1988: Massacre in Halabja - ICG

From Communism #6.

Submitted by libcom on January 12, 2006

The chemical bombing of Halabja, which resulted in 5000 official deaths, but in a much more terrifying reality (between 10000 and 15000 deaths in the medium term) raised a general outcry of indignation from "good citizens". They all exclaimed in horror at the "excesses of excess" that is war. This, with its 8 years of uninterrupted massacres and horrors had become banal, "natural". Its length is the result of capital's need to destroy excess proletarians (the successive waves of adolescents sent off, guns in their backs and facing the machine guns and canons prove this clearly enough). But the war also had the aim of crushing the proletarian struggles, which were developing in this area. Those that took place in Iran are generally better known because they led to the fall of the Shah, but Iraq has obviously not been spared workers' revolts. In Iraq, as in Iran, workers' struggles have been going on since 1980, in different forms from strikes to riots, from deserting on a massive scale to localized short-lived attempts at insurrection. War with its retinues of reinforces national union, its open repression (mass executions, dispatches to the front-lines,...) has kept these struggles at "bearable" level for the world bourgeoisie. All the world bourgeois, from the left as from the right, have always allowed and encouraged this interminable war in the name of Islam, Socialism, Democracy (or all of these combined).

The need for the war also means that the bourgeoisie only "reacts" to "excesses" such as the bombing of "civilian populations" (sic!) and then only because such bombings show up the goal of all imperialist wars too clearly: the systematic massacre of all those who have committed the double crime of being part of a surplus work force and of refusing to accept the logic of bourgeois society. We spit on those kind gentlemen who demand a clean war, in which we don't see the terrible spectacle of proletarians, men, women, children and the confused elderly pinned and mounted in death for the valorisation of capital.

Evidently, the massacre of Halabja, like the war, is no more an excess than it is a mistake. It is the cold application of bourgeois needs. They knew very well that they would carry out such a massacre. And for the Iraqi bourgeoisie it was not a question of bombing Pasdarans, the shock troops of the Iranian bourgeoisie, not the Kurdish nationalists, but proletarians! The target was not chosen by chance, but is a direct product of the failure of the policy for national unity lead by the different fractions of the local bourgeoisie, by the Iraqi Ba'athists, by the "revolutionary" Muslims, or by the "liberators of the Kurdish people". This failure materialised by the general lack of compliance with such policy and by repeated confrontations with the police and army.

Struggles in Haljabja

(extracts from letters we received from this area)

"(...) Over the whole area riots, demonstrations and other popular activities against the government and its supporters had been going on for over a year. Halabja was not like it used to be. It was full of refugees from the villages that had been wiped out, as well as of people who had left military service. There was at least one deserter in every house, and sometimes as many as four or five. People weren't just hiding in their friends' houses, but were also being taken in by strangers...

Even the curfew at night didn't stop many young people, most of the deserters and even children from gathering in the streets of some parts of town.

The government hadn't only destroyed the villages, which had been places of refuge for deserters and centres of activity for certain groups, Kurds, the CP,... but also the area of Kani Ashken. Previously, people had organised attacks against supporters of the State, using this area as a base. Members of student, youth, union, peasant organisations no longer slept at home, using police stations or Sarah (the police headquarters) instead.

As for the soldiers, no one was afraid of them anymore. They just politely requested people to go back home and even had tea at their houses, even where there were deserters in hiding. They came to our house several times and just pretended to search the place. They knew full well that we were hiding people, but they didn't say anything. The Jordanians, the officers and, of course, the militia, the secret police (Amn) and the Ishkbarats (Intelligence) were the worst. There were collaborators amongst the townspeople as well.

Almost every night we heard shooting between the police and the CP and other organisations. Sometimes there were confrontations between the militia and armed townspeople, many of the deserters having kept the weapons that they had got from the army and the various clans. Almost everybody was armed as anyone could join up with one of the clan armies and be given a weapon. Joining up with an army enabled them to get legitimate identity cards.

The place was in total chaos. It was all very difficult to understand - the government was trying to eliminate tthe subversive elements, the "traitors" and the "troublemakers" who were actually all going around completely legitimately, within the structure of the pro-governmental organisations. (...)"

The proletariat has fought against all mobilisation and recruitment campaigns, destined to lengthen the war. The bourgeoisie knew very well that for this reason in particular, the region was packed with deserters, mainly in Halabja. Three days before the bombing, Saddam Hussein himself announced, only a few kilometres from Halabja, that "all those who do not defend their nation, their land, are considered to be traitors and we will not hesitate to annihilate them by any means available to us. In this way we are only acting in our duty to punish all those who betray their nation."

Also, when the Iraqi army began to leave the town, the workers got wind of the plans for the bombing and began to leave the town to find refuge in the neighbouring villages and mountains. But the nationalist Kurds of the Patriotic Union of Kurds (PUK), a large majority of which are members of the Marxist Leninist Komala (DPIK) prevented them from leaving - with the help of the Iranian Pasdarans. The pretext given was that Halabja was a "liberated town" and that this liberty should be celebrated and defended. Put the Iranian pasdaran were aware enough of the fate awaiting the workers to have supplied themselves with gas masks and evacuated their partisans. After the bombing, the survivors of Halabja were packed into camps in the border region, a tactic that assured their continuing exposure, on the frontline, to further bombings. They are enduring extremely hard living conditions, subjected to repression, disease, famine,... So after the Iraqi State has been forces to bomb "Iraqi populations" (which it had already been forced to do in bombing some of its own regiments), after the Kurdish nationalists, helped by Iranian pasdaran, have objectively participated in this massacre and after they have all pretended mourning the "innocent victims", they are now torturing and starving the survivors.

