Posts Tagged ‘Iran Uprising’

Iran Protests,Iran Uprising,Maryam Rajavi,MEK,PMOI,Ramesh Sepehrrad

MEK Rally in support of IranProtests

New Study Suggests Revolution on Horizon in Iran

MEK Rally in support of IranProtests

MEK Rally in Paris, in support of Iran Protests-2018

A new study was written by Dr. Ramesh Sepehrrad, a scholar-practitioner at the School of Conflict Analysis and Resolution (SCAR) at George Mason University, published in the journal E-International Relations on May 21st draws attention to the growing unrest in Iran. The uprising that began last December gave voice to a growing number of Iranians who are tired of the regime’s shallow claims of reform and are demanding regime change. Sepehrrad’s paper discusses the roots of the uprising, the reason for its widespread impact, and its potential to start a revolution in Iran.

 

The scope of the Protests

 

According to Sepehrrad, the recent uprising in Iran began with a protest in the northeastern holy city of Mashad over rising food prices and quickly spread into a massive uprising that took place in 140 cities across Iran. During the two weeks before the regime temporarily suppressed the uprising, the scope of the protests grew from economic conditions to inequality, to corruption, and finally to calls for regime change.

 

The people protesting came from all walks of life, but the first protests were led by Iranians from the lower middle-class whose standard of living has decreased dramatically in recent years. They were joined by large numbers of women and youths who rose up in solidarity with those struggling through poor economic conditions. As the uprising grew, more people joined the ranks of protesters, including members of Iran’s many ethnic groups, including Turks, Kurds, Turkmen, Arab, Taleshi, Baluch, Lor, Bakhtiari, and Ghashghai, and the uprising began to look more like a coordinated effort and less like scattered protests. The regime attempted to paint the protesters as looters and criminals, but, as Sepehrrad wrote in her paper, this argument was invalidated by the fact that no looting occurred. The uprising was well-organized and goal-oriented, not a few protests by the poor and desperate.

 

Sepehrrad pointed out that Iranian regime’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei later acknowledged the role of the MEK in the uprising in an attempt to frighten people and prevent further protests. The regime’s record of brutality to the MEK is well-documented. In the summer of 1988 alone the regime executed 30,000 political prisoners, most of whom were MEK members. By acknowledging the MEK’s role in the uprising, the regime hoped to discourage protesters who did not want to meet the same fate as the tens of thousands of MEK members who have been targeted by the mullahs, but instead, they inadvertently lent credibility to the resistance organization and its goal of regime change.

 

According to Sepehrrad, the December 2017/January 2018 uprisings were unique in several respects. For one thing, the protests were widespread, occurring in 140 cities over the course of two weeks. Protests occurred both in cities and in more rural areas. This was partially due to the use of social media, specifically Telegram, to spread the word of the uprisings. Government censorship efforts tend to cluster in the larger cities in Iran, so protesters in smaller cities were able to bypass state censors to get their message out in a way that would not have been possible in Tehran. The Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) is also more densely clustered in larger cities, meaning that protests in small cities were not quickly or easily suppressed before word could spread. In addition, the protests began because of frustrations with economic conditions. The poor are disproportionately located in smaller cities, so the places where protests could spread more easily were also the places where more people felt compelled to protest.

 

Sepehrrad found that protesters also utilized social media to collect data about the uprising. This information is an invaluable resource for predicting future acts of resistance by the people. Sepehrrad claims that the data gathered during the uprising shows a new model of protest in Iran that encompasses diverse groups and locations.

 

Sepehrrad also wrote about the unity shown by the protesters. People protested for many reasons, but all of the protesters were united by their desire for regime change. According to Sepehrrad’s research, 65% of protest signs seem during the uprising called for regime change. This was extraordinary for such a diverse group of people. The poor, women, young people, legitimate political groups, the labor movement, various ethnic groups, and representatives from every social class banded together to demand change. This sort of unity in protest has been seen historically in revolutionary settings.

 

The data collected during the uprising provided a picture of the protesters and their goals. Sepehrrad found four major themes in her analysis of the data.

 

  1. Unlike previous uprisings, the protesters in the recent uprising had no desire to negotiate with the regime for concessions. They demanded nothing less than regime change.
  2. The uprising was an organized nationwide movement, with protests occurring all over Iran, not just in the cities.
  3. Social media played a huge role in the uprising, in part because the protesters were able to flip the script and transfer the fear of retaliation from the protesters to the regime by documenting protests and communicating in a medium that could bypass the regime’s attempts at censorship.
  4. The unity displayed by a diverse group of protesters has unleashed sentiments of revolution across Iran.

 

Goals and Tactics of Protesters

 

Protesters shared the common goal of regime change, but Sepehrrad found that there were a number of different issues that led people to rise up. Economic conditions caused many people to rise up. The lower middle class made up a large percentage of protesters because this group has been forced into poverty by the regime’s policies. Under the ruling regime, economic disparities between regime officials and their families and the rest of the country have disillusioned many Iranians. The regime has been accused of financial corruption, leading to unequal access to wealth that has caused widespread poverty amongst Iranians. Numerous allegations of corruption by the members of the regime have been made, and these claims have been substantiated by a report by Transparency International, which ranked Iran 131 among 178 countries.

