Without a consistent media spotlight, Iranian protests won’t succeed in long term

January 24, 2020 — by Sina Salehi

Just three days into the new year, Iran’s highest-ranking military official, Major General Qassem Soleimani, was killed in an airstrike ordered by President Trump and carried out by U.S. Forces. Days later, a Ukrainian passenger jet carrying 176 passengers was hit by a missile launched by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a branch of the Iranian Military.

When news of the shootdown broke out, Iranians poured out into the streets in protest. While protests haven’t been all that uncommon in Iran over the past three years, the demeanor and goal of the current protest is what sets it apart: They now have taken a much more anti-government approach than previous ones, which had primarily focused on economic issues and reform.

Even though thousands have taken to the streets in protest, demonstrations lasted only for a few weeks before being forcibly dispersed by security forces. In order for this next wave of protests to succeed, they must obtain consistent media coverage, which previous protests lacked.

A lack of attention during last year’s round of protests has been commonly attributed due to the Iranian government’s willingness to shut down internet access in order to quell the conflict. 

The internet shutdown was why the cover-up of events like the November protests in Mahshar was so effective. In it, more than 140 protestors were gunned down by armored vehicles and soldiers of the IRGC, according to The New York Times

In the aftermath of such protests, the Washington Post reported that Iranian security forces then went as far as occupying cemeteries to prevent the families of those killed in the protests from mourning the death of those lost, back in December.

Occurrences like these have become common considering how often the cycle has repeated itself in Iran. If a protest followed by an internet blackout occurred in countries like China or Russia, it would immediately show up in the spotlight of media outlets globally and stay there until solved.

However, major news outlets have instead opted to report on these protests for little more than a week, before seemingly losing interest and therefore undercutting the momentum the protesters have generated

The only way this issue can change is if the media prolongs their coverage of the protests. If done properly, the momentum the protestors generate could succeed in provoking change.

If these important protests fade from view, the demonstrations will likely dim down due to paramount pressure from the regime, making hundreds of deaths futile.


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