The following statement was sent by the Communist Organization for the Fourth International (COFI) in early August 1999 to these Iranian leftist groups:
The Communist Organization for the Fourth International (COFI) declares its support for the valiant fighters of the Iranian student movement who have struggled and given their lives for the sake of democracy in Iran. Twenty years after the betrayal of the great anti-monarchist and anti-imperialist popular revolution in Iran at the hands of the rotten clerical reactionaries, your country is facing an ever-deepening economic and social crisis. As well, it is experiencing a welcome resurgence of social struggles in response. So far, the heroic student revolt has been the highest expression of these struggles, certainly as far as mass participation is concerned.
We declare our unconditional support for this struggle and for all struggles for democratic and social rights against the ruling bourgeois dictatorship led by the mullahs of Iran. At the same time, we feel it is our duty as proletarian revolutionaries to point out our critical attitude concerning the political positions of the student rebels. We also feel it necessary to comment on the lessons to be be drawn from the way the revolt was so criminally suppressed. We do so out of concern for the student fighters as well as the toiling masses of Iran. Given clerical barbarism, these are obviously life and death questions.
As far as we know, the political consciousness of large numbers of students had not yet transcended the limits set by the ruling regime of the velayat-e faqih. They had dangerous illusions in the alleged moderate, Mohammad Khatemi. His clear position on the revolt, however, has now made his true colors apparent for all those who are willing to face the truth. It was the longing for democracy on the part of the popular majority in Iran which brought him to power as the president. Most probably, the vote reflected the fact that the masses already yearned for the end of the Islamic reactionary regime altogether. Nevertheless, in the guise of moderation, Khatemi actually represented a trap designed to retain the grip of the ayatollahs over the nation. Faith in Khatemi set students up for repression.
Secondly, the general limitation of the slogans and aims of the demonstrations to democratic demands alone ignored the need to link the student struggle to the economic and social needs of the toiling masses of Iran. The achievement and retention of even bourgeois democratic rights cannot occur so long as the political consciousness of the the rebels does not see the necessity to overthrow capitalism and its inherent limits altogether. Students can be a vital catalyst but they do not have the social power to fundamentally change society. History proves that anything short of a mass working class-led socialist revolution will fail to carry out both the democratic and social demands so desperately needed by the people of Iran. The most obvious lesson, we feel that must be learned from the suppression of the student revolts is the necessity of creating a revolutionary working class vanguard party, a section of a re-created Fourth International.
We will continue to support a united struggle of all progressive opponents of the theocracy; however, in good conscience we cannot fail to point out that socialist revolution is their only answer.