A different funeral every day: young people are carried to the grave by their families, mothers by their children. These images have dominated Iranian news in recent weeks.
The photo now circulating around the world is of a 5-year-old girl crying by her mother’s grave. Her Fereshteh Ahmadi, with whom she had two children, was shot dead by security forces. The sight of her little daughter in her own grave is heartbreaking to me, her mother, to all mothers, to all human beings. Or you would think so.
At least 270 Iranians (women, men and 30 minors) have so far taken to the streets to express their anger and anger after the death of Gina Masa Amini on September 16. Shot or beaten. People are being killed. Because they are fighting for democratic values. They want to live according to these values. And for that they pay their lives.
protest at the cemetery
Every day marks 40 days since the death of a protester in Iran, and relatives and demonstrators are watching. Despite heavy security, tens of thousands of people gather in and around the cemetery. They mourn some of the brave girls and women who were killed, including Jina Masa, Nika, Salina, Hanane, Asura and Hadith. Parents have been arrested for extorting “confessions” through torture, and I am forced to say that their children died of heart failure, stroke, or suicide.
Cemeteries and universities are now the scene of the biggest protests. Innocent victims increase the anger and determination of Iranian women and men, strengthening their unity to stand against the government.
Human rights groups estimate that about 14,000 people are being held and abused in Iran’s prisons, including Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison. Activists, musicians, children and students abducted from homes, schools and residences, these people should also be recognized by name. Some of them may now face the death penalty.
Every day their call grows louder and clearer. “Death to the dictator, death to the regime that kills children,” they shout. “Death to the entire system of power, death to the Islamic Republic.”
System beyond reform
Especially in the West, many political leaders seem unable to hear the screams of the Iranians. Or is it that they don’t want to? The people of Iran have known for years that this system cannot be fixed, so why is the West clinging to possible reform scenarios?
With Iran in the midst of a peculiar feminist revolution, Germans are counting on their response to Foreign Minister Analena Beerbok. But how is it that German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has remained silent for his five weeks, as he condemned in a tweet the “unjustified violence of the security forces” against Iranian demonstrators? It was October 31st. Why would the West want to reopen the Iran nuclear deal signed in 2015 and abandoned in 2018? This is a slap in the face to all Iranian women and men who are currently risking their lives.
Protesters do not want reforms or compromises. What kind of compromise can be made with a regime that arrests, rapes, shoots, and beats schoolgirls?
As an Iranian and journalist who follows the flood of photos, videos and news articles that come out of Iran every day, I have been protesting for weeks when I say people want regime change. I speak on behalf of my compatriots. They want to live self-determined lives in a free and democratic country. This is not possible under Tehran’s current regime.
listen to protesters
I’m not asking for Western intervention — or outside involvement in overthrowing the Islamic Republic. It depends only on the Iranian people. But what I want is for the government to listen to the protesters. Do not contribute to the strengthening of the regime.
It is irresponsible to strengthen or legitimize a regime that will do whatever it takes to stay in power. A regime that has lost legitimacy among its own people cannot be legitimized by the international community as a diplomatic partner for dialogue.
It’s a paradox. Everywhere in the liberal West, the fear of regime change is prevalent. We hear warnings that a revolution in Iran could destabilize the entire region. It is a warning that it could spark a civil war and turn the country into a second Syria.
What are these warnings based on? The region is already far from stable, and the Hezbollah-backed Islamic Republic and its Revolutionary Guard also play a key role in it. Stories of a second Syria or impending civil war as the only alternative to the Islamic Republic have put the brakes on change at home and abroad for years.
Aside from their religious ideology and the power structure centered around the Revolutionary Guard and Basij militias, which give everything for their leader Ayatollah Khamenei, the majority of the population is united in their struggle against the Islamic Republic. This has rarely been revealed in the last six weeks or so: People of all ethnicities and minorities, Kurds, Baluchis, women and men, young and old, Muslims, people of other faiths, atheists. PARTNER: Everyone is protesting together across the country — with or without the hijab.
Despite all repressive measures, Iran has developed a strong civil society in recent years. A great many activists, lawyers, women’s rights activists, and others who could offer an alternative to the Islamic Republic are currently being held in Evin Prison. If they are released in time, they will be able to build a new Iran. If they are not released, they face Shaw’s trial and execution.
Since its establishment, the Islamic Republic has consolidated its power through atrocities, oppression and human rights abuses. Forty years later, it is still happening in front of the international community. Until when?
This article is translated from German.