Chemical weapons against the proletariat

(extracts from letters we received from this area)

"(...) The Iranians began to bomb the town and people ran for shelter in basements around the area. Some of the basements were packed with 10 to 15 families, that is 300 people per 100m2.

We stayed in G.'s basement for 3 to 4 days. There were 3 rooms in it. Every now and then we went out in small groups to find something to eat, so that we wouldn't pass out from hunger. People had to sleep standing up and the children were terrified, really traumatised... We carried back the dead from beneath the ruins; missiles and bombs fell on the mosques nearby and every time we went out we came across other people retrieving their dead. Once we saw a man who was crying for the dead and we heard someone tell him to stop crying for them, that he should cry for himself instead because no one will even know where to put his body by the time he gets killed! We were in this situation until about noon on Tuesday 15th March, when the Iranians entered the town. When we came out of the basement we saw Pasdarans and Peshmergas. It was just like a film. People spent the rest of the day looking after their dead and wounded. It was a relatively calm day, an intermission.

At mid-day on the 16th March we were having our lunch and obviously feeling completely numbed - body and soul - by the whole situation, when the first missile ripped apart a part of our bathroom. There was loads of smoke and debris. H. screamed at me that the others had been killed, but fortunately they had just been knocked out by the blast and only had a few minor injuries. Thank God the bomb fell on the water tank, otherwise we would've all been blown to bits. We ran over to the basement on the opposite side of the street to take cover. Half an hour later the planes came back from all directions - there must have been at least twenty of them, believe me - and in a few minutes Halabja was in ruins. Shortly afterwards we smelled gas. It was just like the smell of garlic. Some of us ran to get some water and we gave the others wet towels, cloths and clothes to put over their faces. After having run out a few times I began to cough and to itch all over. (...) Only a short while after, the gas began to permeate the rooms - and then the basement. Some people collapsed immediately, dead. So there was no other choice left to us but to leave Halabja and walk in the direction of the Goullen Valley. When we got there, there was a huge crowd of people, thousands of them, all lying on the ground. (...)"

Since the Iraqi forces have devastated all the neighbouring villages (Said Sadeq, Karadakh and the Shar a Zour region) in pursuit of surviving deserters and forcing the inhabitants to take arms against the "Iranian invasion". The refusal to obey these orders has resulted in massive executions. The Iraqi army shot 400 insubordinates, among them many deserters who had been granted amnesty during the proletarian struggle, including the 1984 riots in Suleimania that had forced the State to back down. This example illustrates how the two sides share the job (whilst still in confrontation) of forcing the proletarians to participate in their imperialist war and of repressing the recalcitrant by massacres whenever possible.

Facts have shown thousands of times that when workers refuse to sacrifice themselves for their enemies and when they refuse to defend their interests by becoming canon fodder, bourgeois terror is only limited by THE FORCE OF OUR CLASS. This resistance is the reality of our class' betrayal of the nation and is an essential factor in the defeat of the bourgeoisie. The practice of systematic massacre is not limited to Halabja and was no more the first, than it will be the last massacre organised by the bourgeoisie against our class.

In both camps, the proletariat has violently expressed its refusal of bourgeois order. And each time that it could, the bourgeoisie responded to these struggles by naked violence. The rest of the time they put policies of reform into practice in order to anaesthetize the proletariat while carrying on with assassinations.

Struggles in Iraq

There were at least 3000 executions in Iraq between 1977 and 1979. The State refused to return the bodies of those shot, fearing the potential martyrs that they represented and above all riots as a result of these massacres. A special cemetery was built to bury the thousands of dead. Some of the bodies could be recovered by their families return for a payment, and then only months later when the bodies were decomposed and the marks of torture could no longer be seen.

It is estimated that in 1983 there were 50 000 deserters in the region of Sulaimania alone, many of them armed. Numerous struggles took place against mobilisation and the war economy. The State then decreed an amnesty, on the condition that there would be a return to "normal life" into which the deserters would be integrated, promising that they would not be sent back to the front. On the basis of this, some of the deserters came forward and were promptly arrested by the local authorities and sent back to war despite the promises. This set off a very radical wave off struggle, which threatened social peace. Saddam Hussein himself had to intervene and tell people that the local authorities had misinterpreted the agreement and that everyone should go home. He went as far as arresting those "responsible" and even hanged one of his closest colleagues in Sulaimania in order to calm the workers' discontent. But now that the struggles are less strong in this area, the deserters who were amnestied are subjected to the implacable law of the society against which they rebelled: death! When the deserters met up in massive numbers in the southern marsh region, the Iraqi State destroyed dozens of villages, bombing and drowning the inhabitants and the deserters, killing about 2000. The several hundred survivors, a majority of them armed deserters, were forced to flee towards the central region of Nassria and Amara near Bagdad, where they continued to carry out acts of sabotage, attacking convoys of weapons and arms depots. The Iraqi army could not control them and had to bomb hundreds, thousands of their own soldiers (at this stage they already carried out chemical bomb attacks, particularly in the region of Sulaimania and Arbil).

The disobedience has got to such a scale that the Iraqi regime now has to threaten all officers who fail to bring their troops to the front line with the death penalty, as traitors, their families are used as hostages to prevent the officers from deserting, and their own wives are forced to execute them if they fail in their mission, and this also on pain of execution as traitors to the homeland.

