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Mahsa Amini protests

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Mahsa Amini protests
Part of the 2021–2022 Iranian protests, the Iranian democracy movement, Iranian protests against compulsory hijab, and the aftermath of the death of Mahsa Amini
Date16 September 2022 – present (2022-09-16 – present)
(3 weeks)
Location
Iran, with solidarity rallies worldwide[1]
Caused by
Goals
Methods
StatusOngoing
Parties to the civil conflict

Iranian protesters

  • Support by most anti–Islamic Republic organizations
Lead figures
No centralized leadership
Casualties
Death(s)At least 154 killed (Iran Human Rights) as of 4 October[8]

At least 41 killed (state media) as of 24 September[9]

See casualties for details.
Injuries898+[10]
Arrested1,500+ (per the Associated Press)[11]

The Mahsa Amini protests are an ongoing series of protests and civil unrest against the government of Iran that began in Tehran on 16 September 2022.[12] The protests began as a reaction to the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini (Persian: مهسا امینی) that day in police custody, after she was arrested by the Guidance Patrol for wearing an "improper" hijab—in violation of Iran's mandatory hijab law—while visiting Tehran from Saqqez. According to eyewitnesses, Amini was severely beaten by Guidance Patrol officers—an assertion denied by Iranian authorities.[13][14] Iranian police have denied that Amini was beaten while she was in custody.[15]

The protests began hours after Amini's death in Tehran. Protests first began at the hospital where Amini was treated and then quickly spread to other cities, firstly in Amini's home province of Kurdistan, including in Saqqez, Sanandaj, Divandarreh, Baneh, and Bijar.[16][17] In response to these demonstrations, beginning on 19 September the Iranian government implemented regional shutdowns of Internet access. As protests grew, a widespread Internet blackout was imposed along with nationwide restrictions on social media.[18][19] In response to the protests over Amini's death, people held demonstrations in support of the government across several cities in Iran, in an attempt to counter the protests.[20] The Iranian government has referred to these counter-protests as "spontaneous".[20] The pro-government protesters called for the anti-government protesters to be executed, and have referred to them as "Israel's soldiers", whilst shouting "Death to America" and "Death to Israel", reflecting Iran's clerical rulers' usual narrative of putting the blame of the unrest on hostile foreign countries.[20] On 3 October, in his first statement since the outbreak of the protests, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei dismissed the widespread unrest as "riots", and likewise tried to cast it as a foreign plot.[21]

As of 4 October 2022, at least 154 protestors[8] have been killed as a result of the government's intervention in the protests, involving tear gas and live rounds,[22][23][24] making the protests the deadliest since the 2019–2020 protests that resulted in more than 1,500 fatalities.[25] The government's response to the protests has largely been condemned, and the United States Department of the Treasury has sanctioned the Guidance Patrol and several high-ranking Iranian officials.

Background

Iranian protests against compulsory hijab began in 2017. Mahsa Amini was a 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian woman who was arrested by the Guidance Patrol on 14 September 2022 because of an "improper hijab." The police were accused of beating her and inflicting a fatal head injury;[26] Amini was pronounced dead on 16 September. After her funeral, protests were held in different parts of Iran. A nationwide strike was later called from Kurdistan Province to Tehran on 18 September.[clarification needed] Iranian Kurdistan parties and civil and political activists from Kurdistan declared Monday a general strike day.[27][28][29]

Protesters

Initial protests, mostly led by women, demanded an end to the mandatory hijab; these protests evolved into a national revolt,[2] The protests became more widespread than the protests of 2009, 2017, and 2019, encompassing even Islamic Republic power bases such as the holy cities of Mashhad and Qom.[30] While continuing to protest Amini's death and to demand an end to mandatory hijab, Iranians also protested for wider freedoms and women's rights,[4] protested against the morality police,[5] and protested against the Ayatollah and the theocratic regime.[31] Unlike many previous Iranian protests, protestors appear to be demanding a wholesale change in government rather than limiting themselves to incremental reforms.[3][32] According to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, economic hardship and poor living conditions contributed to the growth of the protests.[33] The New York Times itemized Iranian grievances such as "soaring prices, high unemployment, corruption, (and) political repression", and identified the poor Iranian economy as a major force behind the protests; according to an Iranian report in August 2021, a third of Iranians live in poverty. Abdolreza Davari, a pro-government analyst, has quoted a statistic that 95 percent of Iranians are "worried about their livelihoods today and for their and their children's future."[34]

