Uprising Shakes Iran Regime’s Foundations
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This manuscript examines the nationwide uprising that erupted on November 15, 2019 and spread to over 180 cities in all 31 provinces of Iran. Although the unrest was sparked by a gasoline price hike, by as much as 300 percent, the protests rapidly expanded and changed focus, concentrating on the nature of the regime.
From the first day, the regime resorted to sheer violence and State Security Forces (SSF) declared a state of red alert, whereby the SSF handed over responsibility for suppressing the uprising to the IRGC, and SSF forces were put under IRGC command.
Protesters soon called for regime change by chanting “death to Khamenei,” “death to Rouhani,” and “death to dictatorship” as they confronted the repressive forces. According to the regime’s own officials, dozens of centers of repression such as the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Bassij, and police headquarters were attacked, after the regime started to fire live ammunition at demonstrators.
In addition, over one thousand state-run banks, mostly owned by the regime’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, and the IRGC, were attacked. Iranians see these financial institutions as plunderers of their wealth and resources, whose main mission is to fund the instruments of repression inside Iran and terrorism abroad. For example, Bank Melli, the largest bank in Iran with over 3,000 branches, and Bank Mellat (owned by Khamenei’s SETAD) with over 1,600 branches, were major targets. Both have already been designated as terrorist entities by the U.S. Treasury. Khamenei, whose representative offices were also attacked by the youth, was himself sanctioned by the Treasury Department.
The regime cut off the internet on the second day to disrupt communications between protesters and prevent reports of the scale and intensity of the uprising, as well as of the atrocities committed by the IRGC and SSF from getting to the outside world. The shutdown lasted for several days before service was partially resumed in some areas.
The Iranian regime confronted the growing protests with bullets, using both snipers and in many cases shooting protesters at point-blank range. It deployed its multitude of repressive agencies and capabilities. Consequently, the latest casualty figures as of the publication of this report exceed 1,500 dead, nearly half of whom have been identified by the Iranian Resistance. Over 4,000 were wounded and at least 12,000 arrested in some 190 towns and cities.
The resistance has also identified 92 of the officials who had leading roles in the violent murder and detention of protesters in the seven provinces which were the scenes of the most significant, widespread, and pervasive protests.
The book also highlights the role of the main Iranian opposition movement, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) and their Resistance units and councils, as conceded by many major regime officials.
The key characteristics of the nationwide uprising which, by all indications, has shaken the regime to its foundations are:
- The uprising showed that overthrow of the regime is attainable, as the public targeted the main symbols of repression, theft, and corruption.
- The people consider the regime and all its factions as illegitimate. Iranians are ready to pay the price to unseat the ayatollahs.
- The utter weakness of the regime, manifested by its barbaric and rampant use of brute force as well as its shutting down of the internet, was on display.
- The gains of the uprising are irreversible; no matter how deep or wide the state suppression, the unrest will persist.
- The role of the organized opposition exemplified by the Resistance units and councils formed by the MEK was key and will continue until the regime is brought down.
The Iranian Resistance has called on the international community to take the following measures:
- The slaughter of protesters is a clear case of a crime against humanity. Therefore, the United Nations Security Council, and governments should take urgent action to halt the killings and suppression and secure the release of political prisoners.
- Investigative missions must be sent to Iran to evaluate the scope of the crimes and examine the cases of those killed, wounded and/or detained.
- The leaders of the regime, e.g., Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani, must be held accountable for crimes against humanity.
- The United States should sanction Western companies that aid the Iranian regime with the sale and provision of services and products that enable it to monitor, control, and block internet access by Iranian citizens. While adopting all measures necessary to diminish and disable the regime’s capacity to block internet traffic, the United States should provide safe, secure, and uninterruptible internet access to Iran’s people, including the protesters.
- It is time for the world to recognize the right of the Iranian people to change the repressive regime and establish a democratic, pluralistic and non-nuclear republic based on separation of religion and state.