By Nick Clark
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2827

Thousands in Iran continue to resist

This article is over 1 years, 5 months old
Activists Roya and Sharif explain the ongoing political situation
Issue 2827
Protesters in Tehran

Protesters take the streets in Tehran, Iran. (Picture: Darafsh)

Protests in Iran have defied fierce state repression as they entered their fifth week—and even shown signs of spreading to organised workers. A section of oil workers at a number of petrochemical plants began a strike last week, blocking roads and chanting against Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei.

The strike added a new dimension to the wave of struggle against the government. What began as protests against the compulsory ­wearing of headscarves—and which still has women’s liberation at its core—quickly became a movement against authoritarian rule.

Many of the people on the streets are students and young people who—as well as hating strict, repressive laws—also face a future of poverty and unemployment.  In recent years there have been large-scale protests and strikes by workers over wages, unemployment and cuts.

Sharif Amozgar, a ­socialist in Tehran, told Socialist Worker, “Oil workers’ protests and strikes are directly against dictatorships and not merely economic demands. They are chanting the same slogans—so it is safe to say that they are directly linked to this movement.

“Oil workers also took part in a nationwide strike in the summer of 2021 for wages and working conditions. It was unprecedented at the time in scale and strength.”

Sharif added that it was too soon to tell how ­widespread strikes could become. “Oil workers’ protests and strikes mostly spread among workers with temporary work contracts,” he said. 

“They work on repairing or developing subsidiary ­projects, not critical workers on main projects. So at this point, they cannot cripple the oil production of the government like the workers’ strikes in the 1979 revolution.”

But if the strikes do develop, they could add much needed weight to a movement. Video footage has shown shocking examples of police violence against protesters.

And gunshots have been heard from inside Evin prison alongside a fire, in the capital Tehran last week, where the state holds political prisoners. Roya, an activist in Tehran, told Socialist Worker, “Evin is a prison for many ­intellectuals, university students, women and political activists.

“No one knows whether there is a prison uprising or the state is trying to shut down the protesters inside the prison. The incident has been traumatic for many who have families inside the Evin prison. Even as I write, people are still hearing the gunshots from inside.”

Roya said the evidence of police brutality added fresh demands to the protesters still on the streets, but she warned that repression could drive others away. “There are protests and resistance in many corners of the country, but we are not able to call it a revolution,” she said. 

“There are still protests in schools, but the state has been successful in injecting an unimaginable amount of fear and anxiety into the lives of students and their families. About two days ago, they invaded a girl’s school in the city of Ardabil, in north west Iran, and arrested many ­students and killed one. I know families who decided to not send their ­children to schools anymore.”

Sharif said some ­“reformist” politicians have pushed for the government to make concessions to the movement to quell it. But, he added, the ­government hasn’t budged and “repression has been severe”.

“There is a general sense that we will continue the ­protest until the final ­overthrow of the ­government,” he said. “But it is not clear how long this sensation will persist in the face of state repression. State violence has been severe, but it is ­unbelievable how after every few days protests arise and reinforce themselves.

  • Sharif Amozgar is a pseudonym

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