January 2018 Uprising


In late December and early January, Iranians from all walks of life took to the streets to protest the Iranian regimes political, and economic failures in the largest Iranian uprising since 2009. Despite the nonviolent nature of the protests, the Iranian regime blocked access to non-government-controlled social media on grounds of “violence and fear.” The government response has not been limited to social media, at least 50 individuals have been killed by the regime’s security forces, including no less than 14 while in detention.

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Global Responses

President Trump has given his support to the Iranian protests, stating “the people of Iran are finally acting against the brutal and corrupt Iranian regime” and urged the regime not to restrict social media access.

Prime Minister May’s office believes the protestor’s concerns are legitimate, stating “there should be meaningful debate about the legitimate and important issues that the protesters are raising, and we’re looking to the Iranian authorities to permit that.”

President-elect Rajavi of the Iranian resistance reiterated her support for the protests in a February statement. “This movement is the product of your suffering and the sacrifices of your comrades. This movement is made from the bleeding hearts of tens of millions of Iranians. This movement is not going to stop, because the circumstances that created it persist. Just as you, the courageous youth of Iran, are going to continue it by being present in every scene.”

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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s request for France to act against Iranian resistance, as Mrs. Maryam Rajavi the president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) is headquartered near Paris. Rouhani request was denied by President Macron. The French government denied this request, with President Macron stating, “all political opposition [groups] are welcomed in France.” Macron stated his concern with the amount of deaths, injuries, and arrests on the part of the regime in their handling of the protests.


Why are these uprisings happening?

Over the past nearly four decades, the Iranian people’s opposition to the ruling clerical establishment has steadily grown, as the poor have become poorer and the clerics, the self-made champions of the abased and downtrodden, have gotten richer and richer. The Iranian people view the ruling clerics as corrupt and criminal, who only peddle the religion to further their own interests.

Was the uprising organized or spontaneous?

Depending on geographical region, protests were both organized and spontaneous. However, MEK did play a role in its building of momentum and connecting protests across regions.

What is the state of the economy and why has the issue become a major problem?

The private sector of the Iranian economy is controlled heavily by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and other government entities, which monopolize the market. As such, the country is plagued with economic downturns. Officially, the inflation rate remains over 10%, unemployment is 12.4%, and Iranians have become 15% poorer over the past decade. The real figures are much higher, as many believe that up to 80% of the Iranian people live below the poverty line.

Will the uprising continue?

The regime has demonstrated that it is willing to use sheer force to crush the uprising. Nevertheless, the issue is very deep rooted, and has engulfed a large section of the population. No amount of force would crush this protest movement, nor will any hollow promises of economic relief beguile the population.

Why does the regime fear the MEK?

Tehran fears the group’s organizational and leadership capabilities, and its reputation as a determined force. It was the MEK that was able to use its network in Iran to expose all the major nuclear sites of the Iranian regime. Similarly, the MEK exposed the terror network of the Iranian regime in Iraq, Syria, and around the world.

A vast majority of the victims of the executions including the 1988 massacre of as many as 30,000 political prisoners belong to the MEK, as are the current political prisoners. For the regime, MEK symbolizes the people’s legitimate resistance to their rule.

Top Slogans Used in the Protests

-“Death to inflation!”

-“Thieves plunder, the government supports them.”

-“Reformers, hardliners, the game is now over.”

-“Islamic Republic! No more! No more!”

-“Pardon us, Syed Ali, it’s time to leave!”

-“Capitalists mullahs! Give our money back!”

-“Let go of Syria! Think of us!”

-“No Gaza! No Lebanon! My life only for Iran!”

-“Political prisoners must be freed!”

-“Independence, Freedom, Iranian Republic!”

-“We will die, but we will take Iran back.”

-“Don’t be afraid! Don’t be afraid! We’re all together!”

-“Death to Khamenei, Death to Rouhani!”

-“Death to Dictatorship!”

Tehran's Response

Paranoid over the expansion of the protests, the Iranian regime blamed the MEK as being responsible for inciting the uprisings stating, “The plot was made by Americans and Zionists. They have been plotting for many months to initiate riots in small cities and eventually move towards the center.”

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Uprising By The Numbers

Further Readings

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