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Iran Protests Expand, Deeming International Support Amid Increasing Oppression 

The Iranian regime’s president Ebrahim Raisi threatened on Saturday that the clerical regime would act “decisively” to confront and contain the protests that have been proliferating throughout the country for more than 14 days.  

Raisi’s threats, after 14 days of protests and over 300 deaths, should prompt the world community to take their own decisive actions to keep attention focused on the situation in Iran and to prevent the crackdown on protests. 

Raisi has a dark record of human rights violations that he has accomplished in light of the international community’s inaction regarding the genocidal regime’s crimes. 

Raisi served as one of four officials on the Tehran “death commission” in the summer of 1988. Similar death commissions throughout the country were tasked with the nationwide implementation of Khomeini’s fatwa concerning the leading pro-democracy opposition group, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran. Focusing on that group, the death commissions systematically executed over 30,000 political prisoners over the course of three months that year – a massacre that Raisi has continued to defend openly even after becoming the regime’s president. 

The regime’s current Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei tapped Raisi for the presidency specifically as an endorsement of similar violent repression. Previously serving as the regime’s judiciary chief,  Raisi oversaw the systematic torture of persons arrested during the uprising of November 2019, which also saw 1,500 protesters killed by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in various cities. 

Those mass killings were preceded by the regime cutting off much of the country’s access to the internet, thereby making it more difficult for activists to bring appropriate international attention to the crackdown. That process is currently repeating itself. This, too, should be setting off alarm bells and spurring the international community to act immediately and decisively. 

After Elon Musk suggested that his company’s Starlink satellite internet system could help the Iranian people, the US Treasury announced that it was easing sanctions on relevant equipment. In the absence of a concrete plan for getting that equipment into the hands of Iranian activists, this is far from a solution, but it is still an important symbol of global interest in helping Iran – something that was comparatively lacking during the nationwide 2009 protests and even the uprisings of recent years, including 2019. 

If the United States and Europe are no longer willing to let Iranians suffer in silence while the regime isolates them, then we should all hope they are also unwilling to let those people carry on their struggle alone, particularly women who have been leading this struggle. In fact, the current protests began following the tragic death of the 22-year-old woman Mahsa Amini at the hands of Tehran’s “morality police.”  

While visiting the capital from Kurdistan, the young woman was accused of wearing her mandatory head covering too loosely, forced into a van, and beaten about the head, resulting in her falling into a coma and dying three days later. 

In the immediate aftermath, protests broke out, with women leading protesters who chanted anti-regime slogans. Mahsa’s tragic death and the ongoing demonstrations in Iran have triggered an awakening in the minds of Western observers who have distinct reasons to cheer on Iranian women and to cheer for the mullahs’ ouster. 

In light of that awakening, Western policymakers and their constituents should be willing to articulate their support for the Iranian people, and the organized Resistance movement has the utmost right to demand permanent change and to take their country’s future into their own hands at last.  

Conversely, they must make it clear to the Raisi administration and the entire Iranian regime that they have no right to suppress that outcome and that they will face the consequences on an international scale for any escalation of violence.