Iran

Two weeks on from the outbreak of the revolutionary uprising in Iran, and the movement continues. In every major city, violent clashes are occurring between the youth and security forces, with repression becoming ever harsher. Well over 100 have been killed and many more have been arrested. On Monday, students responded by commencing a strike, which has now spread to over 100 universities!

The movement against the Iranian regime continues on the streets, despite heavy-handed repression by regime forces. Having spread to more than 140 cities, towns and villages across the country, what started as a protest against the killing of a young Kurdish woman has turned to a powerful revolutionary movement of the youth against the regime as a whole. The question remains however, where does the movement go from here?

The protests in Iran, sparked by the murder of a young Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini, have now spread to at least 140 cities across all provinces in the country. It has turned into a national uprising, incomparable to any previous movement in the history of the Islamic Republic. 

On 13 September, the Iranian ‘Morality Police’ captured a Kurdish girl named Jîna Emînî in Tehran, who was visiting from her city Seqiz in Iranian Kurdistan, with her brother. Her brother tried to intervene and asked the police: “We are foreigners here, why are you arresting her?”, and they responded by beating him too. After that, they tortured Jîna until she lost consciousness. She was taken to hospital, and on Friday 16 September, she passed away because of the severity of her wounds.

Protests have broken out all over Iran, following the murder of a young Kurdish woman, Jina Mahsa Amini, by Iran’s notorious morality police. Beginning in the Kurdish areas of Iran, the protests spread to more than 30 cities, including all the largest in the country: Tehran, Mashhad, Isfahan, Karaj, Tabriz and the so-called holy city of Qom. What started as a reaction against police brutality has quickly turned into a mood of rage against the regime as a whole.

We are delighted to be able to announce that the Iranian Exit Theatre Group based in Tehran has translated the article “Shostakovich, the musical conscience of the Russian Revolution” by Alan Woods into Farsi. This is an important and welcome development, which will make the really revolutionary content of Shostakovitch’s life and work known to a broader audience.

Protests have been increasing in Iran’s Khuzestan province, a week after the 10 and 11-storey Metropol Towers in the city of Abadan collapsed, killing and wounding up to 100 people. After much hesitation, the Iranian regime called for a national day of mourning on Sunday, but the ceremony in Abadan, led by the local Friday Prayer Imam, was also disrupted by angry protesters.

Crowds of people have been gathering in the streets of Abadan, Iran, chanting slogans against local officials and the owner of a building that collapsed on Monday, leaving at least 10 people dead and 40 injured. The Metropol twin tower complex consisted of two, 10-storey buildings, one of which had been finalised and one that was still under construction. After the latter collapsed on Tuesday, its twin tower also collapsed on Wednesday, while rescue operations were still underway.

Since last week, spontaneous protests have been breaking out in Iran following cuts to subsidies on basic foodstuffs, combined with spiralling inflation. Prices for staples like cooking oil, chicken, milk and eggs have abruptly raised by as much as 300 percent. In past weeks, the price of a kilogram of flour has increased by 500 percent. Subsidy cuts have also caused a 169 percent surge in the price of pasta. This is creating a desperate situation for the masses, provoking a backlash that is combining with workers’ struggles, resulting in an explosive mix.

On 30 to 31 January, tens of thousands of teachers went on strike across Iran in over 300 cities, led by the Teachers’ Coordinating Committee. Slogans at the rallies included: “The teacher would rather die than accept [this] humiliation”, “If there was justice, the teachers would not be here”, and: “We do not have cannons and guns but we have the support of the people”. The strike was met with the arrest of dozens of trade unionists. But this has not discouraged the teachers, who have planned weekly strikes this month and threatened an indefinite strike if their demands are not met.

In the past month, there have been over 230 strikes and protests across Iran. Since their national three-day strike from 10–13 December, teachers’ protests, led by a Teachers’ Coordinating Council, have continued across Iran. Sporadic strikes continue among oil workers in Khuzestan, and on a nearly daily basis, there are reports of workers at major factories spontaneously launching indefinite strike action.

This month has seen a relentless series of over 230 strikes and protests in Iran. The most prominent of these was a two-day teachers’ strike on 11-13 December, involving tens of thousands of teachers in hundreds of cities across the country. The regime responded by arresting over 200 teachers and trade unionists.

Since 8 November, thousands of farmers have been protesting in Isfahan, Iran, over the drying up of the Zayanderud river, the major river in the province. They have been calling for the distribution of water reserves to farmers. Having been ignored by the regime, farmers occupied the dried-up riverbed in front of Khaju bridge. In the early morning of 25 November, riot police set the farmers’ tents ablaze: the beginning of a government crackdown against the increasingly militant protests. Clashes between protesters and the regime continued for three days, with 210 arrested, 20 injured and three deaths confirmed.

In the last month there have been over 150 strikes and protests across Iran. This is only the latest strike wave since 2018. The ongoing struggles include oil workers in Khuzestan, the Haft Tappeh sugar plantation workers, miners in Azerbaijan, Khorasan and Kerman, national protests of teachers, and ongoing farmers’ protests among others. All the while, the social crisis in Iran is continuing to plummet to new depths.

Since 15 July, protests over a severe water shortage in Khuzestan province in Iran have developed into a powerful localised movement, which has now spread to all major cities of the province: Shush, Susangard, Izeh, Dezful, Kut Abdullah, Weiss, Mahshahr, Hamidiyeh, Chamran and several areas of Ahvaz. The regime has declared martial law but this has only had the effect of provoking protests in a further 16 provinces.

On 20 June, contracted oil and gas workers in Assaluyeh went on strike. Since then, more oil and gas workers across Iran have joined the strikes, with over a hundred strikes now ongoing and that number continuing to grow. The workers are demanding: 10 days off after 20 days of work (10-20 scheme), a minimum wage across the sector of 12 million tomans, and trade union rights. These demands have found widespread support in the entire hydrocarbon sector and in the working class at large. Inspired by the oil and gas workers, strikes are breaking out among railway construction workers, truck drivers and steelworkers. All the while, protests by pensioners, teachers, medical staff and farmers

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On 18 June, the Islamic Republic of Iran held its presidential election, which was met by a widespread boycott by the masses. The official figure for turnout was 48%, with the regime’s desired candidate, Raisi, winning with 61.9%, with blank votes coming second on 12.8%. The real turnout however could have been even lower, with some estimates placing it between 25 and 35 percent. There have been reports of some polling stations being completely abandoned. This was an absolute sham of an election, which saw the lowest turnout and the highest number of blank votes in the history of the Islamic Republic. This comes on the back of a continuous wave of strike action and protests that

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The upcoming 18 June presidential elections in Iran are turning into an even greater farce than usual. In the past, the regime would have at least projected the appearance of competition, approving competing candidates from its various factions. This year, however, it has only approved seven candidates: all from the hardline, conservative faction. This move comes from a position of weakness, exposing the crisis of the regime.

On 22 May, 1,400 farmers protested against the lack of permanent access to water in the Iranian province of Isfahan. The regime answered by sending riot police, who brutally beat the farmers, who fought back, leading to clashes. This was not an isolated incident; there is widespread discord among farmers, with recent protests in Khuzestan, Sistan-Balochistan, Khorasan and elsewhere.