Struggles in Iraq

(extracts from letters we received from this area)

"(...) Things came to a head towards the month of March 1987 and in May the governmental forces were toppled. The people had taken over and the police and army had to go into hiding, only being able to move around in tanks and in armoured divisions. Helicopters circled overhead, calling for calm and care in the face of the enemies of the nation. Battles were raging in the areas around the town and the Iranians were getting closer. The town was bombed by Iranian artillery and there were many casualties. Everybody was aware of the danger they were faced with, but were in favour of neither the Iranians nor the Iraqis. They all knew that plans for defence and counter-attack were being set up all over the place, not in support of the Iraqis, but autonomously. Preparations were taking place area by area. For several nights and days everything was overrun and on the 13th and 14th everyone was in the streets. In the beginning, the soldiers called for calm but after a while they joined the crowds. We could never have imagined it, joy and sadness, pleasure and hatred... Even the people that we had not trusted in the past were with us, side by side, sometimes more energetic and more violent than we were. Disorder and harmony!

Helicopters bombed the town and everyone panicked, people running to hide in the nearest houses by the dozens. Everybody was discussing what should be done.

The State crushed each riot with brutality, executing the leaders and arresting those who had taken part - in short, everyone who failed to escape the State's onslaught.

For a few days things were quiet, but on the inside people were steeling themselves, their hatred growing. Troubles arose during many of the martyrs funerals, in fact, at any, even the smallest, gatherings. The clans and other different factions were fighting amongst themselves and the rest of the population was fighting against them all. The nationalists were calling for support to free the town, whilst the State called for calm and watchfulness against the invading Iranian enemy and against traitors...

Several times Saddam sent envoys, army commanders, who promised change and safety for all, but no one believed them. They made their intentions very clear by refuting their speeches and actively contradicting their demands. They killed the governor of Sulaimania who had come to make more promises and who had refused to answer the people's demands to be told what had happened to those who had been wounded and taken prisoner during the last riots.

Sirwan was a town that had been occupied by armed deserters during this time and the State completely destroyed it, killing everyone. They left no trace of it - the rubble and the bodies mixed together! Many other similar attacks on towns and populations convinced people that there was no way that the State would leave Halabja unpunished. (...)"

Struggles in Iran

But the most violent repression is not the exclusive preserve or the Iraqi State and occurs daily in Iran, in perfect continuity with the practices of the Shah's government and his sadly famous Savak. Khomeiny, the new head of State, clearly demanded this continuation and even the development of policies of terror in saying: "Today it is the duty of every believer to do the work of the Savak in denouncing opponents and suspects (...). In this way, we shall have a Savak of 36 million Iranians."

And this policy is not new. Since the fall of the Shah, the different fractions of the bourgeoisie have shared out the job of crushing the workers' force, which had been developed in the struggles. The wave of struggles that had swept Iran, severely disrupted all the State structures, shattering the army, police and forcing known members into hiding. The State was incapable of confronting the workers' movement militarily, even with the help of he few structures still standing principally the Shiite clergy and the leftists. First, it was necessary to dissolve the armed proletariat into the "revolutionary people of Iran" and to rebuild solid State structures. All fractions shared in this job. Initially the "liberal-islamic" governments of Bazargan and Beni-Sadr were formed and measures aimed at calming the workers were put into practice, such as increasing wages and benefits, executing some of the torturers from the old regime, developing Shoras (councils), etc. The State was supported in this by all fractions, even the most radical. In this way, the Mujahideen participated in the government that they strove to give credibility to... in a critical manner. This is particularly noticeable in the fact that they actually formed Bani-Sadr's protection service.

Since then they have created their own army (the Iranian National Liberation Army) in order to be able to participate fully in cornering the proletariat in the systematic massacring through imperialist war. The Mujahideen organised in Iraq is made up of between 20000 and 50000 soldiers and carried out its biggest offensive in April 1988. They are attempting to make the Iranian proletarians return to war, but this time against Khomeiny, in the name of the defence of the Iranian homeland.

The Fedayen, more "radical", also accepted the Bazargan regime in order to "strife at the heart of the system" also... in a "critical manner", of course. The fact that they were "radical" meant that they were the first to be repressed, going underground agian in July 1979 in an attempt to give themselves some credibility. The Fedayen then fought for "liberated national zones", participating in nationalist struggles in Kurdestan and for the Turkmenes in the province of Mazardan. In this way they were also working for the State, by dividing the proletariat into "nationalities" and, via the support of bourgeois fractions, influencing workers subjected to the imperialist war in defence of the State, by accepting national liberation struggles. Once the leftists had performed their function of dividing the proletarians and the military force had been reconstituted thanks to the stabilisation of the official army and to the development and militarisation of the Islamic "revolutionary" committees, repression was set in full swing. The Shoras were "islamicized" (the ideological name for statifying them, for making them defend the interests of the bourgeois State) and since 1980, those who resisted this were repressed.

The leaders of the petroleum workers who took an extremely active and central part in the struggles leading to the fall of the Shah were arrested. Some of them were executed secretly and the Shoras were destroyed, as were those of the railways, the centre of independent Shoras and the "revolutionary" Islamic Shoras alike.

