Aban, the second month of autumn in Persian calendar, used to be just that. But, since Aban 98 (November 2019), everything has changed. The Islamic Republic massacred more than 1,500 peaceful protesters, detained and tortured thousands, while continue covering up the real numbers. November 2019 was a turning point in the history of Iran for many reasons. One of the understated ones, is how the cruelty, brutality, lies, impunity, hypocrisy, and corruption of the theocratic regime was unveiled for the world.
Even though its propaganda network, domestic and their foreign arms in western media, tried to whitewash the naked barbarism, but the magnitude of the humanitarian catastrophe was too much to cover up, to the point that the Islamic Republic officials were forced to react. Even in appearance, some promised to “punish the illegal gun fires.” But the result was what all of us expected: Nothing! Nobody was charged, nobody was fired, and not a single person could or would say, with any degree of certainty, how many were killed that week.
The “gas price hike” might have been the spark for the nationwide protests but people targeted the entire system, its head and IRGC from the first hours. Total Internet shutdown for several days and brutal crackdown with more than 1,500 victims, was not enough to suppress and intimidate the people, so the Islamic Republic oppressive forces and its Judiciary system, headed by Ebrahim Raisi (yes, the current “president” of the regime!), arrested, tortured, and killed many in custody, several of whom are still on death row!
In the presidential election charade, Raisi accused Rouhani and his administration of not implementing the “gas price hike proposal correctly” and said they are responsible! In response, Rouhani’s office issued a statement calling Raisi a liar. “The proposal was discussed by the heads of three branches of the regime several times, approved and signed. A copy was sent to Khamenei as well and after his approval, Supreme National Security Council was assigned the task of implementing it!” The usual “blaming game” among the mafia members and at the end, nobody is held accountable until the next news cycle.
Ebrahim Raisi, in another blatant lie, claimed that “all November 2019 detainees have been released from prison, unless they had connection with foreign governments, not now, a long time ago, all of them, except a few who have security issues!” According to human rights activists in Iran, many detainees were tortured physically and psychologically to confess to “having ties with foreign groups!” On the other hand, the number of detainees has been so overwhelming that 3 additional branches were added to “oversee the cases.” Naghavi-Hosseini, former member of National Security Commission at the Islamic Consultative Assembly, estimated that about 7,000 were arrested in November 2019. While there is no accurate number about the detainees and their fate, it is proved that at least 81 of those arrested in November 2019, are still in prison or have open cases. The majority of whom are charged with “propaganda against the regime,” “disruption of peace,” and “insulting the Supreme Leader!”
The current “President” of the Islamic Republic, in the first days after the crackdown of ordinary citizens seeking their rights, referred to protests as “riots” and said: “Whoever that created insecurity in the society and participated in the riots, know that severe punishment awaits them!” He added, “Under no circumstances, we would not allow any disruption in security…” A few months later, he emphasized that “riots are the red line” of the regime. He was the head of Judiciary, responsible for justice in the country, but he said: “Nobody even issued an apology to the victims’ families, and nobody was held accountable!”
May 31, 2020, then Interior Minister of the Islamic Republic, in an interview on national TV, promised to “announce the number of victims, soon!” A number that was never disclosed but hinted to be about 200-225. However, Islamic Republic has a long history of manipulating numbers to fit the regime’s agenda, from sham elections to COVID-19 to November 2019. According to Reuters, with Khamenei’s direct order, more than 1,500 were killed in 3 days.
Abdolreza Rahmani-Fazli was summoned to the Islamic Consultative Assembly to answer questions about use of force in November 2019. In response to a “representative” about why protesters were shot in the head, then Interior Minister, proudly said: “Not only their heads, we shot their legs too!” One of his deputies called peaceful protesters, “thugs and rioters” claiming several officers and bystanders were killed. The theocratic regime with the history of bolding its sacrifice, failed to name the “several officers”, even after 2 years.
Rahmani-Fazli’s advisor, Ruhollah Jome’ei, in a clubhouse forum, admitted that 23% of protesters were shot in the head from close range. Fadavi, Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the IRGC reiterated the same, concluding they were shot by other protesters. However, none of the thousands who were arrested was charged with murder or Raisi mentioned anything about a murder case with his statement about “releasing them all!”
Mahmoud Sadeghi, former “representative” at the Islamic Consultative Assembly, quoted Ali Shamkhani, Secretary of Supreme National Security Council, saying: “We have said it all, we will kill,” in response to Sadeghi’s question as to why people are being killed on the streets.
All these snippets from different high-ranking officials are just a handful of contradictory statements, lies, and atrocity of the regime. Amnesty International and UN Human Rights Council have issued statements rebuking the regime for the impunity provided to everybody involved. But regarding November 2019, impunity loses all its meaning: Khamenei, the head of the regime, ordered the massacre, IRGC and other goons carried it out and Judiciary cleaned up after them. Several of oppressive officers were promoted to higher positions and head of Judiciary became the new “President!”
The victims’ families are constantly under pressure for not interviewing with the media or uncover the true story of how their loved ones were killed in November 2019. Families who seek justice for their sons or daughters, sisters or brothers, fathers or mothers, are threatened by phone, arrests, raiding their homes, or even imprisonment! For instance, Manouchehr Bakhtiari, father of Pouya, one of the iconic victims of those days, was arrested several times, tortured, and threatened. He was arrested in April 2021 while being beaten and thrown into the trunk of a car. He is now serving his 3.5-year sentence for “propaganda against the regime!”
However, Aban 98 (November 2019) as Pejman Gholipour’s mom says was the end of the regime. “Unless you want to kill all of us, you’re done!”