Using the encrypted messaging service WhatsApp, the Fox News Investigative Unit interviewed two of the protest organizers from their home base in Iran.
“We are like a wave — we come back even stronger, and the Iranian people want regime change,” one said on Tuesday. “There is no going back.”
Iranians are being encouraged to demonstrate this week, and to make the protests even larger than those that took place two months ago. The organizers say they are confident the opposition could win this time around, and they think the regime may be realizing that, as well.
The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), the largest political opposition group in the country was founded in 1981. Following the turn of the year protests that began spontaneously in the holy city of Mashhad and quickly spread to more than 140 cities, the NCRI and its constituent group, the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (MEK), are more motivated than ever to see the end of the regime in Iran.
The NCRI connected Fox News with two activists based in Iran — a 27-year-old woman going by the name “Mitra” and a 30-year-old man, “Kavea.”
“[These kinds of protests are] new in Iran,” Kavea said. “History is being made by young Iranians… [but] I want to emphasize we see more types of people becoming involved. Former housewives, office workers. And for years the regime used to say the poor don’t support the uprising, but now you can see the poor are in the streets.”
Women are taking an increasingly major role in these protests, according to Mitra. “We have more things to struggle for,” she said. “Our nation, our humanity… our basic rights.” She added that organizing, or even simply protesting as a woman comes with more of a risk.
On Tuesday, the ancient holiday known as the “Festival of Fire,” that Khameini publicly condemned, protesters seized the opportunity to show their distaste with the country’s leadership. The holiday falls on the last Tuesday before the Iranian New Year. Nowruz translates to “new day”. People celebrate by jumping over firecrackers or even open flames. Nowruz falls on March 21. With the huge protests, Mitra and Kavea believe that this year Nowruz will truly represent a “new day” for their nation.
US President Trump endorsed the protests earlier this year on Twitter.
The Internet, already restricted in Iran, may once again be cut off by the regime during protests. The protesters have asked the international community to pressure the regime for not only a free Internet, but freedom for their people. “Any trade with this regime, or business with them, ends in the hands of [the Ayatollah], and it will be used to kill and suppress us,” Mitra said.
Kavea added that these tactics of repression may no longer be effective. He said, “The repression of the regime is a dead end. When you see these numbers of protesters, the message is clear… Iran is a volcano, and it will erupt much sooner than you think.”
“I think Nowruz this year can be for us a victory,” Mitra said. “Nowruz means ‘a new day.’ This year, we think we are getting close to a real Nowruz.”