Ali-Reza Nasab

Submitted by martin on 24 April, 2011 - 7:20
Ali

It is with great sadness I write to inform you that Ali-Reza Nasab, known as Behzad Kazemi, after six days of struggle for his life, passed away as a result of meningitis and encephalitis. He passed away on Friday 23 April at 1pm.

Labour movement activists across the globe have lost a great comrade. AliReza was a long standing socialist and activist of the Iranian Labour movement.

He was an active member of International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran (IASWI). He also was the main organiser of a web page in Farsi that publishes updated information and research work of socialism world-wide.

IASWI lost one of its great comrades.


Cathy Nugent and Mark Osborn add:

Ali was an Iranian Trotskyist whom we worked with for many years. He was interviewed in Solidarity at the beginning of the struggles in North Africa, but we never got the chance to discuss more recently.

His health has not been good in recent years but he was always seemed to be the person who drove the Iranian Trotskyists to stay organised and "keep the faith".

Comments

Submitted by vickim on Sun, 24/04/2011 - 21:28

Ali-Reza Nasab was a significant figure in my life — far more than I was in his! I first met Ali (that’s the name by which I know him) in about 1987 or 88. I was a student at UCL, soon to be a sabbatical officer in the students’ union.

At that time I was emotionally involved with another Iranian Ali, Ali Parsadoust, who was around the Stalinist Tudeh Party. Ali P was very ambitious; he fought hard to become the NUS’s International Students’ Officer. As I learned more about politics, and the crimes of the Tudeh Party in Iran, who basically passed names of leftists to the Khomeini-ites, I started to go off Ali P.

Through becoming involved with Socialist Organiser, forerunner of the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty, I met other Iranians, Iranian Trotskyists, including Ali-Reza. Meeting them was a valuable early lesson for me that when you want to support “progressive people” from “foreign lands” you shouldn’t just automatically swallow the politics of the first one you meet (or like). Iran, Iraq, Egypt, every country has its own internal political and class struggles going on. If you really want to help fight repression in a country such as Iran, for example, you had better take some time to find out who you are siding with!

In those days, the conference of the National Union of Students was a very big deal for UK student activists but also for international groups looking for support in British labour circles. The Iranian Trotskyists’ “Iran solidarity” organisation was competing with Ali P’s Tudeh-aligned Iran solidarity organisation, CARI, for the affiliation of the NUS. A socialist comrade, Dave H, offered to drive Ali to Blackpool to attend the conference. I was friends with Dave H so I went too, the first time I really spoke to Ali. We had a crazy journey, with Dave driving at his usual mad speed and Ali and I begging him to slow down and get us there in one piece!

On the strength of that, Dave concluded that Ali was a bit of an “old woman” (is there a non-sexist alternative to this phrase?). Ali ducked out of getting a ride back from the conference with Dave, but I risked it. Dave’s engine burned out around Birmingham and we limped back into London in the back of a tow truck.

After that conference, I broke my connection with Ali P.

Ali-Reza worked at Conway Hall, Red Lion Square. On one occasion the Iranian Trotskyists organised a big commemorative meeting there — I’m afraid I don’t remember what they were commemorating. A comrade of ours, Martin S, had for some time been liaising with the Iranians, attending some of their meetings (though he didn’t speak Persian). Martin was down to recite an Iranian poem translated into English at this meeting, which was otherwise conducted in Persian. On the evening, Martin didn’t turn up. Because Ali knew me, I was pressed into standing in for Martin! Behind the stage I hastily read through the poem, which was about pigeons — a popular theme in modern Iranian poetry. I went and sat on the stage with the other speakers. I read out the poem with as much feeling as I could manage given I didn’t really understand what it was on about. My performance was well received, and I think a picture even exists somewhere of me reading that poem.

Ali struck me then and for years as the man who stood at the back of the hall — always stood, not sat, because he was always an organiser and had to be ready to do something practical. I never heard him make a speech. More prominent people made speeches. I’m guessing that somewhere deep down inside I feel like I am a bit of an Ali.

I was always glad when I had to go to Conway Hall for something because I would see Ali. (Did I mention yet that for years I had a mild crush on him?) Then he no longer worked at Conway Hall and I didn’t see him for years, it felt like.

