(text sent by http://asranarshism.com/ of their interview with Pramen website. French version here)
Your community is called « A union of anarchists of Iran and Afghanistan ». What moved you to unite particulary between these two countries ? Geographical proximity ? Absence of language barrier ? Transparent border between countries ? Common history ?
“1. Since anarchism is a politics against borders and states, when it comes to Iran and Afghanistan, they are names given to the two regions, not to justify the existence of these borders or states, but because our struggles and revolutionary demands are universal and not specific to particular areas. The reason for the union of anarchists in Iran and Afghanistan is sharing a common language among comrades, and associations between anarchists in the two regions.”
2. Generally, here in Eastern Europe we do not know about Iran and Afghanistan a lot. The public opinion is formed by the mainstream media. And for Iran the main narrative is nuclear program, sanctions and periodical riots. For Afghanistan – drug trafficking and war. But we really do not know much about how working people live there. Could you tell as more as you can on these issues: social problems, social movements, nuances of mentality and social-political organization ?
“2. In Iran and Afghanistan, the anarchist movement is new and is in the process of developing. Over the past few years more and more young people have come to anarchism, and while the feminist, anti-capitalist, labour, student, child rights, refugee rights, environmental, and animal liberation movements have grown significantly in recent years—but the antifascist movements in the two regions are still very weak. In Afghanistan there is no broad anarchist movement, however anarchism is growing there. Religion and patriarchy are still a problem in Afghan society, although these problems also exist in Iran, because the Islamic Republic makes it its mission to spread oppressive structures, but there is a part of society consciously opposing it. The Islamic Republic advocates for a reactionary Islamic tradition, but the people stand against it and oppose government propaganda.”
3. When did the anarchist movements is Iran and Afghanistan emerged ? Where did it stem from ?
“3. The first anarchist publication in Farsi began 42 years ago in the diaspora. In 1977, two years before the Islamic Republic of Iran, there were several anarchist publications outside of Iran that continued to be disseminated for years; but since they were only published abroad, they did not effect events inside Iran and did not have any influence until the re-emergence of the left in the university by anarchist students in 2007. Nine years ago we started our anarchist organizing as a group overseas by publishing numerous anarchist blogs and activities on Facebook and elsewhere. More than five years ago, we created the site Asr Anarshism and in 2018 three anarchist groups—one in Afghanistan, one in Iran, and Asr Anarshism (Afghan & Iranian comrades in the diaspora)—formed the Anarchist Union of Iran and Afghanistan. Soon after, anarchists joined the Union from two cities in Iran, and recently another anarchist collective that is in Iran and abroad joined.”
4. Please tell particularly about your group. We are interested in your activities, plans, organizational structure and, of cause, the experience of facing repressions.
“4. One of our campaigns focuses on Soheil Arabi, an anarchist prisoner who was first sentenced to death because of his Facebook posts and has been in jail since 2013 and was tried three times while in prison, sentenced to: death and three years in prison in 2014, then commuted to two years in 2015. Soheil should have been released a year ago, but is still in prison and has been on several hunger strikes, which clearly highlights severe repression. The Anarchist Union of Iran and Afghanistan has also published a 5-part magazine titled « The Torments and Memories of Anarchists in Iran », in which you will find significant lessons.
In our activity as an anarchist network, we have 44 pages in social media. So far, several of our anarchist comrades in the Union have been taken to jail and severely tortured for their activities and struggles. Naturally, our activities in Iran and Afghanistan are not public, and because of widespread repression in Iran and dangers that anarchist activists face in Iran and Afghanistan, we cannot specifically mention our activities, but anarchist comrades are active in all the Iranian liberatory movements—and anytime there were demonstrations our comrades participated and were suppressed, imprisoned and tortured. In most cases, the regime did not know they are anarchists.”
5. What is your relationships with the other political parties and organizations ?
“5. From an anarchist perspective, no political party is legitimate, and any hierarchical organization and strives for power is an enemy. Since the Islamic Republic currently holds power and political organizing is a crime, we have a common enemy in the Islamic Republic and therefore we do not fight the other opposition forces and parties.”
6. Did you ever hear about Belarus and political regime here ? What are your associations regarding it ? And what are, you your opinion, is general notion about Belarus for the common citizen of Iran\Afghanistan ?
“6. About one-fifth of Belarusian land is still affected by the 1986 Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant explosion. Belarus has an agreement with Ukraine that most of this area is in an Exclusion Zone. The strategic position of Belarus to the North of Ukraine and the West of Russia can be very important. Since independence from the Soviet Union, Belarus has faced a dictatorial regime for about twenty five years; however, due to censorship of the media, little information is disseminated from Belarus, but with a careful analysis of the situation we are aware that Belarus has many political prisoners, even some who have been jailed or imprisoned for photography. Belarussian dictatorial regime will be condemned to annihilation, although the regime is fully supported by Russia. Solidarity with comrades struggling in Belarus.”
7. Your region is presented by the media as an area of constant ethnic and religious conflicts. What is your position regarding Islam, Christianity ? Do you have comrades who are believers ? What is your political perspective and possible tools for fightning ethnic and sectarian tensions ?
“7. The Middle East is not the only region in the world that suffers from ethnic, economic and religious tensions, but the abundance of oil in this region has led to governments disrupting it by fomenting these disputes. We are against all religions, including Islam. At the moment, the most important tool to deal with such tensions are the efforts to raise awareness and self-organize our communities, which we are working intensively to do. One of the most important issues in Iran and Afghanistan is dehydration, and over the course of 40 years, the Islamic Republic’s rule has destroyed Iran ecologically and many of its lakes and rivers have dried up. Only 1.8% of Iran is in its natural state and does not face an environmental crisis.”
8. Maybe you want to add something ? You are welcome to say anything on other issues.
“8. In the end, we would like to thank you for this interview and if there are any other topics that interest you, please ask us more questions. We will also send questions to you after the publication of this interview to learn more information about the lives of people and anarchists in Belarus and your region. Finally, that the Anarchist Union is present in nine other countries outside of Afghanistan and Iran, and one Morocan anarchist comrade also works with the Asr Anarshism site and publishes Arabic content and besides Arabic and Persian, we publish all languages on Asr Anarshism. We hope that this interview will be the beginning of joint activities between us.”
Thanks, the Anarchist Union of Iran and Afghanistan
I am translating your interview right now and inspired by your braveness ! Could you please give us some photos of Soheil Arabi and, maybe, some photos which may represent your group ? Maybe with covered faces or smth, to be secure for you. Just to illustrate the article while publishing.
Hello comrades, we can shear some photos of Soheil Arabi with you but about the photos of our collective, it’s not possible because we are almost in 11 countries and it’s so dangerous for our comrades in Iran to send or have any photos. We hope that you will understand our issue
It is OK, we understand everything. We know Rojava, but what is DFNS ? Explain the abbreviation please.
DFNS is the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria, which is the autonomous region, which since September 2018, it has been called « Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria ». It is more inclusive term because there are Kurds, Arabs, Assyrians and Armenians among others. Rojava is the Kurdish word for Western Kurdistan.