Iran: from repression to prospects - Interview with Federica Frediani


Institutional Communication Service

27 February 2023

For the past five months, Iran has been swept by massive anti-government protests triggered by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, of Kurdish origin, who died while in the custody of the moral police for not having worn the hijab, the compulsory veil, properly. Today, the rallies continue while the number of executions increases, with hundreds of victims and over 20,000 protesters arrested. A complex situation that drags along with it a collapsing economic scenario with inflation skyrocketing for years due firstly to US and then European sanctions, blocked foreign trade and military support to Syria and Russia that has annihilated civil society, generating widespread discontent. No one was able to foresee this scenario. One can almost speak of a 'missed prediction', explains Federica Frediani, head of USI MEM Summer Summit.


We have seen that international sanctions do not work, and Europe's intervention is limited also because the fundamental aspect of self-determination should not be forgotten, so what measures could be taken to try to turn the situation around?

Unfortunately, it is not easy to identify measures that would lead to a resolution of the critical situation Iran is currently experiencing. It is a challenging and complex hardship that affects many dimensions of Iranian society and the relationship between citizens and the state. It is undoubtedly essential to raise the international community's awareness and put pressure on the Iranian government, including through concrete actions. Canada, for example, has decided to ban entry into the country of ten thousand officials involved in the violent and bloody repression of the protests. On the other hand, Germany has suspended the repatriation of Iranian citizens for the time being.  


There is widespread discontent, with young people having nothing left to lose - how is this being addressed?

The total lack of opportunities in the present and prospects for the future generates widespread discontent. Young people are demanding a decent life, a fairer society, the exercise of human rights, and the regime's non-interference in their private lives. Young Iranians have a high level of education, especially women, but access to employment is limited by gender, class and area discrimination. Measures must be taken against the root causes of this discrimination, corruption and nepotism in Iran. It is also important to voice the demands of these young people who represent the country's future.


Human rights trampled on, violent repression, how can this escalation be curbed?

Human rights violations are a severe problem in Iran and many other countries in the Middle East and North Africa. Authoritarianism, indiscriminate use of digital surveillance equipment, internet censorship, restriction of freedom of expression, food insecurity, and lack of health care severely undermine respect for human rights. European governments should prioritise human rights in their agendas and relations with governments in the MENA region.


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