Continuing Iranian Protests

Increasingly outspoken protests in Iran have led the government to heighten its interventionary responses this past month. 

The catalyst of this series of protests began on Sept. 13, with the arrest of one Mahsa Amini. In violation of the strict requirement of women to cover their hair with a hijab, Amini, who was deemed as not wearing her hijab correctly, was taken in by Iranian morality police to a detention re-education center. Reports say that officers had beaten her over the head with batons while being escorted to the center, according to BBC News. While the government did not shed further light on the incident, they later issued a statement that Amini had collapsed at the center due to cardiac arrest and had fallen into a coma. 

On a pivotal day three days after her arrest, Amini passed away in a Tehran hospital, igniting widespread outrage and unrest among the Iranian masses. Protests began just days after her funeral – with an especially notable surge of activity in a gathering at Amini’s grave on the 40th day after her funeral – where women demonstrated their solidarity by defying the hijab regulation and throwing down their headscarves and setting them on fire. Men and young adults have additionally shown support in participating in protests. 

The movement has spread to the youth population as well, with students from high schools and universities rebelling against the Iranian authority and flooding into the streets across provinces nationwide from marches to sit-down strikes. 

To re-establish order in the public, the government has moved to stop these demonstrations. They have deployed forces of riot control troops and officers, arresting over 14,000 people in protest. However, operation has risen out of proportion. According to The Washington Post, the Revolutionary Guard Corps stated that the average age of arrested protestors was 15. Many teenagers were said to be brought to abusive and damaging re-education centers for reform. 

On Oct. 12, The Post continues, chaos ensued. While in school, a 15-year-old student, Esra Panahi, was one of the first, if not the first, minor to be killed by security forces. Along with her peers, she was heard chanting “death to the dictator” at a mandatory pro-government rally. Cumulatively, there have been 46 verified deaths of minors as a result of police brutality. 

Riot control troops also opened fire on protestors in response to their attack on government buildings. On Thursday, Oct. 24, offices in Mahabad were pelted with stones as activists watched them burn. Because of the troops’ violence, at least seven were killed with dozens more wounded. 

As many as 1,000 protestors of Iran’s Tehran province alone have been charged for assaulting security guards and setting buildings on fire. Despite officials’ warnings against continuing to protest on the streets, the movement’s demonstrations maintain a powerful inertia. 

As the great magnitude of unrest persists, awareness has spread to the international level, with foreign peoples and groups expressing their support for the protestors. It remains to be seen whether or not Iran’s cries against injustice will be answered, although they have certainly been heard.