Excerpts from the statement of the Central Committee of the Tudeh Party of Iran on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the Communist Party of Iran:
The flag of struggle for national sovereignty, governance based on the will of the people, social justice, democratic freedoms, and socialism, is proudly raised and waving! together to defend peace and to prevent another devastating war!
The beginning of the summer of this year marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of Iran (CPI). On the 23rd June 1920, activists of the Iranian Workers’ Social Democratic Party, “Edālat” (“Justice”), officially announced the foundation of the Communist Party of Iran in their Congress in the northern city of Bandar-e Anzalī. The Edālat Party, which went on to become the Communist Party of Iran, had a significant role in the Constitutional Revolution in Iran [1905-1911]. The formation of the CPI was a key social development in respond to the objective needs of the society in a critical period of the contemporary history of our nation.
The CPI stepped onto the stage of the struggle at a very critical situation domestically and internationally. On the one hand, the socio-economic under-development, based on the serfdom-master relations; the intensification of the crisis and the surge in disorder and chaos after the setback of the Constitutional Revolution, along with the dictatorship and despotism of the Shah and the local rulers; the plight of the masses and their lack of rights; the occupation of parts of our country by the imperialist powers during the First World War; and, in response, the national uproar against dictatorship and colonialism, all characterise the situation inside Iran at that time. On the other hand, internationally, the flames of the Great October Socialist Revolution in Russia were ignited amid the general crisis of the capitalist world and the First World War and lit up the prospect of a new era. In the neighbourhood of our nation, there stood the government of the Soviets, the state of the workers and peasants.
The triumph of the October Revolution in Russia boosted the labour movements and national liberation movements across the globe… As such, this historic event created favourable objective and subjective conditions for the growth and expansion of the national, anti-imperialist, and popular struggles in Iran. It was under these concrete historical circumstances that the movement of the people of Iran against the notorious deal of 1919, by which British imperialism was trying to impose its dominance in our country through its cohorts, caught afire and spread across Iran.
Immediately after its foundation, the CPI, like its predecessor – the Social Democratic organisation – was posed with a slew of significant and complex developments on a national scale. From the beginning, the Social Democrats were involved in the upheaval and the great developments of the Constitutional Revolution in which they played a significant and admirable historic role. In the same way, the CPI right from its inception had to deal with the revolutionary movement in the northern province of Gilān, the changes in the Qajar monarchy, as well as the intervention of colonialism. Under these critical and vital circumstances, the CPI as a fresh political organisation equipped with a scientific worldview resting on internationalism and international solidarity, and by virtue of its popular and revolutionary nature, firmly defended the interests of the marginalised urban and rural masses, particularly the newly developed working class of Iran. Despite all the difficulties and hurdles CPI faced, it could gain a credible role and social influence in the political arena and class struggle in our nation.
The CPI played a vanguard role in laying-out and advancing fundamental and urgent issues in those days in Iran such as the agrarian reforms, political and economical sovereignty, social justice, democracy and democratic freedoms, parity of men and women, social progress, economic and agricultural growth, and cultural development. The CPI put forward these issues in a scientific manner for the first time and made tireless efforts for their realisation. The CPI, also for the first time ever, introduced and promoted scientific political thinking and the scientific method to analyse social and political issues in Iran. Since then, political life in Iran has been under the influence of this type of thinking and analysis – and even the new and modern terms that the CPI introduced, entered into the vocabulary and culture of the society at large.
The publications of the CPI also initiated a great and progressive development in the national culture of Iran… As such, a number of the most prominent and influential Iranian intellectuals were under the influence of the ideas of the CPI in one or another period of their works.
One of the significant aspects of the work of the CPI was to introduce and promote the scientific and rational worldview of Marxism-Leninism in an organised and disciplined manner. The CPI activists promoted the three components of Marxism-Leninism – i.e. scientific socialism, political economy, and dialectic materialism – in the party’s publications. The Party had considerable success in this effort. Also, this aspect of the Party’s activity in promoting Marxism-Leninism laid the proper historic ground on which some time later the Tudeh Party of Iran was able to advance its educational and theoretical promotional work and effectively adopt this worldview on the concrete conditions of Iran’s society.
