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The intensification of repression in Iran while tensions in the region and the risk of war are mounting

Image for women and prison2With the escalation of tensions between the dictatorial theocratic regime of Iran and the right wing and fascist government of the United Sates, the spectre of a devastating war, with the agitations on both sides, is moving over Iran and the Middle East and causes worries for the people and the progressive forces of Iran and the world. This is taking place at a time when in Iran, due to the anti-democratic economic policies the living conditions, the peoples’ livelihood, is constantly declining, and the people, upset with the inflation and high prices, face many difficulties in providing the life necessities, and in addition, are bearing the burden of the imposed sanctions as well.

Today, the destructive and dangerous acts are replacing the rhetorical threats by both sides, especially by the Trump’s quasi-fascist government. These acts are threatening the peace in the region and this conflict situation is pleasing the warmongers on both sides. Experience has shown that the reactionary and anti-democratic policies of the regressive regimes, not only protects the interest of their authoritarian and repressive regimes but also works and is in line with the interest of imperialism. On the other hand, the US destructive and dangerous policies and actions, including imposing sanctions and creating tensions, serve and are in line with the interest of the reactionary and repressive regime of Iran.

Thus, the tyrannical regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran which from two years ago, specially from December of 2017, is facing wide popular protests, has welcomed the tense and dangerous atmosphere and in order to avoid the collapse of its shaking bases, has launched further suppression against social and trade union activists. Systemic corruption and the deepening gap between the poor and the rich, which is the result of the implementation of neo-liberal economic policies, along with the astronomical embezzlements that every so often find its way to the official media, as a result of internal power struggles, along with rampant inflation and the high cost of the basic necessities such as housing, food, etc., day by day push increasing number of people under the line of poverty. At the same time, this has resulted in protest movements by the lower strata of the society and the working class such as the workers, teachers, and the pensioners, which continues despite all the suppression.

Even the cronies of the theocratic regime cannot deny the economic, political and social crises that Iran is faced with. As the food basket of the people shrinks, the general manager of the Office of Nutrition Improvement under the Ministry of Health states: eight provinces of the country are facing with food supply insecurity; specially in the poor provinces such as Sistan and Baluchistan, Kohgilooyeh and Booyerahmad, Eelam, Hormozgaan, Khoozestan, Kerman, and the south Khorasan province. He deems unemployment, low-income, and drought and water shortage, poverty and illiteracy as the main reasons of this situation (ILNA, July 31, 2019).

But the theocratic regime and its dictatorial and anti-democratic structure, as always see the solution in further suppression and violation of the peoples’ rights and freedoms, by taking advantage of the tensions and conflict in the region and widespread arrests and repression of activists who call for an end to oppression, poverty, discrimination and inequality. Due to these arrests, the prisons of the country are full of women and men, freedom fighters, trade union and civil rights activists, university students, teachers, religious minorities, democratic lawyers, environmental activists, and journalists.

According to reports by prisoners’ families, hunger strikes by political prisoners are on-going, and the prisoners continue to sacrifice their lives to pursue their humanist ideals. In recent days there have been reports of the hunger strike of Sepideh Gholian, in protest at the prison guards’ degrading treatment of her elderly parents, the hunger strike of Sanaz Allahyari and Amir Hossein Mohammadifar (journalist couples) or Hakimeh Ahmadi (Civil activist from Azabayjan). While these are taking place the international community is silent.

Let us not forget that the massacre of more than four thousand political prisoners by the theocratic regime of Iran in August and September of 1988 on the eve of the end of the Iran-Iraq war, was also committed in full silence of the international community. Given the developments in cyberspace and communications, today’s situation is in no way comparable to 31 years ago.

Autocracy in Iran has repeatedly showed that its suppression does not differentiate between men and women: from the heavy sentences for the democratic lawyers such as Nasrin Sotoudeh (38 years) , Amir Salar Davoudi who recently was sentenced to 30 years and 111 lashes, or the civil activists such as Yasmin Ariaee, Manizheh Arabshahi and Mozhgan Keshavarz who in total were sentenced to 55 years prison term for protesting the compulsory covering (Hijab) for women and giving flowers to women in Tehran’s subway, to the heavy sentences issued for the teachers trade union activists such as Esmail Abdi and Mohammad Habibi and etc.

The arrests in recent months and the heavy sentences passed on activists for voicing their opinion or peaceful struggle, under the pretext of security risks, happen under circumstances in which the progressive public opinion in the country and around the world are gravely worried about the situation in the region and the consequences of a possible devastating war. The spread of the arrests and the intensification of suppression of activists proves that for the leaders of the theocratic regime of Iran, the best context for their cynical survival is to take advantage of threat of war.

The names of some of the arrested people in recent months are as follows:

Farangis Mazloom, Mother of Soheil A’raabi, political prisoner

Asrin Kaleh, Women and Human Rights Activist

Marzieh Amiri, Anisha Asadollahi, Neda Naji and Atefeh Rangraz, arrested during the May 1st (Labour Day) gatherings

Sepideh Gholian and the journalist couples Sanaz Allahyari and Amir Hossein Mohammadifar, defendants in the judicial file of Haft-Tapeh strike who presently are on hunger strike

Leila Hosseinzadeh, Secretary of the Central Student Council of Tehran University

Parisa Rafiee and Saba Kord Afshari, Human Rights Activists and former political prisoners

Naheed Shaghaghi, Women’s rights activist who was arrested for hiking without wearing the veil (Hijab)

Hakimeh Ahmadi, Human Rights Activist from Azerbaijan

Sepideh Moradi, Elham Ahmadi, Shokoofeh Yadollahi, Dervish women, imprisoned in Section 7 of Gharechak Varaamin prison

Sima and Shima Entesari, two sisters, held in Section 1 of Gharechack Varaamin prison

Hengameh Shahidi, Journalist, sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment

Niloofar Bayani and Sepideh Kashani, Environmental Activists, along with 4 male activists, has been detained “temporarily” in Revolutionary Guard Torture centres for more than 4 year now

Yasamin Ariaee, Manizheh Arabshahi and Mozhgan Keshavarz, charged with protests against the compulsory veil (Hijab) and giving flowers to women on Tehran’s subway. Sentenced to a total of 55 years in prison

Sadigheh Moradi and Mehdi Khavas Sefat, the couple who are former political prisoners, were arrested on July 7, 2019 by the security forces in Tehran

Maryam Mohammadi, Akram Nasirian, Aras Amiri, Sepideh Farhan, … and the list goes on.

Even though this list is not complete and does not cover many of the detainees outside Tehran, or those prisoners whose relatives for one reason or another, under threats by security forces, do not officially release the prisoner’s names. It is just a snapshot of the intensification of suppression in Iran.

Courageous women political prisoners, like their male counterparts, show resistance against the torturers and their masters: the misogynist and despotic theocratic regime of Iran. Prisoners such as Nargess Mohammadi, Atena Daemi, Zeinab Jalalian, Sepideh Gholian, and Nasrin Sotoodeh, and hundreds of others, are incarcerated in Iran’s prisons, and their number is increasing by the day. Defending all the political and civil prisoners, regardless of their political tendencies, has become one of the effective means of struggle beside that of the masses for social and economic change, against the regime and against war. By connecting these struggles with the general struggle of the Iranian people, we can get rid of dictatorship, war, and injustice in Iran.

Let us be the voice of the political prisoners of Iran!

We conclude with a quotation from the brave and steadfast Ms. Nargess Mohammadi, a civil and human rights activist, who wrote, in a letter, from the notorious Evin prison in Tehran:

Dictatorship and war are the two sides of the same coin in destructing the societies, and their obvious common denominator is violence. Thus, the same way and with the same power that we have stood and will stand against war and violence, we have a mission that retreating from it would never be justified, and that is to fight against the dictatorial regime. For many years, we have witnessed repression and oppression, which has resulted in endless and limitless systematic corruption of the rulers and increasing poverty and marginalization of the people, lack of freedom of expression and opinion, imprisonment and arrests, silencing the opponents and critics. (August 2019)

MaZanan 23.09.2019

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