The Voice Of Iran’s Revolution Echoed Loudly In Paris Rally

Ten thousand Iranians gathered in Paris on Sunday to voice their support for the ongoing revolution in Iran. The rally, organized by the supporters of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) and the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), featured speeches from opposition figures, Iranian communities, and western politicians. The rally took place as Iran has seen five months of relentless protests despite repression, arrests, executions, and the murder of more than 750 protesters in the streets. At the same time, the remnants of the overthrown Shah regime and proponents of the mullahs’ regime have been trying to promote solutions such as a return to monarchy and a compromise with the current regime and the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC). The Persian-language TV and radio channels located outside of Iran that promote the narrative of the monarchy enjoy financial support from governments known for their policy of appeasement towards the regime. However, this promotion does not align with the true aspirations of the Iranian people, who are striving for a democratic and free country. The fixation on the Shah’s son and the monarchy serves only to distract and obstruct the Iranian people’s efforts to achieve a more democratic and free society, hindering progress towards their collective vision for the future of their country. The Paris rally was a clear echo of a slogan that has become very popular in the past five months of protests in Iran and has been widely censored by these so-called Persian media: “Death to the oppressor, whether it be the Shah or the mullahs!” “Dictatorship, whether draped in a turban or a crown, remains dictatorship,” said Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), who spoke at the event. Mrs. Rajavi stressed that the international community has a duty to recognize the Iranian people’s right to resist against the fascist regime and to defend themselves “against the IRGC, covert agents, and the barrage of bullets that pierce their eyes, heads, and hearts.” She also called on world leaders to back the protests in Iran by designating the IRGC as a terrorist entity. “This is what people of Iran demand and indispensable to promoting regional and global peace,” she said. John Bercow, the former Speaker of the UK House of Commons, emphasized that the Shah was “a corrupt killer” who did not believe in “democracy, freedom, the rights of media, the rights of women, or the rights of minorities.” Bercow said that the mullahs hijacked “what should have been a revolution by and for the people of Iran” and are “dictators every bit as much as the Shah was a dictatorship.” “We don’t want dictatorship for the people of Iran,” Bercow said. “We want democracy. We want freedom, the rule of law, respect for the media, equality for women, and the protection of the equal rights of minorities.” Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt stressed that 44 years ago, Khomeini stole the democratic revolution of the Iranian people. “He took advantage of the Shah’s repression of the opposition to seize power,” she said. “Today, the opposition is back in the streets. Protesters are chanting, ‘Death to the dictator, whether it be the Shah or the mullahs!’” The rally for several hours and included speeches from Iranian communities, including youth, lawyers, and experts. “In the past five months of uprisings, the people of Iran have made it clear that they will settle for nothing short of regime change,” said physicist Farhang Pouya. “The end of the regime is near. This is why the regime, and its intelligence services are trying to put different hurdles in place. But with the Resistance Units, the people of Iran are guaranteed to be victorious.”  

