An intentionally informal international network of anarchists recently undertook several small but heartfelt solidarity gestures in support of comrade Soheil Arabi, incarcerated in North Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison. Through the Anarchist Union of Afghanistan and Iran’s website (Asranarshism), we have been following updates on Soheil’s situation, including: Soheil’s arrest by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) for social media posts “insulting the Prophet of Islam” and criticising the Iranian regime; his initial death sentence (and subsequent commutation); his hunger-strikes highlighting both the systemic abuses of prisoners by prison guards, and ongoing harassment of his family; and the perilous state of his health after enduring torture, severe beatings and regular ‘punishments’. We continue to be inspired by Soheil’s resilience and uncompromising resistance to injustice, and his recent communique “Anarchism means flying forever” specifically galvanised us to undertake modest coordinated gestures of solidarity
On 13 February 2020, comrades from the anarchist radio program Music for the Global Intifada(broadcast from Naarm/ Melbourne, in the colonised Oceanic nation of so-called ‘Australia’), read the full text of Soheil’s communique and dedicated anti-authoritarian/ anti-religious hip hop music in Farsi language to Soheil. With the aim of inspiring actions of solidarity among listeners, Music for the Global Intifada has been (and will continue) updating it’s listeners on Soheil’s situation as we receives updates from Iranian anarchist comrades via the Asranarshism website.
Additionally, on 14 February 2020, comrades in Colombo, Sri Lanka, created a banner which was stuck to the walls of the Iranian Embassy’s Cultural Centre, in central Colombo. The banner featured a red and black anarcho-syndicalist flag background and text demanding: “Close Evin. Free Soheil (A).”
The repressive states of Iran and Sri Lanka enjoy a particularly close relationship. During the Sri Lankan Civil War, Iran extended low-interest loans to Sri Lanka to purchase weaponry and provided military training to Sri Lankan troops. Under the guise of ‘ending the conflict’, military assistance provided to the ruling Rajapaksa brothers by Ahmadinejad was used by the Sri Lankan state in the genocide against the Tamil population. This military aid directly contributed to the 80,000 to 100,000 Tamil people who were massacred or disappeared by the Rajapaksa dynasty
Similarly, despite the ruling ‘Australian’ Liberal National Party (LNP) coalition government blindly following Amerikkka’s policy stance on Iran, ‘Australia’ historically shares various trade agreements with Iran. In 2015, Julie Bishop, then the LNP’s Foreign Minister, visited Tehran. In addition to discussing trade, ‘Australia’ offered to train and support Iranian troops under the guise of supporting Iran’s campaign against Daesh/ ISIS. (Although we recognise Daesh/ ISIS as a murderous religious fascist movement, we also acknowledge Australia has a long history of providing military aid to oppressive regimes to use against minority populations engaged in liberation struggles. For example, ‘Australian’ military aid and training was provided to the Indonesian TNI who undertook brutal campaigns of mass murder of liberation fighters and civilian populations in Timor Leste. Hence, we recognise that ‘Australian’ military support to Iran would potentially also be used against Kurdish, Balochi, and Arabic communities.). Additionally, a significant aspect of Bishop’s agenda – which reflected ‘Australia’s’ racist, xenophobic, and heartless attitudes towards refugees and asylum seekers- also involved ‘encouraging’ the Iranian regime to repatriate Iranian refugees who sought asylum in ‘Australia’ in an attempt to escape persecution from the regime due to their sexuality (LGBTIQ+) and/ or ethnic minority status (e.g. Kurds/ Balochis/ Arabs from Khuzestan). The LNP’s clearly stated objective toward the 3000+ Iranian asylum seekers imprisoned in ‘Australia’s’ refugee detention centres, is ultimately to “have these people returned to where they come from”, despite asylum seekers being extremely vulnerable to persecution- if not death- upon repatriation to Iran.
However, just as all these despotic states share a common goal of mass oppression through religious and nationalist intolerance, we as anarchists also share common goals with not only our political comrades in Iran, but the oppressed masses there in general. Our anarchist affinity is based on internationalist solidarity and our own uncompromising intolerance for sexism, racism, homophobia, authoritarianism, religious fanaticism, nationalism, fascism and capitalism. Our heartfelt belief in a world without borders, mutual aid and grassroots class struggle is the basis for creating societies where all people enjoy complete autonomy and freedom.
Comrade Soheil, know that your powerful words inspire our collective struggle and that we will continue to attempt to spread their profane beauty through a variety of means, now and into the future! With the strength reflected in your writing and your uncompromising resilience, you inspire us to a praxis that we will express without warning and without the constraint of bourgeois morality or propertarian values. We are here for you and you are not forgotten.
From the occupied colony of so-called ‘Australia’, across the Indian Ocean, to the hell of Evin Prison, we anarchist ants are everywhere! The red and black ants dedicating these small gestures of solidarity to you are not afraid to bite when the situation demands it! However, we are also slowly but surely working collectively toward creating border-less anthills in which all are welcome and free! We may be small in number and size, but we exist everywhere and together as a swarm we will devour the beast.
We end this communique to you in Soheil’s own inspirational words, ” Anarchism is a bird that moves against the definite characteristics called fate and laws, therefore it breaks the norm structure, goes against power and thus conquers the world and creates the change.”
Signed: some anonymous red and black anarchist ants in South Asia and Oceania – the Ant i States