The pasdarans, the shock troops of the bourgeoisie, with a strength of approximately 25000 men (enjoying all privileges and ready to go to any lengths against the working class to preserve their privileges), as well as the Islamic associations, ideological services and mosque committees undertook all aspects of the running of society themselves. Bani Sadr's liberal government tottered and made a final attempt to restore credibility by going underground on the 13.6.81 while calling upon "the people to resist despotism". On the 2lth June 1981 Bani Sadr is deposed. The policy of taking over the whole of society began to accelerate from then on. The purges in education, which had started with books, spread rapidly to teachers, branded as communists and counterrevolutionaries. Tens of thousands of them were fired and replaced by Islamic councillors acting as ideological guides, directors of information and agents of propaganda. They organised the denunciations, arrests an executions of pupils and students with "negative opinions". Thus 114 pupils were executed in secret in September or October 1981. This execution lead to armed demonstrations in Tehran, which the Mujahideen Khalq tried to take over. Those who were supporting the regime in a critical manner the day before, were calling for struggle against the same regime a day after. But their basic policy - the defence of order, work and the State against the working class - has certainly never changed.

Through its unions, its schools and its forces, the "Islamic revolution" has reconstituted state structures and is developing its armed offensive against our class.

Since 1980 repression has become massive. Proletarians have been executed by the dozen for crimes of "war against God and his prophet" and for "insubordination to governments of the Islamic Republic". After two years of "revolution", "International Amnesia" talks of 4000 people executed. But the reality is without doubt 10 times that, because the only executions that the State in Iran admits to are those which give it a "revolutionary Islamic" image. The others, like the above-mentioned school kids, are more often kept quiet because they risk sparking off anger and struggles from our class.

Increasingly, wages are falling very rapidly, redundancies rain down and bankruptcies are developing apace. The workers, who strike, if they are not executed, are sent to the front line. When a strike breaks out, like that of the steel workers in Esphahan on 12th May 1982, the Pasdaran intervene, attack the pickets, threaten their families, abduct and execute the strikers if they can. This explains why striking workers arm themselves so quickly to defend themselves against the State.

Obviously, this situation was made possible by the start of the war in Sept. 1980. This date appeared extremely favourable for the Iraqi bourgeoisie, because the State in Iran was so destabilised and in terms of competitive imperialism, it was "normal" to take advantage of this. But it is this reasoning and the fact of wanting to profit from the class struggle to beat an enemy in imperialist war, which allows, whatever the consciousness of the bourgeois protagonists, the waging of imperialist wars against the proletariat, against the class struggle.

Imperialist war, determined by the contradictions between classes (as they are also expressed in the sphere of the economy) attempts to momentarily resolve these contradictions by crushing the proletariat. They do this notably by subsuming it under interbourgeois polarisations in order to cause it to leave its class terrain and participate in social peace - the peace of the graveyards - in imperialist war. Thus, the Iraqi invasion has allowed the Iranian State to draw the workers into the nationalist hysteria.

All the bourgeois organisations, left and right, have closed ranks, supposedly against the invader, but actually against the class in struggle. The conditions of life engendered by this war have, little by little, transformed this weapon against the struggle of our class into a contributing factor in those struggles. But the sight of daily executions of "devils" and "Kharjit" (heathens) has shown up the weakness of the national unity, which allowed so many struggles to be crushed in the past. Many victims of this repression are members of small groups who have ruptured with leftist organisations (Fedaye, Mujahideen and Paykar) and are attempting to organise themselves, especially in towns such as Tabrez, Sanadesh and Tehran.

The peace of the graveyard in Iran and Iraq

There is a blockade operated by the world bourgeoisie. It evidently does not apply to arms sales; both countries continue to receive unbelievable amounts. It applies more, for example, to information. This is particularly noticeable because the systematic deformation of events doesn't just take place in the countries at war but across the whole world. This is normal, the bourgeoisie lives with class blinkers on all the time, blinkers which stop them from conceiving of the reality of social confrontation between two classes, such as can lead to the dictatorship of the proletariat for the abolition of wage labour.

It is for this reason that Iran is spoken of as a fanatical nation, where everybody goes to war with a flower on their rifle and the cry of "Allah Akbar" on their lips. But the reality is completely different and the bourgeoisie, even the ayatollahs, are compelled to recognise that things are not so rosy! Despite a greater and greater number of workers being pushed, with a rifle in the back, to put on uniforms, there are many who refused to participate in this butchery. There are a greater and greater number who refused all sacrifices for the war economy.

The regime in Iran has been forced to recognise that some combat zones have to be depleted of troops so they can be brought back to urban centres to repress social troubles. In the same way, a high-up dignitary of the regime has been forced to recognise that, despite the disastrous state, it seems difficult to impose more austerity measures. These measures would fall directly on a fringe of the population who are already disadvantaged and are preparing to dissociate themselves from the "revolution".

Many things suggest that if the Iraqi Army was able to take the Fao peninsular easily it was thanks in part to the fact that some shock troops had to be sent back and, more directly, because the remaining troops showed little enthusiasm for being shot full of holes for the good of the nation.

The social unrest in the towns where the Pasdaran have to be sent is a direct cause of defeat at the front. Each strike is an act of defeatism. The breaking of national unity obliges this nation's cops to leave the front, stopping them from exercising the same repression against the proletarians in uniform. These strikes show the unity which forms the different moments of the struggle of the proletariat which is revolutionary defeatism in practice, which in practice aims for the defeat of the State, "their own" State, which in practice aims to wreck the State structures of control and repression. Contrary to what the Iraqi high command would have us believe, the Iraqi Army has not "taken the Fao peninsula, step by step, after unbelievably violent combat". The Iranian troops ran away, leaving behind arms, equipment and shoes. In addition, the Iraqi army also arranged for this flight to be possible by leaving a bridge intact which connected the peninsula to Iran. The Iranian soldiers, smaller in number, demoralised and above all, badly integrated militarily, fled during the bombardments, which preceded the attack. It is this, which explains all the remarks by foreign observers that, unusually, corpses were few in number. A more massive presence of Pasdarans would have allowed them to compel the proles to put up with these intensive bombardments without budging, and this "in the name of the revolution", by threatening to shoot anyone who tries to flee. This is anyway the practice of the entire bourgeoisie in wars: those who refuse to fight are assured of death by the bullets of the cops who surround the proles in uniform. Those who come forward and fight against their class brothers have a small chance of survival, but only as long as there is no collective force confronting the State!

