Iranians Stand Up in The Face Of Oppression

Max Smith, Journalist

People throughout Iran have been rising up together in protest against the Iranian Islamic Regime. These widespread protests erupted after the death of Iranian activist Mahsa Amini, who died in police custody under suspicious circumstances. She was taken into custody by Iranian police officers for protesting against strict religious dress codes against women in the country. She died a few days later in a hospital after reportedly being beaten and tortured by police. Officials claim she died of underlying diseases but people throughout the country do not believe this and have become outraged. 

Protests against the country’s strict laws against women and strict dress codes have been happening for a long time, but only recently have they become extremely widespread after Mahsa Amini’s death. These protests are the largest the country has ever seen with people from all genders, races and economic classes protesting together to get rid of strict laws forcing women to wear hijabs at all times. Previous protests in Iran have never been able to reach this level because the issues being protested did not affect this many people. Previous protests were only against issues that affected certain areas or economic classes and therefore lacked the support to make change. The issues now being protested affect all people in Iran and as a result have gained massive support. Protests have been mostly peaceful with the most common form of protest being women burning their hijabs or shaving their heads in violation of the dress codes. At the World Cup the Iranian National Team refused to sing the national anthem in protest. Support has also come from all around the world with many protests happening by women in other countries to show their support for the struggle happening in Iran. However some violent clashes have happened with protesters throwing firebombs and Iranian security forces and Iranian security buildings. Other than some small violent confrontations the protests have been peaceful.

While protests have been mostly peaceful, government response to these protests have not been peaceful. The government has responded with violence towards the protests happening throughout the country. The ruling Iranian Islamic Regime has responded with militaristic action in response to these mostly peaceful protests. Soldiers have been mobilized to crack down on the protests, often with brute force and violence. These strong militaristic actions have been more common and violent in areas where ethnic minorities of Iran live, such as Kurds and Balochs. In these areas and many more protests have been fired upon with machine guns and other heavy weaponry by the Iranian Islamic Regime. Many journalists covering the protests or writing in support of them have disappeared completely, with many people thinking the government is behind it. Many other journalists, public figures and celebrities have been arrested and taken into custody for speaking out against the government in support of the protestors. The Iranian Islamic Regime has also responded very violently to these protests, with people being shot at for simply honking their car horns in support of the protestors. As many as 453 people have been killed by the Iranian Islamic Regime during the protests including 63 children. These numbers are likely inaccurate as many deaths go unreported by Iranian officials. This is in contrast to the 60 members of the Islamic Regime that have been reportedly killed by protestors according to the Iranian Islamic Regime. Mass arrests have also happened as a result of these protests with jails filling up and detainees being stored inside of warehouses.

Most arrested protestors face execution as their punishment, with the first executions happening in early December and two more men being executed by hanging in early January. These executions and many other actions by the Iranian government have been heavily criticized and condemned by the international community, while protestors face praise from the same international community. With this praise from the international community many have asked for international support for the protests, especially after the many atrocities committed by the Islamic Regime. I talked to my sister Mckenzie Smith to get her opinion on the issue. When I asked her of she thought foreign nations should step in and help the citizens of Iran she told me “Yes, it is the responsibility of the United Nations to prevent human rights violations and what is happening in Iran is a violation of human rights.” I asked her what she believed would happen if foreign powers did not help and she told me “ I am not sure what will happen in Iran but if the world ignores violations of human rights in Iran they are betraying women everywhere by ignoring their mistreatment.” The Islamic Regime has accused America of stirring up and inciting these protests. It is still unclear what the results of these protests will be, but many hope for change in Iran and a better future for its citizens.