U.S. Congress Resolution Calls For International Support For Iran Protests

Members of the US Congress introduced H. RES. 100, a resolution in support of the Iranian people’s quest for a democratic, secular, and non-nuclear republic. The resolution, introduced by Congressman Tom McClintock, already has the backing of 166 members of Congress. The resolution acknowledges the long history of the Iranian people’s fight for freedom, including past nationwide uprisings in 2017 and 2019 and protest movements in 1999 and 2009, all of which were brutally suppressed by the regime. The “Iranian people have been deprived of their fundamental freedoms for which reason they are rejecting monarchic dictatorship and religious tyranny, as evident in their protest slogans,” the resolution reads in part, referring to the popular slogan that is being chanted in Iran’s streets these days: “Death to the tyrant, be it the Shah or the Supreme Leader.” The resolution also condemns the regime’s long history of human rights abuses, including the 1988 massacre of thousands of political prisoners, in which the current president of Iran, Ebrahim Raisi, played a key role as one of the main judges who sent prisoners to their death in Tehran and Karaj. The lawmakers draw attention to the ongoing abuse against religious and ethnic minorities, such as Kurds, Baluchis, Arabs, Christians, Jews, Baha’is, Zoroastrians, and Sunni Muslims. Moreover, the resolution warns about the regime’s use of terrorism abroad, including a foiled plot led by a Vienna-based Iranian diplomat to bomb a rally of the Iranian Resistance in Paris in 2018, and the regime’s continuous espionage and terror plots against members of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) in Albania. In addition to supporting the protests and the Iranian people’s fight for a democratic republic, the lawmakers are calling on US government agencies to work with European allies to hold Iran accountable for its breaches of diplomatic privileges and to prevent its malign activities by closing its diplomatic facilities and expelling its agents. The resolution comes as Iran’s uprisings, which began in September, have continued for nearly five months. So far, the regime has murdered over 750 protesters and arrested at least 30,000 people. Iranian authorities also executed four prisoners so far, and many others are under the threat of being executed. At a press conference in which the lawmakers presented the resolution, they voiced their support for the Iranian Resistance and Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI). “The bipartisan house majority is telling the Iranian people and the world that it stands with the organized resistance and against the tyrannical rulers who have wrecked their country and plagued the Middle East with terrorism and brutality,” Mr. McClintock said. Mrs. Rajavi, who spoke at the event, said that the people of Iran “want to put an end to one century of dictatorship and establish a democratic, pluralistic, and secular republic. What you see in Iran today is another revolution in the making. This is the result of 40 years of organized resistance and struggle against the regime, with 120,000 political executions.” Rep. Randy Weber, another sponsor of the resolution, stressed that the ongoing revolution in Iran aims to end “any kind of dictatorship in Iran. This is evident in the popular slogan: death to the dictator be it the Shah or the leader. I applaud all who are demanding an end to the totalitarian regime and seek a form of governance that derives its legitimacy from the people, not from an unelected dictatorial single party.”  

Ebrahim Raisi’s Lies About Iran’s Economy

In a recent TV interview, Iranian regime president Ebrahim Raisi presented economic statistics rejected by experts and the media run by his regime. In what cases are the numbers and figures of Ebrahim Raisi incorrect? On January 30, in response to the recent increase in the price of goods, including food, Raisi said, “At the beginning of our administration, we faced a budget deficit, and we tried to change the situation by increasing income without printing money and borrowing from the central bank. We had nearly 60 percent inflation, which has now reduced to 40 percent.” The website Aftab News rejected this claim, saying, “According to the latest report by the Statistics Center, inflation reached over 51 percent in January, and Raisi still insists on reducing inflation by 20 percent.” According to the official report of the Ministry of Cooperatives, Labor, and Social Welfare, “in 2021, more than 31.5 percent of Iran’s population dropped below the poverty line.”

Poor government performance

Referring to the promise of building four million housing units during the four years of the government’s activity, Raisi claimed, “It remains the government’s promise to build one million homes every year, and people, institutions, and mass builders will assist.” Raisi made this claim despite his government having one of the worst performances in house building in Iran. According to the Statistical Centre of Iran, in January, point-to-point inflation of food items was at 70 percent and healthcare at 58 percent. Also, the inflation rate in January reached over 51 percent. Regarding the “good and reliable” foreign exchange reserves, Raisi said, “In the past few years, many food items depended on the dollar, and we are working to reduce their dependency so that people’s tables are not affected by fluctuations in the dollar. People’s demand for price stability is completely reasonable. We suffer from high prices even more than the people; governments are affected by what people suffer.” Experts predict that Iran’s currency will continue to lose value if the current trend in economic indicators continues for the following year. “The currency of all exporters must be under the central bank’s supervision. The oil revenues covered last year’s budget deficit. The government has made serious efforts not to have a budget deficit in 2022,” Raisi added.

Putting behind an awful year

Despite the numbers announced by the government, there is substantial concern about the budget deficit and the sources for financing next year’s budget. In the last days of 2022, the Majlis Research Center announced the government’s budget deficit at 3,000 trillion rials. “To secure the public budget by the end of 2022, the government will need about 3,000 trillion rials assuming all public expenses are paid. Considering the financial burden transferred from 2021, this figure reaches about 3,600 trillion rials,” the Research Center reported. The Research Center further estimated that only 73 percent of the total budget resources were realized in the first seven months. Meanwhile, the average oil revenue realization was at most 56 percent. The same report also indicates that only 27 percent of the construction budget materialized in the first six months. It means the government has once again reduced the construction budget due to its inability to realize revenues and has paid salaries and wages 73 percent of it. All these deficits and inefficiencies will likely carry over like dominoes into next year with increased intensity.

