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Opinion | Iran’s Democratic Revolution: A Reality That Cannot Be Denied Anymore

By: Behrouz Pouyan

Last Updated: November 26, 2022, 14:37 IST

New Delhi, India

Now that the Iranian people’s uprising has been ongoing for more than 60 days, the world has been forced to hear the voice of this revolution. (Reuters)

Now that the Iranian people’s uprising has been ongoing for more than 60 days, the world has been forced to hear the voice of this revolution. (Reuters)

Women play a key role in this revolution as is evident from their particular visibility in this uprising

More than sixty days have passed since the beginning of the Iranian people’s uprising. Anyone who is familiar with Iran’s contemporary history knows that this is the last stage of the 100-year history of Iranians’ struggle for freedom, equality, and democracy.

Throughout these 100 years, Iranians have faced oppression from the Pahlavi family’s dictatorship, followed by the ruling theocracy, the latter being assisted by Western policies of appeasement. But Iranians have never given up demanding freedom and equality, despite the very heavy cost.

About 40 years ago, the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI/MEK) started a nationwide resistance against the mullahs, and today, we are witnessing its final phase pervading throughout Iran.

The fact is that there has been a serious rift between Iranian society and the mullahs’ regime for years, and this has made Iran prone to a great democratic revolution. This issue became very clear and prominent, especially during the nationwide uprising of December 2017 and January 2018, when people’s slogans targeted the regime in its entirety, without differentiating between reformist and fundamentalist factions.

However, the prevailing policy in the West, particularly in Europe, was appeasement. This policy made a purposeful effort to ignore the explosive situation of Iranian society and continue to focus on making deals that would eventually assist the mullahs’ regime.

The November 2019 uprising, during which the clerical regime massacred 1,500 defenceless demonstrators in a few days, once again vividly showed the explosive reality of Iranian society. But Western governments still considered indifference to be the best approach.

But now that the Iranian people’s uprising has been ongoing for more than 60 days, the world has been forced to hear the voice of this revolution, although it still hasn’t made a serious decision to stand by the people and the Iranian Resistance.

But the mullahs’ regime has no place in the Iranian society of today. After passing through successive dictatorial regimes, Iranians strongly identify with modern democratic systems. This is why the protesters’ slogans reject any kind of despotism, including that of the Shah and the Mullahs.

This demarcation first surfaced in the January 2020 uprising in Tehran universities and then became nationwide. It is now a common slogan in the 2022 revolutionary uprising, and has become so pervasive that it is chanted not only by university students and people in the streets, but also by students in high schools. In one clip shared widely online, female students were shown tearing up photos of Ali Khamenei and also of the Shah, while chanting the slogan “death to the oppressor, be it the Shah or Khamenei.”

The strategy of the democratic revolution is to emphasise the right to legitimate defence against the regime’s systematic violence. It is the same method and model that the MEK’s Resistance Units have been applying daily against the repression centres for the past few years. Unfortunately, the international community has largely failed to recognize the reality of Iranians’ opposition to repressive forces, as well as the simple fact that that opposition is organised.

Universities have played a prominent role in this uprising. As someone who is in constant contact with the academic community, I often hear students say that the MEK-affiliated Resistance Units play a key role in organizing the uprising. Some of my friends who are high school teachers or principals have told me several times that some of their students clearly state that the organization is the work of the Resistance Units.

Women play a key role in this revolution as is evident from their particular visibility in this uprising. This is not at all without historical roots. During the last 40 years, tens of thousands of women have been killed for opposing the regime and advocating the establishment of democracy, freedom, and equality. Maryam Rajavi, the leader of the Opposition, has been a role model for women activists for years.

Now the bells of a huge revolutionary change have sounded in Iran. The world community should recognise this reality as soon as possible and adapt to it.

The first step is to recognise the right of the Iranian people to resist the systemic crimes committed against them. Applying serious sanctions and closing the regime’s embassies and establishing a dialogue with the Iranian Resistance are the next practical steps in showing that the West has decided to align its policy with the inevitable reality of the mullahs’ overthrow.

Disclaimer:Dr Behrouz Pouyan holds a PhD in political science from Tehran University. He is an assistant professor at a university in Tehran. As he is writing from inside Iran, his name has been changed for his safety. Views expressed are personal.

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first published:November 26, 2022, 14:21 IST
last updated:November 26, 2022, 14:37 IST
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