Protests are increasing in size and scale in Iran, leading many in the ruling system and in the opposition to speculate that a new uprising is coming. Indeed, this is something that the government has feared since the first nationwide protests broke out in December 2017, but despite attempts to quell the protests, the people have continued their acts of defiance as part of a campaign for regime change, even throughout the pandemic, although understandably tempered.
In March, opposition leader Maryam Rajavi said that lower levels of protest would not last long, even though the government had hoped that a failure to control the pandemic would stop any uprising from taking place and ensure their continued power. (This despite the officials having more than enough money to help the people through the pandemic, if only officials would stop lining their pockets or supporting terrorists.)
The recent protests
People from every walk of life have come out to protest in the streets over the authorities’ economic policies, which have been damaging to ordinary people, especially during the pandemic. Here is just a small snapshot of those who’ve protested en-masse in 2021:
- Pensioners, over not being paid enough to get by on
- investors, over a government scheme that essentially allowed insider to fleece the people
- rural farmers, over how the regime’s private sector connections resulted in farmers’ rights being marginalised
The Iranian Resistance wrote: “The past year’s relative lull in activity suggests that the pandemic was the only thing that could provide the regime with any cover from public outrage. But the ongoing pensioner protests and the new demonstrations from investors, farmers, and other groups suggest that this effect is running its course. Now, with the Iranian regime’s sham presidential election looming, the expressions of economic grievance are beginning to take on broader political messaging, much like they did at the beginning of 2018.”
The protesters have been echoing calls by the Resistance for a boycott of the elections to show that the ruling theocracy is illegitimate. The Resistance Units are publicising that call across the country by putting up posters of Rajavi and graffiti featuring slogans denouncing the elections and arguing that the authorities cannot bring an end to the problems it caused.
The most popular slogan is “My vote is for regime change”, which was making the rounds in February 2020 ahead of the parliamentary elections that the Resistance also called for a boycott of. Those elections had the lowest voter turnout in Iran’s history.