Timeline

Hours after Amini died, a group of people gathered to protest her alleged murder near Kasra Hospital, where she died. They chanted slogans including "Death to the dictator", "Guidance Patrol is a killer", "I will kill, I will kill the one who killed my sister",[35] "I swear by Mahsa's blood, Iran will be free", "[Ali] Khamenei is a murderer, his government is invalid", and "Oppression against women from Kurdistan to Tehran". These protests were met with the suppression and arrest of protesters. A number of women took off and burned their headscarves, and chanted the slogan "Shameless Daesh".[36][37] Some people honked their car horns in the streets as a protest. Another protest against compulsory hijab-wearing laws took place that evening in Tehran's Argentina Square. Protesters chanted slogans against Iran's president and compulsory hijab-wearing laws. Released videos of the evening show the violent arrest of some of the protesters.[38][39][failed verification]

17 September

Following Amini's burial, Saqqez, her hometown, and Sanandaj were the scenes of massive demonstrations. In response, the government used violence to disperse protesters. Following the publication of an image of Amini's tombstone in Saqqez, its inscription became a slogan of the protests:

Persian: ژینا جان تو نمی‌میری. نامت یک نماد می‌شود
romanized: Žīnā Ǧān to ne-mī-mīrī. Nām-at Yek Namād mī-šavad
"Beloved Žina (Mahsa), you will not die. Your name will become a symbol."[40][41][42]

18 September

The people of Sanandaj continued protesting, chanting the slogans "death to the dictator", "shame on us, shame on us / our bastard leader", and "death to Khamenei". As a sign of protest, a group of women took off their hijabs. According to unconfirmed sources quoted by the BBC, security forces fired on the demonstrators.[43] A number of students from Tehran University held a protest rally with placards in their hands.[44] A heavy presence of security forces was reported in Tehran and Mashhad.[45]

19 September

The government cut off mobile internet service in central Tehran. According to videos on social media, protests continued in downtown Tehran, Rasht and Isfahan, as well as in Western Kurdish territory.[46] According to Hengaw, a Nordic organization that monitors human rights in Iran, three protesters were killed by security forces in Kurdistan Province.[47]

A 23-year-old man named Farjad Darvishi was killed by police while protesting in Urmia. He was allegedly shot by police security agents during the demonstration, and died from his wounds on his way to the hospital.[48][49][50]

20 September

According to the Voice of America, unconfirmed social media videos showed anti-government protests in at least 16 of Iran's 31 provinces, including "Alborz, East Azerbaijan, Fars, Gilan, Golestan, Hormozgan, Ilam, Isfahan, Kerman, Kermanshah, Kurdistan, Mazandaran, Qazvin, Razavi Khorasan, Tehran, and West Azerbaijan." Protesters in Sari appeared to tear down pictures of the Ayatollah and his predecessor from a city building. Iranian state media reported that three people had been killed in Kurdistan protests.[51] According to Hengaw, two male protesters (Zakaria Khial, 16 years old, and Farjad Darvishi, 23 in Piranshahr and Urmia, respectively) were killed by security forces in West Azerbaijan,[52][53] and a female protester was similarly killed in Kermanshah. The prosecutor in Kermanshah denied state responsibility, stating that people were being killed by "anti-revolutionary elements". Iranian state media reported a police assistant's death from protesters in Shiraz.[47] In Kerman, a woman was filmed removing her hijab and cutting off her ponytail during a protest. Some witnesses interviewed by CNN characterized the day's protests as "flash protests" that sought to form and then to disperse quickly before security forces could intervene.[54]

21 September

According to a alleged leaked document later obtained by Amnesty International, the General Headquarters of the Armed Forces ordered commanders to "severely confront troublemakers and anti-revolutionaries".[55]

Women in Sari were recorded burning their hijabs in protest. According to Hengaw, a man allegedly shot by security forces two days earlier died from his injuries.[47] Hengaw stated that a total of ten demonstrators had been killed by security forces; Amnesty International said it had confirmed eight of those deaths. Amnesty International also condemned what it called the "unlawful use of birdshot and other munitions" against the protesters. WhatsApp and Instagram, the only mainstream social media and messaging apps permitted in Iran, were restricted by the government; in addition, there was a widespread internet shutdown, especially on mobile networks. Iran's Basij, a state militia, held pro-government counter-rallies in Tehran. Demonstrations of solidarity with the protesters were held in other countries; including Canada, Italy, Sweden, Turkey, and the United States.[56]

