The Islamic republic of Iran, an earthquake hundred times more devastating on the Richter scale

By Hamid Taghvaie

The Bam earthquake has already left 40,000 dead and tens of thousands homeless and injured. A week earlier, a similar earthquake hit California with only a few casualties. The massive discrepancy is clear. The Islamic Republic of Iran is itself part of the earthquake which hit Bam. The earthquake was not more than 6.3 on the Richter scale. If we did not have the Islamic Republic of Iran, Bam's casualties would have been similar to that of California's. This was not a natural but rather a political disaster - a disaster hundred times more destructive!

One of the dimensions of this disaster is the capitalist system in countries such as Iran. The people of Bam and the majority of people in Iran live under the poverty line; their homes do not comply with even the lowest international housing standards and cannot even stand the slightest of natural tremors. While reports stated that only 10% of government buildings had collapsed as they were made with better materials, 90% of people's homes were destroyed as they had been built with mud. Had the Islamic regime spent one thousandth of what it spends on prisons, the police and other oppressive forces, it would have been sufficient to build people's dwellings on par with international standards in order to considerably reduce the dimensions of the disaster to one tenth. Consecutive governments in Iran both during the Shah's regime as well as today have been the cause of people's fatalities in natural disasters and not their saviours. The housing issue is only one aspect of the problem. In Iran, there is no emergency planning and policy and no budget allocation or organisation responsible for managing these disasters; moreover what you see is only on paper. In practice, theft and corruption just adds to the misery of the disaster stricken people. These are the 'classic' characteristics of capitalism in countries with cheap and silenced labour such as Iran. During the Shah's era, it was no different. Nothing will change as long as capitalism is in power.

However, another dimension of this catastrophe is the Islamic Republic of Iran itself - its unique characteristic of being antithetical to human life along with the insatiable ability of religion to justify this kind of barbarity. This Bam disaster is directly linked to this special type of barbarity:

The earthquake occurred at 5:40am. The government remained completely silent for 9 hours. Not a word of it was uttered by government officials or at Friday prayers. Not only did the regime not act but it also did not allow the people to assist the victims and thus crucial hours were lost. This negligence – if one could call it negligence – is enough to condemn the Islamic regime in any international court for causing the deaths of thousands of people in Bam. This, however, is not the only crime of this government. We are faced with a barrage of lies, deceit, theft and the regime's fear and hatred of the people. Lack of any action, confusion and lack of co-ordination in sending aid to the victims of the earthquake, theft, corruption and embezzlement which have already been seen in the black-market, the deception and falsification of the news and information about the situation of the victims with all of these under the cover of the most despicable forms of religious excuses. This is what the Islamic regime's activities amount to after the earthquake. As if a group of vultures are ruling in Iran. They become active with the suffering of the people, not to help them but to line their own pockets and to maintain power.

The news is shocking: the area is surrounded under the pretext of security but in practice it is to allow the Basijis to the siphon off the aid and sell them in the open market, the abduction and sale of young girls who are the survivors of the earthquake, the prevention of saving female victims as they should not come in contact with non-related males, the prevention of foreign reporters and deportation of doctors from the area in fear of their negative reports and the blaming of people by Islamic creatures such as Ayatollah Emami Kashani who claimed "the people of Bam had brought god's wrath onto themselves as they did not pay their religious dues" and so on. And this is the record of these Islamic vultures only in the first week of the quake.

The issue is not a violation of human rights; the issue is a violation of human beings themselves. The issue is not about the reactionary and oppressive nature of a government but about the complete annihilation of a generation. The people of Iran are faced with a bunch of criminals. This killing machine must be smashed and its officials and leaders be brought to justice.

Vis-à-vis this barbarity, we are witness to a wave of humanitarian aid, sympathy and support from all over Iran and the world. Thousands of spontaneous aid groups have been immediately set up all over Iran, thousands of tons of clothes, food and medicine and other aid have been collected and sent off to Bam. The people of Iran are familiar with these criminals in power and know that they have to organise their aid independent of the government and that is what they have done. This wave of popular support to assist the victims of the Bam earthquake must bypass the regime aside and neutralize its obstacles. Any government interference and red tape must be resisted. The people of Iran must take over the organisation of aid through their independent organisations and become the link between international organisations and the people of Bam. The issue is about the life of tens of thousands of young and old victims of the earthquake. This can only be done by the power of the people themselves. The world must see this.

The Islamic regime must face internal popular protest and pressure from international public opinion and organisations. Voices must be raised throughout the world against these criminals and Islamic rule as the killer of tens of thousands of people in an international tribunal.

The Worker-communist Party of Iran will make every effort to achieve this.

The above has been translated from Persian into English by Fariborz Pooya for WPI Briefing 127.