As we speak, the protest movement continues in the cities of Iran clashing with the police, facing arrests, tear gas and the overall repressive state apparatus. Cities across Iran are alive with people’s justified rage in cities such as Tehran, Ahvaz, Esfahan Rasht, among many others. Rallies continued all day, while government sanctioned demonstrations celebrating the 31 anniversary of the Islamic Republic.
At the same time as we are inspired by the heroism of the Iranian people, we must be honest about the current situation. The protests today, from what we can gather right now, are a far cry from the massive takeovers of the streets during Ashura over a month ago. The size of the mass rallies today are significantly smaller. The reason for this stems from the massive police presence. The pre-organization of police forces today was significantly larger than during any other day of protest, and the massive repression prevented the protests from picking up the way they did during the last months. In this way, Khameini’s thugs were able to avoid larger clashes, though street fights and setting fire to police motorcycles did break out at times.
Although it is too early to come to any conclusion about today’s rally, it is important to honestly assess the current situation. Government repression is not going to stop anytime soon and the policing intensification will continue. The people’s movement in Iran must take this into account. A criticism that has commonly been raised among Iranians is a need for organization. The movement is far too sporadic, spontaneous and disorganized. The need for a sort of organizational structure that can withstand state repression and continue the fight is a necessity today.
The second key question that faces the movement is the role of the working class. Thus far, workers in Iran have only sporadically entered the movement as a class and have rarely used labour action as a means of struggle to bring down the regime. The role of strike action in a coming revolution against the Islamic republic is vital, and the history of Iran is ripe with examples of the importance of workers in the struggle. The 1979 collapse of the Shah’s regime was largely brought about by the powerful oil workers strike.
The movement must orient itself around the demands of workers, who suffer miserably under the conditions of Iranian capitalism. The Islamic Government has long banned all independent labour unions, and has cracked down heavily on union activists. The minimum wage in Iran has been almost cut in half and many workers face months where they are not paid. At the same time the government has slashed subsidies on basic necessities. The situation is ripe for worker struggle.
Although it is too early to conclude on today’s events, we supporters of the Iranian revolution are faced with important questions to consider.
Keep in touch with today’s events through direct reporting form Iran (translated to English): http://persian2english.com/