Protersters in Iran: Our only demand is regime change

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  • 11:52 24 September 2022
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ANKARA - Activists who took to the streets in 3 different cities after the murder of Jîna Mahsa Aminî in Iran said, “Our only demand now is regime change. We want our country back. We are together as a people, we will not be divided, and even that is a freedom."
The protests that started after Jîna Mahsa Aminî, who was tortured and murdered in detention by the "morality" police in Iran, spread to the whole country, especially the cities of Kurdistan. Despite the regime's attacks, the number of people taking to the streets and cities where protests are taking place is increasing in Iran. We spoke to 3 activists living in different cities, who took to the streets despite the police violence , about the atmosphere in their cities and the situation on the street. We have used different names, keeping the names of our sources confidential for security reasons.
15-year-old high school student Nazanin, who participates in the demonstrations in Tehran, the capital of Iran, where we could have a very short and interrupted conversation due to the internet outage, explained that the internet was off in many places in Iran, but they can only make short-term connections with VPN.
Expressing that the streets in Tehran are filled with rage and there are violent interventions against the protesters, Nazanin stated that the police attacks in the Kurdistan province are even more severe, and said, "We hear People's slogans and screams coming from the settlements until the morning along with the sounds of gunshots.
Expressing that they refuse to withdraw from the streets with her friends, Nazanin said that more young people participated in the protests in the first days, and that many people were prevented by their families as the police massacred people in the streets. Expressing that their families' prevention of the rising resistance was futile, Nazanin said, "Children continue to run away from home and join the protests. We go out and protest. The oppressive forces are attacking us with tear gas, shooting people with shotguns. Many people are injured, but we do not go to hospitals unless we are seriously injured. Because the cops are laying ambushes in hospitals. When an injured person goes to the hospital, they arrest you before you even get medical treatment and they take you to the detention center.
Pointing out that some plain-clothes police participated in the protests among the people to prevent the protests, Nazanin said, “They are trying to deceive people and lure them into secluded places. Then they arrest them there and take them away. We can't find some of these people later. At first, we joined the protests with many of my classmates. But now most of their families are scared, they don't let them go out. But we are not afraid. Yes, they are killing people here on the street without fear of anything, but living in Iran right now is no different than death anyway."
Noting that they are on the streets in Iran because they have no  future, Nazanin said: "If the problem was only the forced hijab, women wearing hijab would not support the protests. They wouldn't risk their lives by taking to the streets. We have no future here. That's why we go out. We are trying to change this system here, but it is very difficult to predict what will happen. My dad always says don't get involved in political matters. But this is my future too."
Addressing women around the world, Nazanin said, “We ask all women not to remain silent about what is going on here, as women and girls, we take to the streets and get killed for an honorable future. They cut the internet to silence us. Please make our voices heard."
Expressing her reaction to Iranian media, Nazanin continued as follows: “Iranian media does not broadcast the what's going on in here. This makes us very angry. The other day, a classmate of mine saw a story on TV about a bridge without an elevator. All cities in Iran stood up, we don't know how many people died, Iranian journalists are reporting on elevators. How is this possible? You real journalists, please write about us. Write that people here are being injured, killed by the regime. The injured people cannot go to the hospital and they die from blood loss. If the conflicts continue like this, the death toll will be huge."
A friend of mine living in the city of Saqqez in the province of Kurdistan said that the sound of gunshots in the street had not stopped for a moment for days. There were tanks in the streets. “There is martial law,” he said. The situation there is even worse than here. They are killing people. All people are oppressed in Iran. Women, Kurds, Persians, Turks… We all live here under oppression and persecution. The attacks are much more intense in Kurdistan, but we are all on the streets to change these conditions. We have only one demand, that is regime change.”
Rawbar, whom we were able to reach late at night due to the  internet blackout, spoke about the protests in the Kerman city of Kurdistan and the situation in the streets. Explaining that there are police and activists everywhere, Rawbar said, “People are very angry. We're in a frenzy. They used all the means of repression at their disposal. Kerman is the birthplace of Qassem Soleimani. You know, he is a former Revolutionary Guard who fought with ISIS in Syria. You may have seen the videos recently, where activists took down a huge Soleimani poster and set it on fire. We Kermanis do not want to be remembered after such men. This morning, there were many tanks on Sarbaz Street, which is close to the grave of Qassem Soleimani. They surrounded the grave with barricades and gathered hundreds of police officers so that the people would not go to the cemetery and protest."
Noting that the more people joined the protests seeing the police violence, Rawbar stated that tens of thousands of people shouted their anti-government demands, saying "We want the regime to change".
Adding that women are leading the actions, Rawbar replied to the spokespersons of the regime, who said, "We are protecting the people from bandits," as follows: "There is no need for them to protect the people from the people. Also, they are not protecting anyone. No official or government agency is protecting us. This is a lie. They shoot us in the streets with shotguns. Is that protecting the people?” 
Mehrshahr, a 23-year-old activist who participates in the protests in the city of Karaj, also gave written answers to the questions we sent due to the internet outage. Mehrshahr stated that Karaj was under blockade and added: "The paramilitary forces called 'Besic', financed and armed by the Revolutionary Guards, dressed in plain clothes, whose mission is to intimidate, suppress and inflict violence on the people, and even carry out whistleblowing and spying activities in official offices and state institutions are acting with the police. These forces, called Besic, also fought alongside ISIS in Syria. I can say that those who participates in the protests are mostly young people and women, but you can also see an old woman who takes off her headscarf and marches. It is possible to see people of all walks of life and all ages in the protests. We are on the streets, old and young, women and men.."
Pointing out that the number of injured and dead is increasing day by day, Mehrshahr said, "People became more valiant as violence increased. They take courage from each other and do not fear the violence at all. As the number of dead increases, a hundred more people take to the streets instead of each person murdered by the regime. Either we will succeed or we will succeed."
Noting that thousands of protesters were arrested, Mehrshahr said, “I have witnessed many times that citizens who were being taken away by the police were taken back from the police by large groups of people. But a lot of people went missing after they were taken by the police. We can't find where they were. They are not oficially processed at the police station. This group we call 'Besiç' has many bases and blacksites. We think they are taking the people they abduct to those blacksites."
Mehrshahr stated that the internet was cut in order to cut the contact between the people and the information exchange, and said, “The media is constantly telling lies. But Iranians are aware of this. People do not listen to the news in the state media because they try to divide the public and give false information. No one cares what they say."
Drawing attention to the statement that the Taliban condemned the Iranian government and said that they should respect women's rights, Mehrshahr said, "Imagine how bad a government's situation must be for the Taliban to condemn it. A terrorist organization has condemned the Iranian government. Now all we want is regime change. We want our country back. We are together as a people, we will not be divided, and even that is a freedom."
MA / Gözde Çağrı Özköse

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