Socialist Worker

Crackdown in Iran could spark a new movement

by Peyman Jafari
Issue No. 2241

The revolutions in the Middle East have not only revealed the hypocrisy of Western governments—they have also demonstrated the double standards of Iran’s conservative leaders.

While they have welcomed the protests outside Iran, they have stepped up the crackdown on their own

pro-democracy opposition.

On Monday security forces arrested the two main figures of the opposition, Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, who had stood against president Ahmadinejad in the presidential election of June 2009.


They have been put under house arrest after tens of thousands took to the streets on

14 February, for the first time in a year, to show solidarity with the uprisings in the region.

These protests had a more symbolic than numerical significance as they proved wrong the government’s claim that the pro-democracy movement had disappeared.

The demonstrations were smaller compared to 2009, largely because of fear of the overwhelming number of security forces.

Those who came out represented the most radicalised section of the movement.

Conservative supporters of Ahmadinejad and supreme leader Khamenei reacted by calling for Mousavi’s and Karroubi’s arrest and execution.

When security forces encircled their houses, their supporters called for demonstrations on 1 March.

Although Mousavi and Karroubi do not have a radical programme and strategy for change, everyone who aspires to real democracy and social justice must condemn their arrest.

If the government succeeds in eliminating them, more arrests and repression will follow.

While the pro-democracy movement faces huge challenges, the dynamic of the revolutions in the region can push it forward.


Trade union activists played an important role in initiating and continuing the protests that led to the fall of Ben Ali in Tunisia.

In Egypt, the spread of strikes was the final blow to Hosni Mubarak’s power.

In both cases, however, street protests and workers’ actions were not automatically linked.

Socialists and labour activists played a key role in bringing those elements together.

The demonstrations and strikes that take place in Iran on a regular basis, are not yet connected through activist networks.

The revolutions in the region have thrown up strong liberation movements.

The Iranian movement can align itself with them on the principles of resisting domestic dictators and Western imperialism.

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Article information

Tue 1 Mar 2011, 18:46 GMT
Issue No. 2241
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