Iran Protests: Repression Isn’t Working, as Demonstrations Continue

By INU Staff

INU -By using such means as repression, persecution, and intimidation the regime in Tehran secures its grip on power, while it portrays many in its leadership as “moderate”.

The regime has relied on the support of the unprivileged class, but during the recent nationwide uprising, they joined the anti-regime protests. Many believe that this displays that the regime has begun crumbling.

Hamid Bahrami, a former political prisoner from Iran, outlines policies pursued by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in this regard. Below is this outline, excerpted from his article for Al Arabiya:

- Increase the number of special patrols across the country so that they are seen 24/7 in major cities. According to my sources inside the IRGC, the paramilitary force has established specific headquarters for each city with a large population.

- In order to reinstate the atmosphere of intimidation, both the Intelligence Ministry (MOIS) and the IRGC have tortured a number of arrested protesters to death.

- In response to nationwide demonstrations, the regime’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei ordered the authorities to increase the military budget by tapping into the country’s currency-reserves. Furthermore, President Rouhani has already increased the military budget by 90 percent in his government’s budget for the coming Persian year.

- Increase pressure on political prisoners, human rights defenders and women’s rights activists.

- Deceiving people with empty promises and propounding failed theories by one of the leaders of the deadwood Green Movement, who suddenly is free to express his opinion after seven years of house arrest.

During the protests, according to Bahrami, reformists and hard-liners united their factions to rescue the regime. This union has long existed in their efforts to crush the opposition in the country — including the infamous 1988 Massacre of political prisoners.

However, many believe that even with their efforts, they will be unable to turn favor toward the regime. The worsening of Iran’s economic crisis, and the regime’s failure to address it, will result in anti-regime demonstrations continuing beyond the Persia New Year, says Bahrami.

He cites five factors that brought people to streets:

• Economic Stagnation and youth unemployment
• Deteriorating standard of living

• Lack of civil liberties

• Disastrous environmental policy

• Dissatisfaction over involvement in foreign wars

Bahrami says that despite repression, reports from Iran continue to show growing resistance against the regime. Radio Free Europe detailed sporadic demonstrations across the country on January 30th. Anti-regime graffiti decorates walls, and attacks on offices belonging to the IRGC’s Basij-force in small cities are carried out by Iranian activists.

Women are challenging the compulsory dress-code laws — removing their headscarf in public and waving it during the protests. The ‘Girl of Enghelab Street’, nicknamed after the name of the road where the first such protest took place, is the name these brave women have given name to their movement.

Iran’s state-run website, Jahan News, blamed female members of Iran’s opposition group, the MEK/PMOI, for organizing the women’s protests, citing the IRGC’s Deputy for Political Affairs, Gen Rasoul Sanaei-Rad, who said,

"The leaders and those inciting the protests were from the ‘Hypocrites’ (the regime’s label for the MEK/PMOI). They had come from other cities so as not to be identified. Those who were detained were from … the MEK/PMOI ….” He added, “Eighty percent of those arrested were under 30 years of age. There were several women among them, who are middle-aged. In the 1980s, those who were leading MEK protests were mostly women. And now, the main chain of provocation and those who started the protests were women."