Air of oppression: Iran’s broken regime cannot be fixed

These people, too, ought to be acknowledged by name: the activists, musicians, children and students abducted from their homes, schools and residences — some of whom may now face the death penalty.
Protests against Mahsa Amini death
Protests against Mahsa Amini deathReuters


Every day another funeral: young people carried to their graves by their families, mothers carried to their graves by their children. For weeks now, these images have dominated the news from Iran. Right now, the picture circulating around the world is of a 5-year-old weeping beside her mother’s grave. Fereshteh Ahmadi, who had two children, was shot and killed by security forces. The image of her little daughter at her grave is heartbreaking for me as a mother — for every mother, for every human being. Or so you would think.

To date, at least 270 Iranians — women, men and 30 minors — have been shot or beaten to death because they took to the streets to express their anger and outrage following the death of Jina Mahsa Amini on Sept. 16. People are being murdered because they are fighting for democratic values. They want to live according to these values. And for this they are paying with their lives.

Protests at graveyards

Every day marks 40 days since a protester’s death in Iran right now — and relatives and demonstrators turn out to observe the occasion. Despite the significant security presence, tens of thousands of people come to gather in and around the cemeteries. They mourn Jina Mahsa, Nika, Sarina, Hananeh, Asra and Hadis, to name just a few of the brave girls and women killed. Parents are being arrested in order to force “confessions” by torture — made to say that their children died of heart failure or a stroke or by suicide.

Cemeteries and universities are now the biggest sites of protest. Every innocent victim increases the anger and determination of Iranian women and men, and strengthens their unity in standing up against the government. Human rights organisations estimate that about 14,000 people are being held and abused in Iran’s overflowing jails, including at Tehran’s infamous Evin prison.

These people, too, ought to be acknowledged by name: the activists, musicians, children and students abducted from their homes, schools and residences — some of whom may now face the death penalty. Every day, their calls grow louder and more clear: “Death to the dictator, death to a regime that murders children,” they cry. “Death to the whole apparatus of power, death to the Islamic Republic.”

A regime beyond reform

In the West, of all places, it seems that many political leaders cannot hear the screams of Iranians. Or is it that they don’t want to? Why is the West clinging to possible reform scenarios when people in Iran have known for many years that this system cannot be fixed?

With Iran in the midst of a unique feminist revolution, Germans have directed their expectations for a response to Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock. But how is it possible that the German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, remained silent for five weeks? It wasn’t until Oct. 31 that he condemned, in a tweet, the “disproportionate violence of the security forces” against demonstrators in Iran. And why is the West still hoping for a resumption of the Iran nuclear agreement, signed in 2015 and abandoned in 2018? This is a slap in the face of all Iranian women and men who are currently putting their lives on the line.

The demonstrators do not want reforms or compromises. Because what compromises can you make with a regime that arrests schoolgirls, rapes them, shoots them, beats them to death?

As an Iranian, and as a journalist following the pictures, videos and flood of news stories coming out of Iran every day, I speak for my compatriots who have been protesting for weeks when I say that people want regime change. They want to live self-determined lives in a free and democratic country. This is not possible with the current regime in Tehran.

It is irresponsible to strengthen or legitimise a regime that will stop at nothing to remain in power. A regime that no longer has any legitimacy among its own population cannot be legitimised by the international community as a diplomatic partner for dialogue..

This article was provided by Deutsche Welle

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