Growing unemployment and poverty

In another part of his TV interview, Raisi claimed having reduced unemployment and succeeded in creating one million jobs per year and said, “The day I assumed the presidency, the unemployment rate was 8.9 percent, and today it is 8.2 percent. The percentage of unemployment has decreased especially in 11 provinces.” Raisi claimed to have created one million jobs, but the labor force report for the fall season categorically refutes his assertion. The Statistics Center announced that only 535,000 jobs were created compared to the previous year. According to Ebrahim Raisi’s claim, economic growth was 0.4 percent before his government, but in the fall of 2022, growth shot above 3 percent. This claim is also false, and the economic growth has visibly decreased during Raisi’s presidency, from 6.7 percent to 2.3 percent. Donya-e-Eqtesad daily reported on January 5 that the results of poverty monitoring in 2022 indicate a prevalent poverty level in Iran and a fall in the average calorie intake per capita. “Due to high general inflation and a significant drop in per capita income, more than 31 percent of Iran’s population could not afford the minimum living expenses in 2022.” The “Poverty Monitoring in 2022” results show that the average number of calories in households in Iran has fallen. This index reached about 2700 kcals per day in 2011 to about 2190 kilocalories in 2022. Ham-Mihan daily reported, “Per capita meat consumption for each person has reached four kilograms per year, while this per capita in Kuwait is 67 kilograms per person per year. Even the annual per capita meat consumption in Djibouti is 15 kilos per person. It means that every citizen of Kuwait consumes 16 times more meat, and every citizen of Djibouti consumes 3.5 more than their Iranian counterparts.”

People can’t pay for house rent

Iran’s annual house rent inflation exceeded 40 percent in 2020 and 2021, which has been one factor in families becoming poorer. The sharp growth of rents in Tehran and other parts of the country reached the point where, based on official statistics, 2021 was the worst year for home renters. Beitullah Satarian, an expert on the housing market, told Etemad Online, “Should the nuclear deal be finalized, and economic openings take place in the country, the housing market would face a higher inflation rate. But since there will be no economic improvement, apart from the sharp increase in housing prices, the rental fee will also go up.” Some experts believe this price increase will persist until the end of this year, both in the purchase and rental sectors.

