Tuesday, June 29, 2010
June 29 Is Fedaii Memorial Day
This poster of Fedaii Memorial Day was published in a magazine supportive of the Organization of Iranian People's Fedayee Guerrillas (OIPFG) back in the 1980s or early 1990s. It honors three martyrs of the struggle against the US-supported Iranian kingdom active in the 1960s and 1970s: Hamid Ashraf, Shirin Fazilatkalam, and Bizhan Jazani. I post it here not to endorse the specific politics or role of the OIPFG, but as a reminder that the struggle for social justice in Iran has deep roots; that generations of heroes have sacrificed themselves without surrendering to either religious fundamentalism or the false choices presented by predatory America.
The OIPFG was one of the major Marxist groups fighting against the Shah; when I was a college student right before the successful Islamic Revolution, exiled Iranian students held regular and powerful demonstrations at American universities in support of the ongoing struggle in Iran. I remember at first seeing almost entirely supporters of the OIPFG and OMPI (Organization of the Mojahedin of the People of Iran, a group that attempted to combine socialist and Islamic tendencies that today is more widely known as the MEK, or Mojahedeen-e-Khalq). At some point the supporters of these two organizations started to be dwarfed by supporters of the Iranian Muslim Students Association, and it was clear the nature of the struggle in Iran had undergone a significant change. (If you're a careful watcher of the movie "Cabaret," set in a Nazifying Germany in the 1930s, you'll notice the brilliant art direction has the background graffiti starting out all communisty, and by the end of the movie it ends up being all nazi. Watching this happen to the Iranian student milieu was kind of like that; I'm not actually trying to make the parallel between Nazi and Muslim just to say that the social ferment of Germany went from radical left to radical right as it seemed to have done in Iran).
The OIPFG was among the many many Iranian Marxist and Socialist organizations that were violently repressed by the new Islamic Republic. As the unforgettable 1979 Women's day chant went, "In the Dawn of Freedom There Is No Freedom." Having endured assassination of comrades, imprisonment and torture at the hands of the Shah's SAVAK secret police, many secular Iranian revolutionaries soon fell at the hands of the Islamic Republic's forces of repression.
Anyway, Hamid Ashraf was an OIPFG leader killed by government agents after they broke up clandestine meeting in 1976. Shirin (Mo'Azed) Fazilatkalam was a woman revolutionary tortured to death by SAVAK in 1975. Bizhan Jazani was a theoretician of the revolutionary student and guerrilla movement in Iran; he was executed outside Evin prison in 1975.
May the future hold fewer martyrs.