Anti-Regime Protests in Iran

New Wave of Mass Protests in Iran

International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran

Mass protests in over 50 cities across Iran have been taking place since December 28th amid heavy security to raise people’s voices against massive poverty, skyrocketing cost of living, vast corruption and embezzlement by officials on all levels as well as brutal political repression.

These protests are mostly unsystematically organized by the working and oppressed peoples in cities and towns all over Iran against the ever-increasing poverty, unemployment, cruelty and injustice imposed on the masses by the regime of the Islamic Republic and all its factions. At this time, the establishment seems to be in shock and unable to suppress and overcome mass protests while we know this can change at any time. As of today, we have received the news of direct shooting by security forces at protesters and scores have been injured, killed or arrested. The Islamic Republic of Iran has been in power for almost 40 years, and similar to the previous regime, relying heavily on imprisonment, executions and suppression of just demands of workers, women, youth and the deprived masses.

Iran is a country of 80 million people. Despite extensive natural resources, such as oil, gas, coal, copper … and considerable wealth, almost 70 per cent of people live in poverty. At the same time, we have growing upper classes and super rich that are mostly linked to different factions of the regime and children and relatives of the officials and various forces within the establishment. We have witnessed the most shameful theft of resources and financial embezzlement in the country’s history by these groups while workers and poor people have been continuously humiliated and their protests for their rights and accountability frequently crushed.

International Alliance in Support of Workers (IASWI) is standing in support of the just demands of oppressed workers and deprived people of Iran for equality, freedom and social and economic justice. The Islamic Republic of Iran is a brutal capitalist and neoliberal regime and ought to be condemned by workers, the left and progressive forces all over the world. We believe there is no justification amongst the left in other countries for being silent about the crimes and repressions conducted by this regime.

Over the years, IASWI and other Iranian workers’ and socialist organizations have been emphasizing that what has taken place between U.S. imperialism and its allies and the Islamic Republic regime in Iran and its allies has no progressive sides. A working class and progressive position defends a real peace and the independence of the workers’ movement: an anti-capitalist position not only opposes economic sanctions but also any attempts by the U.S. and its allies to pursue war against Iran, while, at the same time, supporting the ever-increasing workers’ struggles against the repressive Islamic regime and capitalists in Iran, that have been viciously implementing the most aggressive and ruthless anti-worker, totalitarian and neoliberal policies in this country’s contemporary history.

We strongly oppose and condemn any interference by Trump’s administration and its allies like the Israeli regime, and the Iranian right-wing and pro-monarchy opposition, in the protest movements in Iran. The working and poor people of Iran know well that Trump’s fascist and ultra-right politics would bring nothing but more disaster to the country. We need the workers’ and socialist organizations and progressive forces in the world to stand in solidarity with the working class and the poor oppressed people of Iran and help strengthen anti-capitalist, anti-poverty and social justice movements while increasing efforts in identifying and isolating the right wing, nationalist and pro-imperialist elements.

An injury to one is an injury to all! •

This statement published by the International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran (IASWI) – January 1, 2018.

Support the Struggles of the People of Iran Against the Dictatorship

Tudeh Party of Iran

Dear compatriots,

The politico-economic crisis of the bankrupt theocratic regime of Iran is growing and deepening daily. The impact of this crisis can be observed in the internal regime conflicts and the unprecedented revelations of infighting between powerful factions – revealing the depth of corruption and oppression that prevails in the so-called ‘exemplary system of the world’.

The spiralling poverty, deprivation, high prices and chronic unemployment – which have ruined the lives of a large portion of the population and in particular the youth, the extensive and disastrous destruction of the environment, due to the catastrophic policies of the ruling power, and the complete economic bankruptcy of the regime as well as escalation of external pressures on the regime, have altogether created a very critical and explosive situation in our society. The heads of the regime who are living a luxury life with an unprecedented fortune that they have amassed over the last forty years by plundering the national resources and wealth of the nation, ask the people to be patient and tolerate the hardship in order to “guard the Islamic regime” – a regime that has brought nothing to our nation except destruction and cultural, political and economic regress. The current rulers have shown in practice that their only goal and desire is to save the current despotic regime and the absolute rule of the dark-minded clergy over our nation at the cost of any crime and any tragedy.

Recent weeks have witnessed the escalation of discontent and unprecedented protest gatherings of the people in numerous cities, as well as broad and extensive labour protests against high prices, oppression and the injustices perpetrated by governing bodies, from the government and parliament (Majlis) to the Judiciary and the Islamic Guards Corps and the Supreme Religious Leadership all of which protect the interests of the grand capitalists. The escalation in the discontent of the people regarding the existing situation and, more importantly, the readiness and willingness of the enraged and frustrated masses to take on the suppressive apparatus of the regime is an indication of the significant developments in the level of preparedness of the masses in opposing – and waging an open fight against – the rule of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Contrary to the claims of some leaders of the pro-regime reformists that such protests are “conspiracies,” we deeply believe that the majority of the people of our nation are disappointed and frustrated with the slogans of those whose only objectives are to make some cosmetic and minor adjustments to the current regime, and are now demanding fundamental changes in the governance of the country. Today only those who would like to somehow preserve the current disastrous situation fear the escalation and growth of the people’s struggle. The experience of the last two decades and several presidential, parliamentary, and city council elections that were held, and manipulated under the control and direction of the Supreme Leader, has proved that the people are rapidly moving away from the strategy of making a choice between bad and worse, and are no longer willing to submit to the manipulation of their demands by the regime and the pro-regime reformists who by and large play the role of that nation’s power brokers these days. The majority of the people of the homeland today want to put an end to the despotic theocratic regime; to end the oppression and injustice; and bring about the establishment of freedom and social justice. These demands can only be achieved through a joint struggle of all the national and freedom-loving forces without foreign intervention.

