Iran’s regime is becoming increasingly incapable of suppressing protests

“Teachers’ voices will not be shut down. It is the dictator that will be shut down,” a teacher shouted during a protest rally in Shiraz on May 1, one of 55 cities across Iran that witnessed demonstrations on the International Workers’ Day. The chant, a reference to the Iranian people’s desire for the overthrow of the tyrannical regime, was quickly picked up and repeated by other teachers and people who had attended the rally.

Iran’s regime is faced with an increasingly restive population and protests that are expanding to all segments of the society and walks of life. From teachers to workers, students to civil servants, retired government employees to petrochemical workers, numerous communities are rising and raising their voice to reclaim their most basic rights.
Protests usually begin with economic demands: unpaid wages, salaries that aren’t enough to cover the most basic needs, poor working conditions, lack of job security and healthcare, uncertain contract status, poor legislative support, unkept promises by the government and parliament. But they quickly turn political in nature, with demands for the release of jailed activists and slogans against regime leaders.

On Sunday, the teachers were chanting, “Raisi you illiterate, the teachers’ movement is ready for an uprising,” referring to regime president Ebrahim Raisi, who is regularly mocked by Iranians for his low academic pedigree. Other slogans included “Imprisoned teachers must be freed” and “tyrants don’t belong to Iran,” the latter being a clear call for regime change.

It is worth noting that the teachers held their protest rallies despite a growing wave of repressive measures by the Iranian regime. On the eve of the International Worker’s Day, security forces arrested more than 70 teachers and activists to intimidate the public and prevent teachers from joining rallies. On the day of the rallies, dozens of other teachers were arrested. But the teachers held their ground firm and continued to voice their demands, which they have been reiterating in several rounds of nationwide protests in the past year.

In tandem with the protests by teachers, other communities have been holding similar protests. Last week, workers of the oil and gas industry held strikes and protests in several cities. Like the teachers, they have been reiterating their demands repeatedly. Last year, they held a months-long strike, demanding better work conditions, salary raises reflecting their extremely difficult working conditions, and the dismissal of contractors that steal their money. Regime officials responded to their demands with unkept promises, threats of dismissal from work, and arrests of activists. A year later, with economic conditions even worse than before, the workers are back in the streets to reclaim their rights.

This is a recurring theme across different communities. It is known to all Iranians that the mullahs’ regime’s priority is to spend the country’s wealth on terrorism, ballistic missiles, nuclear weapons, surveillance, and repression. After trying all legal channels, workers have realized that the only way to obtain their rights is to raise their voice in protest. And by extension, they have come to know that as long as the mullahs are in power, they will not obtain their rights.

With the country’s economy declining by the day and the regime doing nothing to improve the livelihoods of the people, tens of millions of Iranians have sunk below the poverty line, to the point that they no longer have anything to lose. And they have come to know that as long as the mullahs are in power, their lives won’t get any better. This is why they are coming to the streets every day, and even the regime’s suppressive measures are not succeeding in quieting them.

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