Ahmadinejad, Netanyahu, and Obama protested by Havaar in NYC

On September 25, 2012, Havaar was joined by The Illuminator crew and their cargo van to take their message against war, sanctions, and state repression onto the streets and public facades of New York. Projections happened at Union Square, around Washington Square Park, and on the facade of the historic Flatiron Building. Earlier in the day Havaar was joined by friends and allies for a demonstration in midtown New York against Ahmadinejad, Obama, and Netanyahu’s aggression towards the Iranian people. See photos from that demonstration.

 

UPDATE: Iranian Activists Release Photos and Video of Demonstration and Unannounced Action

 Havaar & The Illuminator Join Forces to Protest Ahmadinejad, Netanyahu and Obama

Photos of the protests can now be found on Havaar’s facebook page.

Video of the Illuminator projections has just now been released here.

September 26, 2012, New York —Today, as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addressed the United Nations General Assembly, Havaar: Iranian Initiative Against War, Sanctions and State Repression released photographs and a video from a demonstration it held yesterday to protest Ahmadinejad’s crimes against the Iranian people, as well as President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s support for severe economic sanctions and escalating threats of attacking Iran militarily.

Havaar said, “What Ahmadinejad, Netanyahu and Obama have in common is a complete disregard for the lives and dignity of the Iranian people. Their callousness in pursuit of their own political interests threatens the well being of approximately 75 million Iranians, and moreover creates a bleaker future for us all.”

The demonstration occurred near the Warwick Hotel in midtown Manhattan where Ahmadinejad and his coterie are staying.

Ali Abdi, a student activist who until recently was involved in both the student and women’s movement in Iran said, “It’s impossible to describe the feeling of holding larger than life photographs of Iranian political prisoners in the streets of New York, close to where Iranian officials responsible for their ongoing suffering are staying. I know this will give some heart to their loved ones, and to many other Iranians who want to see the release of all political prisoners.”

After the demonstration, Havaar was joined by The Illuminator crew and their cargo van to take their message against war, sanctions, and state repression onto the streets and public facades of New York. Projections happened at Union Square, around Washington Square Park, and on the facade of the Flatiron Building.

Havaar: Iranian Initiative Against War, Sanctions and State Repression” is a grassroots group of Iranians, Iranian-Americans and allies who have joined together to categorically oppose any military action and sanctions against Iran. Havaar stands in solidarity with the Iranian people’s struggle against war and sanctions and against state repression, asserting that all of these forms of violence hurt the lives and aspirations of ordinary Iranians. Visit havaar.org and http://www.facebook.com/HavaarForJustice.

 

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Iranians and Allies Protest Ahmadinejad, Netanyahu, and Obama

During United Nations General Assembly Convening, Havaar Says That Each Government Acts Against the Interests of the Iranian People

 

September 25, 2012, New York —Today, on the occasion of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s final visit to the United Nations General Assembly, the New York-based group Havaar: Iranian Initiative Against War, Sanctions and State Repression was joined by allies to voice opposition to the Iranian government’s repression of the Iranian people and to call for an end to crippling sanctions and threats of war by the U.S. and Israeli governments.
 
Protesting outside Ahmadinejad’s Manhattan hotel, members of Havaar and their allies held giant posters bearing images of 24 Iranian political prisoners from all walks of life, including the young human rights activist Shiva Nazar Ahahi, and labor leader Reza Shahabi, sentenced to four and six years respectively for their political activities. Havaar members said, “We protest Ahmadinejad and hold up photos of imprisoned Iranians in lieu of all those who can’t. It’s a basic act of solidarity with the disappeared and the broken, and with those who continue to demand accountability and justice at great risk to themselves.”

Simultaneously Havaar protested against the American and Israeli government’s policies of sanctions and threats of war.

“Our primary concern is the welfare of the Iranian people, and of people all over the world struggling against repression and violence, be it foreign or domestic,” said Havaar. “We condemn the violence of the Iranian government against fellow Iranians, just as we condemn the increasingly aggressive U.S. and Israeli policies of sanctions and threats of war. The sanctions imposed on the Iranian people are not an alternative to war, but wage war on the Iranian people by other means. They operate as collective punishment, and must end. We hope that people the world over will stand in solidarity with the Iranian people against all the violent forces that seek to obstruct their dreams for a free and just society. ”

“Havaar: Iranian Initiative Against War, Sanctions and State Repression” is a grassroots group of Iranians, Iranian-Americans and allies who have joined together to categorically oppose any military action and sanctions against Iran. Havaar stands in solidarity with the Iranian people’s struggle against war and sanctions and against state repression, asserting that all of these forms of violence hurt the lives and aspirations of ordinary Iranians. Visit havaar.org and http://www.facebook.com/HavaarForJustice.
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Open Letter to the Anti-War Movement

The upcoming anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan is a crucial time for activists to reflect on the urgent need for an anti-war movement that is committed to opposing systematic oppression, domination and violence. In the spirit of moving us towards this goal, we feel compelled to respond when individuals and organizations within the movement are harassing and maligning other members of the movement. We need to ask how this reflects on the political and ethical commitments underlying our activism. We need to ask when enough is enough and some kind of collective action is necessary to address an untenable situation.

