Activists protest Soleimani assassination, US Iran policy

Activists protest the Trump Administration’s actions toward Iran at the Massachusetts State House on Jan. 25. Hannah Noh / The Tufts Daily

As part of a global day of protest, the Act Now to Stop War & End Racism (ANSWER) Coalition organized a protest at the Massachusetts State House on Saturday, Jan. 25, demanding the U.S. avoid war with Iran, not impose sanctions on Iran and remove its troops from the Middle East.

Activists in cities across the country and the world gathered to protest the Trump administration’s policy toward Iran following the U.S. drone strike on Jan. 3 that killed 10 people, including Major General Qassem Soleimani, an influential Iranian military commander and intelligence official.

Soleimani, who headed the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, was a key figure in planning and leading Iran’s strategic vision in the Middle East and beyond, which The New York Times reported in January. His death was part of a growing escalation between the U.S. and Iran, which led Iran to fire more than a dozen missiles upon two American military targets in Iraq on Jan. 8.

Thirty four American service members suffered injuries as a result of the Iranian assault as of Jan. 24, though no deaths have been reported yet.

The Boston area activists also gathered in frustration following the Jan. 2o deportation of an Iranian student attending Northeastern University after he was detained at Boston Logan International Airport.

The ANSWER Coalition was joined in its global call to action by other organizations, including Popular Resistance, Black Alliance for Peace, National Iranian-American Council, Veterans for Peace and others. The Harvard Book Store Staff Union-UAW 1596 was another endorsing organization for the protest, according to the ANSWER Coalition’s website.

Hundreds of activists met in front of the Massachusetts State House steps at 2 p.m. on Jan. 25. The protestors’ march through Boston was bookended by a series of speakers, each of whom addressed the crowd with microphones.

Protestors carried signs bearing messages written on them, such as “Their Home Is Not Your War Zone” and “America Is An Empire Time To Shut It Down [sic].” Activists also circulated ANSWER Coalition donation buckets through the crowd, seeking to collect funds for an organization in Puerto Rico to provide emergency relief in response to recent earthquakes. 

One activist underscored the urgency for working class people to organize and fight for the removal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

“For far too long, the United States has been using Iraq as a scapegoat in order to insert themselves in the region, in violation of their own constitution and in violation of international law,” Nino Brown, a Boston teacher and ANSWER Coalition activist, said. “[The assassination of Soleimani] is a crime and that shows you how the system works.”

Another speaker from the National Iranian-American Council shared their deep connection with recent events, recalling the fear expressed by family members living in Iran following the Jan. 3 drone strike.

Several ANSWER Coalition activists collectively condemned the U.S. government’s willingness to spend money on war in the Middle East rather than allocate funding for domestic issues such as health care, education and housing. They referenced the rising rate of homelessness in Massachusetts since 2018 and displacement in urban areas caused by gentrification.

A teacher and union organizer for the Boston Teachers Union  also decried the U.S. “War on Terror,” alleging that it has deepened racism toward South and Southeast Asians, Arabs and other peoples from the Middle East since the Sept. 11 terror attacks. 

Brown issued a call for mobilization of the working class, reiterating a theme of many of the protest’s speakers.

“We need to unite the entire working class. We need teachers, doctors, students, bus drivers, taxi drivers, to come out and stand against war,” Brown said. “The only war we’re interested in is the war against racism and the war against imperialism.”