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Why Have Iran Protests Lasted for a Month?

Courageous youth clash with security forces in Ilam, Western Iran

Iran’s nationwide protests have entered their fifth week. This uprising’s unprecedented endurance, despite the regime’s heavy crackdown, implies that the situation in Iran will never be the same. And yet, many of the so-called Iran experts in the West who were insisting another revolution was unthinkable in Iran, chose a new conviction and have started to argue that the popular uprising is as spontaneous as it is leaderless.

Initially sparked by the death of a young Kurdish girl in police custody, protests soon spread across the county and have morphed into what many observers consider a revolution.

According to the report tallied by the Iranian opposition, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), over 400 protesters have fallen for freedom during the recent onslaught, and over 20,000 protesters have been arrested and are under torture.

As protests persist despite the regime’s attempt to quash them, officials express their utter fear.  “Society has put off fear. People’s fear has now turned to anger,” Nosratollah Tajik, a former diplomat, told the state-run Bahar news website on October 8.

This fact was confirmed by the regime’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei. “These animosities will persist,” he told the members of the Expediency Council on October 12.

This nationwide protest displayed a volatile society where all walks of life suffer from the regime’s corruption, ineptitude, mismanagement, and systematic human rights violations.

In such circumstances, a new phenomenon began to thrive and drive popular discontent. Born in 2016, the MEK Resistance Units became a role model for the frustrated youth who had nothing to lose but a miserable future under the clerical dictatorship. These brave souls were connected to the organized resistance inside the country and continued to challenge the vast intelligence and security apparatus of the regime. Even though Tehran announced many times that it had arrested hundreds of the Resistance Units, the network only grows bigger and expanded throughout the entire country.

Frankly Speaking | S5 E3 | Dowlat Nowrouzi, UK Rep. of the National Council of Resistance of Iran

Therefore, the current uprising is demographically and geographically unique. Nearly 190 cities across Iran have witnessed protests, and people from all walks of life are joining these demonstrations. From high school and university students to teachers and workers throughout Iran, the common goal is the regime’s downfall.

People target the regime in their entirety in their slogans and courageously clash with the fully armed security forces. Unlike what the regime and its apologists try to present, Iranians’ requests are not limited to removing some restrictions, mainly the mandatory hijab for women. Iranians know, and Khamenei has repeatedly acknowledged that any “changing of behavior” and “taking a step backward” results in the regime’s downfall.

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Therefore, people only call for regime change and chant slogans such as “death to the dictator, be it Shah or the [supreme] leader,” or “Seyed Ali [Khamenei] will be toppled this year.”

Iran’s clerical regime has miserably failed so far to quell the society. Above all, more youth are approaching the MEK as the organization’s “Resistance Units” continue their operations across Iran. With their activities, the MEK’s Resistance Units have played as a sledgehammer to break the atmosphere of fear. Now, as protests continue across Iran, the fear has shifted to the regime’s camp.

Iranian people have showcased their bravery and desire for regime change. Their nationwide uprising has also laid bare the regime’s weakness. The ball is now in the world community’s court. Although the international community’s condemnations and statements in solidarity with the Iranian revolution are important, they are not enough. The international community should go beyond condemnation and recognize the Iranian people’s right to self-defense. The world community’s failure to hold the regime accountable has created a sense of impunity among regime leaders, allowing them to continue their cycle of violence. This cycle should be dismantled by supporting the Iranian people’s right to determine their future.

Nowadays, as the state media and Tehran’s mouthpieces in the West continue to preach that the uprising has been exhausted or cracked down, there is an organized network of MEK Resistance Units and an outbreak of anger across Iran that has shown perseverance for 32 days.

Whether in Iran’s prisons, various neighborhoods, universities, and high schools, there are some courageous people who refuse to be intimidated by the state and have set their goals much higher as shortsighted self-interests. Those that the regime deems as “the protest leaders” and those who literally have nothing to lose and everything to gain.