To Stay in Power, Iran’s Regime Liquidates National Assets

For several decades, Iranian regime supreme leader Ali Khamenei has sold Iran’s resources and wealth for the survival of his rule. On January 30, under the pretext of “economic growth”, “government support for privatization” and “weakness inefficiency”, Khamenei announced his implicit support for the “Productivity” plan. The productivity plan is the continuation of the privatization and handing over of state-owned companies to individuals and entities with close ties to the regime. The seven-member committee The Supreme Council of Government Branch Leaders was established in 2018. The weightiest decision of this council was the 300-percent increase in the price of gasoline in November 2019, which triggered the largest social protests in Iran’s contemporary history until that time. Recently, the Council approved a seven-member committee chaired by Vice President Mohammad Mokhber. Other members include the ministers of economy, interior, road, and urbanization; the head of the Planning and Budget Organization, and two members of the parliament and the judiciary. The committee’s role is to identify government property that will be sold to people of interest and deposit the funds to the government body that owns the property. This decision, coming on the heels of an ongoing nationwide uprising, is remarkably like the 300-percent increase in the price of gasoline in 2019. The “plan to increase the productivity of government assets” was approved in November 2020 and entered the implementation phase in October 2022 at Khamenei’s behest. According to Hossein Ghorbanzadeh, the head of the privatization organization, “On November 12, the Supreme Leader approved the plan to increase the productivity of government assets, which was ratified by the Supreme Council of Economic Coordination of Government Branch Leaders.” According to the plan, “All institutions in charge of the above-mentioned properties are required to follow the approvals of this council.” The plan further states that if anyone who fails to comply with the orders strictly and fully will be punished. The plan also exempts council members from prosecution. Likewise, the executors of the decisions of this council have the same immunity. Along with judicial immunity, this seven-member panel “suspended” all “enacted laws” contrary to their decisions. Cracking down on dissent Recently, the parliament has been considering adding an article to the Islamic Penal Code. In accordance with Article 512, “every person who has a social reach, whether real or online, expresses something that has a widespread impact about matters that require the opinion of official authorities that have not yet been announced, in addition to being sentenced to third-degree punishment, will be sentenced to a financial penalty equal to twice the damages caused to the physical integrity of people or public and private property and will be responsible for compensating the damages.” According to the Islamic Penal Code, these sentences include “imprisonment of more than 10 to 15 years” and “a fine of more than 360 to 550 million rials”. Therefore, while the country’s economy is suffering from inflation, stagnation, and the gradual decline in the value of the national currency, domestic policy is based on the suppression and elimination of the opposition. Khamenei is thus trying to loot the country’s wealth and oppress people at the same time. The government claims this plan is meant to compensate for the budget deficit. Even regime-linked media consider it impractical to cover the government’s budget deficit. “The realization of 1,080 trillion rials expected resources from this plan in the next year is doubtful,” according to the Bazar website on January 28. Stealing the people’s wealth Now, does it matter how the property is identified? Who does the pricing and with what qualification? To whom is it sold? What are the conditions of the property after the sale? What will happen to the workers and employees of these organizations? This is the wealth of the people who can barely make ends meet. The tragedy is such that Ali Nikzad, a member of the Majlis (Parliament), says, “Criticisms against this plan should not be raised in public.” “The Supreme Council of Government Branch Leaders should not be able to approve anything they want, excluding the 290 MPs and the Guardian Council. How can we look at the eyes of 86 million Iranians and remain silent?” said MP Mohammadreza Sabaghian in an interview with the Mardomsalari daily, published on January 29. The regime is experiencing difficulties receiving money from oil exports, with a small portion of the revenue reaching the country. Plans like these not only do not solve any economic problems but also exacerbate poverty and corruption. Of course, the Iranian people’s share of these assets is poverty and misery, and in the future, we must expect a fierce storm of popular protests and uprisings.

Iran’s 2023 Budget Shrouded In Doubt

On January 22, the Majlis (parliament) approved the draft of the 2023 budget bill proposed by regime president Ebrahim Raisi, despite a 4,760-trillion-rial (approx. $105 billion) deficit. There is still a procedure to approve the budget expenditure. It usually takes two months after the approval of the totality of the budget bill by the Majlis. Previously, MP Mohsen Pirhadi said the proposed budget has an income-expenditure gap of 4,760 trillion rials. The figure is the result of the difference of 14,540 trillion rials in the expenditure part from 9,780 trillion rials in revenue. The budget bill also explicitly mentions this income-expenditure gap, which is a 58 percent year-over-year increase. If the current situation persists, the inflation rate next year will be above 40 percent, Pirhadi warns.

Vague oil revenue

The government bill considers the export of 1.4 million barrels of oil per day at an average of $85 per barrel and the exchange rate of 230,000 rials per dollar. It is worth mentioning that the figure calculated above is assuming that each dollar is equal to 450,000 rials, which is approximately the current price of the dollar in the exchange market. Therefore, according to the budget bill, the government will earn about $43.43 billion from oil exports next year. If the situation of oil sales in the next year is similar to this year, it is unlikely that these oil revenues will be realized, and earning a such income should be considered optimistic.

Rampant inflation

From the beginning of his administration, Ebrahim Raisi claimed to control inflation. But according to the new report of the Statistics Centre of Iran, inflation in January this year has reached over 51 percent compared to the same month last year. The next year’s budget bill of 51,090 trillion rials has increased by about 40 percent compared to the current year. This figure includes 21,640 trillion rials of the public budget and the remaining 30,970 trillion rials for state-owned companies and banks. Preliminary evaluations show that next year’s budget faces the same problems that have been plaguing the economy in recent years: Incomes that will probably not be realized and expenses that burden the Iranian government and economy year after year. The operating balance deficit of next year’s budget has increased by 58 percent compared to this year.

