The mass uprising that has continued for weeks in the central Iranian city of Isfahan, has now sparked spontaneous protests in towns and cities across Iran. Tens of thousands of impoverished farmers who took to the streets in Isfahan, to protest about water shortages, were met with tear gas, baton charges and shotgun assaults by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), the theocratic regime’s Gestapo. More than 600 farmers have been arrested, while around 300 were wounded by shotgun blasts. Dozens were shot in the face, in many cases losing the sight of one or both eyes. In the nationwide protests that followed, hundreds of demonstrators are now wearing symbolic eye-patches covering one eye, in sympathy with their wounded compatriots. Farmers in Ramshir, in the Khuzestan province, also held a rally in protest to the government’s refusal to open dams and give them access to water essential for their seasonal crops. Like their colleagues in Isfahan, the farmers blame the IRGC, who control Iran’s economy, for diverting key water courses and rivers to supply military factories from which they corruptly pocket the profits.

The mass protests by Isfahan’s starving farmers have been joined by a nationwide rising of Iranian teachers. Demonstrations have taken place in almost every province, covering at least 66 cities. The teachers are outraged that they are now struggling to survive on salaries that are below the international poverty line, while the mullahs’ regime continues to finance the development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles and funds Bashar al-Assad in Syria, the Houthi rebels in Yemen, Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Shi’ia militias in Iraq and Hamas in Gaza. The teachers in Tehran and Alborz provinces gathered in front of the Majlis (parliament). In other cities, the rallies took place in front of the offices of the education ministry, with teachers chanting slogans like: “Teachers would die but won’t submit,” and “Detained teachers must be released,” and “This nation has never seen such injustice.”

The teachers’ uprising has also been joined by workers from a mineral company in Khuzestan Province. They rallied in front of the mining company’s offices for three consecutive days last week. Their protest was mirrored by angry workers from the copper mines in Songoon, in Iran’s north-western province of East Azarbaijan. The protesters were outraged at the dismissal of dozens of their co-workers, as well as discrimination in the workplace, ambiguous contracts and the clerical regime’s refusal to implement laws that would boost their salaries. The striking workers’ sense of outrage has been fuelled by an interview on Iran State-TV, where the parliament’s Speaker – Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf – admitted that the regime is draining money from the pockets of people to try to balance its massive budget deficit. “When we have a budget deficit, we have to admit that we are putting our hands in the people’s pockets. We are earning the current government’s budget and expenses from poor people. People sense this in their daily lives,” Ghalibaf said on Thursday, according to Iran’s State-TV.

With 75% of the 80 million Iranian population now struggling to survive on daily incomes below the international poverty line, protests against the mullahs have grown in size and ferocity. On top of the water crisis, the people are now suffering from high unemployment, rampaging inflation, spiralling prices, disintegrating living conditions and a collapsing economy. All of this is taking place against the background of the coronavirus pandemic, which has spread out of control across the country, with an estimated 486,000 dead from the disease. 

The escalating nationwide protests and the intensifying violent repression by the mullahs has created a boiling volcano, ready to erupt. The elderly Supreme Leader – Ayatollah Ali Khamenei – has appointed Ebrahim Raisi, the ‘Butcher of Tehran’, as his president. Raisi is notorious for his central role in the 1988 massacre of more than 30,000 political prisoners and the killing by IRGC security forces of 1,500 mostly young protesters, during the November 2019 nationwide uprising. Raisi’s criminal involvement in genocide and crimes against humanity is now under close scrutiny by the UN and international human rights organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. A dossier of evidence against Raisi has been handed to the Metropolitan Police in London and to Police Scotland.

The resumption of negotiations on the defunct Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal in Vienna last week has left the beleaguered Iranian people scratching their heads in disbelief. They wonder how it is possible for the Biden administration to renew talks with a murderous regime that is starving its people, escalating its human rights abuse, financing proxy-wars across the Middle East and accelerating its bid to build a nuclear bomb. The deeply flawed JCPOA was signed by Obama in 2015 and scrapped by Trump in 2018. The deal was only ever designed to last for 10 years, of which only 4 remain. Meeting the mullahs’ demands for the lifting of all sanctions and for full compensation for the economic damage they allege to have been caused by Trump’s ‘maximum pressure’ campaign, would throw a lifeline to this evil regime and represent a naked act of betrayal of the Iranian people. The JCPOA is dead in the water and Joe Biden should stop dancing to the ayatollahs’ tune and walk away from the sham negotiations in Vienna. The fact that he has now imposed a new round of sanctions on 12 named Iranians for human rights offences, shows that he has reached the end of his tether and a nuke-deal stalemate is inevitable. Joe Biden has surely learned that there is no sense in trying to appease the mullahs. He should withdraw from the Vienna talks now.