (the Baseej come from the poor) and reports that some Baseeji are refusing to attack protestors. A leading women activist, who had been beaten in the protests told us that the armed forces have been told not to attack women which has raised the question of whether unofficial, conservative vigilantes are actively organizing to attack protestors.

A further challenge is to organise separately from the leadership. The demoralization with Khatami stemmed from resting too much hope in his promises of reform. Mousavi is after all a key figure in the regime during some of its most horrific excesses.

Crucially there’s the question of western powers wanting to use this movement as a way of undermining the obstacle Iran presents to their plans for the region.

Under Khatami the government’s opportunist support for the US invasion of Afghanistan provided a valuable lesson. As a consequence, Iran found itself in the ‘axis of evil’, surrounded by US military bases in neighbouring countries Iraq and Afghanistan and a massive American naval fleet in the Persian Gulf. Ahmadinejad’s victory and popularity (in Iran and the region) relied heavily on his fiery antagonism towards the US and Israel.

Mousavi is, in fact, not the ideal candidate for the US. He does not recognise Israel, has vowed to continue with uranium enrichment and openly committed to the ideals of the revolution – that’s why he is popular with Iranians. Though Obama’s administration is likely to deal with any Iranian leader. As activists in Egypt and Saudi Arabia will attest, the struggle for democracy will be a lot harder in Iran with a government backed by the US.

Despite Obama’s talk of ‘not meddling’ in Iran’s affairs, the conservatives can still point to the $400 million dollar budget allocated to ‘covert operations’ in Iran, especially with the bombing of a mosque in Shiraz last month.

Given the Iranian government’s monopoly on anti-imperialism, this is the hardest of challenges for the movement in Iran, but a critical one which must be taken up.

But for now the main priority is to be at the forefront of the democratic struggle. Because if this movement is crushed, life for Iranians (and the left) will be a lot worse off.

As activists in the West, we must throw our full support behind those who have taken to the streets in Iran against their rulers.

At the same time we must also highlight the hypocrisy of our own governments and media organisations. Their support for democracy stands in stark contrast with their refusal to recognize the democratic election of Hamas in Palestine or the vote-rigging of Mobarak’s dictatorship in Egypt.

So whilst expressing solidarity with Iranians, we must warn against the dangers of imperialist powers abusing the situation by continuing to our campaign against the existing suffocating sanctions and any catastrophic plans for war. That way, we allow the Iranian democracy movement to continue without foreign intervention or interference.