Unpaid wages, growing poverty, rising taxes

Salaries of government employees and retirees will increase by an average of 20 percent. Meanwhile, the inflation rate fluctuates at around 40 percent and above. In other words, the salary of government employees and pensioners will increase by less than half of the inflation rate, and their purchasing power will be reduced. Recently, with the publication of the 2022 poverty monitoring report, the Ministry of Welfare announced that the average monthly poverty line for a family of four in Iran is 77 million rials. But the reality is much worse. Recently, Faramarz Tofighi, the head of the wage committee for the Center of Islamic Labor Councils, announced that the relative poverty line of families in Iran had reached 182.9 million rials. He described Iran’s labor community as a patient who lives with 10 percent of his heart. The total tax revenues predicted in the next year’s budget bill are about 8,390 trillion rials, which shows a nearly 58-percent growth compared to this year’s budget bill. Based on this calculation, the government will earn 42.3 percent of its public resources from tax revenues. The biggest tax pressure in the coming year will be on companies and legal entities. The tax share of legal entities in the next year’s budget bill is 2,960 trillion rials, which has increased by 122 percent compared to this year.

The environment will continue to suffer

The lowest share of the budget among the 10 basic issues is the share of “Environmental Affairs” with 0.2 percent of the total budget, which has not changed compared to this year. The examination of the process of changes in Iran’s ecosystem by experts has determined that if the current trend persists, within the next 10 years, a major part of Iran’s ecosystem will be destroyed. However, the regime not only does not allocate any budget for this but also has no plans to restore Iran’s environment.

Iran: People of Khoy Still Reeling From 5.9-Magnitude Earthquake

An earthquake with a magnitude of 5.9 struck northwest Iran on Saturday, killing at least three people and injuring more than 1,000. An emergency official told state TV that it was snowing in some of the affected areas, with freezing temperatures and some power cuts reported. The freezing weather continues to this day and the people of the region have been left stranded with no government aid. According to the Nasr News website, which covers the news of East and West Azerbaijan provinces, “Following the 5.9-magnitude earthquake, the people of Khoy spent the night in the streets at minus seven degrees (Celsius) and complain about authorities ignoring their situation.” The government-linked ISNA news agency reported that people had gathered at the local Red Crescent warehouse to receive supplies. Security forces used water cannons to disperse them. “The depth of the crisis and damages in the earthquake-affected areas of Khoy is high,” said Ruhollah Hazrat Poor, MP from West Azerbaijan Province. In a video that has been shared widely on social media, a local from the disaster-struck city says, “Where should we go? What should we eat? Who can we talk to? Little children, mothers, everyone are all left in the cold, help us…” More than 40 aftershocks have been reported after the 5.9-magnitude earthquake in Khoy. Ali Beitollahi, a member of the academic staff of the Road, Housing and Urban Development Research Center, said that up to 123 villages were damaged by the earthquake. In three cities, nearly 5,000 residential units were damaged. Some villages have suffered 20 to 50 percent destruction. Electricity has been cut in more than 30 villages. Many earthquake victims have no shelter in the snow and extreme cold. The regime’s entities and Red Crescent did not help the people. “In total, about 262,000 people, including nearly 78,000 families, were affected by the earthquake,” said the regime’s deputy of the Red Crescent. “On Saturday night after the earthquake, the people, afraid of the subsequent earthquakes, spent the night in the streets despite the unbearable cold.” After four days, the people of Khoy are still suffering from the damages caused by the earthquake. And the regime is doing nothing to help them. Videos and photos posted online show lines of people out in the cold, seeking food and shelter. Meanwhile, the regime is turning down offers of aid from neighboring. According to the head of Turkey’s Red Crescent, “After the earthquake, we declared our preparedness to help [Iran]. They said that can handle the situation.”  