According to Iran International, there was a brief exchange of fire between the Iran Army Ground Forces and the IRGC in Saqqez.[57] According to two semi-official Iranian news agencies, a member of the Basij was stabbed to death in Mashhad.[58] According to a later Amnesty International report, 34 people were killed across Iran on 21 September.[55]

Starting on 21 September, Iranian mobile operators regularly shut down their users' Internet access every day from 4 pm local time until about midnight. As of 30 September, this pattern was still continuing.[59]

22 September

Protesters in Tehran and other cities burned police stations and cars.[58] The protests continued despite widespread internet outages throughout Iran.[60] People in different areas of north and south of the capital[clarification needed] continued their protests with different slogans.[61][62] Iranian state media stated that at least 17 people had been killed to date, while the Oslo-based Iran Human Rights NGO counted at least 31 civilians dead.[63]

In response to the violent police crackdown of protesters, Anonymous claimed that the group had hacked at least 100 Iranian websites (including several belonging to the Iranian government) and compromised over 300 CCTV cameras by exploiting a vulnerability.[64][65]

23 September

Protests continued in Tehran, heavy fighting was reported in Isfahan at dusk. Аlso in many other cities including Tehran, Mashhad, and Babol people continued to protest.[66] Universities were closed, and shifted to virtual teaching mode.[67] It was reported that in Oshnavieh, after days of very heavy protesting and clashing, protestors took control of the city; however the Iranian government denied this.[68]

The same day, people in several cities across Iran participated in state-organised[69] pro-government rallies in support of the hijab and the government.[70][71] The rally in Tehran was attended by thousands.[70] According to a live state television broadcast, demonstrators chanted "Death to America" and "Death to Israel", reflecting Iran's clerical rulers' usual narrative of putting the blame of the unrest on hostile foreign countries.[70][72] The pro-government demonstrators also vocally expressed their desire for the anti-government protesters to be executed, and referred to the anti-government protesters as "Israel’s soldiers".[72] The government claimed that the rallies were spontaneous.[70] Security forces in Iran always support state-organised gatherings, which are widely covered by Iran's state television and media; anti-government protests on the other hand, in which demonstrators chant against the establishment, are not sanctioned and are dispersed by security forces.[73]

According to an alleged document leaked to Amnesty International, the commander of Mazandran province gave orders to "confront mercilessly, going as far as causing deaths, any unrest by rioters and anti-Revolutionaries".[55]

The United States Department of State issued a general license allowing corporations access to the Iranian internet market.[74][75] In response, American entrepreneur Elon Musk said that he would activate his satellite internet firm, Starlink, to provide internet services to Iran.[76] Although the updated license did not cover hardware supplied by Starlink, the firm and other similar companies can apply for permission to the US Treasury.[76]

24 September

A person in Melbourne, Australia, cutting off their hair in solidarity (24 September)

Heavy protests in the contested city of Oshnavieh continued. Protests also continued in front of Tehran University and in Shiraz.[77] Iranians living abroad marched in support of the Iranian people in various cities, including Erbil, Berlin, Stuttgart, and Melbourne.[78][79][80]

Inside Gilan province police and Iranian revolutionary guards arrested 739 people, including at least 60 women.[81] 88 guns were found and confiscated in Khuzestan province.[82] The IRGC made multiple arrests in Kerman.[83]

The New York Times reported that security forces were "opening fire on the crowds" in multiple cities, and stated "The videos posted online and the scale of the response from the authorities are difficult to independently verify, but video and photographs sent by witnesses known to The New York Times were broadly in line with the images being posted widely online." The Committee to Protect Journalists reported at least 11 journalists arrested, including Niloofar Hamedi, the reporter who originally broke Amini's story.[84]

25 September

Protests continued in various parts of Tehran (Narmak, Ekbatan, Valiasr, Aryashahr), Karaj (Mehrshahr and Gohardasht), Sanandaj, Qaen, Kashmar, and Babol despite the widespread outage of the internet network in Iran. Also, protests against the Iranian government continued in different cities of the world such as London, Brussels, and New York City.[85][86][87][88][89] A Basij paramilitary member died of injuries he had sustained in Urmia on 22 September, one of several Basijis to have been killed in the demonstrations.[90]