It is exactly the same in the factories. The proletarians who are fighting in the factories, as well as struggling directly for better living conditions, are creating the basis of the unity needed for a definitive proletarian victory. These proles have directly improved the lot of their brothers at the front, enabling them to flee; at the same time each struggle by workers at the front, by immobilising the cops, gives greater possibility for action to the workers remaining in the enterprises. By their common actions, proles at the front and in the factories destabilise the State, showing their unity and giving a basis for organisation. They are working in this way for the defeat of their own bourgeoisie, a defeat heavy with consequences: it discredits the State and national unity, it undermines the morale of the troops (whether they fight on the production front or on the other front), it directly shows the unity of proletarian interests, the need to unite against all fractions of the bourgeoisie across all frontiers.

"National" defeats, therefore, directly improve the conditions of struggle of the proletariat in the defeated country and these, by virtue of this simple fact, serve as an example, which allows the defeatism in the opposite camp, not just by its passive example, but by the reality of its propaganda and its actions. These are not directed against its "foreign" class brothers but against the world bourgeoisie.

The development of struggles in Iran, the decredibilisation of the State, the fact that it is always very clear that the bourgeoisie, by means of its interposed ayatollahs, has taken, since the day after the fall of the Shah, anti-working class measures demanded by the world crisis... all these things explain the power struggles within the bourgeoisie. The "hard" faction lead by Khomenei, think that only the development of the war is going to allow it to hang on to the degree of control of the proletariat, which it has now. This faction advocates the return to large-scale human wave tactics for fighting Iraq. But it seems that this tactic has been abandoned because it was pushing the workers into revolt too rapidly. The other faction thinks that the social situation forces the State to look for a credible alternative to the war. This means without doubt putting forward a bourgeois fraction which is at the same time credible and able to impose social peace, imperialist peace, the peace of the graveyard, in return for stopping or suspending the war.

In Iraq, the situation is relatively different. It is true that the deterioration of living conditions has brought about very important struggles in the army and the region of Kurdistan principally, according to the information, which has filtered out. We can see that the Iraqi State, faced with the waves of desertions, has been forced to threaten its officers into organising bombardments of its own army, and to create battles between their own troops. But the power of the State has managed, more or less, to contain the struggles within certain regions, which then, shaped practically by this control, and isolated from the rest of the movement, are crushed section by section. Deserters are obviously forced to choose for their refuges, regions poorly controlled by the State. These are zones where it is possible to impose a balance of forces with the State, like when it was forced to retreat from Sulaimania. This constraint is already in itself a factor in the unification of the movement. The chronic difficulty of unifying, in time and space, the different moments of working class struggle never stops appearing. It is the chronic difficulty of the movement giving itself a real direction, not just of leaving bourgeois organisations but more and more of centralising itself, of organising outside and against them.

More than this, it seems that through the war, the State in Iraq has succeeded in reorganising its shaky economy. This goes some way to explaining its advances in the imperialist war. Once again, if the State is succeeding in this reorganisation, it is directly against the working class and imposes a powerful development of exploitation. This same development is a double weakening of the proletariat. On the one hand, it recredibilises and directly reinforces the State, on the other, it permits victories in the imperialist war. These victories are further factors in national unity and permit the isolation of the most determined proles, leading to the defeat of the whole of our class.

The prolongation of the war is a stabilising element, but equally, it can push the proletariat into struggle, as it has done already.

That which has been a factor squeezing out social contradictions - the war - may yet express itself more and more strongly as a factor in the class struggle. An illustration of this contradiction for the bourgeoisie is the bombing of towns. This is supposed to lead to the development of national unity against "the enemy, which massacres innocent populations", but it became a contributing factor in the class struggle. In Iran, whenever the Pasdaran arrive in a recently bombed part of a city, they are forced to cordon it off so as to isolate the victims, since the sight of them makes proles wild with rage against the State, which pursues and develops this war. The cordons of "guardians of the revolution" are rapidly insulted, then attacked, the cries of hate of the workers are expressed less against Saddam Hussein than against "their" direct oppressor: "Down with Khomeini" cry the bombed proles of Tehran!

It is this reality, which has caused a slowing down in the bombing of towns and certainly not the crocodile tears of the bourgeoisie of the whole world. They receive a first direct dividend from the explosion of each bomb, a second from each surplus prole killed and a third in the form of repression of the class struggle. The terrible events of this region remind us, with the utmost brutality, of the lessons for all time that the proletariat draws from its struggle.

Nationalism and peace mongering are always against the proletariat. The proletariat opposes to the first of these its internationalism, to the second, its revolutionary defeatism, like it is doing in Iran and Iraq, despite its enormous weaknesses and difficulties, produced notably by its isolation.

Nation and national interest always mean the exploitation and massacre of proletarians

Proletarians do not have a country. The nation always constitutes the force of disorganisation of the internationalist unity of the proletarian movement. The nation is the prison of the proles. The struggle of the proletariat is always antagonistic to the national interest.

