Revolution #226, March 6, 2011

From A World to Win News Service

On the February 14 Iranian People's Protests

February 28, 2011. A World to Win News Service. In the largest anti-regime protest in a year, on February 14 the Iranian people came to the streets once again in solidarity with the people's struggles in the Middle East. The uprising that started in June 2008 after the fraudulent presidential election had suffered a setback due to both the brutal suppression of the regime and the weaknesses of the reformist leaders.

Despite denying permission for the march, the regime could not prevent it. People coming into the streets were confronted by thousands of security forces in various uniforms and plain clothes who did all they could to prevent any assembly. At first people were confined to the sidewalks. Whenever they found the opportunity, they took over the streets chanting anti-regime slogans. The streets around Tehran University, Valiasr Square, Hafte Tir Square, Enghelab Square, Azadi Square and the whole area between the latter two squares were filled with protesters.

The slogans mainly targeted Ali Khamenei and his role as Guide and symbol of the Islamic Republic of Iran. In addition to "Death to Khamenei," other slogans reflected the influence of the struggle of people in Tunisia and Egypt. People  chanted, "Ben Ali, Mubarak, now this is time for Seyed Ali (Khamenei)," "One way ticket for Seyed Ali," "Death to the dictator" and "Khamenei, Mubarak your unity Mubarak" (in Farsi, mubarak means congratulations – we congratulate your unity, meaning you are very much the same). Some of the most common slogans from last year's uprising such as "Allahu Akbar" (god is great) and expressions of support for the reformist opposition leader Mir Hussein Mousavi were heard much less than before.

The security forces and anti-rebellion Guards, including thousands of plainclothes men riding on motorcycles and in cars equipped with masks, helmets and batons, were stationed at all strategic points of the city. Their mobility allowed them to chase the protesters. When people chanted slogans, they were attacked by the security forces. The people did not run away. They would alternately advance and retreat and continue their protest and chanting.

According to reports, protests broke out in other cities such as Isfahan, Shiraz, Tabriz, Kermanshah, Rasht, Babul, Mashhad and Boushehr. This time the Tehran protests – a dozen in all are known – also took place in areas such as Jeihoun street in Hashemi, which saw little activity last year. They were also reported in Shohada (formerly Jhaleh) Square and Khorasan street, places long under the influence of the regime. Even more interestingly, Rudaki and Jeihoun streets were the scene of heavy clashes with security forces. People taught some of the security forces a lesson by beating them. Shots were fired at the demonstrators and according to some reports one of the protesters was killed in this location. A few telephone boxes were also smashed and displaced.

In Forsat street near Tehran University, the people set fire to the motorcycle of a Basiji militiaman. The Basiji van that came to his rescue was heavily damaged. To counter the tear gas, people burned rubbish bins or lit fires. In many locations, the stone-throwing fights between the youth and Basiji continued late into the night.

Two people were killed, Sane Jhaleh, a Tehran University student from the Kurdish city of Paveh, and another youth, Mohammad Mokhtari. Blundering stupidly, the regime denied murdering Sane Jhaleh. They announced that Sane was a member of the Basij and hurriedly forged a membership card for him, claiming he had been killed by the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (an opposition group). His family immediately denied this. His brother called the Voice of America TV station explaining that Sane had long been an opponent of the regime and had never been a member of the Basij. His brother was later arrested for making this announcement. The regime did not give Sane's body to his family and instead arranged a funeral for him as a Basij member. This pathetic act angered the people, especially many in Kurdistan.

The Islamic Republic rulers, frustrated and embarrassed by the dimension of the demonstrations, claimed there were no real protesters involved, only hooligans. Keyhan, a newspaper close to the security forces, and Khamenei announced that they numbered only around 300. Ahmad Reza Radan, the commander of the security forces, went even further, declaring there were only 150 demonstrators, while at the same time announcing that 300 had been arrested. This discrepancy made him the butt of jokes among the people. Some opposition forces announced that a million people took part in the protest. It is safe to say hundreds of thousands of people attended in Tehran and other cities.

On February 20, in memory of the two martyred protesters, people attempted to take to the streets again. The large number of security forces, including anti-riot units on motorcycles, used more force and violence than the week before. They used tear gas to disperse crowds in several places, including near Valiasr and Vanak squares. The protest spread to many more towns and cities than the previous one, especially in Kurdistan. Shops closed in some Kurdish cities, including Mahabad, Sanandaj, Bukan and Mariwan. In some Kurdish cities the protests turned into clashes with security forces.

