On Thursday, August 5, Ebrahim Raisi is supposed to swear as the President of Iran and introduce his cabinet to the Parliament (Majlis). Raisi is known as the henchman of Tehran over his role in the massacre of more than 30,000 political prisoners in the summer of 1988.
Observers believe that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has selected Raisi and purged the Presidential race in favor of him to remove any objection easily. They particularly point to Khamenei’s decision to nip any social protests in the bud with Raisi.
Previously, in March 2019, Khamenei appointed Raisi as the judiciary chief following his failure during the 2017 Presidential election. During his tenure as judiciary chief, Raisi hanged hundreds of inmates, including political activists, women, juvenile offenders, and followers of ethnic and religious minorities.
His judiciary also played a key role in the suppression of gas protests in mid-November 2019. At the time, hundreds of thousands of fed-up people flooded onto the streets in Tehran and almost 200 other cities, protesting gas price hikes.
Khamenei ordered security forces and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to mercilessly crackdown on demonstrators. To justify any crime against defenseless protesters, Khamenei called outraged citizens ‘hooligans’ and ‘rioters,’ resulting in more than 1,500 deaths, around 8,000 injuries, and at least 12,000 detainees.
The cruel suppression on the streets, indeed, was not the whole story. The untold part of this bloody story occurred in the prisons and horrible dungeons, where judicial officials, interrogators, and oppressors easily practiced inhuman tortures and ill-treatment against arrested protesters.
“Widespread torture including beatings, floggings, electric shocks, stress positions, mock executions, waterboarding, sexual violence, forced administration of chemical substances, and deprivation of medical care. Hundreds were subjected to grossly unfair trials on baseless national security charges. Death sentences issued based on torture-tainted ‘confessions,’” said Amnesty International in an exclusive report in September 2020.
“Iran’s police, intelligence, and security forces, and prison officials have committed, with the complicity of judges and prosecutors, a catalog of shocking human rights violations, including arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance, torture, and other ill-treatment, against those detained in connection with the nationwide protests of November 2019,” the report emphasized.
Regarding such a record, Khamenei removed even his advisor Ali Larijani and other loyalists from the Presidential race in order to appoint Raisi as the next president. He was genuinely hoping to quell the growing trend of demonstrations when his government placed an awkward position due to international developments.
However, the recent protests in Khuzestan and public solidarity with the demonstrators showed a significant failure for Khamenei’s strategy in silencing volcanic society. The demands for potable water in Khuzestan immediately turned into political slogans for regime change.
Not only across the southwestern province of Khuzestan but also the people around Iran were chanting, “Death to Khamenei,” “The mullahs must get lost,” and “Khamenei, shame on you, let go of the state.”
On the twelfth day of protests, merchants in Tehran took to the streets, marching and chanting, “Neither Gaza nor Lebanon, my life for Iran” and “Death to the dictator” in broad daylight. The protest initially began in protest of power outages in Alaeddin Mall. However, it rapidly became a full-scale anti-establishment demonstration.
The protests continued during the next days, and residents used any opportunity to vent their anger over the entire religious fascism. They once came onto the streets for power blackout. Then, the mother of November 2019 protests’ victims courageously gathered in metro and Azadi square, chanting, “We want our rights and follow our protests until the overthrow [of the mullahs].”
Tehrani citizens also chanted “Death to the dictator” and “Death to Khamenei” almost every night. On July 28, following the final match of the national soccer league, hundreds of youths used the opportunity and chanted anti-establishment slogans. “Death to this Velayat [jurist] for these years of crimes,” “Death to the dictator,” “Khamenei, shame on you, let go of the state,” and “The mullahs must get lost,” they chanted amidst street party for the championship of their favorite soccer club.
All the above-mentioned events show the readiness of Iran’s society for major changes. In 2019, authorities responded to innocent people with live ammunition, helicopters, snipers, armored vehicles, and heavy machine guns. The people, and particularly the organized opposition Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK/PMOI), continued the struggle.
In response to the bloody suppression, thousands of disappointed people realized that their conditions would never get better until the mullahs are in power. Therefore, they find the MEK as the sworn enemy and a reliable alternative to the religious dictatorship and joined it.
Recently, 1,000 people from various cities across Iran virtually attended the MEK’s online conference on July 10. They declared their full support for the MEK and its path for regime change and establishing a democratic, secular, and non-nuclear republic of Iran.
They have organized themselves through resistance units, exposing the authorities’ profiteering and plundering policies and encouraging them to gain their rights through protests. Their activities inspire and herald a shining future and what the people of Iran deserve.