‘The fire of our anger is still burning’: protesters in Iran speak out

Those taking to the streets say Mahsa Amini’s death has ignited a deep unrest that won’t end until the Islamic Republic is overthrown

“They have been telling us to tolerate the situation for 43 years. Our life passed by, waiting. We are frustrated and disillusioned because we have no freedom and no economy. The tyranny of the rulers has become unbearable, even breathing has become difficult in this country.”

These are the words of the 27-year-old Marzia, in Tehran, who has been standing against the Iranian Republic’s regime in different ways – including using the slogan “death to the dictator”.

Marzia says protesting against the mandatory hijab law was just an excuse and the main causes were “disappointments – with injustice, poverty and lack of human freedom”, which has put everyone in “an explosive condition”.

She tells the Guardian: “This situation is intolerable. Our money is spent in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and Palestine, while we ourselves live in poverty and misery. We are no longer fooled by promises and slogans.

“The fire of our anger is still burning and the Islamic Republic is melting like ice. There is no one left to defend the system, except Basijis, the Revolutionary Guards and Akhunds [Islamic scholars].”

Najib, a 24-year-old resident of Zahedan, the capital of the Sistan and Baluchestan province in the south-east, says that since Friday, panic has spread in the city, while the internet and other telecommunications were cut off and have only recently been restored.

“I will never forget the bloody Friday of 30 September. They attacked from the ground and from the air. They even shot us in the head and chest with a sniper,” he says.

Security agents breaking up protests in Iran
Protests over the death of Mahsa Amini have continued to intensify despite crackdowns by the authorities. Photograph: Arash Ashourinia

Najib, who was one of the protesters on 30 September in Zahedan, says security agents used repressive measures. According to statistics provided by the Iranian government, only 19 protesters and five security agents were killed.

Amnesty International said on Thursday that at least 82 people have been killed by Iranian security forces in Zahedan since protests erupted there on 30 September.

Sayed Ali Hasani, a 35-year-old media activist and protester from Mazandaran, a central-northern province of Iran, says that 26 people were killed in the first seven days of protests in the province. “The people are dissatisfied with the government and angry at the rulers.

“The way the Islamic Republic pretends that this movement is an uprising asking for nudity is completely wrong. People are fed up with discrimination, injustice and poverty and they use any means to raise their voices. Mahsa Amini’s death is actually an excuse for this women’s revolution,” he says.

“Iran is a rich country, but its people pay for proxy wars under the slogan of destroying Israel. Iran’s rulers make up only 1% of the country’s population, the other 99% of people want freedom of opinion and expression, which does not exist now,” he adds.

“What the Islamic Republic is doing these days is the most brutal way possible to suppress the protesters. The suppression of protesters in Kurdistan, Khuzestan and Sistan and Baluchistan provinces is insane.

“I am sure that these protests will continue until the complete overthrow of the Islamic Republic regime. I doubt that the corrupt government will be able to suppress protests and later possible strikes.”

A masked woman stands on an overturned bin with her fist raised in defiance
“People are fed up with discrimination, injustice and poverty and they use any means to raise their voices.” Photograph: Shutterstock

Amir, a 41-year-old protester from Karaj, the capital of Alborz province, says that Iran must be “free from criminals”. He says that the large presence of people in the streets, especially school and university students, shows that the majority of people want freedom and respect for privacy. According to him, this is not possible under the flag of the Islamic Republic.

“By abusing religion and using money and power, the regime of the Islamic Republic coerces the people and commits crime after crime,” he says. “The reaction of the people of the world is great and shows that they agree with the people of Iran, but the world’s politicians are lying. In public, they say that they are helping the Iranian protesters, but in practice, this is not the case.”

Hamed Esmaeilion, the man who lost his wife and nine-year-old daughter in January 2020 as a result of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) firing on a Ukrainian plane, and who has now become the voice of Iranian protesters in Canada, says that their 72 hours of work laid the groundwork for protests to spread from Asia to Europe, and from America to Africa.

“We were surprised. Our plan for Toronto was 10,000 people, but we saw that many thousands of people took to the streets to support the Iranian protesters,” he says, speaking from Toronto. “This move had a significant impact around the world, especially Canada, and following that, sanctions were imposed by the Canadian government on Iranian officials, and the pressure on the Islamic Republic increased.”

Esmaeilion said that the people of Iran want the west not to give legitimacy to the Islamic Republic, to expel the ambassadors of the regime and family members of Iranian officials, and not to sign any nuclear deal.

Abu Muslim Shirzad

The GuardianTramp

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