Iran regime has nothing to offer the people but violence

Iran regime has nothing to offer the people but violence

Iran regime has nothing to offer the people but violence
Women protest the death of 22-year-old Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini in Iran, Qamishli, Syria, Sept. 26, 2022. (Reuters)
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The arrest of a young Kurdish woman, 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, by Iran’s “morality police,” followed by her death inside a detention facility, has brought the debate over the hijab and violence against women in Iran to the forefront, sparking a growing wave of popular anti-regime protests.

As news of Amini’s death spread, Iranian authorities attempted to deflect the blame by falsely claiming that she had been suffering from a chronic disease, which caused her death. The country’s authorities categorically rejected reports of Amini having been subjected to beatings, even publishing video footage of the young woman filmed inside the detention facility to support their narrative.

The young woman’s father flatly denied the regime’s version of events, asserting that his daughter was a healthy young woman who had never suffered from any health problems and blaming the police for her death. And harrowing photographs showing Amini unconscious in a hospital bed clearly showed the bruising and other signs of violence perpetrated against her by the so-called morality police, which has recently been given carte blanche to brutally target Iranian women.

Iranian authorities wronged this innocent young woman not just once, but twice, firstly by killing her in one of their detention facilities and secondly by denying her real identity. Like all members of Iran’s ethnic minorities, Mahsa, as she was known, was a victim of systematic racial, cultural and ethnic persecution. Her real forename, given to her by her parents at birth, was Zhina. Iran’s authorities refused to register her birth under this name because it is Kurdish, instead insisting that she should be given the name Mahsa, which is Persian.

There is plentiful evidence of the brutal beating that this young woman was subjected to. Most damningly, a CT scan leaked to a few media outlets revealed a fracture to the right side of her skull caused by heavy direct blows.

In a Twitter post, prominent Iranian lawyer Saeed Dehghan straightforwardly called Amini’s killing a murderous act, noting that she sustained severe trauma from being hit so hard on the head that one of the blows fractured the base of her skull.

Recent statements by the morality police saying that Amini’s death was regrettable and that they do not want to see any future incidents of a similar nature reflect a tacit admission of responsibility for her death. These statements also reveal the confusion among Iranian officials, who cannot even get their own story straight, claiming at one time that she had died of an existing illness, then that she had died of a stroke, and finally that her death was the result of a “regrettable incident.”

As is customary, the Iranian security authorities have attempted to pursue a policy of disinformation and media blackout in order to obscure their heinous crime against this young woman and to evade responsibility, particularly in light of the angry official and popular reactions to the incident, which has shaken Iranian society and awakened its dormant conscience. The police and intelligence agencies have put pressure on the deceased woman’s family to silence them, forcing them not to speak to the media. They also attempted to bury Amini at night to reduce the number of mourners and ensure they would be unable to see the evidence of beatings on her body.

While the Iranian authorities have successfully intimidated Amini’s family into remaining silent, the bitterness of the injustice inflicted on this woman in the bloom of youth is too much for the Iranian street. As a result, Iranians have taken to the streets in several cities to protest at her extrajudicial killing, as well as against Iran’s repressive policies regarding the hijab. Protesters have chanted anti-regime slogans, including “Death to (Supreme Leader Ali) Khamenei,” with activists and anti-hijab groups launching “No to hijab” campaigns in Tehran and other cities. Famous Iranian women have cut their hair and removed their headscarves in protest at Amini’s death, in open defiance of the authorities, particularly in rejection of their draconian hijab policies.

This widespread public reaction reflects the level of discontent across Iranian society, as well as the growing chasm between the regime and the Iranian public generally. This has added to the existing pressure on the regime, which is already facing a number of serious challenges, such as the cost of living crisis, its diplomatic isolation and international pressures.

While Amini’s Kurdish ethnicity is one of the factors fueling the protests, particularly in Kurdish areas, the fact that Iranian citizens from all ethnic backgrounds are taking to the streets and chanting anti-regime slogans demonstrates that a common cause and shared sense of suffering are uniting Iranians from various ethnic backgrounds against the regime’s policies. As a result, more protests are likely in the future and they will grow bigger by the day.

The Iranian regime has nothing to offer the people in the face of this round of protests apart from further repression and violence. Despite international organizations and some world powers condemning Amini’s killing and the authorities’ mishandling of the protests, it appears that the repressive regime will, once again, face no accountability for its crimes. This means that Amini could be added to the very long list of Iranians subjected to injustice and violence by the very authorities that are supposed to protect them.

The bitterness of the injustice inflicted on this woman in the bloom of youth is too much for the Iranian street.

Dr. Mohammed Al-Sulami

This unfortunate fact could lead observers to conclude that there are political reasons for the international community, particularly Western nations, to ignore the systematic nature of the brutal policies pursued by Iran’s repressive apparatuses against the Iranian people, focusing obsessively on efforts to bring Iran back to the 2015 nuclear deal rather than highlighting its horrendous and blatant violations of human rights and individual freedoms. If the international community raises concerns about these issues, Iran may use this as a pretext to reduce its compliance with its nuclear commitments and to further prolong negotiations.

All this means that resisting the regime’s injustice against Iranians remains an internal struggle. The Iranian regime’s increasingly brutal crushing of protests, contradicting its professed principles of protecting the vulnerable and marginalized among the Iranian people, is an obstacle to an uprising that will uproot corruption and injustice in Iran.

  • Dr. Mohammed Al-Sulami is president of the International Institute for Iranian Studies (Rasanah). Twitter: @mohalsulami
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