Intensification of repression in Iran as tensions mount and the risk of war rises in the region
With the escalation of tensions between the dictatorial theocratic regime of Iran and the extreme right wing government of the United Sates, the spectre of a devastating war, with the agitations on both sides, is moving over Iran and the Middle East and causes worries for the people and the progressive forces of Iran and the world. This is taking place at a time when in Iran, due to the anti-democratic economic policies the living conditions, the peoples’ livelihood, is constantly declining, and the people, upset with the inflation and high prices, face many difficulties in providing the life necessities, and in addition, are bearing the burden of the imposed sanctions as well.
Today, the destructive and dangerous acts are replacing the rhetorical threats by both sides, especially by the Trump’s quasi-fascist government. These acts are threatening the peace in the region and this conflict situation is pleasing the warmongers on both sides. Experience has shown that the reactionary and anti-democratic policies of the regressive regimes, not only protects the interest of their authoritarian and repressive regimes but also works and is in line with the interest of imperialism. On the other hand, the US destructive and dangerous policies and actions, including imposing sanctions and creating tensions, serve and are in line with the interest of the reactionary and repressive regime of Iran.
Thus, the tyrannical regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran which from two years ago, specially from December of 2017, is facing wide popular protests, has welcomed the tense and dangerous atmosphere and in order to avoid the collapse of its shaking bases, has launched further suppression against social and trade union activists. Systemic corruption and the deepening gap between the poor and the rich, which is the result of the implementation of neo-liberal economic policies, along with the astronomical embezzlements that every so often find its way to the official media, as a result of internal power struggles, along with rampant inflation and the high cost of the basic necessities such as housing, food, etc., day by day push increasing number of people under the line of poverty. At the same time, this has resulted in protest movements by the lower strata of the society and the working class such as the workers, teachers, and the pensioners, which continues despite all the suppression.
Even the cronies of the theocratic regime cannot deny the economic, political and social crises that Iran is faced with. As the food basket of the people shrinks, the general manager of the Office of Nutrition Improvement under the Ministry of Health states: eight provinces of the country are facing with food supply insecurity; specially in the poor provinces such as Sistan and Baluchistan, Kohgilooyeh and Booyerahmad, Eelam, Hormozgaan, Khoozestan, Kerman, and the south Khorasan province. He deems unemployment, low-income, and drought and water shortage, poverty and illiteracy as the main reasons of this situation (ILNA, July 31, 2019).
But the theocratic regime and its dictatorial and anti-democratic structure, as always see the solution in further suppression and restriction of the peoples’ rights and freedoms, by taking advantage of the tensions and conflict situation in the region; i.e. expanding the wave of arrests and repression of activists calling for ending the oppression, poverty, discrimination and inequality. Due to these arrests, the prisons of the country are full of freedom fighters and trade union and civil rights activists, women, university students, teachers, religious minorities, democratic lawyers, environmental activists, and journalists.
The hunger strike by the political prisoners, which as always are being reported by the families of the prisoners, prisoners who sacrifice their lives to pursue their humanist desires, has continued in recent days: from the hunger strike of Sepideh Gholian, in protest to the insult of the prison guards against her elderly parents, to the hunger strike of Sanaz Allahyari and Amir Hossein Mohammadifar (journalist couples) or Hakimeh Ahmadi (Civil activist from Azabayjan). All of these are taking place under the silence of the international community.
Let’s not forget that the massacre of more than four thousand political prisoners by the theocratic regime of Iran in August and September of 1988 under the shadow of Iran-Iraq war was committed in full silence of the international community. Albeit due to the expansion of the cyberspace and communications, today’s situation is in no way comparable to 31 years ago.
Autocracy in Iran has repeatedly showed that its suppression machine does not differentiate between men and women: from the heavy sentences for the democratic lawyers such as Nasrin Sotoudeh (38 years) , Amir Salar Davoudi who recently was sentenced to 30 years and 111 lashes, or the civil activists such as Yasmin Ariaee, Manizheh Arabshahi and Mozhgan Keshavarz who in total were sentenced to 55 years prison term for protesting the compulsory covering (Hijab) for women and giving flowers to women in Tehran’s subway, to the heavy sentences issued for the teachers trade union activists such as Esmail Abdi and Mohammad Habibi and etc.