The Communist Party of Iran also played an unparalleled and effective role in raising the awareness of, and organising, the growing labour and union movement in Iran. Partaking in the formation of labour unions, spreading the seeds of class awareness amongst the working people, and training a group of devoted and determined cadres to participate in the labour movement and its leadership are among the unforgettable and major contributions of the Communist Party of Iran. The strikes of the oil workers in 1929, textile workers of Isfahan in 1931, and rail workers in 1931-32, are just some examples of the fruits of the tireless labour of the CPI activists.
The Communist Party of Iran was also a vanguard force in the area of equal rights of women and men in the contemporary history of Iran, in an under-developed society. Shortly after the 1st Congress of the CPI in the city of Rasht in 1921, the Women’s Prosperity Messenger association was formed with a specific program for the realisation of the social and political rights of women. Around the same time, the Association of Patriotic Women was formed to fight religious superstitions and the hijab (head and body covering). This association published Jahān-e Zanān (World of Women) magazine. It was because of the efforts of the militant women of these associations that for the first time in Iran, on the 8th March, International Women’s Day, the play called The Victim Girl was performed on the stage and was greatly cheered by the people. There were other women’s associations across the country in which the CPI activists and members were actively present to defend the rights of the people.
The militant struggle of the CPI provoked the hatred of the reaction and all the archaic and backward-looking forces in Iran right from the beginning. That was why the anti-people dictatorship of Reza Khan (later Reza Shah) viewed the communists as his main adversaries and his prisons were never empty of communists.
Many prominent figures fought in the ranks of the Communist Party of Iran who rendered valuable services to the nation and the communist and labour movement in Iran… The vanguard workers and the members and supporters of the Tudeh Party of Iran are rightfully proud that one of the first partisan Marxist-Leninist contingents of the world was formed in our nation.
The founding of the Communist Party of Iran was a significant event with long-lasting impacts in the contemporary history of our nation. The CPI, in its short life, tried to not only bring forward the fundamental and core issues of the society, but also present solutions for them. The CPI was faced with many challenges in doing so – both objectively and subjectively – and, in the early period of its activities, made some mistakes in identifying and analysing the characteristics of Iranian society. Nevertheless, the Iranian communists reviewed and criticised their own revolutionary actions with full decency and honesty and, through correcting their policies, tried to put forward realistic assessments in regard to their domestic politics. Recognising the national-democratic character of Iran’s revolutionary process – which remained unfinished in the Constitutional Revolution – and striving to unite the national, revolutionary, and anti-dictatorship forces based on a common program were among the theoretical-scientific efforts of the CPI during its life.
Considering the critical events of that specific historic juncture and the responsibilities and tasks of the Party in dealing with those events, the CPI made historic decisions in the meeting (plenum) of its Central Committee a few months after its 1st Congress. The meeting appointed Heydar Amo-oghli, the prominent figure of the Constitutional Revolution, to the position of General Secretary of the Party and took constructive steps towards formulating the principles and policies of the Party in accordance with the specific conditions in the country and the balance of forces in the domestic politics. As such, the Party document titled “Theses on the socio-economic conditions of Iran and the tactics of the Communist Party of Iran” was prepared by the leadership of the Party at the time. This document, which became known as the “Heydar Khān Theses” was ratified by the Central Committee in the early days of 1922. The Heydar Khān Theses defined the tasks of the Iranian communists in that historically specific period of time within the framework of the cooperation and joint action of “all the classes from proletariat to medium bourgeoisie, to fight against Qajar and foreign imperialists” and reiterated that “the Communist Party of Iran (Edālat) would like to cooperate with the prominent leaders of the national liberation movement like Mirzā Koochak Khān and others.” Consequently, based on the Heydar Khān Theses, which were actually the Party program, the activities of the CPI became more effective and the relations with other components of the national liberation movement was revived.
This stage in the life of the CPI has many important lessons for all the progressive forces of our nation to learn from. It was during this period, and amidst the fast-paced historical developments in the country, that the CPI was faced with the complicated task of identifying and analysing the social and class characteristics of the Rezā Shāh regime. The CPI made a great theoretical-scientific effort to characterise the class base of the Rezā Shāh regime.
The 2nd Congress of the CPI, known as the Urmia Congress, was held in 1927 to tackle the challenges the Party was facing and to improve the Party’s performance. The [2nd] Congress tried to present practical political approaches […] and its resolutions had a significant impact in promoting and elevating the union and labour movement, particularly in the southern oil-rich regions of the country.
Furthermore, the CPI had a very successful and remarkable record of working among the people and participating in the activities and actions of the various social associations and organisations – including among the intellectuals, youth, and peasants.