There is a campaign of hostility and intimidation underway against Iranian activists in the U.S. who oppose war, sanctions and state repression in Iran. The Iranian American Friendship Committee (AIFC) has taken the lead in a series of physical and verbal attacks on Iranian activists and their allies. Enough is enough. This letter is an appeal to those who consider themselves part of the anti-war movement: stop condoning, excusing or dismissing these attacks by continuing to include AIFC in your coalitions, demonstrations, forums and other organizing events. We call on those of you who want to build an effective anti-war movement that includes the participation of those whose families are directly targeted by U.S. imperialism, and that is committed to social justice for all, to oppose the abuse AIFC has been heaping on members of various Iranian American organizations.

On June 29, 2012, Ardeshir Ommani of the AIFC circulated a public missive attacking members of Raha Iranian Feminist Collective, Havaar: Iranian Initiative Against War, Sanctions, and State Repression, Where Is My Vote, and United For Iran. This so-called AIFC “Factsheet” accused individual members of each group of harboring covert imperialist, Zionist, and pro-war agendas. Such a smear campaign should be transparent to all who know and work with us and to all those who recognize in these charges a familiar script. Ommani and AIFC are uncritical apologists for the Iranian government, proudly organizing dinners for President Ahmadinejad in New York each fall and inviting anti-war and pro-Palestinian activists to come pay their respects. They are not alone but work with the Workers World Party and the International Action Center to give left cover to the Iranian government and to infuse the anti-war movement with pro-Islamic Republic politics. They repeat the Iranian state’s position that the pro-democracy protesters in Iran are agents of Western imperialism and Zionism. And now AIFC mimics the regime by lodging such false charges against us, activists who dare to challenge their orthodoxy and who oppose the Iranian state’s oppressive actions.

Unfortunately, it is not enough to simply dismiss AIFC’s charges as spurious and move on with the serious and necessary work of opposing U.S. intervention around the world. Ommani’s accusations of Zionist loyalties carry serious prison sentences in Iran as a crime of moharebeh (crimes against Islam or against the state). This means that Iranians who refuse to become apologists for the Iranian state cannot participate in the anti-war movement without having their reputations attacked and their names publicly identified with charges that can land them in prison, or worse, if they go to Iran. The continued acceptance of AIFC as a legitimate presence in the anti-war movement virtually ensures that the majority of Iranians in the U.S. will see the entire movement as pro-Islamic Republic and, therefore, unsafe and hostile. Forcing Iranians to have to choose between visiting their family members in Iran and joining the anti-war movement produces another form of discrimination and oppression of Iranians in the U.S.

To be clear, Ommani’s accusations in print are just the latest in an ongoing campaign of harassment and abuse going back to 2010. The brief history that follows illustrates tactics that are unacceptable to us, and that should be unacceptable to the anti-war movement. At a June 24, 2010 workshop at the US Social Forum hosted by Raha and Where Is My Vote, Ommani was disruptive, insulting young women organizers and questioning their legitimacy in speaking at the conference at all. At a February 4th, 2012 anti-war rally in Manhattan, Ommani attempted to physically knock an Iranian woman off of the speakers’ platform while she expressed her views against war and sanctions and in solidarity with those resisting state repression in Iran. At a March 24th, 2012 panel called “Iran: Solidarity Not Intervention” that was part of the United National Anti-War Committee conference, Ommani had to be asked repeatedly by conference security to stop calling members of Raha “C.I.A. agents” and “State Department propagandists” and even to allow us to speak at all. Unable to engage in any respectful dialogue with the ideas Raha members and their allies were advocating, he simply stormed out of the panel. At a conference plenary, security had to be called after Ommani poked a woman who was there to support Raha and who was waiting in line to speak. Ommani eventually had to be moved by conference security to a different part of the hall in order to prevent him from harassing members of Raha on the speakers’ line.

This conflict cannot be reduced to a matter of political differences about the nature of the Iranian state. There are certain behaviors that should be quite obviously beyond the scope of what is acceptable in the anti-war movement. These include the physical and verbal harassment of activists, particularly intimidation tactics lodged by men against women. Shoving, insulting and bullying women in an effort to silence us is outright sexism. Furthermore, the leveling of false charges that could make us targets of state repression has haunting historical precedents in the spy operations of SAVAK, the Shah’s secret police force, which hounded the Iranian student opposition abroad throughout the 1960s and 1970s. The same way that American progressives defended Iranian students from persecution by the Iranian and U.S. states in those days, we call on activists today to oppose these efforts to silence us. AIFC has consistently demonstrated an inability to follow basic rules of civility and engagement and should have no place in our movement.

Raha and Havaar oppose all military intervention in Iran (For a more on Raha’s analysis see www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/683/solidarity-and-its-discontents). Further, we oppose all U.S., U.N., and European sanctions against Iran, and have been active in trying to build an anti-sanctions/anti-war movement. In our view, the Iranian state, the Israeli state, and the U.S. state each are guilty of repressing popular democratic movements. Standing in solidarity with others engaged in similar struggles, we will organize against the vicious and autocratic measures of these governments until we are free–from the U.S. to Iran to Palestine and beyond.

Yours in struggle and solidarity,
The Members of RAHA Iranian Feminist Collective

The Members of Havaar: Iranian Initiative Against War, Sanctions and State Repression