In Iran, the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody, believed to be beaten following her arrest by the “Morality Police” on the grounds that her hair was visible, instigated the Iranian people to flood the streets, starting with women. The demonstrations, which began with demands against the Morality Police and the compulsory headscarf, have been going on continuously since 16 September. The mass character of the demonstrations engulfing entire Iran demonstrate the extent to which the people of Iran hate the regime of the Islamic Republic and all its oppressive organs.
Amini was a Kurdish woman, and the protests were initially centred in Kurdish provinces, soon spreading to all major cities such as Tehran, Mashhad, Isfahan and Tabriz, involving all the peoples of Iran – Persian, Baluch, Azerbaijani, Kurdish etc.
The reactions did not halt at street protests but too the shape of mass protests in many spheres. . Students and teachers are organising boycotts and participating in demonstrations. In October, especially petrochemical and oil refinery workers in Bushehr and food workers in Tabriz undertook actions that polarised into an anti-regime shape with strikes, and the reactions became widespread. While the workers’ councils in gas, iron and steel and tyre factories took strike action and Haft Tapeh sugar factory workers joined them and called for a “general strike”, truck drivers are not transporting commodities, small businesses and shopkeepers have closed shutters in many provinces.
“Down with the dictator” is the main slogan of the demonstrations that are going on every day. Alongside this, the initial chant “Women, Life, Freedom”, together with “Death to the dictator” and “Death to the oppressor – be it the shah or a religious leader” are repeated by the masses. The slogan “The oil worker is our guide” shouted by the students is notable for sharpening the unity of the struggle, which is crystallising in a spontaneous character, while especially the workers and students have begun to organise in their own councils.
Councils of workers, university students, teachers, shopkeepers and neighbourhoods are fortifying themselves day by day and the demonstrations are the breeding ground of shaping a major mass movement. Students in dozens of universities continue their protests. The brutal attacks unleashed on boycotting students by security forces besieging Sharif and Tabriz Universities did not succeed in demoralising the students.. University student councils continue with their decision to boycott classes.
The number of workers arrested for waging a strike in oil factories alone is reported to exceed 100, yet the number of factories going on strike is intensifying day by day.
The rebellion in Iran today is the result of the economic and repressive policies pursued by the capitalist regime of the Islamic Republic. The seeds of the peoples movement sprouting are sown by the battered capitalist economy, neoliberal reforms of more than three decades, massive privatisations, social gap, corruption, poverty, high unemployment, high food prices, and others which sharply reduced the living standard of the working people. In addition, the Western sanctions imposed against Iran are another main element, have significantly deteriorated the economic condition of the country.
The Iranian regime, the enemy of the workers and labouring people, is banging every nail in the wall, to suppress the popular movement with violence. During the protests in 193 provinces, more than 200 people, including 30 children, were killed, according to a human rights group. In Tehran’s Evin Prison, where political prisoners are held along with young people arrested during protests or home and dormitory raids, at least 8 prisoners died in a fire. The security forces have been raiding schools and arresting young students, and in the city of Ardabil, 16-year-old Asra Panahi, a high school student, was killed simply for not singing a pro-regime anthem.
The dictatorial Supreme Leader Khamenei classified the demonstrations as “a project of the US and the Zionist regime” and claimed that they were instigated by “some Iranian traitors abroad who are paid by them”. There is no doubt, the imperialists and their collaborators try to influence the peoples and their movement, in compliance with their interests in Iran as in everywhere else. However, the working people, enraged at a boiling point against the reactionary regime, do not support the left overs of the old Shah regime and any reactionary groups like them. The efforts of the Western imperialists and their collaborators to direct the demonstrations have not been fruitful at all. In any case, democrats are against all imperialists, and especially Western imperialists, led by the US, and condemn any imperialist aggression against Iran. We must also oppose anybody and any organisation propagating intensifying economic sanctions or Western military intervention against Iran based on the model of Iraq or Libya.
With the 1999 student revolt, the 2009 election protests, the 2017 and 2019 demonstrations, and the most recent demonstrations today, the Iranian people illustrated that they are determined to make the reactionary regime tremble and pay for the exploitation, oppression and persecution it has subjected them for decades.
They are also determined that only they themselves will make the regime pay this price, not the imperialists or their collaborators.
We must unanimously salute and support the struggle of the peoples of Iran for emancipation from the clutches of the reactionary regime which dons a mask of anti-imperialist character.
One of the most positive working class polarisations of Iranian people in recent times. significant to people world over.
Harsh Thakor is a freelance journalist who has studied world affairs