NCRI-US Staff, 30 January 2019
As millions of Iranians rose up in more than 140 towns and cities nationwide in 2018 to protest the state’s oppressive policies and systemic corruption, the tyrant rulers responded with a wave of brutal repression: arresting, torturing, and executing many Iranians fed up with the current situation. A recent report by Amnesty International, entitled “Iran’s ‘Year of Shame’” reveals both the true extent of the regime’s brutality and the fragility of the mullahs’ grip on power. According to Amnesty, “Over the course of the year, more than 7,000 protesters, students, journalists, environmental activists, workers and human rights defenders, including lawyers, women’s rights activists, minority rights activists and trade unionists, were arrested, many arbitrarily.” Although reliable reports provided by opposition activists on social media put the actual number of detainees at a much higher level, Amnesty’s data is still a bone-chilling reminder of the depths to which Iran’s rulers will sink in their thirst for power.
Once arrested, these activists face a grim fate. Many of the women who participated in the compulsory hijab (veil) protests of 2018 were treated brutally by the regime while in detention. Adherents of religious minorities have also been brutally suppressed, many languishing in prisons and several of them executed. The regime has also resorted to handing down even more truly medieval-style punishments. In response to a wave of strikes by teachers, truck drivers and factory workers, for example, “Iranian courts… handed down flogging sentences amounting to a total of nearly 3,000 lashes against 38 workers.”
Rather than actually take steps to fix the crippled economy and recognize these workers’ legitimate grievances – something the crisis-riddled Kleptocracy is absolutely incapable of – the mullahs prefer to silence the rising and expanding voices of freedom and justice in the naive belief that the people will forget their squalor if only they lose the ability to speak about it. As the old saying goes, “the beatings will continue until morale improves.”
What Iran’s ruling tyrants do not realize is that their violent outbursts are not signs of strength, but of weakness, fear and unpopularity. A strong and popular regime would not feel the need to imprison and torture women or religious minorities. The fact is that the regime’s leadership and key figures of all factions have in different ways and publicly divulged the strategic ineffectiveness of violence against protesters and the tightening of the political, social, and international noose around their proverbial necks.
Last week, Seyed Mohammad Saeedi, a senior cleric in central city and an ideological bastion of the clerical regime, Qom, again revealed the deepening fear of the mullahs regarding the growing role of the main opposition Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) in advancing and directing the movement for change in Iran. He told his audience that “The state’s war against the [MEK] and the global front of our enemies is an existential battle… The enemy is attempting to infiltrate through all fronts, all channels. They are everywhere, especially operating through new technology and devices and tools that they have, they have infiltrated into our homes, the markets, the universities, the religious centers, in cyberspace, inside the country and abroad. This enemy has spread everywhere.”
Brutal suppression of dissent, torture and murder or execution of pro-democracy activists are the actions of a theocracy in fear of its own citizens; one that sees its collapse more clearly than it can see its impossible preservation. The good news is that the people of Iran see this too and will not rest until they can guarantee a free, secular and non-nuclear Iran for their children and future generations of the world.