Analysis by PMOI/MEK
Iran, May 27, 2018 - Last week peaceful protests by the people of Kazerun, Fars, over unfair plans to fragment the city, turned into clashes after the security forces opened fire on the unarmed protesters. The protesters’ response to the Iranian regime’s brutality and their courage to fight back shows how Iran and its people have evolved in the past few months, especially after the uprisings that shook the regime to its core at the turn of the year
Presently, the people of Iran, fed up from decades of the mullahs’ corrupt policies and extremist ideology, are raising their voice in every corner of the country and reacting to the regime’s every measure and action. Their message to the rulers of Iran is that things have changed dramatically, especially after the Kazerun uprising.
The Kazerun protests were a major tipping point for the ongoing protests in Iran. The majority of people stood up and countered the regime’s crackdown on protesters. Although the regime’s forces killed four protesters in the course of the clashes, the funeral of the victims and heroes turned into a rally point for the citizens of Kazerun and an occasion to strengthen their vows for struggling for their rights.
The Iranian people are unfazed by the regime’s repression
After the December and January uprisings, which suddenly flared and spread across more than 140 cities in Iran, the regime tried to cause an environment of terror by identifying and arresting protesters and murdering them in prison. But this time the nationwide protests were rooted in poverty, unemployment, drought and government corruption, and they will not die down until those grievances are addressed. In its current state, the regime neither has the power nor the will to meet the people’s demands.
But unlike the past, it doesn’t have the means to stifle the voices of protesters either. In Kazerun, not even the regime’s elite repressive forces were able to shut down the protests. On May 20, when the clashes peaked, the government dispatched backup forces from neighboring cities into Kazerun, but the people pushed them back.
The use of lethal force
Another significant characteristic of the Kazerun protests was the using of lethal force. In the course of the January protests, the Iranian regime took special care to make minimum use of live ammunition and to avoid causing casualties in the streets. This is a lesson it had learned during the 2009 uprisings. The Iranian regime knows that killing protesters in the streets will only exacerbate the fury of the masses and further solidify their determination to continue their protests. That’s why it arrests protesters and murders them in prison, declaring that they had committed suicide. The stories of Tehran’s Kahrizak prison that surfaced after the 2009 uprisings were meant to spread fear among the people and discourage them from taking part in future protests.
But in the course of the Kazerun protests, the Iranian regime quickly and overtly opened fire on the peaceful protesters because things were moving so fast that it feared the situation would spin out of its control. The use of lethal force was the manifestation of the regime’s weakness not its strength.
The domino effect of the protests
The Kazerun protests took place against the background of ongoing protests across the country. The Iranian regime is sinking deeper into a slew of economic and political crises inside and abroad. It has lost its main base of support in the West and is facing setbacks in the Syria, Iraq and Yemen and across the Middle East. The regime’s problems have become exacerbated after the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal and the U.S. Secretary of State’s declaration of a new tougher stance vis-à-vis the Iranian regime and its malign activities.
The flip side of the Iranian regime’s failure in its foreign policy is its utter defeat in improving the country’s economy and the ongoing protests across the country. The bravery of the people of Kazerun will give heart to the disenchanted people in other parts of Iran, all of whom have suffered at the hands of the barbaric regime ruling their country. Any of the cities of Iran might spark the flames of the next nationwide uprising.
This is a unique opportunity for the international community to support the Iranian people in their plight to establish democracy and freedom in their country. A united front against the Iranian regime’s barbaric human rights violations and its terrorist meddling in neighboring countries is a good place to start. Western states must understand that appeasing the Iranian regime might earn them short-lived trade deals, but defending universal norms and values will win them the friendship of the Iranian people.