As mentioned earlier, the glorious life and struggle of the CPI was not without failures and mistakes, but the most important characteristic and indicator of the Party’s militant struggle is not those failures and mistakes but the powerful theoretical and organisational development and advancement that the Party introduced in the society in the interests of the prosperity of the people and dignity of the nation.
The Tudeh Party of Iran (TPI) is the direct and immediate successor to the struggle of the Communist Party of Iran. The communists who were released from the prisons of Rezā Shāh made a significant contribution in founding the TPI. That is why the TPI rightfully deems itself as the successor to the struggle of the CPI and its revolutionary traditions. Contrary to the targeted propaganda of the reaction and imperialism that were trying to show that the CPI was a mixture of contradictory and incompatible forces, individuals, and currents, there is no doubt that the Party was a militant actor in the class struggle and its formation and activities were in response to the necessities and demands of Iranian society at the time.
In the same way, the Tudeh Party of Iran is deeply rooted in the life, history, and the necessities of the society during the last nearly 80 years. The continuation of the communist and labour struggle in Iran in its three historical phases proves this fact. The continuation of the tireless struggle and the moral influence and historical credibility of our Party in the political arena of Iran until today – particularly after the deadly attacks of both monarchist and theocratic regimes intending to eliminate our Party from the political equations in Iran, in collaboration with imperialism – is the best evidence of the deep historical roots of the Party in Iranian society and the legitimacy of its path, ideas, and programs.
On the centenary of the foundation of the Communist Party of Iran, we the Tudeh activists, the successors of the revolutionary traditions of the Communist Party of Iran, hold up the flag of the joint action and collaboration of all the true defenders of the interests of the people and nation in the struggle to pass through the national democratic phase of social development within the framework of a united anti-dictatorship front. Relying on the hundred-year experience of the communist and labour movement in Iran, we fight this battle and will continue the struggle on this path.
Based on the resolutions and decisions of the 6th Congress of the Tudeh Party of Iran, we believe that the way to successfully fight the ruling theocratic regime and get out of the current crisis is through the united action of all the progressive, freedom-seeking, and revolutionary forces that want to end the current dictatorship and establish a regime based upon the will of the people. Without an effective and credible political leadership and broad united action based on a joint program, victory in the fight against the ruling theocratic dictatorship will be very difficult. As such, our Party, based on its historical experiences in the struggle in Iran, believes that the formation of a broad front of patriotic, freedom-loving, and anti-dictatorship forces is the effective and proper way to successfully pass through the national democratic stage of social development in Iran.
What the anti-dictatorship and popular movement in Iran needs today is the effective joint action of the serious political forces that have a social base in Iran, based on a joint political and struggle program.
Our Party is now preparing for its 7th Congress. Holding this [7th] Congress with the active participation of all members, supporters, and friends of the Party would be an indication and indeed assurance of the continuation of the remarkable struggle of the communist and labour movement and the relentless effort of the working class party of Iran, the Tudeh Party of Iran, in providing practical solutions according to the concrete conditions of the moment, with the objective of achieving sovereignty; social justice; social and individual democratic rights and freedoms; and the defeat and ending of the ruling theocratic dictatorship.
The Central Committee of the Tudeh Party of Iran congratulates the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the Communist Party of Iran to all the members, supporters, and friends of the Party, and all the defenders of the rights of the people and the working class and all working people. We salute the glorious memory of all the militant fighters of the communist and labour movement of Iran and all the self-sacrificing fighters of the liberation movement of the nation and send our greetings to all the known and unknown heroes of the movement.
– Greetings on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the Communist Party of Iran!
– Long live the Tudeh Party of Iran, the party of the working class of Iran, and the genuine successor to the Communist Party of Iran!
– Victory to the struggle of the people of Iran against the theocratic dictatorship and for its removal!
– Greetings to the militant women, youth, and students who are fighting for democratic rights and freedoms and the liberation of the nation from the claws of the theocratic dictatorship!
– Greeting and salutations to all the true left, national, freedom-seeking, progressive, and patriotic forces of Iran who are fighting against the ruling theocratic dictatorship, imperialist sanctions, and foreign interference!
– Towards the union of all progressive, revolutionary, and freedom-loving forces in a united anti-dictatorship front for freedom, peace, sovereignty, social justice, and removal of the theocratic regime!
The Central Committee of the Tudeh Party of Iran
21 June 2020