From the March-April 2023 issue of News & Letters
The ongoing revolution in Iran has been continuous since the funeral of Jina (Mahsa) Amini on Sept. 17, 2022.She was beaten to death by Iranian morality police on Sept. 16 for supposedly wearing hijab “incorrectly.” Since then the Iranian thug regime has killed over 500 people, including teenagers and children. Over 20,000 have been arrested. This does not count the thousands of teenagers, mostly girls, arrested and sent to so-called “psychiatric centers,” which are in reality concentration camps.
REVOLUTION DEEPENS AS MORE TAKE PART
To the dismay of the Iranian rulers, new strata of the population keep joining the revolt, which was already tremendously diverse.
The Washington Post reports that protests, which originally began in the town of Saqqez in Iran’s western Kurdish province that had been Amini’s home, have now taken on a new militancy. The regime had brought more forces to Kurdish regions and viciously attacked demonstrators, arresting many, including doctors and nurses treating youths shot in the face and genitals with metal pellets, and in the eyes with rubber bullets. When security forces shot 17-year-old Daniyal Pabandi in the stomach, ambushing him from a car, youth took the protests directly to those who brutalize them.
One Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps member was attacked and killed. Kurds who worked with the government security forces were terrorized. As one 27-year-old activist said: “We burned their shops. We burned their cars. We harassed their wives and children. They left the neighborhood and stopped their role in the crackdown.” Other activists tied wires across roads at the right height to knock police off motorcycles. This turn to active self-defense is new. Now youth there are stockpiling tires, bottles, gasoline, etc., to make more firebombs and block roads. “We’re ready for the next clash,” one youth said, “All it needs is a spark.”
Feb. 16 showed the truth of his statement. Forty days after the regime executed two young men for protesting, demonstrations broke out again in the capital, Tehran, as well as in Arak, Isfahan, Izeh, Sanandaj, Khuzestan province, Karaj, and in the Sistan and Baluchistan province where people have been active in anti-regime protests there every Friday for months.
MANY ISSUES SPUR PROTESTS
The calls of “Death to the dictator” and “Down with the regime” are not for one single issue, which is one reason the resistance is so deep.
Protests have also erupted over soaring inflation of 47%, including food prices. The value of the rial has fallen by more than 15%. At the Grand Bazaar in Tehran and at the Alaeldin cell phone market on Feb. 22, protesters called for the downfall of the government. Women continue “flaunting their hair” and throwing off the veil. This form of protest is now so widespread that women’s liberation activists there are saying that “the defiance remains too widespread to contain and too pervasive to reverse.” (For more on this form of protest, see Women WorldWide, page 2.)
On Feb. 23, a whole array of workers—including workers organized into unions independent of any phony regime-controlled unions—issued a “Statement on the current demands of independent trade union and civil organisations in Iran.” Unions of teachers, students, human rights defenders, sugar cane company workers, oil and steel workers, and of course women’s organizations and others signed on to the statement, which read in part:
“Today, these massive protests, the flag of which has been raised by women, students, teachers, workers, those seeking justice, artists, queers, writers, and all oppressed people of Iran in every part of the country from Kurdistan to Sistan and Baluchistan and has received unprecedented international support, is a protest against misogyny, gender discrimination, endless economic insecurity, labour slavery, poverty, misery, class oppression, as well as national and religious oppression. It is a revolution against any form of religious or non-religious tyranny that has been imposed on the Iranian people throughout the last century.…Thus, this movement aims to permanently end the formation of any power from above and to be the beginning of a modern, humane social revolution that frees people from all forms of oppression, discrimination, exploitation, tyranny, and dictatorship.”
Their 12 demands, if met, would transform Iran into one of the freest, most humane countries in the world.
REGIME’S REACTION REVEALS REVOLT’S REACH
Another measure of the depth and range of the revolt is the government’s frantic tactics used to suppress it. We have written elsewhere of the many brutal acts that the government has employed. The regime’s fear of the militancy of children is revealed by the arrest of “a dozen children’s rights activists, mainly women” on Feb. 1. The executive director of the Center for Human Rights in Iran, Hadi Ghaemi, said the regime is “deeply threatened by any independent organization or individual that provides support and hope for Iranian youth.”
Even more revealing is the poisoning of schoolgirls. The rulers claim they will “investigate,” just as they supposedly “investigated” the murder of Amini. To date, there has been no conclusion to that sham “investigation.”
The very language of the government spokesman is both so vague and so specific, it draws suspicion on the government itself. The deputy education minister magically knows the motive for the poisonings: “…it was found that some people wanted all schools, especially girls’ schools, to be closed.” It’s the regime that wants girls’ schools closed.
It’s girls in grade school, high school, and college that began the uprising and who have refused to sing songs praising “Supreme Leader” Ali Khamenei and had their heads beaten in for it. The poison made the girls sick but it won’t stop the revolution. It only reveals the desperation and deepening depravity of the regime.
The truth remains: The struggle continues!