Iran’s Unsolvable Air Pollution Problem

Air pollution will remain at dangerous levels and will increase for the next few days in most big cities, including Tehran, Karaj, Isfahan, and Mashhad, according to Iran Meteorological Organization. For this reason, schools have been closed for about two weeks and education is held online. Large parts of Iran are struggling with air pollution, gas shortages, and freezing weather. But at the same time, the regime exports gas and gas condensates and uses mazut to supply the fuel needed by power plants, industries, and refineries to keep its source of income. Recently, Ebrahim Raisi’s government decided to raise the air pollution standards and index to avoid closing schools. In an interview with the ISNA news agency on January 23, Minister of Education Yousef Nouri said, “If you look at the global indices of air quality, in other countries they don’t close schools if the index is less than 300. But for us, they set the index to close schools at 150. The closure was like the Covid-19 period, while our pollution indices are below 200. We are going to propose to suspend these indicators in the next government board meeting.” Last year, Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi said that important programs regarding air pollution would be implemented by the end of the year. “Today, important plans regarding the reduction of air pollution were approved, and we are trying to design and implement parts of these plans by the end of 2022,” Vahidi said in November 2021, according to Fars News Agency. “Vehicles account for 60 percent of pollution in big cities. In this regard, it is necessary to put the production of electric vehicles on the agenda with the cooperation of the president’s office for Science and Technology.” But today, the air situation in Iran’s big cities is much worse than last year. “With the help of the environmental organization, we determined a new proposal for the government to slightly change the standards so that it is not necessary to close our schools,” Vahidi claimed. But the Ministry of Health does not agree. In an interview with the Armanmeli website on January 25, Abbas Shahsavani, head of the air health and climate change department of the Ministry of Health said, ” Some days in Tehran, the concentration of suspended PM2.5 particles is more than 10 times the World Health Organization guidelines, which means that the concentration of particulate matter is so high that it is dangerous for the health of people and especially sensitive groups. It is not right to eliminate the problem by simply changing the air pollution index.” “Directives and orders cannot change air pollution indicators. Respiratory infection is the most common cause of death in children. The annual standard of particles in the country is six times more than the guidelines of the World Health Organization and this means that people’s exposure to air pollution is high. So, instead of changing indicators, we should focus on reducing pollutants and controlling emission sources,” Shahsavani added. A recent study by the Air Pollution Research Center of Tehran University of Medical Sciences indicates that about 40,000 people in the country die every year due to exposure to a concentration of particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns in the air. This is equivalent to 10 percent of all deaths. “But the risk of this disease is higher in children than in other age groups. Some other diseases, including leukemia (blood cancer), are one of the most common cancers in children. Studies show a significant correlation between exposure to traffic pollutants and the risk of leukemia in children. Also, air pollution affects the residents of many Iranian cities in the form of cardiovascular, respiratory, and stroke diseases,” Shahsavani continued. Is there any plan to deal with air pollution? Obviously, no. Behzad Ashjaee, the former deputy of the Environmental Organization, told ISNA news agency on January 25, 2022, “There is no special attention to the issue of air pollution in the 2022 budget bill.” Iran ranks sixth in the world in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. Schools and offices in the capital and some other cities were closed many times during the past weeks due to severe air pollution, and there is no prospect of improving the situation.

