It appears that the recent spate of hangings by the Iranian regime along with the arrest of hundreds of prominent citizens — including the daughter of a former president — has, at least temporarily, driven the protest movement underground.
“It has been relatively successful since the number of people on the streets has decreased,” Saeid Golkar of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga told Reuters, referring to the crackdown and executions.
“However, it has created a massive resentment among Iranians.”
This appears to have been the pattern since the first mass protests in Iran erupted after the 2009 presidential election where the hugely unpopular incumbent president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad supposedly won 63% of the vote. Millions took to the streets, hundreds were killed, and tens of thousands were detained.
Since then, protests in 2011, 2013, 2015, 2018, 2019, and 2021 have all roiled the streets. The authorities continue to crack down, using the Basij militia for targeted killings of protesters as well as beating those in custody to deter them from taking part in demonstrations again.
For the Mahsa Amini protests that began in September when a young Kurdish woman was beaten to death while in the custody of the Morality Police, the regime has used death sentences and executions to cow protesters into staying at home.
At least four people have been hanged since the demonstrations started, according to the judiciary, including two protesters on Saturday for allegedly killing a member of the volunteer Basij militia forces.
Amnesty International said last month Iranian authorities are seeking the death penalty for at least 26 others in what it called “sham trials designed to intimidate protesters”.
“The regime’s primary strategy has always been victory through terrorizing. Suppression is the regime’s only solution since it is incompetent and incapable of change or good governance,” said Golkar.
The Iranian government is made up of corrupt fanatics, busy enriching themselves by plundering the nation’s resources. They may be religious zealots, but they’re smart enough to follow the Communist terror handbook in crushing dissent. The overwhelming and brutal application of force — showing no mercy or pity — is the key to eventually beating down dissent.
Alex Vatanka, director of the Iran Program at the Middle East Institute in Washington, said Tehran was banking on repression and violence as its way out of this crisis.
“This might work in the short term but … it won’t work in the long term,” Vatanka said, citing reasons such as Iran’s deteriorating economy and its fearless young population who want “big political change, and they will fight for it.”
There are no signs that President Ebrahim Raisi or other leaders are trying to come up with fresh policies to try and win over the public. Instead, their attention appears to be fixed on security.
The clerical leadership appears worried that exercising restraint over protesters could make them look weak among their political and paramilitary supporters, the analysts said.
“The weaponization of criminal procedures to punish people for exercising their basic rights — such as those participating in or organizing demonstrations — amounts to state-sanctioned killing,” UN rights chief Volker Turk said.
Turk’s office has received information that two more Iranian citizens are scheduled to be executed in the coming days. They received no “trial” that any civilized nation would identify as “fair.” And the barbaric manner of their execution — public hanging from a crane — further adds to the anger of the Iranian people who will now take their rebellion underground and await the next moral outrage of the regime to activate the masses for another round of unrest.