Despite the gathering of Iranian government supporters in Tehran's Revolution Square and the threat of violent confrontation against the protesters, people came to the streets at night in different areas of Tehran, Bushehr, Sanandaj, Qazvin, Yazd, Urmia, Shiraz, and Mashhad. The police attempted to halt the protests again. Iranians residing in Canada, France, United Kingdom, Norway, and Austria marched in support of the protests.[91][92][23] A total of 1,200 people have reportedly been arrested.[93]

26 September

Solidarity protest in Qamishli, Syria (26 September)

The protests continued in cities such as Tehran, Tabriz, Yazd, Ghorveh, Sanandaj, Borazjan and Karaj. Iranians abroad in countries like Canada, Spain and France protested in support of people inside Iran. The dentistry students of Tabriz University gathered and chanted to protest the arrest of students by Iran's government police. Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei, the Chief Justice of Iran, said, "[police officers] did not sleep last night and the nights before ... and they must be thanked."[94] On the same day, the Organizing Council of Oil Contract Workers said: "We support the people's struggles against organized and everyday violence against women and against the poverty and hell that dominates the society".[95]

27 September

Clashes between riot police and security forces and demonstrators continued in a number of cities. Ravina Shamdasani, the spokesperson for the UN High Commission for Human Rights, urged Iran's clerical leadership to "fully respect the rights to freedom of opinion, expression, peaceful assembly, and association". Shamdasani added that reports specify that "hundreds have also been arrested, including human rights defenders, lawyers, civil society activists, and at least 18 journalists", and "Thousands have joined anti-government demonstrations throughout the country over the past 11 days. Security forces have responded at times with live ammunition".[96] The Organizing Council of Oil Contract Workers warned the government that if the crackdown on protestors continues, they will strike, a move which could cripple Iran's oil sector which is a major part of the economy.[95]

Iran Human Rights said that security forces were firing live ammunition directly at protesters. Iran reported the arrest of Faezeh Hashemi, the daughter of Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who was the President of Iran from 1989 to 1997.[97]

28 September

Iranian riot police were deployed in Tehran's main squares to confront people chanting "death to the dictator".[98] A solidarity protest at the Brandenburger Tor in Berlin was attended by around 1,800 people, including CSU politician Dorothee Bär, and Iranian-German actress Pegah Ferydoni.[99]

29 September

Protests continued in several cities throughout Iran.[100] Police arrested Iranian songwriter Shervin Hajipour in Tehran, whose viral song had gained over 40 million Instagram views in a single day.[101]

30 September

In Zahedan, in "probably the single most violent incident of the protests", the Iranian police fired on civilians during Friday prayers.[102] Up to forty people were killed and many wounded in Zahedan after protests that were sparked by reports about a police chief who had raped a 15-year-old girl in Chahbahar.[103][102] Three days prior, the Friday Imam of Rask, Molavi Abdul Ghaffar Naghshbandi, disclosed the identity of the police chief.[104] Naghshbandi said that he had also spoken to the teenager in person as well as her family.[104] He added "I know it is my duty, in both faith and conscience, to break this deadly silence so that this aggressor will be punished for his shameful actions."[104]

People who gathered at the police station to demand punishment of the offender were targeted by security and military forces on the ground and by a helicopter in the air.[103] The police station was torched during the rioting, which continued overnight.[102] Several IRGC members were killed during the incident, including a senior IRGC commander who died after a shot to the chest by "anti-regime gunmen", according to Iranian state media.[105] Iranian state media reported that 19 had died and 32 IRGC guard members were wounded, including volunteer Basijis.[105] Iranian state media identified the personnel that had been killed as Hamidreza Hashemi, an IRGC Guard colonel; Mohammad Amin Azarshokr, a IRGC Guard member; Mohammad Amin Arefi, a Basiji; and Saeed Borhan Rigi, also a Basiji.[105] According to Iranian state-controlled news agency IRNA, "armed separatists" were the culprit.[105] The opposition Human Rights Activist News Agency estimated that at least 40 protesters were killed.[106] On 4 October, the number of confirmed casualties in the Zahedan attack had risen to at least 63.[8]

