Iran: The pandemic no longer poses a barrier to protests

Analysis by PMOI/MEK

Iran, April 9, 2021—The Iranian regime’s officials and media are acknowledging that the Covid-19 pandemic has been let loose across Iran. “Tehran has passed the red alert,” said Minoo Mohraz, a member of the regime’s Covid-19 Task Force, on April 7. “The fourth peak of Covid-19 is accelerating,” wrote the daily Mostaghel.

According to reports tallied by the Iranian opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) over 246,400 people have died of the Covid-19 in 535 cities checkered across all of Iran by Thursday.

“In total 85 percent of our cities and towns are registered as red and orange zones. I used a phrase that we have gone from stairwell rises to elevator increases, and now the numbers are rising like a missile launch,” said Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi on Wednesday.

This circumstance was expectable. The catastrophic situation and rising of the death toll are the result of the criminal policies of the regime’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei, who described the coronavirus as a “blessing.” Khamenei saw the spread of the virus as a barrier to prevent social protests across the country, especially as the situation in the society is tense after several rounds of nationwide protests.

According to the state-run Farhikhtegan daily, a member of the regime’s Expediency Discernment Council Ahmad Tavakoli said “Currently the people have the lowest trust in the state. In November [2019] and prior to those events I had said that we had to provide smart cards, and food and hygiene baskets to the people. If we do not, we should expect riots by the poor. Right now, the threat is even higher, but coronavirus is preventing such developments.”

But this was a miscalculation. In the last three months, protests have continued to grow across Iran despite the threat of the pandemic and increasing repressive measures by the regime.

Retirees and pensioners are gathering every week to protest against economic policies that have left their lives in ruins and have rendered them incapable of providing their most basic needs. More recently, these protests, which have continued for several months, have started to steer toward political slogans. In their demonstrations, the pensioners chant, “We will not vote anymore, we’ve seen no justice,” “This is our demand, pensions based on inflation rates,” and “Have some shame, give us our rights.”

These and other ongoing protests are proving the regime’s failure in using the pandemic as a tool to contain the rage of the Iranian society.

The regime is confronted with two harsh realities. The regime is facing a dissatisfied society that is suffering from poverty, inflation, and skyrocketing prices. “The people’s situation is so dire that something might happen that shouldn’t happen,” Tavakoli said in this regard.

Other regime officials also warn about the explosive situation of the Iranian society. Even the Chairman of the Assembly of Experts Ahmad Jannati warned, “the situation is concerning.”

Even Khamenei is worried about the conditions of the Iranian society. In a recent speech, he warned, “The Enemy is lying in ambush. We must repeat this so that people don’t forget it. The enemy is working constantly to discourage the youth.”

Khamenei also warned that the “enemy” is not only affecting the impoverished people who are fed up with the mullahs’ rule but also causes doubts in those who believe in the establishment.

“The enemy is trying to destroy youths’ motivation… The enemy is here to disband the Islamic Republic,” Khamenei said.

But who is this “enemy” that Khamenei is warning about? They are none other than the people, who have been under the pressure of the mullahs’ tyranny for more than four decades, and their resistance movement, who has not given up the cause of freedom in Iran.

As Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), rightly pointed out following the organized protests of pensioners, those who come to the streets speak with “the voice of the Iranian public to gain their rights usurped by the mullahs’ corrupt regime.”

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