The World Must Acknowledge the Iranian People’s Right to Self-defense

Victor Hugo once said: “When dictatorship is a fact, revolution becomes a right.” Throughout history, this has been the story of all great revolutions: the American Revolutionary Wars and the French Revolution in the late 18th century, the Arab Spring in 2011, and the current revolution in the making in Iran. When the American patriots and the French tasted the bitter and harsh fact of dictatorships with bone and flesh, they exercised their right to revolution and toppled the corrupt regime at any cost. Thousands laid down their lives and overcame obstacles to achieve freedom and independence. The oppressed nations in the  world chose to use their right to self-determination and, most importantly, their right to self-defense. The right to self-defense is a general principle of law recognized by nations under international law. It could be found in the natural law conceptions of the world’s major religious, philosophical, and cultural traditions. It is consequently a universally shared feature of the world’s foremost legal systems. According to Oxford Academic, “The right to personal self-defense can already be discerned in a number of areas of international law, including international humanitarian law, international criminal law, the law of the sea, the law of diplomatic relations.” A modern-day example of a nation using its right to self-defense is the Ukrainian people’s resistance against Russia’s war of aggression. The pictures of young Ukrainians bidding farewell to their loved ones to join the battlefield for their country moved the entire world and revived the value of “resistance” in Europe. One might argue that what happened in Ukraine was a legal response to a foreign invasion. But shouldn’t we also consider tyrannies that usurped people’s sovereignty as real invaders of a country? History of humanity is filled with examples of oppressed nations not just using their right to self-defense but also using what many describe as the “right to rebel against tyranny.” Thomas Jefferson, one of the American founding fathers, said that it was not only the people’s right but their duty to overthrow a repressive government. These laws and theories are not limited to a specific nation or people of a particular race. They are universal. So why wouldn’t Iranian people, who have been suffering immensely at the hand of the totalitarian regime use these rights? Since usurping power in 1979, the clerics ruling Iran have been using violence to quell a society that rejected their backward ruling from day one. In June 1981, the Islamic Republic’s founder, Ruhollah Khomeini, ordered the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) to open fire on a peaceful protest rally in Tehran, killing and arresting thousands. That night, many Iranian teenagers were sent to the gallows, and the torturers didn’t bother themselves to identify the victims. The pictures of young girls hanged on June 20, 1981, were published in the newspapers on the day after; the Judiciary called on their parents to identify them. In the summer of 1988, over 30,000 political prisoners were hanged in a matter of a few months. They were sentenced to death in minutes-long kangaroo trials because they wanted freedom and democracy. During the November 2019 uprising in Iran, the IRGC forces killed over 1500 protesters in a few of days. Since the new protests erupted in Iran in September, Iranian authorities have resorted to violence, beating protesters to death on streets, torturing and raping others in prisons or safe houses. The regime’s brutality has shocked the world. After decades of witnessing crimes against humanity and being deprived of their basic rights, what is the Iranian people’s choice but to overthrow a vicious dictatorship? Are they not entitled to practice their right to self-defense in the face of the regime? The Iranian people have not asked for violence. They deem their God-given rights of freedom and dignity. They have asked for change, but authorities have responded with bullets. John F. Kennedy once said: “Those who make a peaceful change (reform) impossible make a violent change (revolution) inevitable.” The Iranian people are using the right to rebel against tyranny by paying a heavy price. The world applauded Ukrainians and Arab nations when they took up arms and fought for their legitimate rights. History is proud of the revolutions in France and the United States. As the Europeans are moving forward with designating the IRGC as a terrorist organization, Western powers should also recognize the Iranian people’s right to self-defense against the terrorist regime. The international community should recognize and allow Iranians to determine their future after a century of dictatorial rule under the Pahlavi and Khomeini regimes. Acknowledging the Iranian people’s right to self-defense against a warmongering regime that is a threat to world peace and security and putting maximum pressure on it strengthens order and stability.

Iran: 60% Of Population Is Poor

The livelihood baskets of the Iranian people are shrinking dramatically. This, in turn, has introduced new concerns to protect the health of people in society’s low-income and middle classes. For more than four decades, inflation in Iran has raised levels of poverty and led to an increase in the prices of food, clothing, and other consumer and capital goods. Today, these issues have become the norm the daily life of the Iranian people. And near-zero economic growth has only intensified this situation. After housing, the second biggest household expense is the cost of food. According to a report from the Iranian regime’s statistics centre, the price of food and beverages in December 2022 increased by 63.6 percent, compared to December 2021. In 2022, around 26.7 percent of the total expenses of urban households were related to food expenses. Around seven food products, that are very important in the household food basket (such as oil and rice), increased in price by more than 100 percent. A further 19 other food products, which mainly included dairy and meat products, faced a 50 to 100 percent price increase last year. Recently, the World Bank published a list of the top 10 countries that currently have a food security crisis caused by inflation, with Iran placing seventh place on the list. The population living below the poverty line is a topic that is being discussed among the regime’s experts. They are warning regime officials that the continuation of this situation will only stoke the ongoing protests because of the expansion of a starving nation. According to published official statistics, back in 1979, when the Iranian regime first came to power, about 20 percent of Iran’s population was below the poverty line, but this statistic began to rise in the following years. According to the latest report of the regime’s Statistics Center in 2021, the population of the poor reached about 52 percent, and in 2022 this has risen to 60 percent. In the recent report from the regime’s Ministry of Labor, the poverty line for Tehran and similar large cities was set at about 145 million rials ($370) per household. For cities and villages, this figure was half of this amount, averaging 77 million rials ($185). Many of the regime’s experts are criticizing the government’s calculations, stating that the real poverty line is much higher at around 180 million rials or even more. The whopping gap between the minimum income of people above the poverty line in Tehran and other cities and marginal places, of course, considering the fixed prices of food, clothing, transportation, and health, is strange to a great extent. The discrimination in determining the minimum wage in the coming year (Persian Calendar) will intensify labour migration and the evacuation of small cities and villages. The current crisis of marginalization and people living in the slums of big cities will only lead to a super crisis, increasing economic and social damages. All the while, many workers are now receiving even lower wages, an issue that itself has affected the general poverty line. The absolute poverty line is for those who are forced to work more than the allowed limit to escape poverty but are still in the poverty trap. Some work 16 hours a day in two or three shifts, but they still cannot free themselves from the savage poverty. The absolute poverty line is also causing other great issues among Iran’s population, such as malnutrition and other acute economic problems and anomalies. Employees and workers who have a relatively fixed income constitute the largest population of people below the poverty line in the country. 57 percent of the country’s wage earners are minimum wage earners, who currently receive between 50 to 70 million rials. Out of two hundred countries in the world, Iran ranks 183 in terms of the ratio of wages and expenses.

