Naked Opinion

Iran Protests – Now Is Not The Time To Be Silent

Iran protests
Pictured: People in Tehran, Iran, protest against rigged elections during the popular uprising in the name of the "Green Movement," on June 16, 2009. (Image source: Milad Avazbeigi/Wikimedia Commons)

As Iran protests spread, it’s vital that the rest of the world shows support and solidarity for the brave men and women of Iran.

Now is not the time for partisan politics. Nor is the time to be silent. As the Iran protests continue to unfold, The Trump administration has come out in favor of the protests, citing Iran’s history of civilian persecution, neglect of human rights, and general disdain for democracy as reason enough for a change in government in Iran. “The people of Iran want change”, said President Trump, and he is correct.

President Rouhani of Iran has spoken out regarding the protests, as the death toll continues to rise as protests continue to spread and grow in size across the country. He has dismissed the Iran protests as “nothing”, and hasn’t expressed concern or fear. It’s interesting, however, that despite the President’s expression of nonchalance, the government has taken great measures to quiet the protestors, including cutting off access to Internet in parts, as well as the apps Instagram and Telegram, using water cannons, tear gas, and even guns, in efforts to disperse crowds. Digital communication has been key for organizing and planning the protests, so shutting down Telegram may take a toll on the protests, though it certainly won’t put an end to them.

President Trump has held controversial positions on several important international and domestic issues. However, now is not the time to disregard a very important and valuable stance solely because of disdain. The issues of Iran are not exclusively a Democratic or Republican issue. It’s not a question of Trump vs. Obama. Iran poses a threat not just to international stability, but to its own people. This is not a partisan issue; it is a human issue.

It’s unfortunate, albeit, unsurprising, that no leader of a great power, other than the U.S. has paid much heed to these protests. A lack of recognition, and undermining the protests as simply being motivated by “economic discontent”, does not in any way support the Iranian people in their fight for freedom. This is far more than just economic discontent. This is a near four decades of grievances cumulating and finally materializing in the form of protests. This is time for the rest of the world to stand in solidarity and support with the Iranian people, to hopefully put an end to the Iranian regime, once and for all.

Time and again protests have arisen among Iranian civilians. Unfortunately, however impassioned and widespread the protests, they have been violently squandered by the government. This time, however, the protests are quickly garnering international attention, much due to the U.S. government’s attention to the region.

Iran Protests: Widespread civilian unrest

The protests began in Mashhad, the second largest city in Iran, and soon spread to the rest of the country, including the capital, Tehran. The initial motivations of the protests were high prices, but the underpinnings were a more general and widespread civilian unrest due to a general corruption and disregard for human rights routinely employed in by the Iranian government.

To summarize the motivations of the protests in the one word it would be corruption. For years the government has promised its people reform and economic success. With the signing of the nuclear deal, there was newfound hope that the money brought in from the deal would help the economy recover. Instead, the government has chosen to fund terrorist groups and to mismanage its money. Prices for commodities rise frequently, often without reason. Not only is the Iranian government funding battles in Yemen and Syria, it is also a large financial supporter of Hezbollah in Lebanon. Iran’s land is rich but its people are starving because its government is corrupt.

Although initially peaceful, the protests grew in number, and as done in the past, the Iranian government was quick to employ forces to quiet them, using any and all forces necessary.  

Two demonstrators were shot and killed in Dorud on Saturday as government security forces opened fire on protesters. There have also been reports of tear gas, and the use of water cannons to disperse protests. Of the more interesting retaliations is the disruption of internet access in areas of Iran. Since many protests have been organized digitally, often spontaneously and with little planning, Internet access is almost rudimental to the organization of many of these protests.

Women in Iran and in these protests play a significant role

Women across the country are also proving to be some of the strongest voices.A video emerged only a few days ago of a brave woman not wearing a hijab, and instead of waving it on a stick in a very busy street. By refusing to subject herself to the sexist compulsory hijab, this woman showed everyone what it means to stand up and fight for an issue rather than to remain complicit and silent. Another video that went viral on twitter shows a woman facing a security officer screaming, “I’m not moving. I will die in this spot”. Many of these videos were captioned with the phrase, “this is what feminism looks like”.

This past year the hundreds of massive Women’s Marches across the world made a statement. A statement that women can and will unite and fight for equality. Now is the time for anyone who partook in the Marches, anyone who considers themselves a feminist, anyone who even remotely cares and values human rights, to stand up and speak out in support of the Iran protests. Now is not the time to be silent.

One wise Iranian academic refers to Iran as “a country of dead people who are afraid of death”. They live with very poor standards of life, their culture, art, history, has been stripped from them and instead of a religious ideology that oppresses many and benefits few has been implemented. But these people have lived in fear of death, a potential result of a revolution, for too long, and have reached their limit. It’s time to start living again and work towards an Iran in which human rights and freedoms are respected.

 

Read also: Trump’s Decision To Recognize Jerusalem As The Capital Of Israel Is Directed Against Iran

About the author

Sayeh Yousefi

Sayeh Yousefi

Sayeh Yousefi is the Editor of Naked Opinion section of The Pavlovic Today. She is a Loran Scholar 2016, Yale Young Global Scholar 2015, and passionate human rights advocate. She's currently studying at the Munk School of Global Affairs, at the University of Toronto. Throughout her life, she's had the privilege of living in many different countries, including Iran, the UAE, the United Kingdom, and Canada. Exposure to such diversity, and witnessing injustices, whether it be on the news or in person, has fuelled her passion to help improve conditions for victims of human rights violations. Sayeh hopes to be able to encourage youth to become more involved in global affairs and become more engaged in issues of human rights and social justice. Sayeh believes this can best be done through the digital world of writing.

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