Following the news of arrests in recent months and the verdicts issued for the Iranian militant women who, for voicing their opinion or peaceful struggle, are in prison charged with security accusations, and intensification of these arrests and suppressions, specially under the circumstances where the progressive public opinion of the people of Iran and around the world are gravely worried about the situation in the region and the consequences of a possible devasting war, proves that for the leaders of the theocratic regime of Iran, the best context for survival, and suppression of the militant activists, is to take advantage of threat of war. The names of some of the arrested people in recent months are as follows:
Farangis Mazloom, Mother of Soheil A’raabi, political prisoner
Asrin Kaleh, Women and Human Rights Activist
Marzieh Amiri, Anisha Asadollahi, Neda Naji and Atefeh Rangraz, arrested during the May 1st (Labour Day) gatherings
Sepideh Gholian and the journalist couples Sanaz Allahyari and Amir Hossein Mohammadifar, defendants in the judicial file of Haft-Tapeh strike who presently are on hunger strike
Leila Hosseinzadeh, the secretary of the Central Student Council of Tehran University
Parisa Rafiee and Saba Kord Afshari, Human Rights Activists and former political prisoners
Naheed Shaghaghi, Women rights activist who was arrested for hiking without wearing veil (Hijab)
Hakimeh Ahmadi, Human Rights Activist from Azerbaijan
Sepideh Moradi, Elham Ahmadi, Shokoofeh Yadollahi, Dervish women, imprisoned in Section 7 of Gharechak Varaamin prison
Sima and Shima Entesari, two sisters, imprisoned in the Section 1 of Gharechack Varaamin prison
Hengameh Shahidi, Journalist, sentenced to 12 years imprisonment
Niloofar Bayani and Sepideh Kashani, Environmental Activists, along with 4 male activists have been detained “temporarily” in Revolutionary Guard Torture centres for more than 4 year now
Yasamin Ariaee, Manizheh Arabshahi and Mozhgan Keshavarz, charged with protests against the compulsory veil (Hijab) and giving flowers to women in Tehran’s subway, who were sentenced to a total of 55 years in prison
Sadigheh Moradi and Mehdi Khavas Sefat, the couple who are former political prisoners, were arrested on July 7, 2019 by the security forces in Tehran
Maryam Mohammadi, Akram Nasirian, Aras Amiri, Sepideh Farhan, etc. and the list goes on.
Even though this list is not complete and doesn’t cover many of the detainees outside Tehran, and don’t include the unknown prisoners– whose relatives for one reason or another or by being threatened or lured by the suppressive security forces, don’t officially release the prisoner’s names. It is just an example showing the intensification of suppression in Iran.
The brave female political prisoners, just like their male counterparts, show resistance and perseverance against the torturers and those who command them, i.e. the misogynist and tyrannical theocratic regime of Iran. Prisoners such as Nargess Mohammadi, Atena Daemi, Zeinab Jalalian, Sepideh Gholian, and Nasrin Sotoodeh and hundreds of others, are captivated in Iran’s prisons, and their number is increasing by the day. Today, defending all the political and civil prisoners, regardless of their political tendencies, has become one of the effective means, beside the struggle of masses for social and economic demands against the theocratic regime of Iran and against war. By connecting these struggles with the general struggle of the Iranian people, we can get rid of dictatorship, war, and injustice in the country.
Let’s be the voice of the political prisoners of Iran!
We conclude with the speech of the brave and militant prisoner of Iran, Ms. Narges Mohammadi, a civil and human rights activist who appropriately wrote in a letter from the notorious Evin prison in Tehran (3rd June 2019):
“Dictatorship and war are the two sides of the same coin in destructing the societies, and their obvious common denominator is violence. Thus, the same way and with the same power that we have stood and will stand against war and violence, we have a mission that retreating from it would never be justified, and that is to fight against the dictatorial regime. For many years, we have witnessed repression and oppression, which has resulted in endless and limitless systematic corruption of the rulers and increasing poverty and marginalization of the people, lack of freedom of expression and opinion, imprisonment and arrests, silencing the opponents and critics.”
Democratic Organisation of Iranian Women – 01 August 2019