1 October

Worldwide protests were held in solidarity with the uprising in Iran.[102] Under the slogan "women, life, liberty" demonstrations took place in many major cities, including Auckland, London, Melbourne, New York, Los Angeles,[107] Paris, Ottawa, St. John's, Montreal[108] Rome, Seoul, Stockholm, Sydney and Zurich.[102] According to the York Regional Police, over 50,000 people attended the solidarity protest in Richmond Hill near Toronto.[109] In Tehran, Iranian authorities fired bullets into the air to disperse protestors at Islamic Azad University.[107]

Iran released Iranian-Americans Baquer Namazi and his son Siamak Namazi in a bid to unlock financial resources from American sanctions;[110] however the United States refuted any connection between the hostages and sanctions.[111]

2 October

Protests continued with police reportedly shooting at students on the campus of Sharif University. Iranian Minister of Science, Research, and Technology Mohammad Ali Zolfigol successfully intervened and escorted some of the students out, but others were trapped and detained by law enforcement.[112][113]

Supporters of the Iranian protests also continued to demonstrate in cities worldwide.[114]

3 October

In his first statement since the outbreak of the widespread protests, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei dismissed the widespread unrest as "riots", and likewise tried to cast it as a foreign plot.[21] He also said: "I say explicitly that these riots and this insecurity were a design by the US and the occupying, fake Zionist regime [i.e. Israel] and those who are paid by them, and some traitorous Iranians abroad helped them".[21] He argued that the plot was devised by Iran's enemies as "they feel that the country is progressing towards full-scale power and they can't tolerate this".[21] Khamenei also stated that the burning of Qurans, taking hijabs off of covered women and burning mosques amongst others are "not normal, natural reaction[s]".[21] Regarding tensions in the Kurdish and Baluch regions of Iran, he said: "I have lived among ethnic Baluchis and they are deeply loyal to the Islamic Republic", and "The ethnic Kurds are also among one of the most advanced groups in Iran who love their homeland, Islam and the establishment".[21] According to al Jazeera, the clerical leadership of Iran tries to cast the protests as having secessionist objectives.[21]

In what BBC News called an "unprecedented show of support",[115] videos released on 4 October showed teenage schoolgirls in multiple cities joining the protests, removing their headscarves and chanting antigovernment slogans.[116][117] Video shared on social media showed a group of schoolgirls in Karaj forcing an education official out of their school, chanting "shame on you" and throwing what appeared to be empty water bottles at him.[115][117] Elsewhere in Karaj, and in Sanandaj,[115] schoolgirls marched in the streets without their hijabs, chanting the popular Kurdish slogan, "Woman, Life, Freedom".[116] In Shiraz, schoolgirls blocked traffic on a main road while chanting "death to the dictator", referring to Khamenei.[115] Schoolgirls also protested in Saqqez.[115] One image shared on social media showed a group of schoolgirls raising their middle finger at a portrait of Khamenei and Khomeini.[115][116][117]

The schoolgirl protests followed the death of 16-year-old protester Nika Shakarami, who had disappeared at a protest 10 days earlier.[116][117][118] According to a report by BBC Persian,[119] Shakarami's family alleged that she had gone missing for 10 days following a protest in Tehran on 20 September.[116][117][118] In her last message, Shakarami told a friend she was being pursued by security forces.[117][119][118] On 30 September, Shakarami's family found her body in a detention center morgue in Tehran.[116][119] The family was only briefly permitted to see Shakarami's face,[117][119] but saw that her nose and skull had been broken.[118] Shakarami's body was transferred to Khorramabad, her father's hometown, on 2 October, which would have been her 17th birthday.[116][119] Under pressure from authorities, her family agreed not to hold a funeral.[119] Shakarami's aunt, who posted about her niece on social media, was also arrested on Sunday after security forces raided her house and threatened to kill her if anyone in the family participated in the protests, according to BBC Persian.[119] Shakarami's aunt said she had been told that her niece was in the Revolutionary Guard's custody and had briefly been imprisoned at Evin prison.[118] On 3 October, the family told BBC Persian that authorities had stolen Shakarami's body and buried it in the village of Veysian, approximately 40 kilometres (25 mi) from Khorramabad.[117][119]

4 October

President Ebrahim Raisi gave a speech calling for unity while repeating Khamenei's earlier claim of foreign interference. Opposition singer Shervin Hajipour was released on bail.[120]

5 October

Iranian security forces deployed at universities in several cities, including Urmia, Tabriz, Rasht and Tehran.[121]

French actresses including Juliette Binoche and Isabelle Huppert cut locks of their hair in protest over the death of Mahsa Amini.[122]

Civil boycotts

Many teachers and professors declared their support for the movement and organized a boycott in response.

