Iran’s Ongoing Protests Point to a Regime Change
The current demonstrations in Iran seem to be following a very well-known and noteworthy pattern. They were started specifically as a reaction to the murder of Mahsa Amini and the underlying repression of women’s rights on Saturday. As Amini was buried the day after being murdered by “morality police” while on a visit to Tehran, the initial demonstrations were also generally confined to Iranian Kurdistan. However, since then, protests have spread to at least 100 cities, assuming a very broad political message as demonstrators once more signaled their demand for regime change with chants like “death to the dictator.”
The ongoing protests have been described as the largest and best-coordinated movement since the 2019 uprising and the protests that followed in a number of recent reports. The analogy is telling because those demonstrations followed a similar pattern, with participants airing complaints about the misuse of public funds before ultimately stating their belief that Iran’s theocratic dictatorship should be overthrown in favor of a completely new system that actually reflects the will of the people.
When the regime’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei nominated Ebrahim Raisi as the only viable candidate for the June 2021 presidential election, he did so with the expectation that his sidekick would help to suppress further calls for regime change and anti-regime sentiment. Raisi’s prior participation as one of four members of the Tehran “death commission” during the 1988 massacre of political prisoners, which claimed over 30,000 lives nationwide, served as the basis for this expectation. The killings primarily targeted members and supporters of the People’s Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI/MEK), the country’s leading pro-democracy opposition group, which Khamenei acknowledged was a driving force behind the 2018 uprising.
In fact, Khamenei’s strategy quickly seemed to backfire. The vast majority of Iranian citizens declined to take part in the fake election that installed Raisi, at the behest of PMOI “Resistance Units.” Protests started following his administration almost immediately after he took office, with many activists publicly denouncing him as the “butcher of Tehran.” Before the end of his first year in office, the PMOI was reporting that Iran had experienced at least eight anti-regime uprisings since 2018. Chants of “death to the dictator” and “death to Raisi” began to appear during these protests as well.
Some of the most ferocious challenges to oppressive authorities were made during the first seven days of the demonstrations. Although human rights groups determined that security forces killed at least 40 people, protesters also fought back in self-defense.
A number of uprisings and associated instances of government repression have undoubtedly contributed to the simmering tensions that have contributed to the rapid escalation of this week’s protests. In November 2019, the largest recent uprising, mass shootings resulted in the deaths of roughly 1,500 people. Even though this did not stop additional large-scale protests from erupting only two months later, it did give many Iranians a strong sense of justice that had been denied for the previous three years. In those circumstances, the egregious injustice of Mahsa Amini’s death might have been enough to incite another uprising aimed at bringing a regime change.
MEK Iran (follow us on Twitter and Facebook), Maryam Rajavi’s on her site, Twitter & Facebook, NCRI (Twitter & Facebook), and People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran – MEK IRAN – YouTub
Tags: Iran Opposition, Iran Protests, Iran Uprising, Regime Change