A feminist revolution is taking place in Iran for almost two months. Following the murder of Jina Mahsa Amini on September 16, 2022, by the so-called morality police, women initially protested against the Islamist regime for their right to self-determination. The movement, which first began in the Kurdish areas in the north of the country, has since also activated men, students and oil workers to take to the streets, tear down gender-segregating walls, or to go on strike. The strike of the oil workers is one of the crucial pillars for the success of the revolution: the production of oil and gas is Iran’s main source of income. As early as 1979, the oil industry strike was one of the factors in the success of the revolution that toppled the Shah’s government.
The protests that are currently taking place are being put down with brutal violence: hundreds of people have already been arrested by the security forces and time and again Basijis (بسيج مستضعفين) shoot into protesting crowds or even into homes, or kidnap people in broad daylight. Sexualized violence is methodically used as punishment and it is precisely the people from whom this revolution emanates who suffer the most from the repression: women, Kurds, LGBTQIA activists, and students.
Internationally, the courageous protests are evoking great solidarity in civil society – on the political level, however, little has happened so far. Only recently, a nurse from Passau was to be deported to Iran – only thanks to pressure from civil society, this deportation was suspended. Iran cannot be classified as a safe country of origin. Again and again, countries in which people have to expect violent oppression because of their political commitment, their sexual orientation or identity, because of their opinion or because of their faith are classified as ‘safe’.
A feminist foreign policy and a government in solidarity must not wait to see how the protests turn out before breaking off cooperation with the Iranian government. A ban on deportations to Iran is the least we can do. But solidarity with Kurds also means, for example, to stop supplying Turkey with bombs or armaments with which they are wiping out entire villages in Iraq and Syria. Saxony could lead the way here and set up a state reception program to provide a safe space for people whose lives are threatened. The right to exist as a self-determined woman, the right to life and the right to freedom are to be upheld as universal rights – nothing else is demanded by the protesters who have made “Jin, Jiyan, Azadî” (ژن، ژیان، ئازادی) their motto. If we want to take these demands seriously, we must also act here in Germany.
text by: Juliane Prüfert