GP Insights

GP Insights # 198, 7 December 2019

Iran: The protests continue
Sukanya Bali

What happened?
Amnesty International on Monday said, around 208 people were killed during the protest against the government in Iran. The government admitted to having used force against the protesters but disputed the death toll of international agencies.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ordered that those who died in the unrest will be given the status of martyrs and pledged compensation for their families.

What is the background?
The unrest began in mid-November when the government hiked the fuel prices by 300 per cent to offset the effects of US-led nuclear sanctions on the economy. One of the key demands of the protesters is for the religious leaders to step down from power.

The protests have been the deadliest since the 1979 Iranian revolution. It has spread to 160 cities and left around 2000 injured and 7000 incarcerated, besides several dead.

As the unrest continued into the second week, the security forces responded with force. Iran blamed the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia for the protests.

What does it mean?
Firstly, the death toll estimates have gained international attention. There is pressure on Iran; the “martyr” statement from the Ayatollah highlights the seriousness at the highest level.

Secondly, the protests could have gone viral like Hong Kong protests. However, the government blocked the internet. Iran seems to have learned the lessons of how not to control the protests.

Thirdly, there is a regional context. In Iran’s immediate environment, there are protests in Iraq, and Lebanon primarily due to socio-economic causes. Will there be another Spring in the region?

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