  • Ammar Ashoori, a professor in the faculty of Arts and Architecture at the Islamic Azad University, stood in solidarity with the protests. He was threatened by the custodian dean of the Faculty of Arts to either take down his posts supporting the protests on social media or face termination.[123]
  • Nasrollah Hekmat, professor of Islamic philosophy at Shahid Beheshti University in Tehran, stated on 27 September that he would not attend his classes in solidarity with the protests.[123]
  • Lili Galehdaran, member of the Faculty of Drama of Shiraz Art University, resigned from her position after publishing a letter in which she declared her support for the protests.[123]
  • Alireza Bahraini, Shahram Khazaei, and Azin Movahed, professors at Sharif University of Technology in Tehran, announced their intention to dismiss their classes in support of the protests.[123]
  • Gholamreza Shahbazi, drama professor at the Art University and Soureh University, resigned from his position in support of the protests.[123]

Slogans

"Woman, life, freedom"; One of the main slogans of the protesters

Demonstrators have employed a variety of slogans and placards in these protests, which directly criticize the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran and Khamenei. Protesters have shown strong opposition to human rights violations perpetrated by Iran's Guidance Patrol in particular.[124] "Woman, Life, Freedom" (Persian: زن، زندگی، آزادی, romanizedZan, Zendegī, Āzādī, Kurdish: ژن، ژیان، ئازادی, romanized: Jin, Jiyan, Azadî) is the signature slogan of the protests.[125]

Casualties

On 20 September, Esmail Zarei Kousha, governor of the northwestern Kurdistan province, confirmed the first three deaths in the protests, saying however that they were not killed by security forces.[126] As of 26 September, a count of official statements by authorities tallied at least 13 dead, while State TV suggested that at least 41 have been killed, including protesters and police.[127] Five Basij members have reportedly been killed by protesters.[128]

According to Iran Human Rights, as of 4 October, at least 154 people had been killed, including women and children.[8] Hundreds of women have been detained and abused by the authorities. Death certificates obtained by the organization confirm that many have died from live bullets. The authorities are also using torture and ill-treatment to obtain false confessions from protestors who had been arrested.[22][129][25][130] The Oslo-based human rights organization however stated that with the current Internet blackouts, it was difficult to get accurate and up-to-date figures.[23]

City Fatalities Details
Amol 11 [131][132]
Babol 6
Divandarre 2 Iran Human Rights Group reports two deaths while other sources report four.[133]
Saqqez 1 [134]
Dehgolan 1 [135]
Mahabad 1
Urmia 3 [136]
Karaj 3 [137]
Piranshahr 1 [52]
Kermanshah 2 [138][139]
Oshnavieh 4 [140]
Quchan 1 [141]
Bandar Anzali 1
Nowshahr 1 Shot and killed by security agents while returning home from the dentist.[142][143]
Ilam 2 [144]
Tabriz 1
Rasht 2 Killed by direct police bullets.[145]
Eslamabad-e Gharb 2 [146]
Dehdasht 2
Fooladshahr 1
Hashtgerd 1
Pakdasht 1
Garmsar 2
Qazvin 1
Rezvanshahr 3
Zanjan 1
Sanandaj 1
Total 58

Internet blackouts

Beginning on 19 September, the Iranian government initially cut off Internet access regionally, in order to prevent images and video of the protests from reaching a world-wide audience, and to hinder protesters from organizing effectively, blocking popular social media channels Instagram and WhatsApp in Saqqez and Sanandaj for a few days. With the spread of demonstrations to over 80 cities across the country, the government repeatedly shutdown mobile networks.[147][18][148] According to Internet monitoring group Netblocks, these are "the most severe internet restrictions since the November 2019 massacre", when during the 2019–2020 protests the Internet was completely shutdown for an entire weeklong period, and 1,500 protesters were killed by government forces.[149][148]

