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Signs Of Panic? Iran's Parliament Demands The Government "Do Something" About Mahsa Amini Protests
On October 29th, the Commander-in-chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Hossein Salami issued a stern ultimatum to Iranians still protesting the death in police custody of Mahsa Amini: stop now.
Iranians promptly ignored his ultimatum, and continued taking to the streets.
On Sunday, the Iranian parliament all but demanded the judiciary do “something” to put a stop to the protests.
"We ask the judiciary to deal decisively with the perpetrators of these crimes and with all those who assisted in the crimes and provoked rioters," 227 lawmakers from Iran's 290-seat, hardline-led parliament said in a statement, according to state media.
What exactly that “something” would be, however remains a bit of a mystery.
According to the Human Rights Activists News Agency, the news arm of the Human Rights Activists In Iran organization, some 318 protesters have already been killed by state police forces, including 49 minors.
While western media have been unable to verify all of the protests, which social media postings indicate are taking place across the country, there does seem to be an ongoing level of protest, and very likely even a growing level of protest.
Demonstrations continued in many cities on Sunday, from Tehran to central city of Yazd and northern city of Rasht, according to rights groups and videos on social media.
Reuters could not verify the rights groups' reports independently, or the social media posts and footage.
Despite the lack of independent verification, if the protests were not happening, it would be highly unlikely such a large bloc of Iran’s parliament would be demanding action from the judiciary.
As I have noted before, one of the challenges for Iran’s security forces is how to crack down without creating still more martyrs, as has already happened.
Not only are protests gathering over deaths like that of teenager Nika Shakarami, but other protesters have apparently turned out over the death of at least one other woman.
In the Kurdish city of Marivan, rights group Hengaw said security forces opened fire on crowds who had gathered after the funeral of another woman, Nasrin Ghaderi, to protest against her death.
Hengaw said Ghaderi died in a coma on Saturday after suffering severe blows to her head by the security forces while demonstrating in Tehran.
A prosecutor, cited by state media, said Ghaderi had a pre-existing heart issue and had died of "poisoning", without going into further detail. There was no immediate official comment on the report of gunfire.
It is worth noting that the “pre-existing condition” in Nasrin Ghaderi’s death echoes similar assertions made by the government after Mahsa Amini’s death.
Weeks after Amini's death, a coroner's report denied Amini had died due to blows to the head while in custody, as claimed by her parents, and linked her death to past medical conditions.
Is Iran’s government starting to feel a little panicked over these protests? That is certainly one plausible reading of the parliament’s demand to the judiciary.
Is the protest movement reaching that critical mass where it becomes an unstoppable force for regime change? That is a possibility, and may even become a probability. If that is what is happening, that answer will not become clear until after the Islamic Republic itself is toppled—that is how fast events will move once that mass is achieved.
Yet we are still left with the perception of growing anxiety among Iranian lawmakers and diminishing efficacy on the part of Iran’s security forces. The security forces have already used live ammunition, and they have already used teargas. The security forces have already slaughtered civilians (318 of them). Exactly how much more can be done in order to “deal decisively” with the protests remains an unanswered question.
This much seems likely: If the protests are not squelched soon, the Islamic Republic is not likely to survive much longer. Even totalitarian oligarchs need the people to believe their power is unassailable to succeed, and the protests are making the power of the Islamic Republic quite assailable.
Is regime change coming? The world wonders….
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