Viewpoint by René Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens
GENEVA (IDN) — The cry “Women-Life-Liberty!” is going up in many different parts of the Islamic Republic of Iran. It is not possible to know in advance how strong the protests will be and what will be specific reforms demanded. However, the Government is worried. On October 3, Ayatollah Ali Khomeinei, the Supreme Guide, justified the repression in a talk to the Military Academy and said that the manifestations were the work of the USA and Israel.
The protests began on September 13, 2022 at the announcement of the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Anini in police custody, having been arrested by the “morality police” for not having the proper dress. She was an ethnic Kurd. The protests began in the Kurdish areas but soon spread to all ethnic groups and many parts of the country.
However, the government is worried that support for the demonstrations from Kurds, especially some in Iraq, could grow and lead to multi-ethnic tensions. There have been Iranian government attacks on Kurdish posts in Iraq.
Women have been a central focus of the social policy of the Islamic government. Even before coming to power in 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini from his exile in France, had said that the overly great liberty of women was a chief obstacle to his policies. Repressive policies against women with compulsory veiling laws were quickly put into place.
However, unlike the Taliban in Afghanistan, women were not barred from higher education. It is estimated that some 65 per cent of university students are women. Many play important roles within society but must keep a low profile, dress according to the code and be under the control of a man, at least when visible in public.
Now the cry “Women – Life – Liberty” proclaimed by many women and some men indicates the changes in outlook. Obviously, the government led by the Guide Ali Khomeinei and the conservative President Ebrahim Raissi are worried. The police, the Revolutionary Guards, and other paramilitary forces have been called out.
Some protesters have been killed, an estimated 100, and others wounded. The number of arrested is unknown. Journalists have been prevented from reporting, and internet services have been cut or are irregular. Thus, there are few photos of the demonstrations.
There have been waves of protests in Iran before without bringing about major changes in policy. However, some observers believe that there is a new spirit in these protests largely led by youth. “Women – Life – Liberty” may be the wave of the future and should be watched closely. [IDN-InDepthNews – 08 October 2022]
Photo: A protester holds a portrait of Mahsa Amini during a demonstration in support of the young Iranian woman, who died after being arrested in Tehran by the Islamic Republic’s morality police on September 20, 2022. three days in a coma. Credit: Ozan KOSE / AFP via Getty Images. Source: WBUR.
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