Comments on Iranian Americans' Protests in the United States

by Simin Royanian

July, 2009

I would like to ask what the purpose of these actions is. Usually, protesters and those who go on hunger strikes do so for a cause or demand that is not supported by those in power, is in opposition to the prevailing narrative and/or is not reflected in the main media. In the US today, and indeed for the last 30 years, the prevailing narrative, which has gained increasing purchase in the US, has been that Iran is a country that accords its citizens no freedom, to the extent that its 70 million people deserve to suffer from sanctions so severe as to make the lives of most of them, especially the economically disadvantaged, harder.

Protests, huger strikes and civil disobedience actions that I have participated in during over 40 years for peace and civil rights and women's rights in the US, have strived to, as we say, "speak truth to power".

When these individuals stand in the US streets and speak the language of the most powerful country in the world, the country with the largest military in human history, a country that has continuously threatened military attack on the people of Iran, what these individuals are doing, is paying service to power, not speaking truth to power.

What are they doing? Giving more coverage to these "truths" because the coverage of the same allegations against Iran by Fox news, CNN, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Newsweek, etc. is not enough?

Why don't these people speak truth to power? Why do they not oppose capital punishment in the USA? Why did they not raise one voice or light one candle when a doctor was murdered by anti-choice militants? Why do they not keep an ongoing vigil to protest the US wars, which kill hundreds of Afghanis, Iraqis, and Pakistanis every day at the hand of US soldiers and US drone bombers? Every day, the Washington Post reports this horrible loss of life in these countries. On July 9th alone, the Post reported that 44 Afghans were killed by one of the bombs from drone planes. Where is the vigil for them? That would be speaking truth to power, since the US government is conducting the war, and since many Americans support these killings.

Why spend time and energy of individuals who may truthfully believe in justice for all, to promote the US agenda against the people of Iran? The demands of these types of protest are for the US government or the UN to increase sanctions against Iran. The people of Iran are already suffering due to unjust sanctions against them.

One example of this suffering is the jetliner crash of July 15, 2009. The New York Times says "The airline crash is Iran's worst in six years, and it underscored the country's vulnerability to aviation disasters. Iran has been unable to adequately maintain its aging fleet of American-built aircraft for 30 years because of an embargo after the Islamic Revolution, and has increasingly relied on aircraft from Russian manufacturers, which have their own troubled safety history."

When we originally retrieved their article, the Times also reported, "In 2005, the International Civil Aviation Organization, an arm of the United Nations, warned that sanctions flouted international treaties and placed civilian lives in danger." ( )

Some may claim that they are speaking to power of Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI). If that were the truth, what are their demands? In any event, these protesters proclaim that the Iranian government is not legitimate. It makes no sense to demand an action by a government that one considers illegitimate. In fact, some of these groups of Iranian-Americans regard the totality of the IRI to be illegitimate. So, we have to conclude that they are speaking to the US government and at times the UN, and in both cases, their demand is increased sanctions on the people of Iran.

Considering that these groups are not asking for peace, since they are appealing to the US government, which has threatened Iran with military attack, and since they are not for justice, since increasing sanctions against the people of Iran is not justice (the American peace and justice activists held that sanctions against Iraq was unjust to the people of Iraq), then one wonders what are the reasons for the majority of American peace and justice groups supporting the actions of these Iranian-Americans. This is even more baffling when one considers that many of these protesters seem to be following the leadership of the monarchists, and/or that of the neo-liberal Iranian-Americans who promote Mousavi on account of his privitization policies, and/or that of the Mojahedin-e-Khalgh organization (MEK), and/or that of prize-winning Iranians who have never stood alongside the US peace and justice activists in support of the human rights of the people of Gaza, Afghanistan, or Iraq, or those of African-Americans and immigrants in the US.

The influence of the monarchists is evidenced by the news conference given by the Shah's son, and by the breathless support of Tehrangeles TV stations, which have receieved the money allocated by the US congress for anti-IRI propaganda.

The influence of the MEK is evidenced at least one report by National Public Radio (NPR). For further evidence, during the election, the MEK's own TV station broadcast calls by their leaders, the Radjavi couple, calling on the people of Iran and their supporters outside Iran to go to the streets.

In addition, many new "organizations" represented by newly established websites are calling for actions against Iran, and the American peace and justice groups are endorsing them without having the slightest idea of who are behind these groups, who are financing them, what are their missions, or what are their histories.

One would hope that American peace and justice groups, having learned from the CIA coups d'etats and the interference in even the labor organizations and creating "labor strikes" against Salvador Allende, and having learned from all the machinations of the FBI against the Black Panthers, and many more, would hesitate, and study, and do research, and ask important questions, before they jump on the bandwagon.