In exactly the same way that inside each country capital wants to tie the proles to the interest of such and such a factory or such and such a sector of production, in the same manner, on the world level, the bourgeoisie try to tie proles to the national interest to, in this way, prevent the realisation of proletarian internationalist unity.

But when the bourgeoisie in a country sees the need to annihilate the strength of the proles, it never hesitates to use the forces of another region for this task. In the same manner, on a world level, when a movement surges in one country, the bourgeoisie uses the forces of another country to crush it. For capital, therefore, frontiers do not exist when it is a question of crushing struggles. All States hold the international passport of capital when it comes to the repression and crushing of the world proletarian movement. Nations have no meaning except as a hindrance to the proletarian movement; they constitute a shock troop for breaking our struggles and organising capitalist domination. Each time the proles surge in a revolutionary manner, the nation opposes it as a force of crushing brutality. What kind of repression, what kind of massacre has not been organised in the name of wars of national liberation? When and where has the victory of the nation ever meant victory for the proletariat? In reality, the bourgeois of all countries love their nation and never hesitate for one second to chop off the heads of "traitors" who call into question the interest of the nation.

The history of the world proletarian movement suffices to show that proles have no interest in common with their nation and have nothing to gain and everything to lose in supporting such and such bourgeois fraction, or such and such country in a war. The war between bourgeois fractions, between countries, is the war of profit production, the war of exploitation and massacre of proles, it is an anti-communist war by its very nature.

Those who struggle under the banner of the defence of the national economy, those who support such or such "progressive" regime or still such or such "socialist" country... only affirm themselves as the enemies of the proletariat. Their only aim is to weaken every attempt by the proletariat to attack capital.

All nations of the world actively participated in the massacres in Iran and Iraq, as they always have in all past wars.

The exploitation of the proletariat, the attack against its movement in England, in France, in Cuba, in Russia, in Nicaragua, in the USA and in all countries of the world, the massacre in the city of Halabja, the massacre of proletarians in Tel-el-Zatar (1976), in Sabra and Shatila (1982), in Sanandadj (in the summer 1979, when the Fedaye, the Komala,... and all other leftist groups handed over the population, after having disarmed it, to the attacks by the Iranian Pasdarans)... all these massacres are part of the same movement of extermination of our class.

The different fractions of the Kurdish, Iranian and Iraqi nationalist movements, and each one of them according to its own point of view and its political interests, shed tears for "the martyrs" of Halabja. Each of these political formations, according to the particular place it is holding in the capitalist social relationship and in the process of attack against the proletariat, defends such or such belligerent. Others still, behind some hypocritical pretext, demand the creation of a progressive and democratic State in both countries, on each side. The CP of Iraq for example, that only ten years ago was still very busy reinforcing national unity, this national unity that proved to be so vital for cracking down on every revolutionary upsurge! Wasn't it the same CP of Iraq that appealed upon proletarians to support Saddam and the Iraqi State because "Iraq was on the road to socialism"? Wasn't it the same CP of Iraq that participated in the massacre of thousands of proletarians under the pretext of struggle against American imperialism and against the Shah of Iran.

The bombing by the Iraqi air force of the city of Halabja, already bombed in April 1974, as well as of the city of Kaladiza, will always remain alive in the memory of our class. These facts, and too many others as well, are the indelible mark of blood of the anti-proletarian politics that the different parties in Iraq are carrying out.

Everywhere in the world, those bastards, who have participated a thousand times in the massacres of proletarians, have shed their tears about the Halabja bombings. The Kurdistan Patriotic Union (of Talabani) doesn't hesitate to denounce this "most atrocious crime" in which it objectively participated!

It's chief Talabani came to Europe to try to frame the proletariat while using the death of our class' brothers in Iraq as a commodity... turning the massacres into another useful spectacle for the sake of the bourgeoisie. He has been trying to take profit from this event in order to develop a Kurdish nationalist campaign against "Sadam Hussein, the fascist" and making the workers from Kurdistan participate, alongside the Iranian Army, in the war against the proletariat.

Those bastards have turned their coat in this imperialist war tens of times... so as to confront the proletariat in the most efficient manner. Talabani had been secretly negotiating with Bagdad for a long time already. The result of these talks was that the members of Talabani's Party could keep possession of their arms and enter freely into Iraqi cities... to repress the proletariat. This is how, in 1984 in particular, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan participated directly in the repression of insurgents in Soulemania, firing at the demonstrators from the top of the roofs. The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan systematically participates in the repression of all workers struggles, denouncing deserters in exchange for the liberation of some of their own imprisoned leaders, opposing strikes, shooting at demos, participating with the army and the police in the hunt for deserters and for all individuals and groups who were opposing war and hiding in the mountains.

Now that these organisations, like the Communist Party of Iraq, or the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan... have spent all their credit and illusions with the proletarians, certain Marxist-Leninist fractions have started to present themselves as the real and true nationalists and how they want to save the movement of national liberation from the hands of these "traitors". In reality, their programme is nothing else but the historical programme and policies of the national liberation movements and of anti-imperialism. The only difference between them and their predecessors is that at the end of their declarations, they add some words like "proletariat" or "communism". According to those Marxist Leninist organisations, it is only the proletariat and the exploited masses who are capable of really solving the problem of the national minorities through the establishment and the victory of socialism in Iran and Iraq: this shows the real face of their would-be internationalism. The upholders of this political line are called Komala (Communist Party of Iran) in Iran, and the "Road to Revolution" party (a fraction that split from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan) as well as other elements that have recently left the CP, in Iraq.

