Editors’ Note: As this update from our volunteer correspondent notes, hundreds of thousands of Iranians, especially women, students, and youth, continue to demonstrate remarkable courage, creativity, and growing determination in the face of the Islamic regime’s murderous repression, with whole sections of people calling for an end to the regime.
In this context, the orientation of the statement by the Communist Party of Iran (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist), People of the World: Take up the Cry of Revolution from Iran as Your Own!, is of continuing and decisive importance, and we draw our readers’ attention to it. This was issued for the occasion of the worldwide protests in support of the uprising in Iran on October 22. As the CPI (MLM) has written:
To finally put an end to the seemingly endless suffering of Iran’s people requires a real revolution, made by millions of people and led by a revolutionary vanguard with the aim of overthrowing the Islamic theocratic fascist regime and liberating Iran out of the murderous fabric of the capitalist-imperialist system. This requires a communist revolution and establishing a “New Socialist Republic.”
While supporting the righteous uprising in Iran, it is also critical to oppose imperialist efforts to take advantage of the situation to advance their reactionary agendas, especially that of the U.S., which has caused so much suffering and death in Iran and the Middle East. The U.S. imperialists are not and will never be a force for good in the world! And all calls for U.S.-backed intervention need to be opposed, along with the lackeys of the U.S. like the monarchists and so-called “liberal-democrats.”
Uprising Rocks Iran, Regime Threatens to Shed Much More Blood
As the uprising in Iran enters its 9th week, the struggle is getting sharper and more intense. The uprising is continuing across the entire country with incredible energy, determination and courage—in the cities and universities, in regions populated by oppressed nationalities, among women and men. It is drawing yet broader sections of people into political debate and action. And the feeling that the regime as a whole can’t be reformed but instead must go is spreading, deepening, and being openly expressed.
A November 7 posting from the Iranian human rights group HRANA gives a sense of the extraordinary scope and determination of the uprising. Since the mid-September murder by the regime’s “morality police” of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini for wearing her hijab (head covering) “improperly,” there have been at least 870 protests in 136 cities and at 135 universities—this despite the fact that the regime has shot and killed at least 326 protesters, including 50 minors, and at least 14,823 protesters have been arrested, including at least 429 students.1
This uprising is posing a profound challenge for the Islamic Republic—well beyond any previous uprising the regime has faced in its 43 years of existence. And this past week the regime took steps that could portend a massive and savage escalation of its atrocities against the people:
- On November 6, 227 out of the total of 290 members of the Islamic Republic’s parliament issued a statement calling for the judiciary to “deal decisively” with protesters. The statement reportedly referred to the protesters as “mohareb,” which means “enemy of God,” which implies that arrested protesters could face the death penalty simply for protesting!2
- On November 8, judiciary spokesman Masoud Setayeshi blamed the U.S. for the “riots” and affirmed the call to “deal decisively” with them: “For how long can we tolerate this?”
- On November 9, Iran’s Army Ground Forces Commander said that if given the word from the Supreme Leader, “rioters will no longer have a place in the country.”
In spite of all the regime’s bloody repression so far, and its new threats to unleash more, protests have continued in various forms across the country, and in many cases seem to be becoming more radical.
Many observers have commented that the uprising is no longer just about the murder of Mahsa Amini and the imposition of hijab on women: “[P]rotesters seem determined to secure an entirely new political order in a country where the clerical establishment has ruled since the 1979 revolution.” Common chants include “Clerics Get Out,” and “Death to the Dictator” (referring to Supreme Leader Khamenei). On November 9, students in Tehran chanted “This year the [IRI’s] Revolutionary Guards will have casualties, down with the entirety of the regime.”
On November 3, 40 Iranian lawyers issued a bold statement saying that confronting “the illegitimate will [of the government] and its decisions and laws” is the right of the people. It condemned the rule of the clergy—theocracy—overall; described the judiciary as a “tool to suppress and stabilize autocracy,” and stated pointedly that the Iranian people “have become familiar with the nature of the ruling clerics and will no longer be deceived by their lies and promises, and in different ways they are asking the Mullahs to leave.”
Fierce Clashes in Sistan-Baluchestan and Kurdistan
Iran’s oppressed nationalities, particularly in Sistan-Baluchestan and Kurdistan,3 are continuing to rebel, despite the disproportionately high levels of violence—including massacres—they’ve faced.
