Can Iran’s protesters prevail against the regime?


In a central sq. of the southern Iranian metropolis of Shiraz, Hossein Salami, the commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, vented his anger at the “rioters” who’ve been protesting throughout the nation for greater than six weeks.

“Put apart the wickedness,” he bellowed on Saturday. “Do not come to the streets anymore.”

Salami’s phrases, captured on video, illustrated how Iran’s regime is dropping persistence with ongoing revolutionary protests in Iran.

The commander’s tirade signaled {that a} more durable crackdown is imminent. 

“We will flip up at your doorways,” he warned, wagging his finger. “We will take revenge.”

Hundreds of hundreds of protesters have stuffed the streets in additional than 80 cities and cities throughout Iran since mid-September. They are livid with the nation’s non secular restrictions, its autocratic chief and the financial hardships they face.

“People are fed up and have grow to be alive,” mentioned Shirin Ebadi, the solely Iranian to win a Nobel Prize, for her advocacy of girls’s rights over a long time. 

“They don’t desire the non secular tyranny of Iran,” she informed CBC News in an interview from London. “They need a democratic and secular authorities.” 

Protesters chant inside Tehran Polytechnic in Tehran on this nonetheless picture from a video launched Monday and obtained by Reuters. ( through Reuters)

The spark for these newest protests was the loss of life of twenty-two year-old Mahsa Amini in custody, after she was arrested by Iran’s so-called morality police. She was accused of not carrying her hijab “correctly,” not overlaying her hair as the nation’s strict Islamic legal guidelines require. Authorities insist she died due to a pre-existing coronary heart situation, and blame the West for instigating the unrest.

At least 450 lifeless, 25,000 arrested

Amini’s loss of life stuffed the streets with fury, from girls who defiantly threw off their very own hijabs and lower off their hair, to college students who marched to free themselves from Iran’s non secular rule. The motion has unfold and now features a vast swath of society inside Iran that has a broader revolutionary intention. They’ve adopted the chant “loss of life to Khameini,” vowing to overthrow Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameini and the affect of mullahs.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei attends a commencement ceremony for armed Forces Officers’ Universities at the police academy in Tehran on Oct. 3. Protesters have vowed to overthrow him. ( Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader/West Asia News Agency/Reuters)

Increasingly, safety forces have responded with batons and bullets, killing greater than 450 folks and arresting 25,000, based on the opposition group People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran. The nation’s judiciary has introduced it’s going to begin public trials for 1,000 protesters in the coming days, and the mom of 1 22 year-old man arrested has tweeted that he has already been sentenced to death in a preliminary ruling. 

Still, the protests proceed.

No Western media shops have been allowed to enter Iran, and the regime works onerous to censor information and hold data from leaving the nation.

But one unnamed protester was reached by BBC News. He mentioned if you go to protest, “You know you would possibly by no means come again.”

“It’s fairly irritating and it is fairly hopeful as properly … as a result of you may see that your voice is lastly being heard.”

Regime’s crackdown may backfire

Indeed, observers say the crackdown could backfire for the safety forces and the regime.

“Their reactions have fuelled the protests increasingly more,” mentioned Omid Memarian, an Iranian journalist and analyst based mostly in the United States. The regime has a “playbook” on methods to cease any demonstrations, he says, however this time it has not labored against a extra decided crowd, he mentioned. 

“The Iranian authorities doesn’t get it.”

An image obtained by AFP outdoors Iran exhibits folks gathering subsequent to a burning bike in the capital Tehran on Oct. 8. (AFP/Getty Images)

Since the 1979 Islamic revolution, which overthrew the Shah and introduced a brand new non secular dictator to energy, Iran has seen a number of waves of protests. Large demonstrations swelled up in 1999, 2009 and once more in 2019, all of them violently suppressed by safety forces loyal and ideologically linked to the prime management.

But in contrast to earlier actions, the present one appears to have impressed a much wider vary of Iranians to hit the streets. Earlier protests expressed anger at the lack of human rights, together with girls’s rights, freedom of speech and political opposition, and the non secular oppression felt by secular society. 

This time there may be all of that, compounded by the frustration of an economic system the place inflation is greater than 50 per cent, with meals costs surging and general development sagging. That’s introduced out the poor and the center class, and even sparked labour motion. Members of the Iranian diaspora describe how college students have been joined by their mother and father and grandparents, waving placards.

“What form of authorities is that this, that has aggrieved three generations?” requested Ebadi. “That is why I’m extraordinarily hopeful about the future of those protests. People are dedicated, they usually need one factor — for this regime to go.”

