Anti-war activists do battle over intervention in Iran

An acrimonious war of words has broken out between notable luminaries within the anti-war movement after the Stop the War Coalition refused to allow a group that campaigns against military intervention in Iran to join its ranks.

The decision has prompted a number of prominent activists, including Peter Tatchell and Michael Mansfield QC, to accuse the coalition of being apologists for the Iranian government by "refusing to allow any criticism" of the Tehran regime.

Hands Off the People of Iran (Hopi), a small group of predominantly Iranian exiles who campaign for regime change in Iran but are against external military intervention, were told last month they could not be affiliated to the Stop the War Coalition after their application was rejected by a vote at the anti-war coalition's annual meeting. Members of Hopi said they have been "excommunicated" because of their vociferous opposition to the Tehran regime.

The dispute goes to the heart of a bitter division within the anti-war movement over human rights abuses perpetrated by the Iranian regime amid bellicose US policies towards Iran. A growing number of activists have begun arguing that the anti-war left is too willing to turn a blind eye to the Ayatollahs' policies due to their anti-US sentiments.

"None of the outrageous crimes against humanity perpetrated by the Iranian government have ever been condemned by the Stop the War Coalition," said Peter Tatchell said. "Their anti-Americanism has driven them into a de facto alliance with the Iranian regime. There's a worrying minority within the anti-war movement who are out-and-out apologists of the Tehran regime."

Stop the War Coalition has in turn rounded on Hopi for being "entirely hostile" to the coalition and accused it of deliberately setting itself up as an alternative anti-war movement.

"When Hopi was set up it was explicitly to act as an alternative to us," said Andrew Murray, chair of Stop the War Coalition. "Clearly if you take that view you are not joining in good faith."

Yassamine Mather, an Iranian exile in the UK who helped found Hopi nine months ago, said the decision to exclude the group was "political". "It's ridiculous to say we have set ourselves up as an alternative," she said. "Stop the War Coalition covers many countries. You have all sorts of groups who campaign on all sorts of issues within Stop the War, so why not us?"

Opposition to military intervention in Iran has now become one of the major issues occupying anti-war groups in Britain but those who vocally criticise the Iranian regime say they are regularly shouted down and even spat at on marches by fellow protesters.

"It's very similar to the way the left were split in the Cold War over how to deal with the Soviet Union," said the veteran peace activist Attila the Stockbroker who, alongside Peter Tatchell, was one of 10 people who signed a recent letter publicly criticising the coalition over its exclusion of Hopi. "Various members of the left are prepared to make very bizarre friendships with regimes that they should have nothing to do with. I'm completely puzzled how anyone could adopt such an uncritical attitude to a regime that persecutes homosexuals, leftists and women."

Mr Murray denied accusations that Stop the War Coalition was soft on the Iranian regime: "We heard all these accusations in 2003 in the run-up to the Iraq war. It's completely untrue to say we are apologists. We are no more supporters of the Tehran regime than we were of Saddam Hussein or the Taliban."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Sales Consultants - OTE up to £35,000

£15000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Franchise Operations Manager - Midlands or North West

£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The position will be home based...

Recruitment Genius: Hotel and Spa Duty Manager

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are friendly, sociable, ...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Executive

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This independent publishing and...

Day In a Page

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

What exactly does 'one' mean?

Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue