Editors’ Note for New Readers: 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.”
NEW, THIS WEEK: In this context, we want to highlight the reposting of an article from Bob Avakian, BA, “Imperialist Parasitism and ‘Democracy’: Why So Many Liberals and Progressives Are Shameless Supporters of ‘Their’ Imperialism,” originally published in March 2022. It is highly relevant in relation to the heroic uprising of the masses of people now taking place in Iran against the reactionary Islamic fundamentalist regime. It is crucial to understand and oppose the actual nature and role of the U.S. as the world’s most murderously oppressive and exploitative capitalist-imperialist power. In relation to the struggle in Iran, there is an urgent need to resist the efforts to bring the uprising in Iran under the wing of these U.S. imperialists—and those aligned with them—and, instead, to help direct this mass uprising toward a truly emancipating revolution, as the Communist Party of Iran (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist), basing itself on the new communism brought forward by BA, are striving to do.
“We don’t want a child-killing regime!”
Home videos of 10-year-old, pink cheeked Kian Pirfalak1 show him planting a tree, and dedicating a small boat he built for the school science fair to “the God of rainbows.” On November 16, Kian was murdered in the small city of Izeh in Khuzestan Province in southwest Iran by the Islamic Republic of Iran when plainclothes security forces riddled his family’s car with bullets as his mother pleaded, “Don’t shoot! We are a family with kids!”
Kian is one of over 50 children killed by Iran’s theocratic fascist rulers in their efforts to crush the nine-week wave of anti-regime mass protests sweeping Iran. Another 500 to 1,000 minors (youth younger than 18) have been imprisoned.
Kian’s mother was concerned that these depraved monsters, who initially blamed her son’s murder on “terrorists,” would try to steal his body and prevent a funeral. So she immediately took his body straight home, laid him on a carpet and covered his body with blocks of ice to protect it for a funeral.
Videos of his mother’s actions and account went viral, sparking unbearable outrage across Iran. Together with calls from activists to mark the November 15 anniversary of the uprising against the regime’s 2019 oil price hikes and the massacre of hundreds2 of protesters, the murder of Kian and other children helped fuel a new surge of mass protests this past week.
In spite of the regime’s attempts to terrorize people into submission, these protests were astonishingly successful. Because of the repression it is difficult to get full and reliable reports, but initial accounts (see here and here) indicate that there were protests in at least 27 cities and towns and in 19 of Iran’s 31 provinces.
Hundreds turned out for Kian’s funeral, and thousands more mourned and protested his murder across Iran. People chanted from streets and rooftops: “We don’t want a child-killing regime!”
In a development that would have been unthinkable even a few years ago, masses of Iranian people are ever more directing their rage at the regime's core symbols and legitimizing pillars: they burned down the childhood home of the founder of the Islamic Republic Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, a figure who has been literally deified by the regime. In one city protesters stomped on a street sign bearing Khomeini’s name. In the religious center of Qom, an Islamic theology center was set on fire. In another city the office of the Friday prayer leader was burnt to the ground.
The significance of these acts cannot be underestimated.
Nine Weeks of Sustained Mass Uprising in the Face of Escalating Repression
Saturday, November 19 marked the conclusion of nine weeks of sustained mass uprising against the fascistic theocratic (religious rule) regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI), a rebellion which has persisted in the face of barbaric repression.
This uprising was sparked by the death at the hands of the regime’s “morality police” of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman, for allegedly violating the strict Islamic dress code for women. This dress code concentrates the patriarchal authority and dehumanization of women that is at the heart of the IRI’s particular form of capitalist domination and exploitation, and fundamentalist religious morality. This outrage, and the courage and defiance of tens of thousands of young women and girls, is one of the core driving forces of the uprising.
This uprising is also marked by support and participation from broad sections of people, including men and boys, against the Islamic Republic’s many crimes: oppressed nationalities in Kurdistan, Baluchestan and other regions who suffer severe and violent discrimination; artists, musicians and intellectuals whose freedom to express themselves is denied in a thousand ways; lawyers who defend political prisoners; exploited workers and impoverished slum-dwellers; middle class merchants; and ordinary people revolted by the savagery of the regime’s repression—all these and others are to one degree or another being drawn to the rebellion.
A Just and Beautiful Rebellion Met by Barbaric Violence
So far, the regime’s response to this has been vile and murderous repression. The regime has carried out mass arrests of between 15,000 and 16,000 protesters so far. It has tortured many detained protesters, some of whom have died from their injuries. It has violently attacked protesters using clubs, rubber bullets, and increasingly, live ammunition, leading to over 350 deaths of demonstrators. In recent weeks, confronted by their failure to break the back of the uprising, the regime has resorted to even more savage repression, with threats of even worse to come.4
Death Sentence Threat Looms Over Thousands of Arrested Protesters
In the last week, Islamic Republic courts issued death sentences to at least five protesters. Citing “state media reports,” Reuters writes that “Up to 19 of the thousands of people arrested face charges which carry the death penalty in the cities of Tehran and nearby Karaj.”5
This slew of death sentences appears linked to an outrageous statement from 227 members of Iran’s Parliament which branded protesters as “moharebeh”—“enemies of God”—and called for the judiciary to act “decisively” against them. Under Iran’s interpretation of Sharia law, convicting someone of being “moharebeh” can be used to justify a death sentence, even when the underlying alleged “crime” would not be considered a capital offense.6 These cases seem aimed at establishing a terrifying precedent that could be used against thousands of protesters.
