Mass protest movement in Iran needs international solidarity

October 5, 2022
A protest in Sydney for Jîna, also known as Mahsa Amini. Photo: Peter Boyle

Socialist Alliance supports the mass protest movement in Iran that has developed in response to the killing of Mahsa Amini by the Iranian authorities.

The 22-year old Iranian Kurdish woman, whose Kurdish name is Jîna, was arrested last month by Iran’s morality police for not wearing a hijab properly.

Members of her family said that Amini suffered a concussion a few hours after she was taken into custody. She died in hospital following a three-day coma.

In response to her death, waves of protests erupted in Iran, primarily led by women, mobilising thousands in opposition to the oppressive and authoritarian regime.

The protest movement has been driven by opposition to the regime’s treatment of women. The oppression of women is legalised by Islamic law and includes the forcible imposition of the headscarf throughout the country.

Women have experienced harassment, arrests and physical assault at the hands of Iran’s morality police, whose role is to impose these oppressive patriarchal laws.

The protests originated in the East Kurdistan region of Iran, before spreading towards Mazandaran in the north and the capital, Tehran.

They have been led by the Kurdish community, who remain an oppressed ethnic minority within Iran. The protests have spread to at least 29 out of 31 provinces, indicating the broad reach the movement is having within Iranian society.

One of the unifying slogans of the protests is “Woman, Life, Freedom!” (Jin, Jiyan, Azadi!), popularised by the Kurdish-led Rojava Revolution in North East Syria. It is playing a role in unifying social groups in opposition to gender oppression, socio-economic inequality, and political and national oppression.

Protesters are actively resisting police repression and women protesters are taking off their head scarves in defiance of the regime’s oppressive laws.

Responding to the protests, the Iranian state has cut off the internet and blocked social media.

The protesters face heavy repression from the police: there have been thousands of arrests and at least 133 people killed.

The Iranian state also launched drone attacks on Iranian Kurds in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, killing more than 18 people.

Many Western governments, including the United States, have expressed their solidarity with the Iranian protest movement and have helped activate satellite links and other internet services to restore communications for the protesters.

While this is welcome, the US’s track record towards Iran has been to destabilise the country for its own imperialist interests.

The US organised the 1953 coup in which Iran’s democratically elected government was overthrown and, for decades, has imposed economic sanctions on Iran that have disproportionately impacted working people.

The protest movement that erupted after Amini’s killing represents the latest uprising in four decades of resistance to theocratic rule and repression of democratic rights.

It needs strong international solidarity.

Socialist Alliance is committed to supporting ongoing solidarity actions across Australia. We call on the federal government to condemn the Iranian regime’s repression of protesters and to welcome Iranian refugees seeking asylum. No refugee should be deported from Australia to Iran where they will face repression.

[The Socialist Alliance national executive adopted this statement on October 5.]

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