The aim of these fractions and the reason why they are massacring our class' brothers are the same as those of the Vietnamese nationalists when they were fighting against imperialism and for the creation of a Vietnamese socialist State. The only results for the proletarians in Vietnam, was to be sent back to the production-process, exactly in the same way as before independence, or probably even worse, because the new young nation, exhausted by many years of war, needs even more manufactured products, more labour, more sacrifices... so as to be competitive regarding other nations in modern society. Yes, this is how the "free socialist nation" has become another new prison to make workers sweat blood. And no one doubts that in such a nation, that has been liberated by the blood of millions of martyrs, the proletarians wouldn't even dare to go on struggle again, because after all... these struggles only reinforce the imperialist enemies of the beloved fatherland, don't they!!!

The socialist government of Vietnam - the supreme reference of all Marxist Leninists that respect themselves - is keeping thousands and thousands of proletarians locked up in its gaols so as to "protect the interests of the revolution". This situation is not particular to Vietnam. Everyday, our class can witness that in Castro's Cuba, in Mao's China, in Ortega's Nicaragua, or in any other "socialist" country with some revolutionary and popular government... workers produce as an exploited class for their class-enemy, the bourgeoisie, its nation, its national economy.

For those Marxist Leninists, each reference to the internationalist character of the proletariat and its revolution, can only be an infantile dream, because, as they express it so clearly "each particular situation asks for a different and realistic political solution." According to their views, the proletariat would have to follow, step by step, the programme they've conceived in their heads, to be able to achieve its aim. We state very clearly, in front of these people, that the position and the real politics of the proletariat are always, and always will be, the same, everywhere, i.e. the intransigent struggle for its class interests, and never for the sake of its historical enemies: the nation, wage-labour, the democratic rights and liberties, democracy! The interests of the proletariat are antagonistic to all the political programmes that give life to this system of exploitation. The aim of the proletariat is the realization of the worldwide communist revolution, and such realization does not proceed by stages. The communist revolution will take place in spite of and against all stages: as a matter of fact, it will have to destroy these stages if it is not to perish.

Through the different stages, the bourgeoisie is trying to link the proletariat to the defence of its own bourgeois interests. What those nationalists call another stage on the road to victory is nothing else but another force of retardement of the communist revolution, and such a burden weighs very heavily upon the shoulders of the proletariat. All, those famous "workers' achievements" are nothing else but additional chains that imprison the proletariat.

The only achievement that the proletariat recognizes as its own, is its class' reinforcement, the reinforcement of its internationalist organisation and of its revolutionary army. Proletarians must know that the "achievements" that nationalists are preparing them, are nothing else but the different prison camps for the production of plus-value, it is their massacre on the altar of value.

Revolutionary defeatism

Proletarian internationalism takes upon itself the only possible answer to the worldwide bourgeoisie, to the capitalist State: this answer expresses itself, today like yesterday, by the rupture with social peace, by the reinforcement of all struggles wherever they may rise... this is the only way to impose the revolutionary and final solution to capitalist crisis and war. Communist revolution, class war against bourgeois war.

The proletarian answer to imperialist war, is:

* the organisation of sabotage actions against the economy, against production, against arms convoys... the sabotage of all social peace

* the organisation of all actions that aim at undermining the sending of troops to the war-front, undermining the morale of the troops

* the organisation of desertions from the front and from the army

* the encouragement to fraternisation, to rebellion and mutiny, to the pointing of guns at ones' own officers

* the organisation of the most decisive and offensive actions so as to transform the imperialist war into civil war for communism.

But of course, revolutionary defeatism cannot be conceived of in only one country. The communist calls for sabotage actions are related to the international nature of the working class and therefore they're directed towards the worldwide proletariat. Proletarian defeatism means the uncompromising struggle against one's "own" bourgeoisie, and so on each side, in all countries.

These activities have been assumed - in different manners and on different levels... ranging from the mere flight from the battlefields, individual desertions... to the organisation of sabotage activities, of fraternisation with those in front... - by proletarians from both sides. But most of the time, these actions have remained isolated: this is why and how the bourgeoisie has been able to defeat these revolts!

For those struggles to get out of their local limits and to become more general, the task of the proletarian vanguard-fractions is to fight for the organisation of these defeatist movements so as to materialize the internationalist unity that stands at the basis for the transformation of this war into an open war between the organised proletariat and the bourgeoisie.

This once more substantiates our claim that revolutionary defeatism cannot reinforce itself in a lasting way in only one country or one region, but must necessarily extend itself - a question of life and death - beyond all frontiers.

Internationalist solidarity

If in Iran and Iraq numerous proletarians have been trying to break with the whole of the nationalist and bourgeois parties, in Europe also these breakings have materialised f.i. with the circulation of many leaflets denouncing these organisations and their nationalist campaigns. In Europe also, there are militants who are trying to organise these breakings! Undoubtedly these breakings remain still locked up in daily reality and do not manage, because of this, to centralise into a unified direction.

The whole of ripostes and breakings that have been taking place spontaneously, do not yet transform themselves into a more important force and do not yet materialise in the setting up of an international center for the coordination and direction of the struggle. These weaknesses are still worsened by the fact that for years and years many militants from our class have been submitted to extremely rude forms of repression that have decimated or simply wiped out the different communist nucleus. This simply corresponds to the situation of our class that is being decimated in this war in exactly the same way. The inter-bourgeois polarisations, as well as the terrible conditions of survival that militants have to endure, make it extremely difficult for communist militants to assume the continuity of subversive activities as well as the theoretical reappropriation of the invariant determinations of the communist movement. Nevertheless, we think it is more than likely, although we do not have enough information about this, that these kind of activities are being assumed, on different levels, in different areas.

