Massive Iranians Protests IGNORED by U.S. Mainstream Media
At the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018, the Islamic Republic of Iran was rocked by a series of anti-government protests that spanned every major city and town across the country.
The uprising marked a surge in political activism among demographics that were long considered complacent, even accepting of the clerical regime.
However, these uprisings represented a serious threat to the regime’s illusion of legitimacy and brought forth a predictable uptick in domestic repression. The regime struck back with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, the Intelligence Ministry, and local security forces.
Surprising to the regime was the defiant response of the Iranian citizens. The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) estimates that 50 protesters were shot dead between the last days of December and the cessation of the uprising in late January. Shortly thereafter, at least 14 others were tortured to death while regime authorities were detaining and processing upwards of 8,000 individuals. Further, the regime threatened many of the protestor with national security charges that could result in the death penalty.
Despite all this, the NCRI’s President Elect, Maryam Rajavi issued a statement urging the people of Iran to keep the spirit of the January protests alive and turn their protests into “a year full of uprisings.”
The activist community responded with admirable conviction, and the intervening months brought many additional protests.
Earlier in June, as truck drivers and transportation industry workers carried out a nationwide strike, participants directly confronted strike-breakers affiliated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, putting themselves at great personal risk in order to keep their collective movement alive. As a consequence, the strike endured for many days.
Earlier this week, for instance, bazaar merchants all across the capital city of Tehran closed up shop in order to protests the ongoing currency crisis, the rising price of essential goods, and other economic indicators that have disproportionately affected the ordinary population, however excluding regime authorities and their close affiliates in the so-called private sector. As early as their second day, these latest labor protests showed the same readiness to clash with security forces, responding to tear gas with bricks and stones and once again setting fire to a police station.
The bazaar protests also gave rise to slogans that had previously been heard all across the country during the January uprising.
The people chanted:
“Let go of Syria and think about us!”
This chant illuminates the economically destructive effects of the regime wasting national resources on regional imperialism and the support of terrorism.
Additional chants followed, like “death to the dictator!”, the crowd expressing a clear belief of misplaced priorities of the clerical regime. Such is the problem when citizens are forced to make an investment of absolute authority into the hands of a theocratic supreme leader.
The verbal calls for regime change underscore the same message that is conveyed by the persistence of demonstrations and defiant clashes even in the wake of the regime’s latest crackdown. America can only hope for Iran that citizens not only expressing their dissent but also demonstrating their willingness to take direct action in order to bring about a different future for their country, just like we did with the election of President Trump.
For Iranians, the prospect would be dismal without an organized opposition movement that capable of rallying such geographically and demographically diverse populations around a central cause. And the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) has presented a serious challenge to the clerical regime since the current regime co-opted the 1979 Iranian Revolution.
The Iranian Regime has taken notice
In the midst of the January uprising, even Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei was forced to acknowledge that the PMOI had played a key role in planning and carrying out the nationwide demonstrations. While the Resistance movement of the Iranian people provided key elements in their endeavor to overcome political violence, the newfound assertiveness of U.S. foreign policy by way of targeted economic sanctions undoubtedly weakened the Revolutionary Guards.
As of now, the convergence between these foreign pressures and Iran’s domestic unrest is mostly incidental. Regardless, that synergy has proven effective and could be a source of inspiration. Perhaps Western policymakers will reevaluate their approach to dealing with the Islamic Republic in the days ahead, particularly in the wake of the NCRI rally.
The NCRI rally offers a meeting ground for Iranian activists and Western leaders, and represents an opportunity for meaningful collaboration between them. The spotlight now shines squarely on the Iranian regime, and the time has come to address them.
Iran’s purely homegrown dissident activity currently showcased the full extent of what can be accomplished in that country with just a modicum of international support.
Take for example the more than 30 former senior U.S. officials and dignitaries who made a statement prior to the “Free Iran 2018- The Alternative” international gathering, where they declared their support for Maryam Rajavi’s 10-point Plan for the future of Iran.
“Our delegation is going to Paris this year to support the NCRI, firmly believing that the current regime is vulnerable to the popular movement seeking an end to tyranny and corruption. “
With minimal risk to Western resources, the possibility to end Iran’s theocratic dictatorship is a real possibility. That government may soon be replaced by the genuine democracy that Iranians have now been pursuing for several decades.