What Sparked the Protests:
The anti-government protests in Iran began on September 16, following the death of Mahsa Amini. Amini, a 22-year old woman, was taken into custody by the Iranian morality police — a patrol group dedicated to enforcing laws related to Islamic dress — for allegedly wearing her hijab incorrectly. She passed away while in custody, officers claiming she suffered a heart attack and fell into a coma due to preexisting health conditions. Her family holds that Amini did not suffer from any health conditions and assert she was beaten to death by officers, per eyewitness accounts. Women began amassing outside of her hospital and the police station, offering support and demanding answers from authorities, marking the beginning of the rebellion.
What Makes The Protests Unprecedented:
There are a few details surrounding the recent wave of protests making history. Primarily, these eight weeks and counting of protests were sparked by women, declared by Ramyar Hassani, a spokesperson for Hengaw Organization for Human Rights. Following the announcement of Amini’s death, women began cutting their hair and burning their hijabs in the streets of cities across Iran, chanting “Death to the dictator.” Men and children have joined in the uprising, presenting a united front against the Islamic Republic, protesting a myriad of injustices from police abuse and financial distress.
Because many Iranian young adults feel less than hopeful concerning their futures in their home country due to soaring inflation and widespread emigration, they have proven to be an extremely influential group within the anti-government movement. There have been protests held at 140 universities across Iran and police forces have not been going easy on students. They have met such rallies with teargas and rubber bullets, blinding many protestors, and have begun opening fire on school grounds in recent weeks. Most notably, officers entered an all-girls high school in plain clothes and beat several to death for anti-government remarks, while taking others to juvenile detention centers for “reform” that is more similar to psychological torture. Students and teachers across the country share how education and daily life has been virtually halted, as both groups are exhausted and scared by what has been happening to their peers.
In these past two months of unrest, there have been numerous deaths, injuries and detainments at the hands of the Iranian police. As of November 18th, according to the Human Rights Activists News Agency, at least 402 protestors have been killed, around 60 of those being children and around 17,000 have been arrested, including students, journalists and other public figures.
Iranian officials have gone to extreme lengths to keep brutal tactics used as an attempt to contain protests under wraps through internet blackouts and banning journalists from reporting on deaths and injuries. These media blackouts have been exploited both ways, encouraging citizens to believe the United States and Israel are at fault for the current state of Iran and concealing their solidarity. Despite such efforts, the Iranian regime’s actions have become clear to all parties and prompted leaders and public figures everywhere to share their support for citizens, especially children caught in the crossfire of protests. Organizations such as UNICEF declared the killing of children “must stop” and the United Nation’s Human Rights Council plans to meet in Geneva on Thursday to further examine the crisis in the Islamic Republic of Iran.
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