Iran is marking the first anniversary of the September 2022 uprising, a significant event that has brought about substantial changes in the country. What began as a protest against the compulsory hijab quickly escalated into a widespread anti-government movement, with citizens from all walks of life demanding change and challenging the regime’s authority.
Women played a crucial role in this uprising despite facing double repression within the regime’s framework. Women’s empowerment is a significant shift in Iranian society, as they have historically been marginalised and limited in their rights and opportunities.
The regime responded with brutal force, using its security apparatus, including the Revolutionary Guards, to suppress the protests. Reports indicate that at least 750 demonstrators, including women and children, were killed, and tens of thousands were arrested and executed. However, despite these repressive measures, the uprising lasted for several months and had a lasting impact on Iranian society.
Growing momentum toward democracy
The past year’s events have led to widespread discontent among the Iranian people, with women at the forefront of rejecting the regime’s legitimacy and calling for a democratic republic. The uprising has also cultivated a sense of unity among different social groups, including ethnic minorities and religious communities like Shiite and Sunni populations. The regime’s attempts to divide these groups have largely failed, as they have come together to pursue common goals.
The uprising has deeply shaken the authoritarian regime led by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Khamenei’s strategy to consolidate power and quell dissent has backfired, leading to more internal feuding and a decline in his authority. Many lower-ranking regime members have abandoned their positions, exacerbating the instability within the regime.
On the other hand, organised resistance, particularly the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), has gained prominence throughout the uprising. The resistance units affiliated with the MEK have played a significant role in organising and orchestrating the events, as evidenced by leaked documents from the regime’s intelligence agencies. The MEK’s leader, Maryam Rajavi, and her ten-point plan for a democratic Iran have garnered support from around the world, further solidifying the alternative they offer to the current regime.
An alliance of the powerful
This week, more than 1,000 women dignitaries signed a statement urging the international community to stand by the Iranian people, particularly women, in their quest for freedom. They expressed their support for Maryam Rajavi and her ten-point plan, calling for the blacklisting of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The signatories include 50 former presidents, vice presidents, prime ministers, ministers, 175 members of parliament and hundreds of mayors, former members of parliament, women activists, academics, experts, Nobel laureates and presidents of non-governmental organisations.
However, the regime has not given up its grip on power. It has attempted to establish fake alternatives, including promoting the son of a deposed dictator, the Shah, to divert attention and undermine the role of the organised resistance. These attempts have largely failed due to the lack of a genuine presence within the country.
Khamenei’s regime faces a stark choice
Despite Khamenei’s efforts to maintain control, the future appears grim for his crisis-stricken regime. The regime has failed to address the root causes of the uprising, including economic pressures, corruption, and repression. The people’s demands have become more radical, with their ultimate objective being the regime’s downfall. The regime is aware of the dangers it faces, with officials warning their forces about the gravity of the situation and acknowledging the inevitability of even larger uprisings if substantial social reforms are not enacted.
As the first anniversary of the Iranian uprising is commemorated, the wheels of change have been set in motion and are irreversible. The people of Iran, particularly women, have demonstrated their resilience and determination for a democratic and free society. Iranian society is now a powder keg, smouldering beneath the ashes, ready to erupt at any spark.