In the province of Sistan and Baluchestan, Iran Human Rights reports: “At least 16 people, including children and an individual with disabilities, were killed in the city of Khash on November 4, 2022, by direct gunfire.” In total, at least 98 Baluchi people have been killed. This is nearly 30 percent of reported deaths, although Baluchis make up only 2 percent of Iran’s population.4
In the face of this, protests have continued. On November 11, thousands took to the streets of Zahedan, the provincial capital, and many other predominantly Baluch cities. Some Baluchi religious leaders and politicians have felt compelled to openly condemn the regime’s violence, with one member of Parliament saying “The number of dead and injured in this horrific incident in Zahedan cannot be compared to any protest in recent years.” A Sunni5 prayer leader declared in his sermon, “Listen to what the people are shouting about. Killing, beating, and jailing the people will not push them back. They’ve seen blood. They have been on the street for 50 days. They’re not going back.”
In Kurdistan, regime security forces continue to shoot down protesters (including on November 6, in the city of Marivan), yet on November 9, shopkeepers in some Kurdish cities went on strike to protest the massacre in Zahedan, the capital of Sistan and Baluchestan.
Women, Youth and Students Continue to Battle
Young girls, and youth and students generally have continued to take to the streets—on November 6, at a dozen universities, on November 7, students in the city of Babol took to the streets with death-defying spirit: “Cannons, tanks, machine guns have no impact anymore!…” “Tell my mother she doesn’t have a daughter anymore!” On November 11, in Marivan, people stayed in the streets at night, risking being shot and defiantly setting trash can fires. In Tehran, people chanted against the security forces killing children: “Infanticidal Regime—We Don’t Want.”6 November 12 saw protests at four universities in Tehran.
Also on November 12, a women’s rights advocate group and various anonymous youth organizations called for massive protests on Tuesday, November 15, to commemorate the hundreds of people killed by the regime in a wave of protests in 2019. One notice declared: “Let us gather on November 15 and conquer one of Tehran’s highways. The streets are ours.”
Broadening Uprising; Possible Cracks in Pro-Regime Forces
Sports has become a major battleground, drawing even broader sections of the public into political debate.
Activists have demanded that Team Melli—Iran’s national soccer team—be barred from the upcoming World Cup, and even the former coach of the team has said it’s “not the time” for the team to play in the World Cup.7 Reportedly, the team’s two star forwards got into a fierce locker room argument after one of them posted that he was willing to “sacrifice” his place in the World Cup “for one hair on the heads of Iranian women.”
According to some reports, Iran’s national beach soccer, basketball and water polo teams have all refused to sing the Iranian national anthem at international events.
On November 7, Foreign Policy magazine reported on significant cracks and “growing discontent” in the ranks of religious women who wear the hijab voluntarily, as well as some who have been actively enforcing it on other women, but are becoming alienated from the regime.
A Complex, Rapidly Evolving Situation with Global Dimensions
The struggle in Iran is not isolated from the growing turmoil engulfing the planet. On the one hand, broad forces around the world—including the large diaspora of Iranian people, but also people of other nationalities who support and are inspired by the uprising of women there—are increasingly making their voices heard. At the same time, major imperialist powers like the U.S., Russia and China, are maneuvering in different ways to turn the Iran crisis to their advantage.
This is particularly complex because U.S. imperialism and its NATO allies are currently waging a proxy war with Russian imperialism over which imperialist power will dominate Ukraine. As part of this, Russia seeks to take advantage of the IRI’s (Islamic Republic of Iran) longstanding conflicts with the U.S. and of the acute crisis now confronting the IRI by offering it big power support in its “time of need” in return for Iranian drones and other weapons to be used in Ukraine.
Meanwhile, the U.S. is looking for ways that the uprising could be used to weaken the Islamic Republic and force it to make concessions, or even to get rid of the regime in favor of one more in line with U.S. interests and objectives.
This again underscores the great urgency of spreading the leadership and analysis for a real revolution and a liberating future for Iran and the world being provided by the Communist Party of Iran (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist), including its emphasis on refusing to side with or rely on any of the world’s reactionary or imperialist powers.