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Anniversary of 2018 Iran Protests, and International Community’s Obligations

Iran: More Than a Thousand Arrests in August Protests; Call for Urgent Action to Release Prisoners

December 28 marks the third anniversary of the first series of significant Iran protests in 2017-2018. The uprising’s core message, ‘regime change’ in Iran, has lasted to this day, showing the Iranian people’s genuine desire. The international community must support this desire.

The nationwide Iran protests started in the city of Mashhad, northeast Iran, with people protesting the regime’s economic mismanagement, which had resulted in unbridled inflation, increasing prices, and poverty.

The protest soon became political, encompassing over 190 cities across Iran, with people chanting “death to the dictator.” The regime responded by brutally suppressing people, killing dozens, and arresting thousands. The death toll continues to rise as the regime executes or issues death sentences for the detained protesters. Mostafa Salehi, executed on August 5, 2020, was the last martyr of the 2018 uprising.

During their protests, the Iranian people rejected any possibility of reform within the mullahs’ regime and condemned both factions of the regime, the so-called “hardliners” and “reformists.” Protesters chanted, “reformist, hardliner, the game is over.”

“Iran’s Year of Uprising”

Although the regime was able to control the protests by killing and arresting protesters, the Iranian people repeated their call for regime change, even stronger, during the nationwide Iran protests in November 2019. They also reiterated their slogan rejecting the regime’s factions.

The November uprising also started due to the Iranian people’s economic hardships. This time people attacked the regime’s repression centers, and mullahs were on the verge of downfall.

The regime again oppressed protests, killing 1500 protesters and arresting over 12,000 on the streets. Amnesty International’s recent report, “Trampled Humanity,” revealed details of the brutal tortures the regime’s forces used against detained protesters in prison.

Members of both factions of the regime called for the immediate suppression of protesters on both occasions. The regime’s president, Hassan Rouhani, and his foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who is praised by the regime’s apologists as a “moderate” and “reformist,” called protesters “rioters.” They also tried to cover up people’s increasing hatred towards the regime and saying the protests weren’t organized.

But the regime’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, acknowledged the Iranian Resistance movement’s role in the 2018 uprising, saying it had “planned for months.”

Thus, the regime attempted to bomb the Resistance’s annual gathering in France in June 2018. The European security services thwarted this plan and arrested Iran’s diplomat-terrorist Assadollah Assadi and his three co-conspirators.

Zarif and his ministry played a key role in facilitating this terrorist operation. Assadi used his diplomatic privileges to transfer 500 grams of the TATP explosives to Europe by a commercial airliner.

In other words, the domestic oppression of the uprisings in Iran, and the regime’s terrorist activities abroad, once again showed when it comes to the regime’s survival, the export of terrorism, and human rights violations, there is no difference in the attitude of the regime’s factions.

When protesters chanted “reformists, hardliner, the game is over,” and “our enemy is here, they lie it is in the U.S.,” they highlighted that the regime in its entirety is the source of all economic and social problems in Iran.

The November protests were also initiated due to economic hardships. While the regime tried to blame sanctions, protesters confirmed they hold the regime responsible by identifying the regime as the “enemy,” not the U.S., and attacking the regime’s centers of plunder.

Although the regime was able to oppress both movements, the restive society’s threat to the clerical regime is still there. The factors which resulted in these uprising still exist.
Iran’s economy is in freefall, the social crises, such as the Covid-19 outbreak, have amplified.

Steve Hanke, a Professor of Applied Economics at Johns Hopkins University, recently measured Iran’s inflation to be 97.52% per year.

“The 26.2% increase in poultry prices, 13% increase in the price of meat, and 9.2% increase in rice prices indicate what other than authorities’ economic mismanagement in stabilizing the country and resolving people’s economic issues?” wrote the state-run Siyasat-e Rouz on December 5.

In an article titled “shadows of hatred,” the state-run Sharq daily warned the regime’s officials.

“In Iranian society, due to the weakness of the media apparatus and the decline of public trust, groups have been formed which play the role of both news centers and encourage them to change their behavior and actions. These virtual groups are sowing the seeds of hatred and violence, and if there is no timely cure for the incident, there will be severe storms with social and political conflicts,” the state-run Sharq wrote on December 8.

All factors indicate an uprising in Iran is inevitable, and the regime has failed in controlling society. Now it is time for the international community to support the Iranian people’s desire for regime change.

The international community should identify the terrorist regime in Tehran as the real threat and enemy, as Iran’s people did. Negotiations with this regime and those so-called “moderates” involved in the regime’s terrorism and human rights violations are not for the benefit of the people of Iran and other countries.

The people of Iran ended the regime’s game of “reformists” and “hardliner,” so should the international community.