Wednesday 12 August 2009

About Jonbesh e Sabz, or Iranian Green Movement in London

(For this post, and on this blog, I’m going to refer to the ‘jonbesh e sabz,’ or ‘green movement’ in London as the just ‘sabz’ to avoid any confusion with ‘The Green Party.’)

The ‘jonbesh e sabz’ is, or was, allied to that constituency that voted for Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi - although I think the green was associated originally with the Mousavi campaign (?) However, it has now broadened considerably. Here in London, it is more of a big green umbrella, appropriately enough for this summer. The Sabz includes people who voted for Mousavi or Karoubi; many of the ‘old left,’ the campaigners from the original, 1979 revolution, before it was Islamised; it includes people who didn’t vote at all and wouldn’t dream of so doing because they don’t believe in or want an Islamic Republic anyway; and various other odds and sods, like me, who join because we believe in solidarity, used to live in Iran and / or because we have much loved friends or relatives in Iran.

So the Sabz in London is diffuse, slightly confused, a bit disorganised, is eager to be inclusive, is working on being bilingual - meetings and social relations are conducted entirely in Farsi, but the facebook site, is a mix of Farsi and English - the news of demos, meetings etc are in English, the discussion groups vary. Sabz is also allied to United 4 Iran, which is international, in intention anyway, and is primarily focused on Human Rights. So some people in the group are more focused on the welfare of their protesting friends and family at home, in Iran, others on campaigning for Human Rights in Iran, others on developing practical campaigns in the UK that can be supportive to the protesters in Iran, such as the Boycott Nokia campaign. These are, we could say, all part of the colouration of the group. They are not differences as such.

We are highly resistant to being rearranged into some kind of organised, command and control, ‘party in exile.’ I think the Sabz are somewhat resistant to the idea of leaders at all, although of course, there are dominant characters. They let me in, so they must be pretty flexible. I think I’m right in saying that they/ we are wholly committed to non-violent means. Any notion of military action is absolutely out of the picture. It is also for this reason that, as it says, somewhere on the facebook site, we are not concerned with ‘regime change.’ The expression is redolent of war, bombs, guns and misery, to say nothing of the absence of democracy.

Most of the people I’ve talked to so far and certainly all of my personal friends would prefer a secular government. However, they are working with what is actually there at the moment, which is an Islamic Republic which, as I said in the previous post, is the source from which Mousavi springs. So, you can say that there is an inherent contradiction at the heart of this – hooray- I like contradictions. I guess I like them because it gives you something to work with. It’s when you try to form something that is perfect from the outset, that you know it’s doomed to failure.

So, if you’re interested, do come along. Have a look at that link again. Scroll down a bit to find the current information on the demonstrations. At the time of writing and for the foreseeable future, we are opposite the Iranian Embassy, Princes Gate, London, (Knightsbridge is the nearest tube), from 6.00-9.00pm Thursdays and from 4.00-7.00pm Sundays. It’s a good idea to wear something green and something black, especially if you’re obviously not Iranian, because then people know that you’re there to be with them. Slogans are in English and Farsi, so don’t worry if you don’t know any Farsi, you’ll get to shout too, and placards, flags etc are provided. Bring an umbrella. Next post, I’ll provide examples of slogans and songs, with some stuff about what it all means. Shall also try to find out more about this Nokia campaign.