From bread demonstrations to harsh protests after 22-year-old girl arrested, beaten and killed by religious police for not wearing her veil "according to the rules"

(«Proletarian»; Nr. 19; Autumn 2022)

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On September 13, Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish girl on vacation in Tehran with her family, was arrested in front of a metro station by the religious police (Gasht-e Ershad) for "improperly wearing the veil". Two hours after being taken to a detention center for a "re-education lesson", she was rushed to Karsa Hospital (in Tehran) in a coma and died there on September 16. Of course the police deny having tortured her, stating that the girl died of a "sudden heart attack"; but "photos of the girl in bed, with swollen black eyes and blood stains on her ears" leave no doubt about the brutal beatings she suffered (1).

Her death triggered protests in all major Iranian cities, resulting in over 50 deaths and thousands of arrests. The movement started in Kurdistan: Saqqez (the city of Mahsa's family), Sanandadj (the capital of the Kurdish region), Baneh and Marivan. On Saturday 17, already during the funeral in Saqqez, the protests started with a group of Kurdish women removing their veils, and then continued in Sanandadj where the riot police intervened with tear gas, water cannons and rifles loaded with rubber bullets, injuring more than thirty. On Sunday 18, the protests spread to Tehran University, then to Shiraz, Mashhad, Qazvin, Garmsar, Rasht, Bukan, Karadj, West Azerbaijan, many stores remained closed.

Iran is going through a period of great economic hardship and, as always in such cases, the government is reinforcing social control and therefore repression which, given the sectarian regime established by the so-called "Islamic revolution" of 1978, imposes the most odious religious rules.

Already from November 2019 to January 2020, protests had broken out in all major cities due to the increase in fuel prices from 50% to 200%, and therefore of basic necessities; they began as peaceful protests and quickly turned into revolts against the government, which, after blocking Internet access throughout the country, responded by firing on demonstrators from rooftops, from helicopters and at point-blank range with machine guns (2), killing, according to CNN and NBC, 1,500 people. Despite the carnage, the protests have not stopped, far from it. Again according to CNN and NBC, the violent reactions of the protesters led to the destruction of 731 branches of government banks, including the Central Bank of Iran, nine Islamic religious centers and statues of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, as well as the attack on no less than 50 government military bases (3). 

For 43 years now, the bourgeois/Islamic regime has ruled Iran; after the fall of Shah Reza Pahlavi, the government has from the beginning sought a compromise between a capitalist mode of production that was pushing internationally for rapid development in Iran as well, and a social formation rooted in the feudal and confessional tradition. But this compromise is unraveling, because of its relative international isolation, and because the development of national capitalism has led to the formation of large proletarian masses and the development of trade, both internal and international, which capital, by its very nature, absolutely needs. The ideological, bureaucratic and police pressure with which first Khomeini's regime and then Khamenei's regime have always tried and still try to imprison the objective pushes of the Iranian society to overcome the confessional formalisms thanks to which the double oppression of women is perpetuated - which also exists in the midst of capitalism - are weapons of bourgeois power to develop national capitalism, and to impose a very tight social control aiming above all at intimidating the proletarian masses whose class revolt every bourgeois regime fears.

The oppression of women, in general, is part of that specific social control with which the bourgeois regime tends to channel against woman - raised as an emblem of intrinsic evil, of the corruption of flesh and spirit - the tensions which are in fact rather provoked by bourgeois society, by its mode of production based on the antagonism between the dominant class and the proletarian class, subjected to the systematic exploitation of its labor power for the exclusive benefit of the privileges of the bourgeoisie, no matter if it is represented by little men in suit and tie or in black cassock.

Religious extremism, in this case Islamic, forces women to cover themselves from head to toe and to submit to particularly humiliating behaviors, relegating them to the role of slaves within four walls. While allowing women to leave the house, to accompany their children to school or to attend school, they are still considered the private property of their father, husband, brother, in short of the man of the family and, by a logical transmission of the "parental authority", as the private property of the confessional State, which does not limit itself to legislate but also represses any behavior considered as "indecent", "provocative", "incorrect".

