Left Forum Panel, People’s Movements in Iran: Looking Back and Moving Forward, March 19, 2011

Panel Abstract:

While building solidarity between activists in the U.S. and Iran can be a powerful way of supporting activists in Iran, progressives who express solidarity with Iranians are challenged by a complicated geopolitics. While the U.S. government decries Iran’s nuclear program and expands sanctions, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad suppresses Iranian protesters and dissidents. Solidarity activists are caught between a rock and a hard place, and many choose the “lesser evil” politics. This panel explores different ways U.S. activists express solidarity with Iran. We look at demands from movements within Iran, asking what Iranian activists expect from outsiders. We examine Ahmadinejad as an anti-imperialist and the cost of aligning with repressive state leaders. We address the repercussions of sanctions, including those that some human rights activists have supported. We offer an alternative notion of international solidarity “from below” that turns the focus onto movement activists.