 

According to Sepehrrad‘s research, 40% of Iranian citizens in large cities live below the poverty line, and 60-70% of people in smaller cities and towns live in poverty. Young people, educated women, and college graduates are chronically unemployed or underemployed, with the regime acknowledging a 35% unemployment rate among the nation’s youth and a 52% unemployment rate among women.

 

In addition to the epidemic of poverty, Iran’s housing crisis has been unaddressed by the regime, leaving many living in dire conditions. Sepehrrad estimated that 25% of the population has been affected by this crisis. The environmental crisis caused by the regime has compounded the inhumane living conditions faced by the people. According to Sepehrrad, the regime’s mismanagement has led to the drying of 90% of the country’s wetlands, leaving many without access to water.

 

 

The Role of Social Media

 

 

The increased access to the Internet and social media drove many to demand change. Despite the regime’s efforts to censor online material, Iranians have found ways to connect with each other and the larger world. These people, particularly women and educated youth, see the disparity between the rights enjoyed by people in other countries and the oppression and inequality experienced within Iran. They protested for greater individual freedoms, freedom of the press and freedom of association.

 

According to Sepehrrad, the increase in access to online information has also given the Iranian people access to unbiased news, and not just the propaganda published by the state. This has drawn attention to the 1988 massacre of political prisoners, a majority of whom were MEK members. Some of the biggest sites of protests were in cities where mass graves of the executed 1988 political prisoners were located.

 

Sepehrrad added that increased access to social media has also led to greater awareness of the plight of political prisoners. Word travels fast on the Internet, and now when someone is detained for the crime of speaking their mind, the rest of Iran knows about it. Iran’s abysmal human rights record (17 out of 100 points, according to Amnesty International) has led many to feel that Iran is unreformable. For many, the only solution to Iran’s problems is regime change. This sentiment, expressed by a large and diverse group of Iranians spread across the country, is the main ingredient of a revolution.

 

Protests did not end when the uprising was suppressed and continue each day in cities across Iran. In late January of 2018, protesters began using a secure crowdsourcing tool to communicate with each other about upcoming protests, resistance efforts, and the current locations of security forces. They also take videos of events in Iran to share with the rest of the world.

 

Sepehrrad noted that the use of purposeful collective action has been a factor in the uprising and continuing protests. Protesters have unified to act against the state in a coordinated fashion. Sepehrrad wrote that targets of these actions include “local religious leaders and centers, security forces and personnel, government-controlled financial institutions and banks, judicial branches, and government offices.” Protesters have taken down and burned images of the Supreme Leader in numerous cities. This action, in particular, has energized the resistance movement. Collective action is still occurring in Iran as part of ongoing protest efforts.

 

The MEK’s Role in the Uprising

 

According to Sepehrrad and the regime itself, Tehran has placed responsibility for the uprising on the MEK, who did indeed play a large role in organizing protests. But the seeds of dissent have been present among the people of Iran for decades. The MEK is simply an expression of the dissatisfaction of the people with the current regime.

 

The usual practice of the regime is to violently suppress any dissent. But Sepehrrad noted that those calling themselves “reformers” have been more hesitant to violently act against their own people. The uprising has given these reformers pause, and they have had to backtrack on many of their “reformist” views because it is clear that the people are serious about regime change. Sepehrrad wrote that on January 24, 2018, one of the senior pundits of the so-called “reformist” faction admitted that these protests will come in waves and as they recede, “they will come back stronger.”

 

The MEK has long been a target of the regime’s wrath, wrote Sepehrrad, as they are the largest and oldest resistance movement in Iran and have had success in opposing the mullahs’ rule. The regime has spent significant time and political capital in an attempt to delegitimize the movement and have claimed repeatedly that the MEK has been diminished and has little influence or support from the Iranian people. But the recent acknowledgment by the regime of the MEK’s role in the growing unrest runs counter to their argument that the MEK does not speak for the people. The large and widespread uprising that took place clearly shows the will of the people, and their goals align with the MEK and its longstanding position that meaningful change can only happen with the end of the mullahs’ rule.

 

Conclusion

 

Sepehrrad’s paper demonstrates that the uprising and continuing protests in Iran are not scattered acts of resistance. The large-scale nature of the protests, their continuance despite attempts by the regime at suppression, their diverse makeup, and the unity displayed by the protesters point to revolution. The use of social media has made Iranians more aware of their shared concerns and has enabled them to organize more effectively. The people have no desire to negotiate with the regime. Their message is clear. Revolution is the only way to bring true reform to Iran. Sepehrrad’s paper may be read in its entirety on the E-International Relations website.

