News & Politics

Iran Protesters Shout 'Death to the Dictator' Amid Brutal Crackdown

Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP

On Monday, protesters in Tehran demanded regime change, shouting, “Death to the dictator!” Citizens have taken to the streets for twelve straight days amid a severe water shortage. The regime has cracked down on the protesters, opening fire and killing at least eight of them, according to Amnesty International. The opposition political party the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (MEK) shared footage of the most recent protests, which included demands for regime change.

“Khamenei, shame on you! Let go of the country!” protesters shouted in Tehran.

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Protesters in central Tehran shouted, “Death to the Dictator!”

The protests began 12 days ago as citizens took to the streets in Khuzestan amid a severe water shortage. The protests have spread to thirty cities. Police have opened fire on protesters. While Amnesty International put the death toll at eight and the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) put the death toll at twelve, the regime has claimed that only three people have died in the crackdown.

The protests come shortly before Iran’s incoming president, Ebrahim Raisi, is set to take power on August 5. Raisi, who presided over the mass execution of political prisoners in 1988, recently defended the executions, claiming that he has “always defended people’s rights.”

Some have attributed Iran’s drought and water crisis to climate change. Yet PJ Media’s Rick Moran rightly noted environmental scientist Kaveh Madani’s response to such claims. Madani, who is himself an Iranian dissident, said, “If you are a policymaker in the developing world, or like in the Middle East, it is best to blame everything on climate change because then you can say: ‘This was caused by climate change. I had no role in it. I could not have done anything to help it.'”

Khamenei’s regime appears to be weakening, yet President Joe Biden’s overtures may strengthen it. When former President Donald Trump authorized a strike against Quds Force General Qasem Soleimani, he took out the Iran regime’s primary leader of terrorist acts outside the Islamic Republic. This important strike neutralized one of Iran’s senior leaders, undermining its foreign influence.

Iran’s retaliatory missile strikes infamously shot down a Ukrainian airliner by mistake, killing 176 people on board. Persians took to the streets in cities across Iran, condemning Soleimani and chanting, “Death to Khamenei!”

This unrest followed protests last November, as Iran reduced fuel subsidies by 50 percent and instituted rationing, in part due to pressure from the Trump administration after America withdrew from the Iran deal.

Then the coronavirus pandemic came, just before parliamentary elections. Tehran appears to have suppressed information about the coronavirus in order to avoid a low turnout in the elections. Voting fell to the lowest level since 1979, and Khamenei accused the country’s enemies of exaggerating the threat of the coronavirus right before the election.

The outbreak appears to have begun in Qom, the mullahs’ spiritual center. Satellite images from space showing mass graves appear to have confirmed the opposition’s claims that Tehran has vastly under-reported the death count from the coronavirus pandemic. This past weekend, Iran recorded its highest number of deaths from COVID-19 in a 24-hour period, at 163. The true number is likely higher.

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While Iran insists the MEK has a history of terrorism, the opposition party has insisted that terrorist acts the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) attributed to it were really perpetrated by a Marxist-Leninist faction called Peykar. In 2012, the State Department removed the MEK from its list of terrorist organizations.

Iran desperately needs regime change, but it seems the Biden administration is intent on repeating Obama’s disastrous Iran deal.