After the Iranian regime failed to meet the basic and legitimate demands of the people, Iranians have repeatedly taken to the streets in recent years. However, the authorities responded to society’s calls for basic needs with violence, murdering thousands of citizens and arresting others.
Despite the brutal crackdown on defenseless demonstrators, protests continued and spread across the country. Observers say there has been at least one riot every four months since 2018.
The protests include:
— Nationwide protests in around 50 cities following egg price hikes in December 2017 and January 2018.
– Protests in Kazeroun, Fars Province, following the authorities’ decision to partition the city in May 2018.
– Protests against looting policies in several industrial provinces including Alborz, Khuzestan and Isfahan in August 2018.
—Nationwide protests in around 200 cities following gas price hikes in November 2019.
– Student protests in Tehran and several major cities after the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) admitted shooting down Ukrainian airliner PS752 in January 2020, killing all 176 passengers and crew on board: and
– Protests against repressive measures in Behbahan, Khuzestan province, in July 2020.
Despite this, the ayatollahs rejected the people’s demands and harshly suppressed protests. For example, in November 2019, the State Security Forces (SSF) together with the IRGC murdered at least 1,500 demonstrators with their bare hands within two days.
Iranian authorities used the coronavirus to quell protests
After that, the country sank into its worst health crisis to date, the coronavirus pandemic. Dissidents believe the authorities have deliberately avoided dealing seriously with the pandemic, which has resulted in more than 530,000 casualties, based on reports by the Iranian opposition Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK).
In January 2021, Khamenei banned the import of reliable vaccines from the US, UK and France. “The import of American and British vaccines is prohibited. I have said this to officials and now I am saying it publicly,” Khamenei said on January 8, 2021.
Khamenei officially announces an import ban on all US and UK coronavirus vaccines to Iran.@JZarif @parsi & the rest of the regime’s apologists claim that US sanctions are blocking the import of #COVID19 vaccines to Iran. Not true. Hear for yourself.
— M. Hanif Jazayeri (@HanifJazayeri) January 8, 2021
Continue reading: Khamenei bans COVID vaccine imports, leading Iran to more deaths
Dissidents point to Khamenei’s speech in which he downplayed the coronavirus and called it a “blessing” on National Arbor Day on March 4, 2020. In this context, they believe that theocratic tyranny has used Covid-19 as a human shield to secure its power against the growing anti-establishment protests.
“When Covid-19 came to Iran, people were stunned by this deadly virus and the regime managed to control the explosive society for a while by allowing the disease to spread. But protests gradually erupted from people from all walks of life, which have intensified in recent months,” Iran’s opposition coalition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) wrote on March 16. “The regime, especially Khamenei, sowed the wind and will have to reap the hurricane.”
Tehran upgrades SSF to a special forces command
Based on state media reports, the ayatollahs elevated the SSF to a special forces command and elevated the rank of SSF commander Hossein Ashtari to the level of supreme commanders of the army and IRGC.
“Thanks to the mercy of the Commander-in-Chief [Khamenei]the SSF structure has changed from a force to a general command like the IRGC General Command or the Army General Command Tasnim The news agency, which is affiliated with the IRGC’s Quds Force, quoted SSF spokesman Mehdi Hajian as saying on May 15.
Earlier, on December 6, 2021, the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, Mohammad Bagheri, announced the decision. “The Supreme Commander’s approval of the comprehensive plan of the structure and organization of the ‘General Command of Law Enforcement Agencies’ is a source of improvement and a milestone for further security,” he said.
The same day that More The news agency, which is affiliated with the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS), provided more details on the decision. “The Commander of the State Security Forces will correspond to the Commanders-in-Chief of the Army and IRGC, as well as the First Vice-President.”
“Obviously, Khamenei is preparing his repressive apparatuses against impending protests through such attempts,” dissidents say. “The establishment of new systems of oppression is underway while many people grapple with unprecedented inflation and skyrocketing prices for basic commodities.”
“Such decisions show that the regime can no longer count on its so-called social base, having utterly failed to narrow the gap between an unelected state and a volcanic society. “Khamenei is a murderer, his rule is null and void,” “Death to Khamenei and Raisi,” and “The mullahs must go” slogans at the recent protests prove that reality.”