In one of its most ghoulish crimes, the Islamic Republic’s repressive forces have irreversibly blinded scores of resisters, rupturing their eyes with the the metal pellets and rubber bullets they’re using to disperse protests. 7
At this writing, news is breaking of a military assault on the rebellious Kurdish city of Mahabad. And the Iranian government has also launched military strikes against Kurdish forces in neighboring Iraq.8
Depraved Regime Lashes Out at Children
The regime’s attacks on children like Kian—including even firing tear gas into an elementary school when the children chanted against the regime—may well be intended to break people’s spirits. The uncle of a 14-year-old boy said the regime is “terrorizing the kids because they are afraid of the future and they know these kids will fight for their rights.” And Sara, the 50-year-old mother of two daughters said that “My children are not safe on the streets, and they are not safe in school anymore. Every day I die from anxiety until they get home.”
But so far it is having the opposite effect. Sara’s 17-year-old daughter declared that “she felt ‘empowered’ because every day she has been protesting alongside her schoolmates by taking off their hijabs, banging on doors and chanting ‘Women, Life, Freedom.’”9
Imprisoned Protesters Subject to Torture
An important recent statement from the writer’s organization PEN America has exposed and denounced the mistreatment and torture of multiple artists, writers, bloggers and others. In this statement, PEN describes the torture of dissident blogger Hossein Ronaghi who has been on a hunger strike. Ronaghi has two broken legs from beatings, and has been denied medication for kidney disease, which “has resulted in him vomiting blood continuously.”
The International Emergency Campaign to Free Iran’s Political Prisoners NOW is sounding the alarm about the imprisonment and torture of the rebellious rapper Toomaj Salehi. An Instagram post from the Burn the Cage, Free the Birds group says that Toomaj has been tortured. Four of his fingers were broken, and he has now been on a hunger strike for a week.
Growing Defiance, Militance… and the Demand for an End to the Regime
Reactionary forces fired on protesters in at least six cities on November 15, the first day of national protests called by activists. According to Al Jazeera, more than a dozen people were killed on Tuesday and Wednesday, including several members of Iran’s security forces.
Protesters employed new tactics to deal with the powerful concentration of armed forces arrayed against them. In Tehran and some other cities, youth blocked off streets to prevent regime forces from attacking large protests. In the southern city of Shiraz, groups of youth went into neighborhoods blocking multiple streets. In Kurdistan (home to the oppressed Kurdish minority) people in Sanandaj built barricades of flaming tires, while in Kamyaran they were reportedly able to overrun a Basij militia base. There were also reports of a police station being occupied, and of youth evading large groups of police and retreating into side streets to regroup in multiple smaller formations.
In a sign of the struggle’s growing breadth, work stoppages and strikes have become more widespread. Steelworkers in Isfahan reportedly went on strike as did merchants in the bazaars of many cities, including the famous Grand Bazaar in Tehran, Iran’s capital and largest city. One video showed merchants chanting “This is a bloody year when (Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali) Khamenei shall be overthrown.” Bazaar merchants have historically been an important base of support for the IRI. There were also a number of towns that reported their first protest since the uprising began nine weeks ago.10
And there is a growing recognition that the Islamic Republic itself must be brought down, and talk of “revolution.” Certain new chants have become popular: "We shall fight, we shall die, but take back Iran"; “This is the year of blood, Seyyid Ali (Khamenei) will be gone”; and "This is the last message, target is the whole regime."
The Crucial Importance of Revolutionary Organization and Leadership
Though what is happening in Iran is not yet a real revolution, the fact is that “revolution” is on the lips of growing numbers, even as people understand various different things by that. At the same time, it does reflect beginnings of the aspiration and determination to finally break the sickening grip of the despotic theocratic regime and replace it with something better. But this has also focused up the question of what kind of revolution, and how will the interests of humanity—and the interests of the people who most need a revolution—actually become the goal that masses of people are won to fighting for.
In this situation, as stated by the Communist Party of Iran (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist), there is the potential and basis for maximizing gains towards an actual revolution and a liberating future in Iran. 11 But as they state in unvarnished terms, this potential will not be realized without scientific revolutionary communist leadership, which is now being provided by the CPI(MLM) on the basis of the new communism of Bob Avakian, gaining leadership of the masses. It is—and remains extremely urgent to spread this leadership and its works, publications and statements12—in Iran and across the worldwide Iranian diaspora.