Throughout these decades, whether or not I saw Ali would depend on the ups and downs of class struggle in Iran, interwoven with the ups and downs in our own personal lives. The next time I saw him was on a Workers’ Fight-organised coach travelling to France for the annual Lutte Ouvrière fete.

On the ferry, Ali told me that he had been having a bad time personally. He was in a kind of despairing mood, which I think that a lot of Iranian exiles went into when the first decade of post-revolution activity passed and they realised that they were stuck in exile, making the UK their home, not knowing whether they would go back to Iran, or whether they could actually much affect what happened there anymore.

Assisted by a shorter, rounder, older man, with an even more extravagant moustache than his own, Ali then proceeded to go to work on a bottle of vodka. (Had Workers’ Fight realised, they would not have approved.)

One more thing about that night: Ali showed me his UK passport, which had the longest surname I’ve ever seen in it. Nasab, I can only assume, is a truncated form!

There were more chance encounters over the years; Ali was someone I bumped into a lot, not only at political meetings, but randomly in the street. I met him buying flowers one Sunday morning in a supermarket in Stamford Hill. As I was getting over one of my own romantic disasters at the time, I noticed this rather wistfully.

It seems Ali became energised again by the recent years’ industrial struggles in Iran. Three or four years ago we met up in a Stoke Newington kebab shop to discuss the International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran (IASWI) which Ali was central to. We planned that I would go to open meetings of this group in London, but they didn’t happen — or I never received my invite.

On that occasion we also had a verbal skirmish around the subject of Israel-Palestine, which was the one topic I think Ali and the AWL would always have to agree to differ on.

When I met Ali again it was clear he hadn’t been well, since he’d more or less lost his voice. Since we passed in the street, I didn’t get the chance to ask him what was wrong. This happened twice more in the next few months! I saw him a few weeks ago in Prêt à Manger on New Oxford Street. I was heading out of the shop after my coffee and croissant, as he was heading in for his, I imagine. Again, there was just time for a nod and a “how are you?”

I felt sad when I heard that Ali has died. Although thinking about how positively he lived as a socialist all his adult life has made me feel less sad.

What about that other Ali, by the way, Ali P? That Ali now goes by the name of Ali Parsa. After his short, inglorious stint as a NUS bureaucrat he went to work for a series of merchant banks. Most recently he founded Circle healthcare, one of the private companies spearheading the Tories’ privatisation of the NHS.

You couldn’t find a more complete contrast than this cynical individual — another Iranian called Ali — to Ali-Reza Nasab, who was one of the most steadfast socialists one could imagine.

Submitted by AWL on Tue, 26/04/2011 - 11:02

The news is very painful and bitter: our beloved comrade Behzad Kazemi (Alireza) has passed away.

Behzad Kazemi (Ali-Reza) was an informed activist, indefatigable in his quests, organizing different projects. He was simultaneously involved in many campaigns, always worked to the best of his abilities and at times went beyond what his aging body could permit. Behzad was an integral part and participant in IASWI, and played an outstanding role in campaigns and activities in support of workers in Iran. Him and some other comrades also created a Socialist Journal of Research (in Persian) "Saamaan No" which has been regularly published for the past three years. He was also a founder and a coordinator of the invaluable " Socialist Unity" Pal-talk.

His loss has profoundly saddened all of us. We know there are hundreds of others in different countries that share our grief and pain. We pay condolences to his partner Eva, to all his fellow labour and socialist activists, and all his friends and relatives.

His memory will always be with us, his path shall have many travellers. Memorial information will be provided later on. For further info please contact:

International Alliance (IASWSI), BM Box 2699 London WC1 N3XX UK

E-mail: info@workers-iran.org and/or alliance@workers-iran.org

www.workers-iran.org

Submitted by cathy n on Thu, 12/05/2011 - 11:33

Memorial will be held on 6:30 to 10 pm

At
Conway Hall
25 Red Lion Square
London
WC12 4RL

Nearest Tube: Holborn

If you have any queries please contact:
Maryam: 07799382413
Ettehad_ma@yahoo.co.uk

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