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Iran Protests and Role of Youths: Influenced by Emotion or Determined To Make a Change?

 

In his remarks after a long silence regarding nationwide Iran protests, the mullahs’ Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei painted Iranian protesters as youth who act on “emotions” and are influenced by the regime’s adversaries.   

A seemingly endless wave of dissent spreads across Iran. Many observers consider the current protests, which have continued for three weeks despite the brutal crackdown, as Iran’s revolution.  

University students have been continuing their sit-ins and protests. In recent days, they have been joined by high school students across Iran, who fearlessly rally and call for regime change.  

Videos from Iran show brave youth, particularly women clashing with the security forces. Iran’s newest generation seemingly leads the protests. According to the Iranian opposition, over 400 people have been killed by the regime’s security apparatus. Many of the Iran protests’ martyrs are young men and women. The innocent faces of the 17-year-old Nika Shahkarami, 16-years-old Siavosh Mahmoudi, and 20-years-old Hadis Najafi are indeed heart-wrenching.   

Nika, Siavosh, Hadis, and all the fallen youths were full of life and had a future. These brave souls were not just numbers. Their life and death convey the daily struggle of a generation that has opened its eyes in a country ruled by the ruling theocracy.  

Iranian youth, particularly girls, have experienced nothing but misery under the clerical regime. Due to the country’s battered economy, rising poverty, and unemployment, Iran has one of the largest numbers of suicides.  “We had 4,200 cases of suicides last year,” the state-run Hamshahri online quoted Amir Jalali, the chairman of the Suicide Prevention Committee of the Scientific Association of Psychiatrists, on September 9.   

“According to forensic statistics, young people are the main victims of suicide, and most cases occur between the ages of 15 and 35. Also, 54% of suicides lead to death among young people under the age of 30,”  the state-run Etemad newspaper acknowledged on September 9.  

Throughout the last four decades, Iran’s ruling theocracy has tried to oppress youth by directly or indirectly pushing them into the swamp of misery.  

Soon after hijacking the 1979 revolution, the clerical regime faced a vibrant society that soon opposed the regime’s backward thinking. In a bid to hold its power, the regime’s founder Ruhollah Khomeini prolonged the devastating Iran-Iraq war for eight years, sending hundreds of thousands of children and youths to the war fronts, using them as cannon fodders.  

The regime has also been quashing young Iranians who have poured onto the streets within the last few years to demand their fundamental rights. In the summer of 1988, over 30,000 political prisoners, mostly young, were massacred nationwide.  

In November 2019 alone, the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) gunned down at least 1500 protesters, many of whom were under 30.  

Yet, recent protests in Iran laid bare the regime’s failure in oppressing the newest generation. They seem to have inherited the bravery of the previous generations.  

Younger members of society indeed accept more risks.  

Following 43 years of tyranny, there is almost no sane soul in Iran who wouldn’t care about where their lives are headed, and being emotional is indeed an indication of responsible intellect.  

Influence is also a historical reality in Iran as it is politically accurate. A country where the state has killed more than 120,000 dissidents from all social stripes leaves almost no family unharmed by this bitter realism. Additionally, Iran possesses the longest-standing opposition movement that has relentlessly kept the fire of resistance aflame, never seizing to take the message of Resistance and the need for regime change among Iranians. 

Given the regime’s brutal oppression, Iranian boys and girls know that today’s protest might be their last time voicing their demands for a free Iran. They might be subjected to arrests or even get shot, but they stand their ground.  

Many times in history, young generations have turned the chapter. This is what happens inside Iran now, and the world community should support it. The young Iranians have proven they are ready to pay the price but is the international community to go beyond issuing statements and support the Iranian people’s right to resistance and self-determination?