In Europe, this has expressed itself (once more, with many weaknesses, because of the balance of forces on the world-level that is very un-favourable to our class) through the circulation of leaflets against the war, and sometimes through the beginning of clashes between nationalist militants and internationalists.

In Vienna, a leaflet was distributed, on March 27th 1988, that said:

"All the nationalist organisations support the Islamic State and against all those who really participate in the Iran-Iraq war, who are killing proletarians, we call for internationalist solidarity. Down with both sides! The proletariat has no interests in this war! We must fight the sending of arms!" - A group of Kurds from Vienna -

Here is the content of another leaflet that was distributed:

"The war of destruction between Iran and Iraq only serves the interests of the worldwide capitalist system; it has been lasting for over 8 years with the aim of reinforcing the capitalist State on each side so as to perpetuate and develop the repression against the workers' movement of that region, while using workers as cannon-fodder. Down with both capitalist States in Iran and Iraq. Let's unmask those organisations that support this war. Long live the internationalist solidarity of the proletariat!"

Still another leaflet states:

"Workers and exploited! The only way to get rid of this bloody war is to reinforce the unity of our struggles, against both sides, while transforming this war in a civil war for bringing down both States. Down with Iran. Down with Iraq. Down with all organisations in this region! Long live the unity of proletarian struggles on both sides!" - Some revolutionaries in exile -

Of course, these are only quotes. In spite of the fact that some "revolutionaries", with their ideological vision on how the revolution "should-be", will only see the weaknesses of those leaflets (and we do not deny that such weaknesses exist) we want to stress the importance of such actions, and we want to encourage those militants who manage - in spite of many difficulties (repression, isolation,...) to affirm the internationalist interests of our class beyond all national boundaries!

Today's situation

From the very outset of the war, the situations in Iran and Iraq showed quite some important dissimilarities. In Iran, the war started at a moment when the Islamic State was still trying to defeat and liquidate the important struggles that had been going on for several years already. At that stage, the Islamic regime had not yet discredited itself too openly: the very radical speeches against "capitalist decadence" and for "international revolution" still prevailed. On top of that, Iran could easily present itself as a "victim", as an "aggressed" country, "aggressed" by Iraq, as well as by the whole international community of Nations. All this favoured the initial campaigns for national union and mobilisation in Iran. This explains the first "victories" gained by Iran over Iraq. In Iraq, the situation was quite different: fierce repression had been keeping the workers' struggles at an all-low level for years, but at the same time, the regime of Saddam Hussein had lost all of its credit. This explains why it will be more difficult for Saddam Hussein to create a real national consensus around his war and why there has been no mass mobilisation in Iraq in favour of the war. Quite to the contrary, from the very outset of the war, the Iraqi army command had to face sabotage-activities, desertions and all other kind of proletarian resistance against the war. This is also why an important part of the battle-troops is composed of professional army personnel. It will only be the important support that Iraq is getting from most other nations (USA, France, UK, URSS,...) and the fact that after years and years of massacres, struggles in Iran also will start to redevelop themselves... that will allow for Saddam Hussein not to be submerged by Iranian attacks on several occasions.

So throughout these long years of unslaughter, important struggles have been developing on both sides, making up for a certain homogenisation of the situation of proletarians on both sides.

So the possible development of defeatist struggles across the borders and spreading to the whole region had become a real and potential danger for the bourgeoisie of the whole world. It is mainly this situation that has determined the worldwide bourgeoisie to impose a cease-fire and to prepare the peace-negotiations between Iran and Iraq.

The process of peace

Peace must serve the purpose of pacifying once more the explosive social situation that 8 years of uninterrupted massacres have created. This pacification must be obtained through the celebration of "victory" (in Iraq mainly), through the need for the reconstruction of the national economy,... and this will unavoidably mean the repression of all proletarians who refuse the dissolution of their class' interests into the interests of the "people". With the end of the war against the external enemy, both countries can once again assign all their energy and all their forces of repression directly against the subversive elements of society who do not recognise the benefits of such a costly peace!

The bourgeoisie is using this peace to crush the workers' struggles. The bombings of several cities and of whole areas in Iraqi Kurdistan have shown this in a most atrocious way. Of course, while the bourgeoisie is bombing our class brothers in one area, at the same time it is talking about amnesty in some other area... all this poison just to defeat our class!

In both countries, the cease-fire has allowed the bourgeoisie to go ahead with mass executions. If more especially we can hear talking so much about the Kurdistan area, this is mainly due to the fact that this is one of the regions where all throughout the war, in spite of the bombings, in spite of repression from all governmental and nationalist forces (Komala, Pasdaran, PDKI,...) proletarians have continued to refuse to sacrifice themselves for the sake of the nation, be it Iranian, Iraqi... or Kurdish!

Peace and war are seen to be two distinct instants of the same human submission to capital's dictatorship. The proletarians - rebellious victims and revolutionary subjects of social reality - are the organised men and women who attack the bourgeois peace to as great an extend as war because it sees only a false alternative in the different instants... "work and die" or "march and die"! Through this understanding of the reality of what they are submitted to by capital, proletarians can fight against war, against work or, better still, in their fight against work they also fight dialectically against war and peace.

Against capitalist war and peace: revolutionary defeatism