The implications of EU’s terrorist designation of the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC)

The European Parliament called on January 18 for the European Union to list Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) as a terrorist organization for the repression of protesters. The Iranian regime continues the violent crackdown on protests, including the execution of detained protesters. The resolution calls for the listing of IRGC, Basij, and Quds Force, in addition to sanctioning supreme leader Ali Khamenei, regime president Ebrahim Raisi, attorney general Montazeri, and IRGC-affiliated foundations. This resolution also condemned executions in Iran and asked the European Union to ban all political and economic relations with the IRGC.

The impact of IRGC’s terrorist designation

If realized, this designation will have profound political, legal, and economic implications for the main force that maintains the mullahs in power. In addition to the main political and economic bodies, the IRGC controls all the natural capital and mineral resources of the country. If the European Union adopts the appropriate measure, one of the main pillars of the regime will be sanctioned. Designating IRGC as a terrorist organization means that most of the nuclear, regional, economic, and political activities inside and outside Iran, trade, and commerce, export, and import, etc. will be subject to sanctions. In other words, the west holds the mullahs’ regime accountable and isolates it. The next prospect of designating the IRGC is to make harder sanctions and possibly referral of the Iranian regime’s nuclear dossier to the UN Security Council. Undoubtedly, the recent nationwide uprising has made it clear to the whole world that the people want to overthrow this regime. The implementation of the resolution by the EU will have important and comprehensive effects on the uprising.

How the regime has reacted

The Iranian regime officials had a panic reaction to the consequences of proscribing IRGC and showed how this listing would effectively downgrade the regime’s power in its totality: In a call with Josep Borrell, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs, foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said, “The European Union will shoot itself in the foot by putting the IRGC on the terrorist list.” Amir-Abdollahian called the recent resolution of the European Parliament “emotional,” “sharp”, “unprofessional” and “in conflict with political rationality and civility.” “The listing of IRGC is against international laws and shows the intellectual, moral, and political weakness of the West,” said Interior Minister Ahmadi Vahidi, a former senior IRGC commander. The members of Majlis (parliament), many of whom are IRGC members, warned that listing the IRGC by the European Union could cost a lot for this union. “Europeans should know that sanctioning IRGC costs a lot for them, and they will suffer a lot of losses in this regard,” said MP Esmaeil Kowsari, a former commander of the IRGC Mohammad Rasulullah Corps. “We will respond to their actions; First through our embassies and then we will take actions against their interests.” Ahmad Amir Farahani, a member of the Majlis Presidium, announced, “Certainly, the calamity that has befallen CENTCOM forces in the region and they move around in fear in the region will definitely involve the Europeans as well… In any case, if they do something, we will take countermeasures.” Mahmoud Nabavian, another member of the Majlis, said, “If they sanction the IRGC, we will put Germany, England, France, and the European Union on the terror list, and the defenders of the resistance in the region will know how to face the terrorists. Take this threat seriously.” Rasul Sanayee Rad, the political deputy of Khamenei’s ideological office, also said, “Placing the IRGC in the list of terrorist groups has consequences such as the inclusion of the British Navy in the list of terrorist groups and the opening of the armed forces’ hands, especially the IRGC, to deal with them as terrorists like ISIS.”