Dear compatriots,

At the same time, it should be noted that under the critical conditions of the current dangerous regional tensions, the regional reaction – supported by the Trump administration in the U.S. and the right-wing government of Netanyahu in Israel – is seeking to distinctly impact the developments in our country and to replace the current reactionary regime with another reactionary regime. The support of these forces i.e. the regional reaction, Trump administration, and the right-wing government of Netanyahu, for the Iranian monarchists and those political groups whose agenda is to cooperate with the most reactionary regimes of the region and to persuade the European states to impose sanctions on Iran’s economy – thereby exacerbating the misery for the destitute and disadvantaged people of our country – and to encourage foreign states to interfere militarily in Iran, leaves no room whatsoever for any optimism regarding the future designs of such ‘opposition’.

The progressive and freedom-loving forces of Iran must increase their presence in the protest movement of the masses – more than ever before – providing proper people-oriented slogans, offering sensible guidance and relying on the legitimate demands of the masses for abolishing the existing suppressive regime and ending the economic deprivation, oppression, injustice and plundering of the natural and human resources of the nation, while avoiding reactionary and divisive slogans. We should not let the past repeat itself whereby the heroic struggle of the nation for freedom, democracy and social justice is hijacked by a bunch of reactionary opportunists who do not believe in the people’s rights or democratic freedoms.

Dear compatriots,

The way to save the country is through a joint and organized mobilization of all the national, anti-dictatorship and freedom-loving forces to abolish the despotic and anti-people theocratic regime of the Supreme Leadership. Our party has been of the resolute belief that the ruling political regime in Iran – a regime that is based on the rule of one individual as the “representative of God on Earth” who is above and beyond all the laws and executive governing institutions, the legislative, the judiciary and the police and military apparatus – is a regime beyond reform and a people-based democratic regime cannot be created through any reworking of the current system. The solution is to wage a joint and organized struggle of all social layers – from the workers and all working people to the militant youth, students, women and progressive and freedom-loving intellectuals – around popular slogans against the rule of tyranny. The experience of our contemporary history has demonstrated that the peoples of Iran have the ability to convey their voice to the ears of the ruling reaction.

Once again, we call upon all the national, progressive and freedom-loving forces of the nation to put aside their theoretical-historic disagreements and mobilize together, alongside the people’s movement to effectively help the struggle – the goal of which is to reject the tyranny and to establish the rule of the people and freedom, peace, sovereignty and social justice. •

This statement published by The Central Committee of the Tudeh Party of Iran — 29 December 2017.

Reflections on the Growing Anti-Regime Protests in Iran

Frieda Afary

The protests that started in the city of Mashhad on Thursday December 28 have quickly spread to more than 40 cities including Tehran, Kermanshah, Rasht, Isfahan, Shiraz, Hamedan, Kerman, Zanjan, Ahvaz, Bandar Abbas, and even the city of Qum, Iran’s religious capital. The participants are mostly young people under 30 but in some cases have included parents with their children. So far, at least 5 people have been killed in Lorestan and over 50 people have been arrested by heavily armed security forces. Some government buildings and banks were set on fire by the protesters and pictures of Khamenei and Khomeini have been burned.

In comparison to the mass protests that arose in 2009 after the fraudulent presidential election, these protests are different in several important respects:

  1. They directly oppose poverty and systemic corruption.
  2. They include the wide participation of the working class (men and women), many unemployed.
  3. Demands include an end to the Islamic Republic, death to Supreme Leader Khamenei, death to president Rouhani, death to the “Revolutionary Guards” and an end to Iran’s military intervention in Syria and Lebanon.
  4. In some cases, individual women have bravely taken off their headscarves or veils in public places and have encouraged others to follow them.

No one can deny that these protests are arising after at least a year of almost daily labour actions and strikes against non-payment of wages and terrible working conditions, as well as protests by impoverished retirees, teachers, nurses and those who have lost their meager savings in bankrupt banks. Slogans have also called for freedom for all political prisoners and an end to dictatorship.

At the same time, there is no doubt that there is a strong nationalist tone to some of the slogans such as “Neither Gaza, Nor Lebanon, I sacrifice my life for Iran” or a monarchist influence expressed in slogans which support the legacy of Reza Shah Pahlavi.

Some Iranians believe that the protests might have been started by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to consolidate its power, given the infighting within the regime and the threat of a direct war between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Others believe that monarchists and the Mujahedin Khalq, with support from the Trump administration, have had a major role in encouraging the protests.

For those Iranians opposed to all these actors and genuinely hoping for a liberatory movement, it is extremely important to learn from the lessons of the Syrian revolution. If the mass movement against poverty and dictatorship limits itself simply to the overthrow of the regime without an affirmative and progressive vision, it faces the danger of being taken over by right-wing populists or monarchists and becoming a pawn in the imperialist rivalries.

This is a time when those Iranian socialists and Marxists who do not support authoritarian brands of socialism can make a difference by organizing within this movement on the basis of opposing Iran’s capitalist state, helping the development of workers’ councils, defending and promoting women’s struggles against patriarchy/misogyny, and speaking out against the discrimination suffered by Iran’s ethnic and religious minorities such as Kurds and Bahais.

Deepening the content of the current protest movement is the best way to challenge and oppose imperialist war drives by the U.S., Israel, Saudi Arabia, Russia, China, Iran, Turkey, and to express solidarity with other progressives in the region and around the globe who demand social justice. •

Frieda Afary is a contributor to the allianceofmesocialists.org where this article was first published — December 31, 2017.