A member of Iran’s brutal military enforcement police has said that there are “a lot” of servicemen either deserting the regime or actively helping protesters in a startling interview. The serviceman for the Revolutionary Guard, Iran’s ideological police tasked with crushing resistance, issued a rallying cry to protesters, claiming it was the “best time” to challenge Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s regime in the Middle Eastern country. Iran has issued a violent crackdown on protests spurred by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died in custody in mid-September after she was arrested for wearing her headscarf incorrectly, with evidence suggesting she died due to beatings by police. The total number of protesters killed in Iran varies from differing accounts, with Iran’s Human Rights Activists News Agency recently estimating 222 people had died – and the Revolutionary Guardsman offered a disturbing insight into the orders being given to police.
Speaking to Kayhan-London, the soldier was given the name “Ali” on condition of anonymity, and said that he and most of his family had turned against Khamenei’s regime “years back”, adding that a “significant number” of the Guards and their families were in the same position. This wasn’t true of his father, however, who had disowned Ali for turning against Khamenei and used to regularly tell him: “I’d even sacrifice you for the state if I had to.”
He added that his relatives had been upset by calls on social media to “kill the families of sepahis” – a word often used since 1979 for the Revolutionary Guards, as opposed to the regular Iranian army, which is referred to as “artesh”.
The Revolutionary Guards were invented after the 1979 revolution to maintain the Islamic Republic’s rule of Iran, and is designated as a terrorist organization by the governments of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United States. Ali explained how the Guards were short on forces to crack down on the protests that have erupted across the country.
He claimed the force had “recently trained convicts and pardoned them…they’ve been told they must suppress the people”.
The soldier said “there has been a lot” of desertions among the Guards, adding: “They’re so short of forces that they’re now officially using minors. My brother says some of his colleagues are not happy with the situation.”
The treatment of Ms Amini, immoral treatment of women and subsequent crackdown on protests in Iran has received international condemnation and further protests across the world – most recently in the form of a march in Berlin that saw tens of thousands in attendance.
Ali reckons that now, more than any time before, is the best time to march against the Iranian regime.
He said: “People just have to make an effort and give that final kick. If people want [regime change], this is the best time. Russia as [the regime’s] permanent backer is stuck in Ukraine. It’s now or never.
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“The Islamic Republic is in its weakest position to date.”
Diana Nammi, who fought as a Kurdish freedom fighter for 12 years and since founded of the Iranian & Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation, told Express.co.uk that the protestors “will not give up”, adding: “It is their right to demonstrate and be free from persecution. The basic human rights for Iranian people are not there. Now women are reclaiming their lives.”
Ms Nammi also felt that these protests represented a new stage in the fight against the regime’s oppression, commenting: “It’s really important that something happens this time – and this time, it’s all the women, and the men are very much supporting them. Both men and women are being very brave and courageous. Everyone is so united.”
Ali said he was intentionally letting protestors go instead of fulfilling his orders as a Guardsman.
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He said: “I myself am in charge of a group of plainclothes agents (used to put down the protests). I’ve told them, ‘if you catch any protesters don’t harm them, just take them to a side street a bit further on and let them go.’ Or if I’m there myself, I arrest protesters when there are other forces there, then let them go.”
He said his brother will tell his own agents that the protesters had been “deceived” to provide a pretext for releasing them.
However, while Ali said “nobody has dared” not follow orders to open fire on people in the Revolutionary Guard, even these smaller transgressions carry a big risk.
He said: “If the Islamic Republic isn’t overthrown, later on it will murder or eliminate… all the policemen who disobeyed orders.”
The soldier said it was “extremely difficult and dangerous” to leave the Guard.