Current developments in Iran - 4th January 2018

Haft Tapeh Sugarcane workers on strike
Haft Tapeh Sugarcane workers on strike

From an Iranian comrade. First published on Insurgent Notes #16.

Submitted by Mike Harman on February 22, 2018

This time is much different than 2009.

The new wave of demonstrations started on Thursday, December 28, in Mashhad, the second-largest city of Iran, which is one of the most conservative cities in Iran. Some people (including the “reformist” faction of the regime) claim that the protests in this city were initiated by the competing (“conservative”) faction which lost the presidential election to “moderates” and “reformists”; but soon it got out of their hands. Whether this is the case or not, this new wave of protest demonstrations is undoubtedly spontaneous, and reflects the great discontent among the masses which no force has been able to control.

On the streets, in contrast to 2009, there is no sign of religious slogans whatsoever, of illusions in this or that faction of the regime, or of any leadership over demonstrators.

What it has in common with 2009 are nationalist slogans such as “Neither Gaza nor Lebanon, my life for Iran.”

Up until now, demands are mostly focused on economic relief, political freedoms, overthrowing of the existing regime; and some few slogans here and there in support of a monarchy.

Right before these last five days of demonstrations, there was a new wave of workers’ strikes (mostly small, but numerous in a number of workplaces/strikes/protests) almost all over the country—with no connection to each other. Workers’ demands were (and still are?) mostly defensive; defending their basic rights and wages; very few—if any—offensive demands.

And right now I hear much less about strikes, and more about the demonstrations—though there are calls (not only from parties or politicians, but from the streets) for general strikes. The scene seems ready for a massive workers’ strike.

The number of dead is increasing. According to authorities, up until now, 20 demonstrators have been killed (10 of them last night) in the clashes between protesters and repressive forces of the regime. One can surely assume this number is much higher as they always reduce heavily the number of casualties on such occasions when reporting. The number of killed is expected to increase in the following days as the authorities since yesterday threatened openly to suppress the protesters hard, and as there is no sign of easing up on the side of protesting people. The demonstrations are ongoing in numerous cities as I am writing these lines.