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Iran’s November 2019 protests, fire under ashes

The Iranian regime’s state-run media is warning about a “powder-keg” society and a repeat of the nationwide November 2019 uprising
The Iranian regime’s state-run media is warning about a “powder-keg” society and a repeat of the nationwide November 2019 uprising

Analysis by PMOI/MEK

Iran, October 4, 2020—It has been nearly a year since the nationwide November 2019 uprising and the regime’s bloody and outrageous crackdown in response to a massive gasoline price hike. The deprived population and the poor residents of suburban areas flowed into the streets across the country to protest the regime’s corruption, looting, and suppressive measures. Hundreds of regime-affiliated sites were torched by defiant youths.

The regime responded by opening fire on protesters and more than 1,500 protesters were gunned down in the streets. More than 12,000 were arrested and severely tortured in prisons, and according to reports received from inside the country, around 7,000 remain behind bars. These statistics were obtained and leaked by the Iranian opposition to the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), and later confirmed by Reuters.

Despite international pressure and public opinion that demanded from regime officials to release the numbers  of those killed and arrested, along with their names and specifications, the regime never announced precise statistics and only denied the MEK’s revelations. To this day the MEK has published the names and images of 811 protesters killed during the November 2019 protests.


Young protesters killed by the regime’s suppressive forces during Iran’s nationwide protests in November 2019

Young protesters killed by the regime’s suppressive forces during Iran’s nationwide protests in November 2019


During the past year, the regime made several attempts to install fear in Iran’s society by executing  protesters arrested during recent uprisings. However, back in June a global Twitter campaign during which users tweeted the Persian hashtag #donotexecute 12 million times, called for the death sentences issued for three political prisoners, Amir Hossein Moradi, Saied Tamjidi, and Mohammad Rajabi, to be revoked. The three were arrested during the November 2019 protests and regime officials were forced to halt their execution.


However, the regime executed two heroes; Mostafa Salehi, a political prisoner on August 5, and Navid Afkari, a 27-year old wrestling champion, on September 12. But contrary to the regime’s desires, the executions have rendered an atmosphere of outrage and motivation for many inside and outside of Iran.

Where we are and what to expect one year after 2019 protests

The question today is whether the regime managed to suppress the popular movement and preserve its establishment from being overthrown? Was the regime’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei able to quell the society through suppression, maintain his regime, and wipe out the prospect of a new uprising?

The reality is that Iran’s November 2019 protests fundamentally changed all domestic, social, regional, and international matters concerning Iran, even within the regime itself.

During the past year each and every day regime officials have been heard warning about new protests in horizon. Many acknowledge that the November 2019 protests are not over, not suppressed, and are actually fire under the ashes.

“[The November protests] are not over. Now and then, the wounds of those catastrophic days reopen and burn the soul of our society,” said Hossein Nouraninejad, a journalist affiliated with the so-called reformists in Iran, to the daily Etemad.

“The enemy has attacked our youth with psychological warfare. This is a battlefield and the focal point of our efforts,” said Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) chief Hossein Salami.

Javan daily, affiliated to the IRGC, summed up some similar writings published in other papers, warning about the explosive state of Iran’s society.

“Our hopes will drown if the barrier of outrage, anger, and violence breaks,” according to the state-run daily Arman.

“The situation will become more critical if the current gap between the people and the political power persists,” according to the state-run Etemad daily. 

“The youth are fed up. They are waiting. It was just two weeks ago when social media users tweeted 12 million times the hashtag ‘do not execute’ in protest to death sentences for three youths arrested during the November 2019 incidents. If this match is lit, putting down the fire will be very difficult,” according to the state-run Setareyeh Sobh newspaper.

A piece in Javan daily concluded that such articles will portray a collapsing regime and this will turn all pressures, sanctions, and dissatisfactions into an internal rebellion and riots, and result in the downfall of the establishment.

All the while, these quotes made by officials and state-run media describe only a small part of a bigger picture. Five nationwide protests since 2018 have shown that the Iranian people do not want this regime. The society is waiting and the new wave of protests is not avoidable for the regime.