Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Iran Ignites in Protest

The Iranian people are back in the streets with a vengeance. Reports of demonstrations in more than 100 cities across the country included footage of protestors setting fire to banks and government buildings, clashing with security forces, and chanting slogans calling for an end to the theocracy. Many younger Iranian’s got their first taste of politics during the 1999 student uprising, only to rise up again during the summer of 2009, in what many dubbed the first of the so called “Twitter Revolutions.” Now in 2019, we see the same 10 year pattern of resistance culminating in the most uncompromising expressions of anger the nation has seen since the Shah was ousted in 1979.

Amnesty International has received what it considers credible reports that at least 143 protesters were killed after protests in Iran erupted on 15 November. The number of detainees is in the thousands. In some cities, military barracks, sports venues and schools have been converted to detention centres.

Despite the assertion by the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei that the protesters had "roots outside of the country", the Ministry of Intelligence told parliament that most of those held were unemployed youths from poor families. 

The epicentres of the protests were predominantly Kurdish towns on the western border with Iraq, as well as areas on the outskirts of major cities like Tehran, Karaj and Shiraz. All are places with among the highest levels of unemployment in the country. 

State media and newspapers close to the security forces depicted the protesters as hooligans, who they said were seeking to loot and vandalise public property. Many families told BBC Persian that their relatives went out to express their anger at the economic crisis but that the authorities answered them with bullets. Fatima, a 40-year-old mother of two, was one of the demonstrators killed near Tehran. Her family said she went out to protest against unemployment and inflation.

"The price of petrol is rising, we are poorer," protesters in Shiraz chanted.
 "The supreme leader lives like a God. We, the people live like beggars," said people in Malard, near Tehran.
Protesters believe money should have been invested in their country and their future.  The sanctions, combined with corruption and mismanagement, have pushed the Iranian economy to the brink of collapse. The authorities in Iran shut down access to the internet for more than eight days earlier this month, as protests spread across the country.
President Hassan Rouhani blamed the protests on "subversive elements" acting on a plan hatched by Iran's foreign enemies. For too long the people of Iran have been viewed simply as pawns in a broader geo-poltical chess game, seemingly incapable of having true agency or wanting basic and universal freedoms.  These protests are about more than economic frustrations, but embody the rage and determination of a generation that has grown up under the repression of a brutal theocratic autocracy. Iran is a country of young people. It is estimated that nearly 60% of Iran’s population is under the age of 30. The deep-seated opposition to the ruling theocracy is just as much a demographic reality as it is an issue of economic mismanagement or political instability.  Just as repression and brutality have become hallmarks of this regime, perseverance and resilience have come to characterize Iran’s movement for change.
The shocking brutality and swift censorship are indicative of a simple truth. This is a regime that lacks any real solutions to the demands of a generation who want not only economic justice, but systematic change. The regime uses bloody repression and restrictions because it is incapable of reform. It has no future, and maintains its lifeline through tyranny and bloodshed.
The Iranian people are risking everything when they take to the streets, raise their voices and demonstrate that they want change. Now more than ever, it is important for all of us to understand the simple truth about what is taking place in Iran. The fiery uprising in Iran may have been sparked by the removal of fuel subsidies, but the embers of resistance have been burning for decades.

Taken from here

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