Zahra Bahadivand Chegini

Zahra Bahadivand Chegini is a freelance journalist and junior professor. She lives in Russia.

Courage of despair

Protesters in Iran hope to overthrow the regime that tramples on human rights
26. Januar 2023
Iran Protesters | Artin Bakhan | Unsplash.com | JM0tZ0tWtVQ

Jina Mahsa Amini's death has sparked nationwide, fearless protests against the regime in Iran, especially by women. The system is fighting back, executing protesters almost every day. Impulse author Zahra Bahadivand Chegini observes that people are not afraid of being arrested, tortured or killed this time. They want to overthrow the regime. However, she would like to see more support from the international community.

Jina Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian woman whom the morality police had detained for wearing her hijab inappropriately, died in their custody on September 16, 2022. Eyewitnesses believe Jina Mahsa was beaten by the police. Photos of her in the hospital covered in blood and bruises support this theory. Though the police claims that she died of a heart attack. Iran has been engulfed in a violent surge of anti-establishment protests since her death.
Since the Iranian revolution of 1979 women have played a minor part in politics, with men dominating the highest levels of authority. However, women have persistently resisted the system and gradually gained certain rights such as the right to work in industry. President Ebrahim Raisi's administration has been particularly antagonistic to women since taking office in 2021. It is currently working to quell the anti-government demonstrations brought on by the death of Jina Mahsa Amini. After 1979 Iran experienced several protest movements, the most severe in 2009 and 2018. The government severely suppressed all these protests by killing, arresting and imprisoning the protestors.

Amini´s death releases a national revolutionary movement

What started as an outpouring of grief following Amini's death has become a national revolutionary movement.
After that, without organized coordination, women spontaneously decided to not wear their hijabs in the streets. With the murder of Jina Mahsa Amini, they felt that they must be present in the streets. This has become a moral issue because many women in Iran have experience with the morality police. Even months after the murder of Amini videos of the morality police's confrontations with women were published in cyberspace, showing how brutal these attempts were made. They force women who do not wear their hijabs correctly into their cars and arrest them.
Another case was Sepideh Reshno, a female journalist and writer, who was arrested after protesting the mandatory hijab and the intervention of a woman by the morality police. After some time she was forced to confess on the Islamic Republic TV. All these things in addition to the anger of protesters that has built up against the Islamic Republic in the 43 years of their rule, joined hands to bring people, especially women, to the streets. They show the demand for regime change by removing their hijabs. This is for many women the least, yet the most expensive thing they pay to change and move towards freedom.
However, what is the motivation of protesting women in Iran? After nearly four months of protests in Iran, Islamic Republic arrested the protesting women and sent them to prison with many threats. There are protesting imprisoned women with different professions, such as journalists, artists, students. Among them Taraneh Alidosti, a top Iranian actress.

The number of protestors is increasing

The threat of protesters was not limited to prison; many were killed in the streets or tortured. Although this uprising was launched under the name of “women, life, and freedom”, many men joined this movement from the beginning and lost their lives in the cause of freedom. To date more than 500 people have been killed in these protests, nearly 70 of them were children. Despite the pressure, threats and executions carried out by the regime the number of protestors is increasing every day. The regime attempts to instill fear have not shown the desired results and protestors continue to fight for their fundamental human rights - the least is the right to freedom of clothing for Iranian women.
However, we must know that not all women in Iran have found the courage to remove the hijab, and some women even insist on having a mandatory hijab for all women in Iran. They are religious extremists and consider not wearing a hijab as a cause of moral corruption in the society.

Women on the streets are divided into several categories: women who wear the hijab willingly, women who have taken off the hijab, and women who continue to wear hijab despite disregarding it.

Now the question arises, what can the international community do to support the Iranian protestors? Since the beginning of the protests, many famous people worldwide have cut their hair or issued statements in sympathy with Jina Mahsa Amini and the Iranian women. Iranians outside of Iran tried to draw the attention of the international community to the situation in Iran by holding demonstrations in more than 80 cities around the world.

We hope, the protests will be the beginning of the end of this regime

The measures taken by the countries to support Iran, to some extent, worked to isolate the Islamic Republic further. However, the efforts of the international community have not been enough. It is not possible to stop the violence of the Islamic Republic on such a large scale just by condemning the gleeful killings and executions of protestors in Iran. The international community should take more decisive measures with a more prolonged impact to benefit the Iranian people and the protestors. Actions include expelling Iranian ambassadors from all countries, recalling EU ambassadors from Tehran, putting Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) on the terrorist list, and closing Islamic centers in Europe, which are arms of the IRGC. Actions like these will help to bring the regime to its knees.
One thing is for sure: The Islamic regime is in deeper trouble than at any time during its 43 years rule. Like the protestors, the government is unsure whether it will be disempowered soon or whether these demonstrations will be silenced like the demonstrations that were formed against the violence of the Islamic Republic before. The reality is that this time the people of Iran are not afraid of being killed, arrested or even executed. That is what makes us believe that this time, the protests really can be the beginning of the end of this regime.

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