BEHIND THE IRAN HEADLINES Series, November 20, 2023, Alireza Jafarzadeh, NCRI-US Deputy Director
Iran’s November 2019 uprising was a decisive turning point in the nation’s drive to topple the clerical tyranny to achieve democracy, justice, and peace. It was also marked by the remarkable leadership role played by courageous women in the streets.
The regime was baffled. The IRGC-affiliated Fars News published screenshots showing women providing directions to protesters in various locations.
Referring to these brave women as “field commanders,” Fars wrote: “In various locations, especially on the outskirts of Tehran, women, seemingly aged 30 to 35, play a special role in leading the disturbances. These women are dressed in a similar manner. Each has a distinct role; one records the protests, another stops vehicles, and yet another incites the people.”
Another IRGC-affiliated newspaper, Javan, acknowledged that the Mujahedin-e-Khalq Organization, the MEK, had inspired these women. It wrote, “The manner in which women participated closely resembled the tactics employed by the Mujahedin organization.”
Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli, then Minister of Interior, shed light on the influential role played by women and the organized nature of many of these protests: “Within the streets, approximately two to three hours after sunset, we encountered groups of four or five individuals, sometimes six, with a woman often accompanying them.”
These courageous efforts came at a significant cost. Dozens, if not hundreds, of protesting women lost their lives. Over 1,500 protesters were massacred in the uprising.
What the trail-blazing Iranian women did in 2019, was a reminder of a prediction made by NCRI President-elect Maryam Rajavi, who on June 21, 1996, forewarned the clerical regime that:
“You have done your utmost to humiliate, suppress, torture, and slaughter Iranian women, but rest assured that you would receive the blow from the very force you discounted, the very force whom your reactionary mindset cannot allow to take into consideration.”
Indeed, the leadership of women during the past several rounds of uprisings did not happen overnight, and nothing can stop a generation of women who are committed to bringing down the misogynous clerical regime in Iran.