The demonstrations of this past week have seen many women mobilized, bravely facing the police, the clashes, the bullets; but it is a courage that really needs to find solidarity with the proletarian masses, men and women, because only their social strength can face and stop the harsh repression exercised by the government. The current confrontation seems to be that of the central power against women who do not respect the existing laws and rules; and there is no doubt that a large part of Iranian men think according to the Islamic precept, believing that the "honor" and "dignity" of the family must be safeguarded according to the existing tradition and confessional rules. But respecting and bowing down to this tradition and rules means simply playing the role of silent slaves condemned to live and die as slaves; it means suffering without reacting to every anguish, every vexation, every abuse of the established power. In essence, for the working class, for the class of producers of the wealth of a country from which they only enjoy the crumbs that the bourgeois power decides to distribute, it means to work and die to let live in privilege, wealth and luxury that minority of bourgeois who are masters of everything, even of the life of every human being.

Mahsa Amini has paid for all the other women who want to get rid of restrictions whose only purpose is to maintain an ancient social oppression that also suits modern capitalist society very well. As has happened and continues to happen in every country in the world, even in the most democratic and liberal ones, the police forces are charged with repressing behavior that, in their "unquestionable" judgment seem suspicious or not respectful of the law - the America of George Floyd suffocated helplessly on the ground by the policemen on duty, the butchery in Genoa in 2001 during the demonstrations against the G8 at the Diaz school and at the Bolzaneto barracks, and all the Regeni tortured and killed like dogs in Egypt because they disturbed the established order, etc. (4), are there to demonstrate it. Their task is to defend first of all the bourgeois power, and therefore the established order, and, from time to time, as they cannot be present in every corner of the country, they take it upon themselves to hit one or another to "set an example" so that the masses know what awaits them if they step out of line.

Bourgeois power can change its method of social management if the mass mobilizations - as was the case in the famous "Arab springs" - are so massive that they endanger its hold; but it will not change until it experiences all the forms of repression at its disposal, even the bloodiest ones ; and in any case, it will always tend to throw out of the throne the figure that no longer has the charisma of yesteryear and replace him with other representatives, perhaps even democratically elected, so as to carry out a changing of the guard, in order to keep the political, economic and social power The Egypt of Mubarak first, and then of Al Sisi, is a demonstration of this.

We are heading towards a period where economic difficulties will increase more and more, especially for the great proletarian mass, and this means that social tensions will increase because the wages will not be enough to ensure lunch and dinner, because unemployment will throw more and more proletarians into misery, because social repression will inevitably increase and then its pretext will no longer be the veil worn in an "unseemly" way, but the strike, the struggle that puts the country's economy in difficulty; then the proletarians, men and women, will be accused of sabotaging the "fatherland", of being the workforce in the pay of foreign enemy countries. .. The struggle will then take on the aspect of a confrontation between the classes and the bourgeoisie will finally show its true interest and its true face: to preserve the power by all means, by suffocating and repressing the great majority of the population.

It is in this perspective that the Iranian proletarians, who today are certainly expressing the greatest anger in the face of such a sinister assassination of Mahsa Amini, must prepare their struggle for the defense of their exclusive class interests, outside of any democratic illusion and any opportunist compromise. The road will be long and difficult, but it is the only one to achieve the resumption of the class struggle!


September, 25th 2022



(1) See www. /iran-in- piazza- generazione- regime/; www. esteri/ 2022/09/16/ news/ iran_girl_ dead_ from_the_ police_fight-365995416/; www. Ilfatto quotidiano. it/ 2022/09/23/iran-dalle-proteste-per-pane-e-liberta-alla-rabbia-dilagante-per-mahsa-amini-lostilita-contro-il-regime-degli-oppressi/6814271/; www. agenzianova. com/ news/ iran-proteste- studentesche- per- la- morte- di- mahsa-amini- uccisa-perche-indossava-male-il-velo

(2) See Amnesty says at at least 208 killed in Iran protests, sur; Iran protests deaths, in The New York Times, 1st December 2019; U.S. says Iran may have killed up to 1,000 protesters, on NBC News.

(3) See Proteste in Iran del 2019-2020, wikipedia.

(4) We are referring to the demonstrations against the G8 meeting in Genoa in 2001, where a demonstrator, Carlo Giuliani, was shot by the police, who the day after this murder invaded the Diaz school, to beat up all the demonstrators who were sleeping there, and also where the Bolzaneto barracks was used to imprison and torture the demonstrators; and on the other hand to the death in 2016 in Cairo of Giulio Regeni, a simple student, who was arrested by the police and died under the torture of the henchmen of the regime.



International Communist Party


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