Prior to the protests, access to social media was already heavily restricted. Facebook, Telegram, TikTok, and Twitter were all previously blocked.[23] Beginning on 21 September, Instagram and WhatsApp were also blocked nationwide. Iranian state media has said the imposed restrictions are due to "national security" concerns.[148] As of 24 September, access to Skype has reportedly been blocked.[150] As of 29 September, the Apple App Store, the Google Play Store, and LinkedIn have also been blocked.[151] WhatsApp stated that they are working to keep Iranian users connected and would not block Iranian phone numbers.[58] However, multiple monitoring groups have documented rolling connectivity blackouts, affecting Iran's largest mobile carriers, with a "curfew-style pattern of disruptions" that lasts for 12 hours at a time. It has also been reported that text messages are being filtered, and communications which mention Amini's name are blocked from delivery to the intended recipient.[148]

Despite the nationwide Internet blackouts, some video of the events are still making it out of the country. A small group of people from both inside and outside of Iran are running the 1500tasvir Instagram account, which has over 450,000 followers. The group says they are receiving more than 1,000 videos every day, and publish dozens of these videos on a daily basis, posting video to their Twitter account as well. One member of the 1500tasvir team noted the impact of Internet shutdowns can be extraordinary, and negatively impact protests, saying that "When you [can] ... see other people feel the same way, you get more brave" but "When the internet is cut off ... you feel alone".[148][150]

In response to Iran's Internet blackouts, Signal, the end-to-end encrypted messaging app, has asked the tech community and international volunteers to help circumvent the digital blockade by running proxy servers so that people in Iran can communicate safely. In a blog post published on 22 September, the CEO of Signal detailed step-by-step instructions, and has called for a Twitter hashtag campaign to promote the effort. Signal has also published support documents in Persian, specifically to assist users in Iran.[152][153][154] However, Signal has been hampered by Iranian blocking of SMS validation text codes that Signal attempts to send to its users.[59]

Some activists have turned to passing out paper leaflets detailing planned protests. Some Iranian protestors are using VPNs to access the internet. Satellite news broadcasts, such as London-based Farsi-language Iran International, also provide updates on planned demonstrations.[107] However, due to jamming by the Iranian government, foreign satellite TV is sometimes unavailable in certain parts of the country.[151]

Reactions

On 22 September, CNN's chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour was scheduled to interview Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in New York City, following his appearance at the United Nations general assembly. Amanpour planned to speak with President Raisi about several international issues, including Amini's death and the ensuing protests. The interview would have been the first time Raisi spoke with US media on American soil. Forty minutes after the interview was set to begin and before Raisi arrived, an aide to the Iranian leader made a last-minute request and stated that the meeting would not happen unless Amanpour wore a headscarf, referring to "the situation in Iran" and calling it "a matter of respect". Amanpour responded that she could not agree to the "unprecedented and unexpected condition" and later reflected on the situation, saying that when conducting interviews outside of Iran, "I have never been asked by any Iranian president ... to wear a head scarf".[155][156][157]

Several Iranian women living in India demonstrated against the Iranian government and burned their hijabs as a sign of protests.[158]

On 24 September, the Foreign Ministry of Iran summoned the ambassadors of the UK and Norway, over of what it considered their "interventionist stance". In particular, the Iranian authorities protested the "hostility" allegedly created by Farsi-language London-based media outlets, as well as the statements made by Iranian-born president of the Norwegian parliament Masud Gharahkhani, in support of the protests.[159][23]

Iran has alleged that Kurdish groups in Iraq have supported the protests, and has launched attacks on Iraq's Kurdistan region. According to local Iraqi authorities, a 28 September drone and missile attack on an Iranian-Kurdish opposition group in Iraq killed at least nine. The U.S. condemned the attack and threatened further sanctions against Iran.[160] As of 5 October 2022, Iranian attacks (mainly artillery strikes) on Kurdish Iraq were still continuing.[161]

On 3 October, Khamenei commented for the first time on Amini's death and said that "[her] death deeply broke my heart" and called it a "bitter incident", while giving his full support to security forces against protesters.[162]

Iranian citizens

  • Reza Pahlavi, the son of the final Shah that was ousted in 1979 Iranian revolution, called for additional international pressure on the Iran leadership, such as the expulsion of diplomats, the freezing of assets, and the creation of a strike fund to compensate workers. He stated: "Women may decide to wear or not wear the veil. But it ought to be a choice, a free choice, not imposed for ideological or religious reasons."[163]
  • Iranian former footballer Ali Karimi expressed his support for the protestors, and called on the Iranian army to side with them. He also shared technical advice on how to circumvent the Internet blackout. Fars News, partially affiliated with the IRGC called him "the new leader of the opposition", and called for his arrest.[57][164] Other prominent sportsman who spoke in favor of the protesters included fencer Mojtaba Abedini, and footballers Hossein Mahini (arrested), Alireza Jahanbakhsh, Ali Daei, and Mehdi Mahdavikia.[165]
  • Prominent exiled activist Masih Alinejad tweeted, "Police used tear gas to disperse Iranian protesters in Paris in an effort to protect the Islamic Republic embassy. Meanwhile, @EmmanuelMacron shook hands with the murderous president of Iran."[166]

