A wave of protests took place across Iran in the wake of the recent death of Mahsa (Zhina) Amini, a 22-year old woman who died while in the custody of Iran’s morality police. Several women’s rights groups and labor and civil rights organisations have called for protests against the government’s murder of Mahsa. Independent labour and civil rights organisations express that the murder of Mahsa is “the result of structural and systematic violence against women”. The Tehran police claims Mahsa’s death resulted from a heart condition that led to cardiac arrest, however, in conversation with Zamaneh, Mahsa’s family states that she was healthy and had no prior health conditions.
Protests began on Friday, September 16th, after Mahsa’s death in front of Kasra hospital in Tehran and then, after her funeral in her hometown of Saqqez, when mourners organized a peaceful rally outside the city’s governor’s office. Security forces outside the office responded to protestors with tear gas and opened fire. Videos that have surfaced online display security forces possessing and using lethal weapons such as shotguns. The precise number of injured and arrested protestors is unclear, however, in the city of Saqqez, the identity of three injured protestors has been confirmed: Kian Derakhshan, Nechirvan Maroufi and Mohammad Parsa Sehat.
On Monday, September 19th, several storekeepers in the Kurdish cities of Kamyaran, Saqqez, Sanandaj, Kermanshah, Bukan, Baneh, Urmia, Piranshahr, Javanrud, Paveh and Dehgolan have gone on strike and closed their doors in protest of Mahsa’s murder. Sources tell Zamaneh of a heavy security force presence in these cities, with many storekeepers and bazaar workers in Kurdistan and Kermanshah being threatened in person and via text messages to reopen or be dealt with “according to the regulations”.
Videos shared on social media show protestors chanting a number of slogans including, “Woman, life, freedom”, a slogan that has become symbolic of the current wave of protests. This is amongst many other notable slogans which hold the regime accountable for the oppression of women and Mahsa’s murder.
Protests also broke out in Tehran, Rasht, Mashhad, Paveh, Karaj, Marivan and Isfahan. Protestors are met by police violence.
As with many recorded protests in Iran, several student groups in universities across the country also issued statements in response to Mahsa’s murder. In a joint statement, 14 student organizations from schools including Amirkabir University, Tarbiat Modares University and Allameh Tabataba’i University called for a “dissolution of the Guidance Patrol and Morality Police as one of the most important institutions of repression post-revolution”.
The student organizations have also emphasized that the murder of Mahsa is a crime that represents the oppression and exploitation of women in Iran. They point to a system of oppression that deprives women of everything from the right to voluntary termination of pregnancy to equal wage to provide a deeper understanding of Mahsa’s murder. In these student organized protests, students were attacked by the government’s Basiji forces.
While Zamaneh is unable to confirm, Iran International published images of Mahsa’s CT scans on Monday morning, which they claim were sent to them by a hacker group. The images display a clear fracture in Mahsa’s skull which can only be explained by a blow to the head, resulting in head trauma.
According to the Iranian newspaper “Shargh”, the government has blocked the name “Mahsa Amini” from being sent in text messages on the Iran Mobile Communications Company, also known as MCI. Internet disruptions have also been reported across the country, with heavier shutdowns in Mahsa’s home region of Kurdistan.
The hashtag #Mahsa_Amini has received nearly 1 million tweets in the last few days and over 3 million tweets for its Persian hashtag (مهسا_امینی#).