In 1979, during the Iranian Revolution, the Iranian people must have felt the same things as the Shah’s dictatorship was over. Unfortunately, the Revolution, which had been led by the people, was co-opted by Ruhollah Khomeini, who implemented a brutal theocracy.
Despite the clear repression, the people still clung to their dreams of freedom, with the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), the leading pro-democratic resistance organization, leading the resistance and organising protests against the mullahs’ corruption.
The latest of these began in December, regarding high unemployment, low wages, and other failures in the economy, but quickly spread across Iran and took on a strong anti-regime message, taking the Regime and the world by surprise.
Even Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has been forced to publicly acknowledge the MEK’s role in planning the demonstrations.
The demonstrations, which continue to this day, are increasingly led by female activists, many of whom were active during the 1980s’ student protests, and the Iranian youth, who were born after the mullahs took power.
One Iranian student activist wrote: “There is reason to hope that this year might be the real Nowruz, a new day for Iran.”
The sheer size and strength of this uprising, which the mullahs tried to crush by slaughtering protesters in the streets and arresting demonstrators en-masse, show what a population is capable of when it reaches the end of its tether.
The Regime has tried to silence the families of those arrested or killed and has even tortured at least 14 activists to death. These are the actions of a Regime that is on the run and knows its days are limited.
Also, as many observers have pointed out, this violent crackdown will only encourage more protests. Indeed, this is already true. Thousands of people protested in the cities of Isfahan and Ahvaz in April, while in Kazerun, protesters stormed the Friday prayer congregation, chanting “the enemy is here, they are lying when they say it’s America”.
Ali Soltani, executive director of the Iranian-American Community of Wisconsin, which is part of the Organization of the Iranian American Communities (OIAC), wrote: “I can only watch these events unfold from afar. But knowing the Iranian Resistance movement, I believe Tehran will be surprised by the obstacles it will encounter in its efforts to stifle dissent… I regret that I cannot participate directly in such an uprising, but I have faith in my fellow Iranian activists. To show my support, I am in Washington, D.C., this weekend with a large delegation of other Iranians from Wisconsin. We are attending the 2018 Iran Freedom Convention.”
Soltani believes that Western policymakers need to hold Iranian officials accountable for their crimes against the protesters and support the Iranian Resistance in its quest for regime change.