“Mahsa Amini was the final drop of gasoline that was poured on the anger of the folks,” she went on through Zoom. “The scenario of Iran is sort of a hearth that’s beneath ashes. Any small gust of wind can flare up this fireplace.”

‘This motion is a motion of liberation’

Others who’ve fought for girls’s rights in Iran — who’ve been punished for his or her activism or compelled to depart — are inspired by the lasting energy of those leaderless protests.

“This motion is a motion of liberation,” mentioned Azar Nafisi, who wrote the e book Reading Lolita in Tehran and held seminars at her house there in the mid Nineties to debate the function of girls in post-revolutionary Iran along with her college students.

For girls, she mentioned, “this isn’t only a political struggle, that is an existential struggle,” revived by one other instance of mistreatment.

An image obtained by AFP outdoors Iran reportedly exhibits objects lit on hearth Tehran on Oct. 8. More than 450 protesters have died since the unrest started greater than six weeks in the past, based on one opposition group. (AFP/Getty Images)

Shahrzad Mojab, a professor of girls and gender research at the  University of Toronto,  spent years after the revolution working to enhance the rights of Kurdish-Iranian girls, the identical group Amini belonged to, earlier than she left  Iran for Canada.

She says a lot of the push for the present protests has come from younger folks, who’re extra conscious of girls’s points by way of social media. They have their very own highly effective cause for wanting a change of regime: A want for a greater future.

“It’s the grievances and the frustration of youth,” she mentioned, noting they’re protesting to counter “despair and anger, no hope, no future, no happiness.”

‘Are the police and armed forces prepared to maintain firing on their very own folks?’

But for all the dedication of the demonstrators, specialists say the likelihood of their “revolution” succeeding finally depends upon the cohesiveness of Iran’s safety forces.

“The important query is, are the police and armed forces prepared to maintain firing on their very own folks?” mentioned Janice Stein, from the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto. Only if “the precise devices of oppression grow to be persuaded that they may lose and that the regime is not going to endure,” that is when the protests can succeed, she mentioned, regardless of how widespread the unrest.

So far, there aren’t many indicators of that breakdown in loyalty.

Protesters in Ottawa
A demonstrator stands with their arms certain, mouth coated and face paint symbolizing abuse confronted by girls in Iran throughout an illustration in Ottawa on Saturday. Scores of demonstrators lined the streets of a number of main Canadian cities Saturday as a part of a worldwide ‘human chain’ organized by the Association of Families of Flight PS752 Victims in solidarity with protesters in Iran. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

One key group confronting the protesters is the Basij, males wearing black, seen arriving on bikes with weapons or batons at the prepared. They’re additionally identified to combine with the crowd in plainclothes and report again to police. 

The power was established quickly after the 1979 revolution by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini as a instrument to Islamize Iranian society and struggle inner enemies. It consists of armed brigades, anti-riot forces and an unlimited community of informers who spy on their neighbours.

To a big extent, their loyalty and that of the prime stage Revolutionary Guard is rooted in ideology — indoctrination that the Islamic revolution is a godly battle against injustice, one that’s threatened by the U.S., Israel and Western tradition normally.

Against the odds

Saeid Golkar has studied the Basij and the Revolutionary Guard, writing a e book on each. Originally from Iran, he teaches political science at the University of Tennessee.

“The risk of a profitable revolution could be very, very slight, to be trustworthy,” Golkar, writer of Captive Society: The Basij Militia and Social Control in Post-revolutionary Iran, mentioned in an interview from Chattanooga, Tenn.

But he does not dismiss it completely, as a result of all these safety forces are additionally a part of Iranian society, their households dealing with the identical pressures as everybody else.

An activist in Beirut wears a message on her protecting face masks ‘Stop Killing Us’ throughout an Oct. 2 protest against the Amini’s loss of life. Tens of hundreds of Iranians dwelling overseas have marched on the streets of Europe, North America and past in assist of what many consider to be a watershed moment for his or her house nation. (Hassan Ammar/The Associated Press)

He shares the story of 1 household he is aware of personally. The father is in the Revolutionary Guard; his daughter is a protester who argues with him every day.

“This is simply superb,” he mentioned. “Society is altering and all of society is making calls for, even the household of the Revolutionary Guard. If we see this crack in the wall of order and safety, then you will note it speed up very quick.”

The 1979 revolution took greater than a yr. This one has been underway for greater than six weeks, and exhibits no sign of stopping.


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