Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles On September 13th, a woman named Mahsa Amini was detained by Iran's "Morality Police" for improperly wearing her hijab. She was loaded into a van where she was reportedly beaten and then transferred to a detention center where she collapsed and fell into a coma. Three days later, she died at the hospital and protests broke out. As a result, Iran shut down the country's Internet. But hundreds of social media posts of people protesting her death have surfaced over the last three months, including videos of women defiantly cutting their hair, the symbol of beauty the regime wants hidden under the hijab. The so-called Morality Police patrol the streets to enforce the regime's strict dress code. They mostly target women and how they wear the hijab, and will either fine them or arrest them and take them to detention centers. They are one part of the repressive state apparatus that wields power over Iranians, but far from the only one. In videos of the protests, we can see different armed groups violently suppressing the protests. Understanding who they might be tells us a lot about the power structure Iranians are fighting to change. In the 1970s, Iran was a secular monarchy that operated as a dictatorship. Under the Shah, Iranians lacked political freedoms but enjoyed social ones. They also experienced economic growth that rapidly transformed Iran from a traditional conservative society to an industrial, modernized one. Soon, economic frustrations and political repression sparked uprisings calling for new Islamic rule. They went on for a year, but the regime remained in place until a crucial turning point: The Army declared neutrality. It was then that the monarchy collapsed and gave way to the Islamic Republic that rules today. But that neutrality that allowed the regime to come to power was also one of its biggest weaknesses. The revolutionaries did not trust the army, which was supposed to be loyal to the Shah, but stabbed him in the back. The best strategy was to hedge their bets by creating a branch of the armed forces that they could trust much more than the army. Under the Supreme Leader's rule, the regime kept the old army but created a separate military group called the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. This group was crucial in the long war Iran fought against Iraq. The Revolutionary Guard played an important role in trying to push back the Iraqi army, and after that, they managed to turn that political capital into economic influence and political power. As their importance grew, so did their domestic security role, which sometimes meant fighting against the people. Videos verified by Human Rights Watch show armed forces beating protesters using assault weapons and men dressed in black riding motorcycles and firing guns into crowds. These men, dressed in black, fit the description of the Basij, a paramilitary volunteer militia under the IRGC that's fiercely loyal to the supreme leader. Primarily, it was a force that was created in order to do social control. In September, Amnesty International obtained documents showing the armed forces instructed their chain of command to "severely confront" protesters, and a local commander ordering security forces to "confront mercilessly" while going as far as causing deaths. As a result, human rights groups say at least 18,000 protesters have been arrested and at least 250 have been killed, including more than 60 children. And now Iran has started carrying out executions. The reason so many protesters are out on the streets is that Iran's power structure doesn't give them any alternatives. Just like the armed forces are a pillar of the Islamic Republic, there are several others supporting the country's power structure. These are just a few of them. And while some should be independent, they aren't. This includes Iran's legislative branch, because while these government bodies are technically elected, they are controlled by the regime's appointed Guardian Council. That means the regime can disqualify candidates and reject laws that go through parliament, overriding the will of the people. The unelected institutions have continuously stymied and sabotaged those reforms, and that has created a sense of despondency within the society. So in the last 20 years, Iranians have taken to the streets at an increasing rate: against electoral fraud, government corruption, economic hardship, and again today. Soon after Amini's death, a video of her funeral went viral. Women took off their hijabs and the crowd started chanting. And the chants have taken hold all over the country. Usually the pattern of the protests in the past 10, 15 years in Iran is that they often start with much more narrower objectives or demands. But this time around, almost from the get-go, the zero-to-100 happened overnight and immediately there were calls for regime change. But the system they are trying to change was built to suppress dissent and protect power at the top. The idea of having multiple power centers and parallel institutions, it's for the regime to hedge its bets. None of these individual elements can on their own pose a threat to the pinnacle of power in Iran. Making it nearly impossible to topple such a multilayered, decentralized power structure. The fact that there is now no longer any hopes in the possibility of reforming the system from within, it has created a situation in which the younger generation of Iranians increasingly believe that they have nothing to lose. Most of the protesters are young Iranians who were born after the revolution and inherited a system they didn't ask for. Despite the censorship, young Iranians have caught the world's attention. Schoolgirls are filming themselves replacing portraits of the supreme leader with the words "Woman, life, freedom," setting their hijabs on fire, and chasing pro-regime educators out of their schools. The current situation is the product of the Islamic Republic's failures over the years. The Islamic Republic failed to create a country in which the youth could see a future for themselves. It's really as simple as that.