At a press briefing in Paris on Thursday, representatives of the National Council of Resistance of Iran provided detailed information about Iranian protests that have continued for eight months in spite of intense repression. The briefing was held on the closing day of an exhibition marking the 30th anniversary of the massacre of 30,000 Iranian political prisoners in the summer of 1988.
International organizations such as Amnesty International have described this incident as a crime against humanity. Its perpetrators have never been tried, and many are still in power in Tehran’s political, judicial, and repressive institutions. One such individual, Alireza Avaie, served on the “death committee” in Dezful in 1988 and today holds the position of Justice Minister.
An Iranian Resistance activist who participated in Thursday’s briefing explained that she has lost 15 relatives, many of them members of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran, at the hands of the clerical regime. She and others shared their personal accounts as witnesses to the 1988 massacre, along with observations regarding other crimes committed by the mullahs.
According to NCRI Foreign Affairs Committee member Behzad Naziri, the officials responsible for the 1988 massacre are holding the most senior positions in the Iranian regime and have continued their crimes against the Iranian people with impunity. But Thursday’s briefing sought to demonstrate that this is not impeding the people’s activism.
Afshin Alavi, another members of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said, “It has been more than seven and a half months since widespread protests that began at the end of last year against the regime in more than 142 cities and were suppressed in January of this year. Yet we are witnessing demonstrations, strikes in various cities of Iran. This is despite what regime’s propaganda and its lobbies abroad have made the media believe: that this time, as in 2009, the uprising has been stopped and theocracy dominates the situation.”
He added, “Only in the month of July the Iranian resistance recorded 238 strikes by workers, 29 protest gatherings by the investors whose savings has been looted, 9 by teachers, 3 by students, 557 by truckers, 11 by political prisoners including 5 cases of hunger strikes and 110 by others sectors.”
Alavi emphasized that these demonstrations are taking place in new cities and towns, with participation from various segments of society including farmers, ethnic minorities, truck drivers, bazaar traders, laborers, unemployed youths, pensioners, teachers, street vendors, and the families of political prisoners. He went on to highlight the importance of “cooperation between the layers of the angry population and the Resistance units in Iran. This is of particular concern to the regime since it is acknowledgement on the impact of the People’s Mojahedin Organization on these movements.”
He also stressed that although many protests began with social and economic demands, the slogans quickly turned political, with calls for the regime’s ouster. These slogans are identical all across the country, according to Alavi, who also pointed out that “factions of the regime are targeted by the people and the slogan ‘reformers, hardliners, [the] game is now over’ is widespread.”
The Iranian Resistance cited the following factors for the roots of the ongoing protests:
“The trigger for each demonstration in each town and city or region has its own root: the scarcity of drinking water, lack of water for agriculture, ecological and environmental disasters, poverty, misery and hunger, financial corruption, the delay of wage payments, repression and even football matches as in Ahwaz, Tehran and Isfahan in August, which turned into demonstrations against the regime with the cry of ‘down with the dictatorship’.
The most recent demonstrations began on July 31st, after being widely publicized on Resistance-affiliated social media networks. The main protests were in Isfahan, Shiraz, Karaj and Tehran. The regime suppressed these demonstrations using tear gas, and in Karaj a 26-year-old protester, Reza Otadi was shot dead while working in the local bazaar. In Tehran, 43 people were arrested at Azadi Stadium.
Other methods of repression include the use of signal jammers. In Karaj, internet access was cut off for two days. In an effort to conceal its repression tactics, the regime sent officials to the scene of protests in plain clothes, but Resistance activists were able to identify and photograph them, confirming that repression is carried out directly by IRGC.
The NCRI briefing declared that demonstrations will continue thanks to the activity of PMOI-affiliated networks, which will continue to multiply. NCRI officials also concluded that the regime is being worn down by this and by a still-deteriorating economic situation, meaning that the disintegration and overthrow of the regime is close at hand.
In a recent speech, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei justified this conclusion, saying that any change in the regime’s behavior would result in regime change.