Countries

  • Canada Canada: Foreign minister Mélanie Joly called for "a full and complete investigation into the regime's actions" in the aftermath of Amini's death.[167]
  • Turkey Turkey: Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın said he was saddened by Amini's death and that Iran needs to find a balanced way to respect people's free will and maintain public order.[168] Demonstrations occurred in several Turkish cities, including a protest by a group of Iranians in front of the Iranian Consulate in Istanbul.[169][170]
  • United States United States: During his floor speech to the United Nations General Assembly, President Joe Biden offered solidarity to the protesters, imploring them to "secure their basic rights".[171] Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted: "We call on the Iranian government to end its systematic persecution of women and allow peaceful protest". US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan tweeted that "[Amini's] death is unforgiveable. We will continue to hold Iranian officials accountable for such human rights abuses".[172]

International organizations

  • European Union European Union: The European External Action Service (EEAS) condemned Amini's death in a statement and called for the Iranian government to "ensure that fundamental rights of its citizens are respected".[173]
  • United Nations United Nations: UN Secretary-General António Guterres, on 27 September, issued a statement calling on Iranian security forces to "refrain from using unnecessary or disproportionate force".[174][175] Nada al-Nashif, the acting UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, expressed concern over Amini's death and Iranian authorities' response to the resulting protests.[176] Ravina Shamdasani, the spokesperson for the UN High Commission for Human Rights, urged Iran's clerical leadership several days later to "fully respect the rights to freedom of opinion, expression, peaceful assembly, and association". Shamdasani added that reports specify that "hundreds have also been arrested, including human rights defenders, lawyers, civil society activists, and at least 18 journalists", and "Thousands have joined anti-government demonstrations throughout the country over the past 11 days. Security forces have responded at times with live ammunition".[96]

Human rights advocates

After photos and videos of the protests and the responding force shown during the protests, many international human rights groups such as the Iran Human Rights group and the Human Rights Watch group, and the UN Acting High Commissioner for Human Rights Nada Al-Nashif, issued statements of concern. The Human Rights Watch group raised specific concerns about reports that seem to indicate authorities using teargas and lethal force to disperse protesters.[177]

Amnesty International criticized the use of unlawful force by Iranian authorities to brutally quash the nationwide protest sparked by Amini's death. They said that Iranian security forces have fired metal pellets at protesters at close range, misused tear gas and water cannons, and severely beaten people with batons.[178]

Sanctions

On 22 September, the United States Department of the Treasury announced sanctions against the Morality Police as well as seven senior leaders of Iran's various security organizations, "for violence against protestors and the death of Mahsa Amini". These include Mohammad Rostami Cheshmeh Gachi, chief of Iran's Morality Police, and Kioumars Heidari, commander of the Iranian army's ground force, in addition to the Iranian Minister of Intelligence Esmail Khatib, Haj Ahmad Mirzaei, head of the Tehran division of the Morality Police, Salar Abnoush, deputy commander of the Basij militia, and two law enforcement commanders, Manouchehr Amanollahi and Qasem Rezaei of the LEF[clarification needed] in Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari province of Iran. The sanctions would involve blocking any properties or interests in property within the jurisdiction of the US, and reporting them to the US Treasury. Penalties would be imposed on any parties that facilitate transactions or services to the sanctioned entities.[179][180][181]

On 26 September, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated that his government will impose sanctions on the Morality Police, its leadership, and the officials responsible for Amini's death and the crackdown on the protestors.[182]

In popular culture

Music

Shahin Najafi released the song "Hashtadia"[183] ("The Eighties' [Children]") on 25 September.

Sports

The Iranian soccer team wore black jackets without logos during their 27 September World Cup friendly against Senegal; their team uniforms underneath with their team logos were not visible. Given that some team members had tweeted solidarity with the protesters, the jackets were widely interpreted as a further showing of solidarity with the protesters.[184][185]

See also

References

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