Ballast magazine with Shiva Mahbobi
مصاحبه مجله فرانسوي ‘ بلاست ‘ با شيوا محبوبي سخنگوي كميته مبارزه براي آزادي زندانيان سياسيدر رابطه با اعتراضات اخير در ايران
Interview by Ballast magazine with Shiva Mahbobi, Spokesperson for the Campaign to Free Political Prisoners in Iran about the recent protests in Iran. English translation is at the end of this post.
Shiva Mahbobi (PCOI) : « Les Iraniens n’ont pas besoin d’une superpuissance pour venir les sauver »
10 janvier 2018 par Redac Web / 834 vues
1) Do protesters have a chance to avoid repression?
No. Any signs of dissent and any demonstrations, even mildly in opposition to the Islamic regime, will face a brutal crackdown, arresting demonstrators, imprisonment, torture and even execution.
Since the Islamic regime in Iran hijacked the revolution of 1979 any form of opposition has been faced with severe repression such as dismissal from work or university, harassment, kidnapping, imprisonment, torture and execution. Regime has been trying to instil fear and terror in the society in order to stay in power. However, the regime’s power and ability to suppress opposition has changed since the regime seized power in 1979 . During 1980, the regime was able to impose its power and illegitimate authority only by mass arrests, torture and executions. At the time, people in Iran had no opportunities or means to inform people around the world and the international communities about the massacres and oppression in Iran and therefore it was easier for the regime to impose and enforce its ruthless suppressive laws and policies. During the last 39 years, as the protests continued they have slowly gained an unstoppable momentum, have grown stronger and more widespread. People have became more able, through the social media, to organise different campaigns and to let the world know what has been happening in Iran. The ability to broadcast their demonstration and in a way to send their message to an international audience through the social media in itself have created an International solidarity with people in Iran which has exerted a huge pressure and created a complex problem for the Islamic regime. As the time went, on the people in Iran got bolder and further challenged the regime and as a result, the regime got weaker and less able to impose a terror and fear on the people and the society as whole. The regime will continue to suppress its opponents and this oppression will continue until the Islamic regime is in power in Iran. However, the important point to consider is that despite all the oppression people have continued to defy the regime and make their repressive laws and act less effective. The only way to avoid repression is to defy the regime and eventually overthrow them.
3) What are the differences, in your opinion, with the movement of 2009?
There are three major differences between the protests now with those in 2009. First, these protests have had important slogans and demands and have focused merely on the leaders, security guards and as a whole to overthrow of the Islamic regime and have targeted the entire regime. As we have seen, the protesters have targeted any symbols that has any relationship to the regime such as the government buildings, some religious establishment such as security and revolutionary guard buildings and Hozeh-Elmiye (a religious school for clergies) in the city of Ghom, to name a few. Second, the protests are extremely widespread and they are held not just in the large cities but also in small cities and even some villages. According to the news we have received from Iran, the demonstrations were held in around 92 cities which is unprecedented in Iran. Third, these protests have been on-going since the end of December 2017, and although more than 3000 protesters have been arrested, people have not given up and have been continuously organising more protests in more cities.
4) Which social classes participate to the demonstrations?
The new waive of protests, which has been going on since December 2017, was against poverty, inequality, inflation, dictatorship and the existence of the Islamic regime as a whole. Therefore the participants are mainly working class, unemployed, students and other underprivileged in Iran. While the authorities in Iran have been accumulating wealth and stealing billions of dollars from people in the last 39 years, majority of the people in Iran have been living below the poverty line and have no income to provide the very basic necessity for their families. Iran has the highest addiction rate in the world; the unemployment rate according to the official sources is more than 12 percent which is way below the actual figures, and the number of children living on the street and homelessness have been rising. Those who are working in factories are been paid irregularly. After the nuclear agreement and despite the removal of the sanction, the inflation, unemployment and the level of poverty have even gone up.
5) What is the part of the rejection of the imperialist war in Syria in discontent?
Apart from wishing for a major change and collapse of the Islamic regime through revolution, people in Iran are also protesting about billions of dollars being spent by the Islamic regime on Islamic groups in the region including the war in Syria while the poverty, homelessness and unemployment is on the rise in Iran and people cannot even afford the basic food and shelter. They say stop the war and spend the money on people in Iran. People are also saying that they do not wish to be involved in any war which brings death and destruction to another nation.
6) Are the protesters aware of US armed threats against Iran? Does this moderate the protest?
Absolutely not. People in Iran know that US, EU and other governments are seeking to fulfil their own agendas and have a clear track records of being on the side of their own interest and do not care at all for what happens to people in other country. This is the reason people in Iran care less about what comes from the White House or Brussels and are more in loved with their aim or revolution to overthrow the Islamic regime. Also, people in Iran do not need any super-power to come and rescue them. They want to overthrow the Islamic regime and of course they do not want to face a situation similar to Iraq or Afghanistan. There are genuine concerns about what might happen after they have overthrown the regime and what western governments would do to create an alternative they prefer to install in Iran. However, at the moment people are more concentrated on ousting the Islamic regime. What Donald Trump, the US and EU are saying does not concern people at this point.
7) Is there an additional discontent among the peripheral populations (Kurds, Sunnis …)?
The movement for overthrowing the Islamic regime is the common denominator among different sections of the Iranian society. At the moment and specially during the recent protests, it is evident that all the people have come together to concentrate on their opposition to and overthrowing the Islamic regime. People from different parts of Iran have been surpassed by the regime and therefore there is a unity amongst different population to get ride of the regime.
1) Mohammad Ali Jafari (guardian of the revolution) announced Wednesday “the end of the sedition” is this correct? For how long?
The authorities have been claiming that these protests are just a temporary ‘unrest ’ and has been provoked by the ‘foreign powers’ but they clearly know that this is not true. Regime has been panicking about the scale of these protests across Iran. The regime fears these protests because they are unpredictable and uncontrollable meaning they can start anywhere and anytime. The regime is minimising the effect of these protests in order to conceal their own panic of losing the power.
3) What is the sociology of protesters ? Is it the young people and women who suffer the most from the mullahs’ policies ?
People from different section of the society ( majority working class) are participating in these protests. Majority of the protesters are young women and men whom have been suffering the most. Millions of young people are unemployed and are struggling with poverty and there is no prospects of having a career or job for them. Millions of families are suffering from poverty and unemployment. As for women, we need to remember that women and their rights have been targeted and attacked by the Islamic regime since 1979. The first attack on people’s rights started shortly after the revolution by attacking women’s rights. Women have always been subjected to repression and they have been stripped from their basic rights. The Iranian women are a decisive part of the demonstrations in Iran.
4) Can the campaigns and messages of international support to the Iranian people really weigh in the balance of power against Rohani
The international solidarity and support for people in Iran can play a major role in supporting people’s fight for freedom. While the governments and their institutions around the world have closed their eyes on the atrocity committed by the Islamic regime Iran, people in Iran will count on the support from other people around the world. Right now more than 3000 people have been arrested during the recent protests. The family of these prisoners have started a sit-in in front of the infamous Evin prison. The international pressure on the regime in Iran has a vital role in releasing the detainees and in supporting their families. Labour unions, human rights organisation and those who oppose the repression and dictatorship have a duty to stand by and mobilise an international solidarity for the people in Iran and their fight for freedom. In any revolution, the support of people around the world and their efforts and solidarity have been an important element in shifting the balance of power toward people. It is vital for the concerned organisations and individuals to stand by people in Iran and support them