Stand in Solidarity with the People of Iran

Cultures of Resistance agrees with the Campaign for Peace and Democracy when they state, "The Iranian democratic movement holds the promise of bringing freedom to Iran. But far from aiding the struggle for Iranian democracy, war threats and sanctions from the United States, Israel and leading European nations make that fight much more difficult." On June 9, the United Nations Security Council voted to impose its fourth round of sanctions against Iran, with only Brazil and Turkey opposing the move. The U.S. Congress followed with its own, tougher sanctions on June 24. These moves only strengthen Ahmadinejad and other hard-liners in Iran and weakens grassroots pro-democracy movements in that country.

Cultures of Resistance director Iara Lee wrote a blog entry at the Huffington Post, reflecting on U.S. policy in the Middle East:

This recent round of sanctions is an unjust act of economic warfare against the people of Iran, and another step in the wrong direction on our calamitous approach both to that country and to the region at large. It is high time that we assert another kind of two-state solution, namely that the U.S. shake off the heavy hand of the Israeli lobby to begin acting in the interests of Americans.

We believe that the interests of Americans are best served by grassroots solidarity and citizen diplomacy; we must at once condemn counter-productive sanctions and moves towards war and support popular movements that are standing up for free-speech and democracy in Iran. To find out ways you can stand in solidarity with the people of Iran and demand a more just foreign policy, scroll down to the bottom of this page.

Ramping Up Under Bush

Ever since President Bush anointed Iran as a founding member of the "Axis of Evil" in his 2002 State of the Union speech, the threat of war between the two nations has never been far. In 2007 an aggressive barrage of provocative threats and diplomatic maneuvers by the U.S. administration led many to think that White House officials were building a case for a preemptive U.S. attack on Iran, in much the same way that they sold the invasion of Iraq to the media and the public.

During this period, the Cultures of Resistance Network and Agit-Pop Communications teamed up to create an animated short about the Bush administration's drive for war with Iran and the many voices of reason standing against it.

The Need for Better U.S. Policy

Years of sanctions and threats from the Bush administration did not achieve their stated objectives of changing Iran's behavior but only strengthened hawkish politicians and increased prospects of international aggression. However, Barack Obama’s election introduced some much needed hope into Iranian-American relations. For the first time in decades, a U.S. president was publicly committed to unconditional talks with Tehran, while candidates for Iran’s presidency were showing an eagerness to sit at the table.

Despite the early optimism, however, CoR ally The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) argues that the U.S. commitment to meaningful diplomacy remains weak. When Congress was finalizing the sanctions package that Obama would later sign, NIAC Policy Director Jamal Abdi stated, “The Administration must invest as much in reinvigorating diplomacy as it has in getting sanctions passed. There are plenty of areas of concern, including human rights and the suffering of the Iranian people, that have remained in limbo because of the Administration’s singular focus on getting sanctions.”

The 2009 Green Revolution in Iran demonstrated the enormous desire of the Iranian people for true democracy and presented the world an opportunity to stand in solidarity with them. Cultures of Resistance contributed to the work of many organizations that supported grassroots movements demanding democratic freedom, such as the International Crisis Group, the National Iranian American Council, and Search for Common Ground. In supporting pro-democracy movements, CoR also denounces U.S. policies that stoke nationalism and strengthen Iranian hardliners.

Bridging the Cultural Divide

Cultures of Resistance supports citizen diplomacy and cross-cultural understanding through creative expression and education. In particular, we work to promote cross-cultural exchange with Iranian artists. Below you can watch our short film about several such artists who strive for peace and refuse to forget their people's history of suffering from foreign intervention.

Opposing Violence Towards Iran from Cultures of Resistance on Vimeo.

In 2008 Cultures of Resistance teamed up with Hichkas to produce the following song and accompanying video. Hichkas, who is sometimes referred to as the "President of Iranian hip-hop," has been refused official permission to release his music. The song attempts to expose some of the diversity of Iranian culture not shown in western media and to invite people to take another look at Iran and its people. The video has been viewed over 170,000 times on our YouTube channel.

How You Can Make an Impact

Solidarity with the people of Iran, opposition to sanctions, and the promotion of free speech and democracy are important components of CoR's work. Having collaborated with many organizations working on these issues, we recommend the following action steps:

• The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) is a leading advocacy group and grassroots organizer in the fight for a more diplomatic approach to U.S.-Iranian relations. Their work was important in preventing a Congressional resolution that would have paved the way to war in 2008, and they continue to get the attention of news outlets and elected officials. Drawing on their experience in working with Washington lawmakers, NIAC offers Demystifying Democracy seminars in which they teach individuals to effectively influence their elected representatives. They train attendees on how to frame an issue for maximum impact on a particular audience, how to write letters that move decision-makers, and how to develop relationships with representatives and media personnel. Learn more about attending or hosting a seminar in your community.

Peace Action is the largest grassroots peace network in the United States, with chapters in 30 states. They firmly stand against war as a solution to conflict and they are a leader in building a movement to demand direct talks and committed diplomacy with Iran. Sign their petition that calls for unconditional diplomatic talks and an end to sanctions that hurt the poor. Also, sign up for their action alerts to know when important events are happening near you.

• The Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran (CASMII), based in the U.S and the U.K., aims to bring together people from all ideologies and religions to oppose military intervention as a solution to tensions with Iran. CASMII focuses its attention on raising its voice in the media, lobbying elected officials and opinion-makers, and educating the public through speaking events. Find out how to organize an event and bring an expert speaker to your community.

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