After a brief ebb over the course of the Iranian new year holidays, a steadily rising stream of local protests, which began in the aftermath of the nationwide protests in January, has surged yet again. Farmers of the Isfahan province protested for 50 days until Saturday 14 April. Starting from the small town of Varzane, the movement has taken its protests to the city of Isfahan and dragged in people from all over the east of the province.

Waves of heroic protests have spread rapidly to towns and cities throughout Iran over the past two weeks. This was a spontaneous eruption of rage by the lower-middle-class and working-class youth against poverty, rising prices and destitution, as well as against the wealth and corruption of the Iranian elite – particularly the clerical establishment. It is estimated that 21 people have been killed in the protests so far and over 1,700 arrested. Immediately, Western leaders from Washington to London raised a chorus defending the human rights of the Iranian people.

Yesterday protests carried on for the fifth straight day throughout Iran. Meanwhile, security forces have adopted a harder stance. On the fifth day the protests seemed to have decreased slightly in size, partially due to the increasing crackdown and partially due to the lack of a tangible focal point for the movement. The regime has also heavily reduced access to internet and communication, and it is also clear that many protests are not being reported, in particular from smaller towns and suburbs.

For the past four days Iran has seen the most widespread protests since the 1979 Revolution. While it is still smaller in size than the 2009 Green movement, it has spread far beyond the mainly urban areas of the big cities to which that movement was mainly confined. This is a sea-change and it has shaken the regime to its foundations.

On 12 November, a 7.3-magnitude earthquake occurred on the Iran-Iraq border, affecting an area stretching from the Kermanshah Province in northwestern Iran, to Halabja in Iraqi Kurdistan. The whole of the political establishment made statements in support of the victims and the Kurdish areas, with dozens of national papers publishing their front pages in Kurdish. This is supposedly to show their solidarity with the Kurdish masses. Yet the events on the ground paint a clearer picture of the real attitude of the Iranian ruling class.

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