By Mohammad Sadat Khansari
The people of Iran took to the streets in December 2017 to protest their situation and to hold anti-government demonstrations. Throughout all of 2018, the people kept up the momentum in pressuring the Iranian regime and calling it out on its belligerence and corruption.
The authorities, as they always do when the people protest, pursued a pressure campaign against the people to dissuade them from participating in further rallies. Suppressive security agents arrested countless protesters and in the first two months there were around 4,900 arrests and 21 deaths.
During the whole year, there were a constant stream of reports from the country indicating that people were getting injured and many were being arrested.
There are dozens of political activists and human rights defenders that remain in jail in Iran, many of whom have been incarcerated for years. They have been jailed simply for their activities as peaceful activists and they are one of the regime’s main targets.
Environmentalists have also been jailed and the story of Kavous Seyed Emami shocked many around the world. Seyed Emami is a prominent Iranian-Canadian professor and environmentalist who died while he was in jail. His family have expressed great concern about the suspicious circumstances surrounding his death and their requests for an impartial investigation have been denied.
Throughout 2018, the Iranian regime has continued to provide President Bashar al Assad of Syria and his regime with substantial military assistance despite the calls from the international community for it to stop meddling.
This kind of belligerence was one of the factors in U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the 2015 nuclear deal. Trump announced that sanctions would be re-imposed and that his administration would be putting as much pressure on the regime as possible.
The U.S. President and key members of his administration including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have spoken about the people of Iran and recognised them as the first victims of the Iranian regime. They have highlighted their desire for change in the country and it is clear that this human side to the issues with Iran is crucial.
For years, religious and ethnic minorities have continued to be persecuted by the regime. The country’s laws, for example, do not allow those in the Baha’i faith to freely practice their religion. They are systematically discriminated against and scores of them are currently being held in prisons across the countries. Those of the Baha’i faith do not even have the right to attend university.
Women are also subject to major discrimination in Iran in most aspects of their lives, especially when it comes to family matters such as inheritance, marriage and divorce and the custody of offspring. They are obliged to seek permission from their spouse before applying for a passport or to travel abroad. Even a dress code is imposed upon them. Women, by law, are required to be veiled while in public.
Women, however, are fighting back against these antiquated laws and many took to the streets last year to protest, with some even taking their hijab off in defiance of the law. The regime cracked down on such protests and a number of women were arrested and sent to prison.