Throughout the history of the #Iranian regime of the mullahs, any form of protest has been quickly stamped out. Those who participated have been deemed treasonous, and the punishments have left many afraid to challenge the regime, even as human rights violations continue to mount.
The #United Nations General Assembly recently issued a resolution regarding the human rights violations, urging the Iranian regime to issue a moratorium on all executions. Instead, the regime has continued its executions unabated, while making only token efforts to address the systematic issues that continue to allow torture, random arrests, and deplorable prison conditions.
The biggest issue for the regime has been the economy. Efforts to improve the economy were part of the negotiations of the 2015 nuclear agreement. However, the lifting of sanctions has not unleashed substantial growth, as key sectors of the economy remain under the thumb of various powers within the regime, including religious foundations and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The resulting mismanagement and corruption have become part of the regime at all levels of the government.
The United States has other sanctions, which have also proved limiting to Rouhani’s administration. Youths were eager to vote for Rouhani in the last election, seeing him as the hope of change from the inside out. Historically, the regime has only done enough to keep the people from a full-fledged revolt. The protests in 2009 were focused primarily in the urban areas, and for the regime, it was a scary time in light of other uprisings throughout the region.
However, this round of protests is not focused in the #urban areas, but started in the rural ones. The Iranian people, particularly the youth, are struggling with significant unemployment. Even though there have been some relaxing of the strict Islamic rules that govern Iranian society under the regime, those changes have not been made permanent through actual laws.
The gap between the wants and needs of the Iranian people and the anti-Western policies of the #Iranian mullahs have created a divide that can only result in regime change. There is plenty of evidence that the Iranian regime will not make real and substantial changes to address the corruption and human rights abuses that are systemic.
On Wednesday, January 3, Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), sent a message to all Iranians, particularly those who are involved in the protests.
“You have brightened up Iran’s cities with the light of struggle for freedom and justice…you have shaken the ground under the feet of the mullahs’ rotted regime,” said Rajavi. “The mullahs think they can contain your upheaval and stop its expansion by blocking the internet services and social media. But they do not know and cannot understand that it is your common pain and suffering that bonds your hearts and spreads the message everywhere. And this is how the cities rise up one after the other.”
It must also be noted that the regime, including Ayatollah Khamenei, have issued threats to the protestors, attempting to discourage continued support of the gatherings. Members of the regime have assigned blame for the outbreak of protests on the United States and other foreign enemies.
“The U.S., the Zionist regime, and the Al Sauds were the three sides of this subversive plan, and Saudi Arabia committed to provide money for it,” said Mohammad Jafar Montazeri, Iran’s chief prosecutor.
The protests appear to be dying down, but it is hard to tell, in large part because the Iranian government actively filters websites and apps to block attempts of individuals to coordinate protests through social media. Yet, the regime is frustrated because new pages are constantly being found, even as others are being blocked.
The #government is also staging rallies of its own in support to of the regime and giving them plenty of coverage on state-run media. The IRGC has also been dispatched to actively quell any demonstrations and gatherings. There have been multiple deaths, both of police and protestors, although numbers have been hard to pin down.
“I condemn all the violence that the Iranian authorities have committed in recent days against civilians expressing dissatisfaction with the regime,” said Pavel Telicka, Vice-President of the European Parliament, who has recently been taking responsibility for human rights issues. “The demands that people call for protest are understandable. I have long pointed out that there are violations of basic human rights in Iran, executions are common. People live under a backward and repressive regime, [and] the prisons are full of political prisoners. That’s something we should not be indifferent to.”
In Enqelab Square, the riot police attacked people who were chanting “Khamenei, shame on your deception,” “Death to the dictator,” and “we die, but we will take Iran back.” A violent clash broke out between the criminal riot police and the people. Some youths were injured in these clashes, but others have replaced them.
“The uprising you launched, is an uprising for freedom, democracy, equality, and separation of religion and state. This is an uprising for social justice,” said Rajavi.
Another recent event occurred in front of the Evin Prison, where families of detainees gathered. According to the regime, 450 people were arrested in Tehran between December 30 and January 1.