On July 26, the Iranian Supreme Court upheld death sentences against five Iranian activists who were arrested during protests in Iran in December 2017 and January 2018. The announcement came on the heels of a similar ruling of the Supreme Court upholding death sentences for three protesters arrested in November 2019.
Tens of thousands of Iranians have taken to the streets in the past couple of years. The sparks for these protests have varied. In 2017 high prices of food and other products set off a wave of activity, while in 2019 it was protests against a gas tax. But the underlying causes run much deeper. Iranian workers face a dramatically increasing cost of living, especially in the cost of basic necessities – a situation greatly worsened by U.S. sanctions and a government that protects the privileges of elites. The response of the Iranian government to these protesters has been the same – brutal force. Within days of demonstrations in 2019, an estimated 1,500 protesters were murdered by security forces, and thousands more were imprisoned.
While the protests were suppressed, the conditions that gave rise to them – poverty, the high cost of living, repression, and corruption – still exist. COVID-19 has dramatically worsened all these problems. Combined with U.S. sanctions, which have prevented needed medical supplies from reaching Iranian hospitals, the results for the Iranian people are catastrophic.
We must stand in solidarity with these Iranian activists and their fellow protesters! Their struggle against inequality and state repression is ours too.