Campaign Iran’s Thursday 10 July meeting entitled ‘Iran, War and Media’ was received enthusiastically by the more than 250 people who attended to hear the succinct argument of the Iranian presenters, who despite restrictions, demonstrated an independent democracy movement is really is alive and well in the country. The meeting was chaired by the Iranian born academic Baroness Haleh Afshar, Professor of Politics at York University, who attended to the questions and answer session in the last 50 minutes in dialogue with comments from Guardian journalist Martin Woollacott. Alys Zaerin spoke for Campaign Iran about the current and continual threat of war.

The following is a brief overview of the speeches of the two leading Iranian journalists and activists Lily Farhadpour and Mashallah Shamsolvaezin by Mehri Honarbin-Holliday,a research fellow at Canterbury Christ Church University and the author of ‘Becoming Visible in Iran, Women in Contemporary Iranian Society’ and an active member of Campaign Iran:
 
Our speakers, the peace activist and journalist Lily Farhadpour, founder of ‘Women for Peace’, and Mashallah Shamsolvaezin journalist and spokesperson for the Association of Press Freedom in Iran analysed Iran’s complex political position both nationally and internationally. Farhadpour acknowledged that war against Iran does not simply mean military attacks, but a chain of multi-layered attitudes towards Iran by the West adopting policies of disinformation, demonization as well as sanctions. She drew on personal experience as a citizen of Iran, a journalist, a political activist, but above all as an anti-war anti-nuclear person to illuminate and analyse the double discourse of the state and the independent sector in Iran towards war. The differences between media controlled by the Iranian state, the press, radio and television etc., and those cultural and political endeavours and outputs initiated by the private and independent sector thus emerged. She severely criticised the Western press for their lack of interest in projecting the discourse of resistance and peace in Iran, seeking instead to project the state rhetoric as the only political trajectory worth discussing. She stated that the West resists to understand the complexity of the developing discourses of democracy in Iran.
 
Mashallah Shamsolvaezin set forth a five-point theoretical framework determining Iran’s critical political history in the past three decade since the 1979 Revolution. He asked whether and how Iran might have the ability to play a lasting role, and influence, in the regional and international political stability. He illuminated the ways in which attitudes, forces and policies from outside Iran directly influence the Iranian regime’s crisis management and crisis control, often resulting in an air of mistrust towards Iranian citizens internally as well as acute conspiracy complex and anti-foreign stance, in particular towards the West. He appealed to the Iranian government to hear the cry of the Iranian people for freedom, democracy, and peace and reconstruction, and urged the Western leaders to refrain from burning the hopes and opportunities the Iranians have for reaching for bright horizons. He acknowledged that as a journalist he belonged to the family and community of journalist worldwide and urged the US to place attention on the desires, capabilities, and potential of the Iranian people for co-existing with the world, rather than seeking to push the Iranian government to dead-end politics.

Campaign Iran apologises to those who came but could not gain entry. We had to close the doors once the meeting was full due to health & safety precautions. Full translations of the meetings will be available in due course.

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