Op-Ed: Democracy for Iran

Protestors sing the National Anthem of Iran before the Revolution. This protest in LA took place outside of the Federal Building. Video by: Jasmine Shafa.

دموکراسی برای ایران. Democracy for Iran. پایین با دیکتاتور. Down with the dictator.

These are some of the slogans for the protest movement that have been on the rise in Iran since the beginning of January because of anger over the economy. According to CNN, protests in Iran have become the largest since the 2009 Green Movement.

Coming from an Iranian family, seeing these protests finally happening is truly amazing. I think it is great that the protests are going on and the citizens are starting to finally realize that they no longer need to live under a dictatorship.

Hassan Rouhani, the current president of Iran, has been in office since 2013. He made promises to the Iranian people that if they voted for him he would help strengthen the economy, but those promises have unfortunately fallen short.

The prices for basic necessities continue to increase, while the poor get poorer, and the richer get richer.

The Iranian people have had enough of this injustice, and protests soon erupted around the country. However, the goal of the protests eventually shifted from combating the failing economy to dismantling the entire government.

A man holds the Iranian flag, which was used before the Revolution of 1979. Thousands of Iranian people living in Los Angeles came together to show their support of Iranian democracy. Photo courtesy of Jasmine Shafa.

Numerous protests occurred in different cities around the world to show support for the demonstrations in Iran, on Jan. 3 I went with my family to the protests in Westwood. It seemed like there were at least a thousand people there. From the older generation Iranian people, who fled during the Iranian Revolution, to the younger generations, who were born in America, to Iranian immigrants — the streets were filled with people of all ages ready to show their support.

Iranian youth organized and executed the demonstrations in Iran, who are strongly affected by the government. The New York Times said the “unemployment for young people, half of Iran’s population, is at 40 percent.” Just to put that in perspective, the unemployment rate for the youth living in America is 9.6 percent, according to the United States Department of Labor.

The youth of Iran know that it is useful to utilize social media in order to organize protestors and show other nations the reality of their hardships. However, CNN reported that the Iranian government began to “restrict social media as anti-government protests [entered their] fourth day.”

The government blocked social media apps such as Telegram, Facebook and Instagram for the citizens of Iran in order to prevent anyone in the country from communicating with one another to organize the protests.

“We are a free nation,” Rouhani said in a pre-recorded speech on state broadcaster IRINN, translated by CNN. “According to the constitution and citizen rights, the people are free to express their criticism and even their protests.”

Really? If it is written in the constitution to give people the freedom to express their criticism and protest, then why are people being arrested or even killed for standing up for what they believe in? Why is Iran stopping access to social media, so other nations won’t be able to see the truth behind the protests? 

What shocked me the most was President Donald Trump‘s support for the Iran protests. Trump took to Twitter to show his support for the Iranian protests stating that “the people are finally getting wise” and “the good people of Iran want change.”

This is surprising. When I spoke to fellow Persian, Banefseh Salimi, one of Archer’s Assistant IT Systems Administrators, about the protests going on in Iran, she made a good point about the conflicting statements from the United States’ government. Just mere months ago, Trump created a ban to restrict Iranian people coming to the United States.

I spoke to different Persian people who all told me the same thing: there needs to be a change in the Iranian government, and it needs to become a democracy.

While I wholeheartedly support the protests and uprising, I hope that change will come around and their protests will have actions. I want to see democracy in Iran.