Civil movement

Iran’s freedom movement becomes a freedom revolution

The world sees the Iranian people courageously and persistently expressing their legitimate demands for freedom. In recent weeks, in response to the violent death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman, while detained by the regime’s morality police for not wearing “her hijab properly”, Iranians have bravely challenged the brutality of the ruling mullahs through civil disobedience, nationwide protests and strikes.

While Mahsa’s horrific death has sparked widespread protests across the country, mostly led by women, what is fueling the start of an Iranian freedom revolution is the culmination of 43 years of repression, gender apartheid , inequality, lack of human rights and freedoms, economic hardship, and the incompetence and corruption of the mullahs. The slogans chanted today by women and men, young and old, of all ethnic and religious backgrounds across socio-economic strata are against Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, President Ebrahim Raisi and the entire system of the Islamic Republic. In addition to slogans such as “death to the dictator”, “freedom”, “women, life, freedom”, “the mullahs are lost” and “death to Khamenei”, the demonstrators are also clearly shouting “death to the Islamic republic”. indicating their desire for regime change.

The mullahs’ regime came to power in 1979 claiming to defend freedom, independence and self-sufficiency, promising heaven on earth. Today it is one of the most repressive regimes in the world with a crumbling economy and more dependent and subservient to autocratic countries like Russia than ever before in its recent history.

The regime also broke virtually every rule of civilized international conduct and for decades was the main instigator of terrorism around the world. The ruling mullahs have turned Iran into a breeding ground for militant Islamic fundamentalism and international terrorism. They repeatedly use terror as an instrument of policy, both foreign and domestic. Even today, as the ruling mullahs kill peaceful protesters at home, they simultaneously arm Russia with suicide drones to slaughter Ukrainian civilians and support terrorist groups abroad, while militarily threatening regional neighbors and the United States, in an effort to get some distracting relief from the current situation. protests across the country.

Over the past few years, the world has seen the people of Iran, especially the young people, who make up more than half of the population, courageously voice their legitimate demands for freedom, human rights, economic opportunity and modernity – all things that the mullahs’ regime has failed to deliver on its promises. This time around however, in addition to nationwide student protests and university sit-ins, young protesters are joined by older generations and backed by sporadic strikes in the bazaar, oil and gas sectors. public transport as well as teachers’ unions, city employees. , refinery workers and other key segments, illustrating the escalation of a grassroots freedom movement to the start of a freedom revolution.

To date, recent protests have resulted in the deaths of at least 300 people, including children and teenagers, by regime security force thugs, and the arrest of around 15,000 protesters. Unfortunately, to retain power, the ruthless mullahs are quite willing to commit the same kinds of atrocities they perpetrated in helping Bashar Assad stay in power in Syria. Unsurprisingly, the mullahs’ regime uses the Revolutionary Guards and Basij security forces and their non-Iranian mercenaries – who are masters of brutality and repression – to fight the Iranian people. As in the past, these militia thugs are committing daily atrocities, including the use of lethal force as well as rape and torture in prisons, to suppress the Iranian people through the most savage and brutal means. .

The US National Security Council said last month that its “message to Iran is very, very clear: stop killing your people and stop sending weapons to Russia to kill Ukrainians. We remain committed to ensuring that those responsible for the brutal crackdown on these brave protesters are held accountable. »

Meanwhile, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) recently warned protesters that it would be their “last day” of demonstrations, ordering them to stay at home, an order that has been defied, despite the escalation of violent repression. The regime has also started public mock trials against 1,000 protesters under threat of the death penalty, hoping to instill fear and crush the protests. But with the protests continuing despite these vicious and indiscriminate attempts at repression, the ruling mullahs now realize that the fear is dissipating and the regime is subject to people power, so in the long run the freedom revolution is unstoppable.

Clearly, the overwhelming credit for the freedom revolution goes to the brave people inside Iran, who put their lives on the line every day by courageously speaking out, protesting and going on strike. Fortunately, the internet and social media have empowered tech-savvy young people – despite repeated internet shutdowns – to communicate and share videos, audio and images from within the country. And the contributions of overseas Iranians over the past 43 years have also been complementary and highly beneficial in promoting freedom through civil disobedience and amplifying the voices emanating from within Iran while highlighting the crimes of the mullahs’ terrorist regime and by countering their apologists and enablers in Western societies. . As a result, we are now witnessing unprecedented solidarity and global support for the Iranian people seeking freedom and massive protests organized around the world by the Iranian diaspora.

Although no one can predict the timing of such a revolution or the future form of government, Iranians are overwhelmingly united in the principle that the content of such a progressive government should be based on the principles of secular democracy, human rights of human rights and fundamental freedoms, equality, the rule of law and the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Iranian nation.

Undoubtedly, it will greatly benefit the civilized world when the local freedom revolution finally prevails over the ruling mullahs, as the country will then have both shared values ​​and interests with other democratic nations. But the success of this freedom revolution will require resolute support from the United States, Canada and their European allies, who have a historic opportunity today to boldly support the Iranian people, in deeds and not just in words, in his quest for freedom and secularism. democracy.

The Biden administration would be wise to see the United States take the lead by implementing the following five principled and impactful steps:

1. End all negotiations with the clerical regime, including those on the Iran nuclear deal.

2. Facilitate an uninterrupted satellite internet connection, including the expansion of Starlink terminals for communication purposes and to keep social media tools open so that video, photo and audio reports can continue to be shared from Iran while amplifying the voice of the Iranian people and enlightening the mullahs’ regime. atrocities.

3. Publicly reaffirm that the mullahs’ regime, its Revolutionary Guards and security forces will be held accountable for their use of repression against the Iranian people and help establish an international mechanism to collect and preserve documentation of these atrocities in order to ensure future accountability under international law for their crimes against humanity.

4. Sanction and freeze the assets of clerical regime officials, including those of the Revolutionary Guards, and revoke the visas of their immediate family members in the United States

5. Support and mobilize international assistance for the creation of an “Iran Labor Freedom Strike Fund” to help expand sustainable strikes in critical sectors of the economy.

Today, the Persian Gulf region stands at a critical juncture, and the success of the Iranian people’s freedom revolution would certainly become a powerful stabilizing force for the region and the world. Eventually, a free and democratic Iran will be able to use its resources for the prosperity of its own people and, in doing so, contribute significantly to world peace and stability.

Darab Ganji is a political economist and board member and visiting lecturer at SMU’s John Tower Center for Public Policy and International Affairs. He wrote this column for The Dallas Morning News.

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