There were reports of at least one person killed and many more injured and hundreds arrested. The arrest and expulsion of university students continued in the following days.

The regime has arrested the "Green" reformist leaders Mousavi and Medhi Karroubi, along with their wives. The latest reports from their supporters say that their whereabouts are unknown.

The people are preparing for future protests.

Excerpts from "Some Notes Regarding the Recent Protest" sent to Haghighat, newspaper of the Communist Party of Iran (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist):

February 14 was an important event after nearly a one-year gap in the people's uprising. Perhaps it could be called a turning point. What caused the temporary pause in the people's movement was the damaging effect of the Green leadership and the regime's intense suppression.

During the last year the regime used everything possible to repress the people. Many were imprisoned. Newspapers and bookstores were closed. One person was executed every eight hours.

When the Tunisian and Egyptian people rose up, the silence was broken. The rays of the struggle of the people of Egypt reached Iran. People began talking about the struggle of the people in Tunisia and Egypt and comparing those struggles with their own. People finally came to the streets in large numbers.

When we say February 14 is a turning point, we can point to a number of factors: the large number of participants; the participation of people from different sections and different age groups and mostly youth; their actions and their slogans. All this shows that the people's struggle has become more daring and fearless.

The February 14 protest was glorious. It had a high degree of radicalism. Most of the slogans targeted the leader of the Islamic regime and Khamenei. These slogans in fact target the Islamic republic and are certainly at a higher level than the slogans in 2009 which were mainly aimed at Ahmadinejad. The slogan "Death to Khamenei" is like "Death to the Shah," who was also the symbol of a regime, and its aim likewise is against the whole system. This time you could hear slogans such as "Freedom, freedom, freedom" much more than "Allahu Akbar." This was a step forward compared to the uprising in 2009. This time the people were not upholding Mousavi, they were saying they don't want this regime, but in a more radical way.

There were also varying reactions to this demonstration from different sections of the people. Through the media, the imperialists are trying to impose their line on the people's struggle. They say that the people in Iran as well as Egypt do not want revolution and violence; they are only looking for reform within the existing political structure. For example, in a talk show with the German Foreign Minister, on ZDF (the German government TV channel), the presenter concluded that in Iran, Khamenei, like Mubarak, should leave but the structure should remain intact. This is also the line that BBC-Persian service and Voice of America publicize.

But the reaction of Iran's ruling power was also astonishing. Even during the most radical days of the 2009 uprising, members of Parliament had not chanted anything like now – "Death to Mousavi, Karroubi and Khatami" – and they called on (regime figure) Rafsanjani to be more far-sighted and not do stupid things.

This panicked behaviour stems from great fear. In fact they might have expected or have been promised that the "sedition" was over and they could continue in the old way with their pathetic lives. However the February 14 uprising, after months of silence, ended their dream.

It was reported that Khamenei, in a meeting with the military and security commanders and the Information Minister, demanded to know why they had not been able to suppress the movement completely.

People's spirits once again are high. They are courageously and responsibly discussing and summing up their struggles. Despite the regime's threats, the people are happy and proud of their power. Once again people are talking about what they have suffered through all these years and declaring that nothing can heal their wounds unless this regime goes to its grave.

This is fascinating. It is a fertile land for revolutionary seeds.

Important issues are being discussed among the people, such as the advantages or disadvantages of some slogans. For example, regarding the slogan "We will not forgive or forget," one youth argued if someone from the security forces is in doubt and might want to leave his position and weapon and join the people, he would be put off by this slogan. Some were discussing the usual foreign media discourse that says they should wage the struggle peacefully so that the price would not be too high. Others would respond that the price of not using violence would be higher than using it. The discussions were at a higher level than last year. There seemed to be fewer illusions and more people were prepared to listen and learn.

There is no doubt that the revolutionary struggle of the people in Egypt and Tunisia has triggered a re-awakening among the Iranian people, and we should be proud of this. Whatever develops, we should understand that the oppressed people – Asians, Europeans, Americans, Arabs, Africans and Iranians – all face common enemies....

A World to Win News Service is put out by A World to Win magazine (, a political and theoretical review inspired by the formation of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement, the embryonic center of the world’s Marxist-Leninist-Maoist parties and organizations.

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