By John J. Metzler

The women-led uprising against Iran's Islamic Republic continues. Under the inspiring slogan, Woman, Life, Freedom, the movement confronting Tehran's theocratic regime is widening and has now gained vital political support from key Western countries, many of which have long rationalized their political and business links with Iran.

Nationwide protests triggered by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody, for not wearing the obligatory hijab head scarf properly, have since September morphed into a massive uprising among significant portions of the female population.

During this entire autumn, the streets of Iranian cities were not filled with a warm sun and the smells of roasted chestnuts and turnips but with the sting of teargas, the chants of demonstrators and the crackle of gunfire. "The walls are covered in slogans calling for the death of the supreme leader and the overthrow of the Islamic Republic and forty-three years of religious theocracy and tyranny," adds an Iranian friend overseas who closely monitors events in his homeland.

Germany and Iceland have called for a special session of the U.N. Human Rights Council on Nov. 24 concerning the continuing demonstrations. The request backed by 42 countries, demands this landmark meeting covering the widening repression in Iran.

The Islamic Republic of Iran faces a major transformation if not an outright violent revolution as millions of people across Iran push for social, civil and political rights long denied to them by the ruling Mullahs.

The hijab, the mandatory head covering for girls and women, remains the singular symbol of the simmering grievances, which have smoldered in silence for decades and have now ignited into a massive, still largely peaceful uprising against the arbitrary and mandatory religious controls of the theocratic regime.

Iran's massive women-led protests seem to have reached a tipping point; girls and women throughout the Islamic Republic continue to push back against the hated hijab.

There's a particular ironic poetic justice in France tilting toward the Iranian opposition; French President Emmanuel Macron held an unannounced meeting with four key Iranian women active in the democracy movement.

President Macron called the Iranian demonstrations a "revolution." "Something unprecedented is happening," Macron said in a radio interview, "The grandchildren of the revolution are carrying out a revolution and are devouring it."

During the late 1970s revolt against the reformist Shah of Iran, the French government gave safe refuge to Ayatollah Khomeini, the radical religious zealot who led the revolt from exile. Khomeini's return from Paris to Tehran at the cusp of the revolution in 1979, sealed the fate of any long-shot chance Iran had for a democratic government. This situation remains part of a tragic history.

Germany saw Chancellor Olaf Scholz chide the Iranian regime with uncharacteristic clarity. He strongly chastised the Tehran regime for its brutal crackdown on protests and said Germany stood, "shoulder to shoulder with the Iranian people."

Scholz stated, "It is clear that the Iranian government is solely responsible for this spate of violence."

So far, more than 300 people have been killed and there have been more than 14,000 arrests. Some of those arrested have been given the death sentence by Iran's Revolutionary Courts.

A scathing new U.N. report titled "Situation of Human Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran," adds, "It is estimated that at least 318 individuals, including 9 women, were executed from Jan. 1 to July 31 in 2022." Arbitrary use of the death penalty presents a sharp increase over 2021 and predates the current demonstrations.

Moreover, "The secretary-general is concerned at the increased repression of women and girls who peacefully protest the compulsory hijab." Among many recommendations, the U.N. report calls for abolishing the death penalty and "to release immediately all persons detained arbitrarily for legitimately exercising their rights to freedom of opinion and expression and of association and right of peaceful assembly."

Britain, Germany, France and the United States have pursued long-elusive denuclearization deals with Iran in the hope of forestalling Tehran's race to gain atomic weapons. Reviving the moribund 2015 deal between Iran and major world powers reached by the Obama administration looks far less likely now given the Tehran regime's treatment of its own citizens.

Surprisingly, during the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, Iran's football team refused to sing the Islamic Republic's national anthem at the opening of a match.

But what happens next? Shall Iran's clerical regime, sensing its fragility in facing its own citizens, now unleash the dreaded Revolutionary Guards and perhaps the regular military to launch a bloody crackdown? Or shall Iran's long-suffering people topple this wicked regime?


John J. Metzler (jjmcolumn@earthlink.net) is a United Nations correspondent covering diplomatic and defense issues. He is the author of "Divided Dynamism The Diplomacy of Separated Nations; Germany, Korea, China."



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Iran pulls back the veil

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By John J. Metzler

The women-led uprising against Iran's Islamic Republic continues. Under the inspiring slogan, Woman, Life, Freedom, the movement confronting Tehran's theocratic regime is widening and has now gained vital political support from key Western countries, many of which have long rationalized their political and business links with Iran.

Nationwide protests triggered by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody, for not wearing the obligatory hijab head scarf properly, have since September morphed into a massive uprising among significant portions of the female population.

During this entire autumn, the streets of Iranian cities were not filled with a warm sun and the smells of roasted chestnuts and turnips but with the sting of teargas, the chants of demonstrators and the crackle of gunfire. "The walls are covered in slogans calling for the death of the supreme leader and the overthrow of the Islamic Republic and forty-three years of religious theocracy and tyranny," adds an Iranian friend overseas who closely monitors events in his homeland.

Germany and Iceland have called for a special session of the U.N. Human Rights Council on Nov. 24 concerning the continuing demonstrations. The request backed by 42 countries, demands this landmark meeting........

© The Korea Times


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