- Posted by Maryam Namazie
- On July 19, 2002
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Radio International’s interview with Maryam Namazie
Translated from Persian
Radio International: What was the importance of Mansoor Hekmat’s role in the International Federation of Iranian Refugees (IFIR), this thirteen year-old organisation that unequivocally defends refugee and civil rights?
Maryam Namazie: The International Federation of Iranian Refugees (IFIR) has had a unique role and an important place in the organising of Iranians and Iranian refugees abroad. It was Mansoor Hekmat’s idea and plan to respond to the refugee flow as a result of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s repression. Thirteen years on we are witnessing IFIR’s effects on the lives of innumerable people. Its impact on the refugee and civil rights movement is undeniable. IFIR has managed to organise one of the most vulnerable segments of society, i.e. asylum seekers, people without proper legal status, without rights, who are isolated and ghettoised, living in imposed poverty and misery and who are daily humiliated. IFIR has succeeded in organising the progressive section of this group, uniting them around maximum rights and demands, and placing this immense force alongside the working class, freedom-loving people and other progressive movements in the societies they live in. IFIR has been able to portray a progressive image of asylum seekers and the people of Iran to the general public and oppose inhuman ideas such as patriarchy, nationalism and religion. IFIR has also exposed the Islamic Republic of Iran as the main reason for the flight of countless human beings from Iran and continues to exert political pressure on the regime.
These are some of IFIR’s activities during its 13 year existence. We have shown that even under the daily assault of capital on people’s lives, dignity and humanity, it is possible to defend maximum civil rights and strive for and secure improvements in people’s lives. We have demonstrated that under circumstances in which states attempt to isolate people and force them into hopelessness and despair, it is possible to organise people around positive action. IFIR has not only raised the expectations of asylum seekers in regards to their maximum rights, but also raised society’s expectations as a whole on the universal rights of human beings. It is not an exaggeration to say that during this time IFIR has had an unprecedented and unique role in the history of activism of Iranian’s abroad. I also think it has had a unique role in the activist history of the societies we are living and struggling in. These are undoubtedly the gains of Mansoor Hekmat and his movement and party.
Radio International: What was Mansoor Hekmat’s particular role in IFIR’s current achievements?
Maryam Namazie: Mansoor Hekmat has had the most vital role in the creation of IFIR and in its significant 13 year existence. Mansoor Hekmat wrote the initial plan of IFIR, wrote its preliminary documents, and was personally responsible for its implementation. While many people have worked actively in the IFIR, their and IFIR’s special status is because of Mansoor Hekmat’s ideals and methods. Our type of work at IFIR is very different from other refugee rights organisations. For example, in the UK, one of the main slogans of refugee organisations is that ‘refugees are welcome here’. We, though, consider this a rights issue; whether people are welcome or not, they have a right to seek refuge and be here. Saying certain people are welcome means they are temporary guests that can wear out their welcome. Or in Australia, refugee rights organisations have held hunger strikes to support asylum seekers there. We on the other hand see hunger strikes as a negative form of activism and work hard to dissuade asylum seekers from harming themselves. These organisations limit the demands of asylum seekers and classify them as second or third class citizens. They undertake negative and at times reactionary means of activism. IFIR, however, defends the maximum rights of people and its struggle is a positive and progressive one. Our differences are in fact nothing but Hekmatism and worker-communism. Mansoor Hekmat brought back Marxism and Marx’s critique of the present world, as well as a Marxist and deeply humanist solution towards contemporary society. This is why IFIR is where it is today. Without Mansoor Hekmat, his party and movement, the refugee rights movement would have been much bleaker just as the situation of the people in Iran and the world without him would have been such.
In a letter to us, Mansoor Hekmat had written that he is honoured to have had a role in the Federation. I believe though, that in fact the honour is completely ours to have been able to implement his project. We are honoured to be in his movement, to have worked closely with him, to believe in his ideals and humanity. We are honoured to have lived in an era in which the greatest Marxist and humanist of the contemporary world was among us.