Anonymous underground grassroots groups formed across Iran during the past two months to organize antigovernment protests have joined hands for the same cause.
Until the call last week for three days of strikes and protests that began Monday, these young activists were serving as the unofficial leaders of movement, mobilizing thousands of people across the country through social media. But recently, the groups from at least 30 cities have formed an alliance.
The names of almost all these groups follow a simple formula adopted in the capital - Youth of Tehran Neighborhoods – or simply Tehran Youths (Javanan-e Tehran). Initially, this group was organizing rallies in Tehran and other cities and towns. Soon after, groups with similar names sprang up around the country and coordinated their announcements with the Tehran group.
The antigovernment protests in Iran often had no known leaders in the past five years, with all independent groups and political parties banned and disbanded long ago. Therefore, such grassroot groups seem to represent a new opposition force successfully issuing calls for demonstrations nationwide. The mobility of protesters and their distribution in various neighborhoods has now turned into a big problem for the security forces who are seen in some videos aimlessly running around to confront protesters and exhausting themselves even more after long hours of deployment.
Young protesters, all in black to make identification by police difficult, on a Tehran street in October
These groups somewhat differ in tone and language visible in their statements, but they are unanimous in their goal to overthrow the Islamic Republic and all committed to their motto: Women, Life, Liberty. Some of these groups have issued about 20 statements so far but their first statement as a united front was released for the three-day action on December 5, 6, and 7. December 7 is Student Day in Iran and marks the anniversary of the 1953 murder of several students at University of Tehran. It is a traditional day of nationwide rallies. To coincide with Student Day, protesters are calling for strikes by businesses and a rally towards Tehran's Azadi (Freedom) Square, according to posts shared on Twitter.
In their statement, they called on all other groups who believe in "a democratic Iran with all its territorial integrity and based on universal human rights" to join them to help "overthrow the despotic Islamic regime.”
However, Iranian dissidents everywhere and outside these groups, although all support the underground activists. Numerous hacktivist groups and student groups have been fighting against the regime since the early days of the movement. In a recent move, Iranians have started using the Darknet, a shadow realm within the internet, to publish home addresses and cell phone numbers of members of Iran’s IRGC, its Basij militia and police forces who are oppressing and attacking protesters to enable the public to seek out revenge.
Israeli cyber intelligence firm Deep Void, whose founders have a background in Israeli intelligence, has revealed the phenomenon in which Iranian protesters are using the darknet to fight back against the regime’s agents, who during past protests could attack protesters and then disappear into anonymity.