The Independent View: The enduring Iranian uprising – one year on

From September 16, 2022, Iran changed forever! On that day, in response to the killing of Mahsa Amini, an anti-government protest began that quickly spread throughout the country. What started as a demonstration against the compulsory Hijab soon became a political outcry targeting the entire regime. Chants of “Death to the dictator,” “Death to Khamenei,” and “Death to the oppressor, be it the Shah or the Leader (Khamenei)” echoed from nearly 300 cities across all 31 provinces of Iran. Women played the leading role throughout the uprising.

The regime wasted no time in mobilising its forces to control the situation. Despite the brutal crackdown, which resulted in the deaths of at least 750 protesters, including women and children, and the arrest of over 30,000 individuals, the uprising persisted for several months. It was the regime’s biggest challenge, pushing it to the brink of collapse.

A year later, with widespread discontent among the Iranian people, returning to the pre-September 2022 era is virtually impossible for the regime. The regime’s only way to hold on to power is through more executions, imprisonments, and torture. The failure of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s strategy to quell the uprising has revealed internal feuding within the regime. With chants of “Death to Khamenei” becoming a common refrain from the Iranian people, the authority and legitimacy of Khamenei have significantly eroded. Lower-ranking regime members have also abandoned their positions, contributing to the regime’s decline and instability.

Organised resistance has played a significant role in the uprising, mainly through the Resistance Units affiliated with the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK/PMOI). The activities of the MEK’s Resistance Units have been closely monitored by the regime’s intelligence agencies, signalling their effectiveness and impact. The MEK/PMOI and its President-elect, Maryam Rajavi, have gained support and recognition at the global level. Over 3,600 parliamentarians worldwide and 124 former world leaders have endorsed Rajavi’s 10-point plan, which outlines a vision for a democratic Iran with gender equality at its core

On September 12, more than 1,000 women dignitaries rallied behind Rajavi, urging the international community to stand by the Iranian people, particularly women, in their quest for freedom. They called for blacklisting the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The wide-scale support for the MEK/PMOI and Maryam Rajavi’s Ten-Point Plan demonstrates the growing international recognition of a viable and democratic alternative for Iran.

In the UK, despite a unanimous call by the parliament for the proscription of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), the government has regrettably neglected to act. The IRGC serves as the primary instrument of suppression and human rights abuses within Iran, exerting its authority with impunity. Moreover, the IRGC’s destabilising actions reach far beyond Iran’s borders, as it actively exports terrorism and perpetuates global instability. The tangible consequences of Iran’s missile and drone attacks are evident not only within the region but also as far as Ukraine.

Last week, the government announced it would designate Wagner as a terrorist group. Designating Wagner but not the IRGC, when the Head of the MI5 has underlined that Iran is a state actor which most frequently crosses into terrorism and poses a major security threat to the UK, amounts to a double standard. It also signifies the government’s continued appeasement policy towards Iran. The potential ramifications are grave, as it encourages terrorists with catastrophic consequences for the UK.

One year on, the Iranian people, especially women, have shown immense resilience and determination. Their will to overthrow the regime remains strong. With widespread discontent throughout Iran due to the total collapse of the economy, rampant corruption, daily executions and suppression of women, the situation is like fire smouldering beneath the ashes. The long-simmering anger accumulated over four decades is poised to erupt anew at any given moment, ignited by a new spark.

The path to a better future for Iran lies in the hands of its courageous people, but the international community must do everything in its power to support their just cause. By proscribing the IRGC, we deny it the funds it needs to suppress people and crash protests. The people of Iran need action, not words of support. The UK government must show its commitment to supporting the Iranian people’s fight for freedom and democracy by designating the IRGC.

* Laila Jazayeri is the Director of the Association of Anglo-Iranian Women in the UK.

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9 Comments

  • Thank you for all your efforts.

  • Very good article describing Iranian situation and democratic opposition of Iran PMOI. IRGC should be designated as a terrorist group. The 10-point plan of Mrs Maryam Rajavi the leader of opposition is the best way to pave democracy and freedom in future Iran. PMOI enjoy widespread support inside and outside of Iran.

  • Interesting article. So sad to hear of what people and women in particular have to endure in Iran. They certainly deserve our full support to try to change the awful regime there.

    @John Waller. If I’ve read you right, you’re talkinb about a possibly interesting play. However, it does strike me that almost everytime Iran is mentioned, someone pops up to claim things wouldn’t be so bad if the (implied: horrible) US hadn’t helped overthrow Mossadegh. That was 70 years ago. To put that into context, imagine what it would look like to us if we read of someone in 1953 saying, ‘If only X hadn’t happened in 1883…’ I’m sure if you wish you could construct thousands of different 70-year-long realities since 1953, but in reality we have no idea how good or bad Iranian politics would be now with a different history. Surely it’s better to focus on the situation today?

  • Catherine Royce 17th Sep '23 - 2:14pm

    Laila, thank you for this important and timely contribution.
    This is about upholding the human rights of women and girls here and now in 2023 and beyond, not only in Iran but also in neighbouring Afghanistan, about the separation of state and religion and the building of a modern economy where everyone contributes rather than a mediaeval regime where half the population is invisible, enslaved by dogma and prejudice.
    I sincerely hope this will be addressed in the consultation session on International Security at Conference next Saturday lunchtime (23rd September) and that the party will have an unequivocal statement of support in the general election manifesto.

  • John McHugo 17th Sep '23 - 2:18pm

    @Simon R,

    on one level of course you are right, but history cannot be ignored. In order to understand why the Islamic revolution happened in 1979, you have to bear the fate of Mossadegh in mind, as well as other historical factors that led to widespread antipathy to the UK and USA in Iran. To give just two other examples. One is that the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (the ancestor of British Petroleum) was the concessionary company for most of Iran’s oil. The royalties paid to the Iranian government were less than the tax claimed by the UK on the company’s profits from its Iranian operations. In other words, the Iranians were fleeced. Go back to the late nineteenth century and you find a tobacco monopoly sold by the Iranian Shah to a British citizen for a relative pittance. This led to huge resentment, and eventually public opinion forced the Shah to backtrack – but that meant paying compensation to the British concessionaire. This was another instance of the Iranians being fleeced. Such stories were grist to the mill of Khomeini and his acolytes in setting up a regime that was hostile to aspects of Western culture, including allowing western dress for women.

  • Catherine Royce 17th Sep '23 - 4:01pm

    Yes of course we need to understand the background but as far as I recall the Iranian revolution was in 1979, 44yrs ago, as this is not the LD history group shall we discuss the present day issue raised by Laila, in short, if I understood her correctly, are the Liberal Democrats willing to proscribe the IRGC publicly?
    Where exactly do we stand as a party on this issue? where does the desire to keep Iran engaged in a non-proliferation nuclear deal play into this discussion? perhaps our spokesperson on foreign affairs could comment?

  • Maryam sahrai 29th Sep '23 - 5:28pm

    Thank you so much Mrs jazayeri.absolutly agree with you.

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