Raha Iranian Feminist Collective
We have had enough of war. This week, this year, our whole lives, we’ve known fear, exile, separation, bomb shelters, trauma, surveillance, anger, and hopelessness at endless war. We know the immediate and generational impacts of militarism and state repression.
We’ve also known resilience and community, as we gather together in each other’s homes, strategizing about how to oppose war, children asleep on beds piled with coats as we pick over fruits and politics. Here, in our diasporic feminist community, we know the value of life and of each other.
We shudder at the nationalisms that strengthen as war approaches. We strongly oppose the recent assassination of Qasem Soleimani by the Trump administration as part of an alarming and intensifying push to war, as well as subsequent airstrikes by the Iranian government on Iraqi bases. Rather than rallying behind any government, we reject all foreign interventions in Iran, Iraq, Syria and around the world that create death and misery.
We align ourselves in solidarity with people in Iran, Iraq, Syria, and across the world working for — and imagining — truly democratic futures.
Just in the last two months there have been mass, people-led movements in the streets of both Iraq and Iran. In Iraq, tens of thousands of people faced state repression as they demanded an end to Iranian and U.S. control over their government and the chance to remake their society from the bottom up. In Iran, protests erupted in response to gasoline price hikes, which crystallized anger at the massive inequality produced by a combination of U.S. sanctions and domestic policies of privatization and austerity. The Iranian government violently suppressed these popular protests in a few short days.
This latest U.S. attack on Soleimani risks sidelining mass movements in Iraq, threatening an all-out proxy war between the U.S. and Iran. In Iran, people went from grieving the murdered protesters to confronting the possibility of U.S. bombs targeting cultural sites. The assassination of Soleimani is already leading to further militarization and securitization of Iraqi and Iranian societies — making it much harder for popular democratic movements to grow and sustain themselves.
We strongly oppose the use of economic sanctions on Iran which have deteriorated the living conditions of Iranians by dramatically increasing the cost of food and other necessities, blocking access to life-saving medications, contributing to pollution through reversion to local oil refineries, and providing cover for increased state repression. We understand sanctions as economic warfare that sets the stage for military warfare. We will not forget the Iraqi lives that were lost to U.S. sanctions and how those sanctions paved the way for the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq.
As feminists, we understand that patriarchy and militarism go hand in hand. Any attempt to justify war in the name of liberating women or LGBTQ people is an attack on the very possibility of gender, sexual, and reproductive justice.
We call on all people to oppose sanctions and wars, including proxy wars and the “war on terror.”
● We call on all people to act in solidarity with grassroots movements for democracy everywhere.
● We believe our solidarity and activism must start by challenging institutions that perpetuate violence while claiming to act in our name and spending our tax dollars. In the U.S., we must oppose all forms of militarism, including arms sales, here and everywhere.
● We must resist surveillance and the militarization of police, borders, and prisons, which target Black and brown communities in the name of “counter-terrorism” and “public safety.”
State powers want us to imagine that war happens in contained, tactical ways, that peace is the justification that always lives in a future far out of our reach.
Imagine with us instead. Imagine we dissolve these bans, borders, bombs, armies, and prisons. Instead of missiles, grenades, and bombs, the skies should be clear for birds, sunshine, and clean air. The earth needs to be free to grow gardens of vegetables and flowers. Imagine all the foreign powers go home, sanctions are lifted, resources flourish, and activists from Tehran to Baghdad to Washington, DC to Damascus are free to organize on our own terms for a society that recognizes and respects life, history, and possibility.
We are a feminist collective of Iranians and Iranian-Americans in New York City. Raha is open to people of all genders committed to working as a collective combating patriarchy both in our work and in our process. We work to raise awareness about movements for justice in Iran and the U.S. through internal education, creative messaging, solidarity actions and public education.
Understanding that patriarchy and militarism go hand in hand, we seek to challenge the different ways they operate in both the U.S. and Iran. We see this work as inextricably linked to a diverse range of grassroots movements for economic, racial, reproductive, gender and sexual justice with which we seek to build alliances. We stand against the criminalizing, profiling, and discriminating of Iranians and all immigrant communities and communities of color.
We believe that all genuine liberation comes from below.