The world must keep its eyes on Iran

Mahsa Amini
Mahsa Amini's family
A close up of Richard Branson smiling, looking at the camera
Richard Branson's signature
Published on 13 December 2022

With every passing day, the situation of the brave protestors in Iran gets more precarious. For nearly three months since the violent death of 22-year old Mahsa Amini in police custody, young Iranians have been taking to the streets, expressing their frustration with the incompetent and corrupt regime that has oppressed them for so long. With their dreams and aspirations crushed, their desire to live freely and with dignity shattered, and their country’s economy on its knees, Iranians have had enough. There is little to no confidence in the political will or the capacity for meaningful reforms. The system is broken beyond repair. Regime change is what people are fighting for.

Iran’s leaders, a cabal of so-called clerics and their cronies completely disconnected from the day-to-day lives of the younger generations, are undoubtedly aware and fearful of the power of the street. And they are striking back with cruel, raw brutality to preserve the status quo. Hundreds, if not more, have already been killed since September in clashes between police and protestors, including countless bystanders. The Basiji, a thuggish domestic militia doing the regime’s dirty work, has been out in full force, mercilessly targeting protestors, their families, and their communities. Thousands have been imprisoned, and there are countless credible reports of people being routinely subjected to torture.

Today, we learned of the death of Majidreza Rahnavard, who was hanged this morning in the city of Mashhad, a mere 23 days after his arrest and following a show trial that bore all the hallmarks of dictatorial injustice. Only 23 years old, Majidreza was the second protestor to be executed in just five days. Human rights organisations fear that many more are at risk over the coming days and weeks as those detained are dragged before Iran’s feared Revolutionary Court.

As the crackdown is in full swing, the international community must hold Iran’s leadership accountable and do everything it can to end government violence and oppression before more young lives are lost. All nations and businesses should rethink their economic ties to the regime, which has also become one of Russia principal suppliers of drones killing Ukrainian civilians – an unholy alliance not supported by the Iranian people, I’m sure.

Diplomatic pressure at all levels must be combined with comprehensive and strictly enforced sanctions against individuals and government organisations responsible for the violence. Thanks to the diligent work of human rights activists inside Iran and abroad, their names are well-known. Those in charge now should know that they won’t escape justice.

In addition to political and economic action, all those with platforms and reach should give a voice to the protest movement, bear witness to the regime’s crimes and share what is happening across Iran’s cities and towns every day. The world must keep its eyes on Iran.

Head over to the Iranian Diaspora Collective to learn more.