Pro-Democracy protests that began Dec. 28 in Mashad, Iran’s second largest city, were quickly set down by Revolutionary Guards, arresting, jailing and charging thousands of protesters with “sedition.” Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said Dec. 31, 2017 that under the Constitution demonstrators had a right to protest, as long as there’s no property damage. Showing that Rouhani holds a titular position, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei blamed the protests on “outside” elements, essentially fingering the United States. It didn’t take long for Khamenei to nip the latest round of pro-Democracy protests in the bud, referring to protesters as “troublemakers.” Khemenei can’t tolerate the fact that Iran’s youthful population doesn’t like Ayatollah’s strict Shiite law, often punishing young people for listening to Western music, wearing fashionable clothes or putting on makeup.
Rouhani walks a fine line with Khamenei showing tolerance for protesters at the same time recognizing their disruptive influence. “Today we can announce the end of the sedition,” said Gen. Mohammed Ali Jafari, the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Force. At least 21 protesters were killed between Dec. 28, 2017 and today, with thousands more arrested for sedition. “A large number [of the estimated 15,000] of the troublemakers at the center of the sedition, who received training from counter-revolutionaries—have been arrested and there will be firm action against them,” said Jafari, serving notice that Iran doesn’t tolerate peaceful demonstrations against Mullah rule. Jafari admitted that those behind the protests “intervened massively on social media, blocking access to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. “Once restrictions were started, the troubles reduced,” said Jafari.
Blocking access to the Intenet and social media, Iran exposed the true nature of the regime: A repressive theocracy hell-bent on staying in power. President Donald Trump praised the protesters, saying the U.S. “was watching.” Watching peaceful protests squelched so quickly should register in Congress when they vote to re-certify the July 14, 2015 Obama-backed Nuke Agreement, handing Tehran $2 billion in cash, and more than $150 billion in frozen Iranian assets and sanctions relief. When Congress convenes to re-certify the agreement, they’ll take into account the Ayatollah’s treatment of pro-Democracy demonstrators. Iran U.N. Amb. Gholaamali Khoshrooo blamed the U.S. for interfering in Iran’s internal affairs, violating the U.N. Charter. Iran can’t accept that young people living under the Ayatollah don’t like to be beaten or incarcerated for listening to Western music.
U.N. officials are well-aware of the repressive clerical regime in Iran. While Iran’s U.S.-educated Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif likes to present a Western-friendly façade, the Ayatollah’s regime is a brutal theocracy, showing little tolerance and making few exceptions for anyone. Saying the U.S. government “has steeped up its acts of intervention in a grotesque way in Iran’s internal affairs and accused Washington of violating international law and the principles of the U.N. Charters,” Khoshroo dismissed the pro-Democracy protests. Agence France Press [AFP] reported that protests have largely vanished, attesting to the heavy-handed Republican Guard crack down. Blocking Facebook and Instagram shows how the Mullah government represses freedom of speech for ordinary Iranian citizens, breaking the back of protests.
When pro-reform politicians like Mohammed Khatami says protesters were “always looking for an opportunity and any crevice to infiltrate,” it shows that any protest movement is met with crushing force. Whatever support Trump lent to protesters, it didn’t last long before the government cracked down. Rouhani was kidding himself saying that protesters had a right to demonstrate, when in fact the regime would quickly crack down. “There is nothing to worry about and what happened in Iran is well contained,” said 57-year-old Hezbollah Militia Chief Hassan Nasrallah. Protests started expressed frustration with Iran’s sluggish economy, creating far too much unemployment for Iranian youth. But it didn’t take long for pro-Democracy demonstrators to express frustration over Mullah rule, criminalizing things like wearing blue jeans or putting on makeup.
Whatever’s wrong with the Iranian economy, there’s far more wrong with repression against ordinary citizens trying to live their lives. “People have reached a stage where they can no longer tolerate this pressure from the authorities,” said 54-year-old jobless veteran Scraya Snadaat. Snadant comes closer to the real frustrations of everyday Iranians, fed up with the government telling them how to live. Improving the Iranian economy won’t change the Ayatollah’s strict cultural rules, forcing ordinary folks to conform to Shiite rule. “We do have some freedom in Iran,” said 33-year-old bank employee Hamid Rahimi. Average Iranians don’t see the pro-Democracy protests as a call for only better economic conditions. With over 5 million Iranians fleeing Iran since 1979 due to government oppression, the Ayatollah expects automatic obedience not pro-Democracy demonstrations.