International Youth Day offers a moment to honor the brave Iranian youths who, in the past year, courageously rallied to the forefront, ardently pursuing their rights. In their pursuit, hundreds of Iranian boys and girls lost their lives. At the same time, thousands faced arrest and captivity, enduring the harrowing confines of prison, where unimaginable torture prevails. Among those who fell victim to the violence of security forces during the protests were seventy boys and girls under 18 and at least 100 women.
In developed nations, August 12 is a day of heightened focus dedicated to shaping a brighter future for the country’s youth. Yet, upon arriving in Iran, we are confronted with a poignant inquiry: Can the youth of Iran envisage a promising future under the weight of a daily yoke imposed by the mullahs’ regime? Is there a pathway for progress and fulfilling aspirations within a regime riddled with corruption and antipathy towards its populace?
Propose these queries to any Iranian youth; their retort would invariably be a resounding negative. This response finds support in the staggering prevalence of addiction, the alarming rate of school dropouts, the coerced initiation of early marriages for girls, the stagnation in students’ academic pursuits, the notable exodus of intellectual elites, and the escalating instances of imprisonment and maltreatment inflicted upon protesting youth within the confines of the clerical regime’s prisons. Furthermore, various restrictions, particularly on girls and young women, compound the already grim reality Iranian youths face.
A striking exemplification of the Iranian youths’ predicament manifested in the systematic assaults on schools using toxic gases, a hateful campaign from the waning weeks of 2022 to April 2023. Primarily targeted were girls attending elementary and high schools. Astonishingly, the Ministry of Intelligence attributed the systematic poisoning of these young girls to their purported playfulness and penchant for adventure.
However, in a nation where pervasive surveillance infiltrates every facet of daily life, the inability of security agencies and intelligence services to quell this six-month spree of “adventurism” points more accusatory fingers at the regime and the IRGC than at the students themselves. Indeed, the clerical regime orchestrated these events as a diversionary tactic to avert public attention and forestall the emergence of fresh uprisings and protests. This strategy also served as a retaliatory strike against female students who played an active and substantial role in the nationwide demonstrations of 2022 and 2023.
The youth of Iran stand as embers smoldering beneath the ashes, unwavering in their determination to dismantle the corrupt and oppressive rule of the Velayat-e Faqih, regardless of the price. They aim to forge a free, prosperous, advanced, modern Iran.
These young individuals, particularly young women, demonstrated their unwavering spirit during the 2022-2023 uprising, resolutely refusing to bow to the cruelty and brutality of the mullahs’ regime. University students took the lead in this uprising, with approximately 100 universities across Iran becoming the daily arena for the protests of these young Iranians. Such was the intensity that security forces under the Mullah regime arrested at least 60 exceptional students, launching an assault on Tehran’s esteemed Sharif University of Technology, and subsequently imprisoning them.
The participation of female students was also prominent during the 2022-2023 uprising, as they organized demonstrations within their schools. They boldly ripped pictures of Khomeini and Khamenei from their textbooks, vociferously echoing anti-regime slogans. The regime’s reaction was ruthless in response to these acts of dissent. In a chilling incident at Tamaddon High School in Bukan, Kurdistan, security forces stormed the premises using armored vehicles, ruthlessly targeting female students. In Ardabil, Asra Panahi, a 15-year-old student, lost her life due to the severe beating inflicted by security forces.