 

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Iran Protests,Iran Uprising,Isfahan,MEK,PMOI,water rights

MEK-IRAN:WESTERN GOVERNMENTS MUST READ THE SIGNS OF IMPENDING CHANGE IN IRAN

MEK-Iran:Western governments must read the signs of impending change in Iran

MEK-IRAN:WESTERN GOVERNMENTS MUST READ THE SIGNS OF IMPENDING CHANGE IN IRAN

MEK-IRAN:WESTERN GOVERNMENTS MUST READ THE SIGNS OF IMPENDING CHANGE IN IRAN

Recent protests in Iran will have unearthed distant memories for the Iranian population. In late December 2017, and early January 2018, protests tore across the Iranian nation. The People’s Mujahedin of Iran (MEK) had a major role in organising the protests. The nation’s men, women, and youth from all walks of life took to the streets to express their desire for regime change. The urban middle classes stood alongside rural farmers and agricultural workers, along with the rest of the population, and came together in chants of “down with Rouhani” and “down with Khamenei”.

A reminder of distant memories

Iran has heard similar chants before. Forty years ago, in 1978, after the annual Nowruz celebrations, similar chants rang out across Iran. Nasser Razil describes how protestors gathered in Tehran, shouting “down with the Shah”. Then, as now, the country was in the grip of autocratic power, with a heavily oppressed population calling out regime change.

The parallels between the climate of 1978 and that which we see today are not limited to Iran’s internal political struggle. In 1978, western governments were convinced that the Shah would emerge from the protests with his regime intact. Just weeks before Nowruz, Jimmy Carter had called Iran an “island of stability in one of the more troubled areas of the world”. The UK Foreign Office also maintained a blind faith that the Shah was in control of the situation.

Foreign powers are not reading the signs

Fast forward to today, and the same attitude can be seen towards Iran from the western powers. There has been a prevailing school of thought in western governments that Rouhani’s oppressive regime has the support of the poorer classes and possesses the strength to whether the storm and put down the dissenting population.

This has clearly shown to be false. The recent protests indicate that the poorer communities have just as much desire for regime change as the urban middle classes. In Isfahan Province, it was the farmers that triggered mass public mobilisation in early April, disgusted at the regime’s inability to handle a water crisis. The recent protests raged for ten days, indicating that the regime could not quash the dissent. There were even reports of State Security Forces abandoning their posts and joining the protestors. The regime’s strength is evaporating, and there are clear signs that, like the Shah’s regime in 1978, it will not be able to maintain its grip on power for much longer.

Washington is currently re-examining its position on Iran. It will soon have to decide whether or not to adopt a firmer stance against the Iranian regime or continue with its policy of appeasement for the ayatollahs. The appointment of John Bolton as the new National Security Advisor to President Trump is a positive sign. He has long sympathised with the MEK and its leader Maryam Rajavi and will likely push for a harder stance towards the Iranian regime.

However, those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. In 1979, when the Shah regime fell, western governments were in shock and were left scrambling to formulate a policy towards the incoming government. The same signs that were present in 1978 are visible today. Foreign governments must read them and react.

The Rouhani regime is losing its grip on power. All segments of the public have turned away from it and are crying out for regime change. The economy is still declining, and farmers have begun to strike and protest. The winds of change are on the horizon. Washington, London, and the other western governments must change their attitudes towards the regime in Iran. It will not be in power for much longer.

Staff writer

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European Parliament support for Iran resistance,Iran Protests,Iran Uprising,Iran's opposition,MEK

European Lawmakers Voice Support for Iranian Uprising

European Lawmakers Voice Support for Iranian Uprising

European Lawmakers Voice Support for Iranian Uprising

European Lawmakers Voice Support for Iranian Uprising

197 European lawmakers signed a statement on Monday, March 20th,2018, in support of the Iranian people’s uprising for democratic change. The signatories come from across the political spectrum, with members of all political groups in the European Parliament represented. Several Vice-Presidents of the parliament and Committee and Delegation Chairs were among the signers.

 

The statement comes as a response to the nationwide uprising in Iran, which began on December 28, 2017 and lasted for almost two weeks before being suppressed by the ruling regime. The people of Iran, particularly the nation’s young people, demonstrated in favor of regime change, chanting “Down with the dictator!” “Down with Khamenei!” and “Down with Rouhani!”

 

Thousands of demonstrators calling for a free and democratic Iran and an end to fundamentalist rule were arrested. 14 protesters have since died after being tortured, leading Amnesty International to call for an investigation into the deaths of those in custody.

 

Many of the leaders and officials within the regime have talked about the role MEK, has played in organizing the protests and fomenting dissent against the ruling regime. The AFP reported that on January 2, Rhouhani asked French President Emmanuel Macron to take action against the Iranian opposition, which is based in Paris, accusing them of causing the protests. On January 9, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader, said that the MEK has organized the uprising and implicitly threatened to execute the protesters. A judiciary official called for the execution of demonstrators, saying that they are “waging war against God.”

 

The statement released today condemns the use of force against demonstrators and calls on the European Union to create measures to compel the regime to release prisoners who were arrested in the uprising, “uphold freedom of expression and association,” and end the repression of women, particularly the compulsory Hijab. It also calls on the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to investigate Iran’s prisons and political prisoners, focusing in particular on those arrested during the recent uprising and those who died in detention.

 

The statement is critical of the European Union for its silence toward human rights violations in Iran and urges the EU to take decisive action. The statement is being released on the occasion of Nowruz, the Persian New Year.

Staff writer

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