Iranian female protesters remove their headscarves during a demonstration in the city of Savah, in an image taken from an online video made available on September 21, 2022.
Paris (AFP) – Iran’s hardline president, Ebrahim Raisi, has vowed “decisive action” against the wave of unrest that has rocked the country since the death of Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini in the custody of the morality police.
Raisi described the protests as “riots” and urged “decisive measures to be taken against opponents of the security and safety of the country and the people,” speaking to relatives of a member of the Basij militia who was killed in the city of Mashhad, in a phone call on Saturday to his office. He said.
At least 41 people have died, most of them protesters, but including members of the Islamic Republic’s security forces, according to an official toll, although human rights groups say the real number is much higher.
Women hold pictures of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died while in Iranian custody, during a demonstration outside the United Nations offices in Erbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdistan Region of Iraq, on September 24, 2022.
Hundreds of protesters, reform activists, and journalists have been arrested since nighttime demonstrations and street clashes erupted after Amini’s death on September 16 and then spread to dozens of cities.
Security forces fired live bullets and birds, rights groups accused, while protesters threw stones, burned police cars, set government buildings on fire, and shouted “Death to the dictator.”
Women have led the largest protests in Iran in nearly three years, driven not by classic political or economic grievances, but by anger at the Islamic Republic’s rigidly gendered dress code.
Solidarity protest against the Iranian government in Toronto, Canada on September 24, 2022
Amini, whose Kurdish first name is Gina, was arrested on September 13 for allegedly violating rules requiring the wearing of the tight-fitting headscarf, which prohibits, among other things, ripped jeans and brightly colored clothing.
Some Iranian female protesters have since taken off their headscarves, burned them in rallies and cut their hair, some dancing near large bonfires to applause from crowds that chanted “Zan, Zandji, Azadi” or “Woman, life, freedom.”
A woman waves a headscarf as she stands over a car during a demonstration in Mashhad, northeastern Iran on September 20, 2022, in an image taken from an online video.
Iranian director, Asghar Farhadi, winner of the Iranian Academy Award, was the last to add his voice in support of “progressive and brave women leading protests for human rights alongside men”.
“I saw the anger and hope in their faces and the way they walked in the streets,” he said in a video message on Instagram.
“I deeply respect their struggle for freedom and the right to choose their own destiny despite all the brutality they are subjected to.”
The world has learned a lot from the turmoil and violence from the shaky mobile phone footage that was posted and spread on social media, even as the authorities restricted internet access.
Protests in the Iranian city of Rashat in footage available on ESN on September 20, 2022
One of the widely shared clips shows a young woman, with her hair bare, struggling with security forces in black riot gear and helmets before being pushed to the ground, hitting the back of her head on the sidewalk, before getting up and assisted. other women.
WhatsApp, Instagram, Skype have been blocked and internet access is restricted according to NetBlocks web monitoring, following earlier bans on Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and Telegram.
London-based rights group Amnesty International has warned of the “risk of further bloodshed amid a deliberately imposed internet blackout”.
Protests abroad in solidarity with Iranian women have been held in recent days in Athens, Berlin, Brussels, Istanbul, Madrid, New York, Paris, Santiago, Stockholm, The Hague, Toronto and Washington, among other cities.
Iranians wave the national flag as they walk during a pro-hijab rally in the capital, Tehran, on September 23, 2022
Iran – ruled by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, 83, who has been isolated and given special sanctions over its nuclear programme – blamed the unrest on “foreign plots”.
Mass rallies were also organized to defend the veil and conservative values, and another pro-government rally was scheduled for Sunday in Enqlab (Revolution) Square in central Tehran.
The main reformist group inside Iran, the Iranian Islamic People’s Union Party, has called for the abolition of the mandatory dress code and the liquidation of the morality police.
The party – led by former aides to former President Mohammad Khatami, who oversaw the improvement of relations with the West between 1997 and 2005 – also called on the government to “allow peaceful demonstrations” and release detainees.
Human rights groups based abroad have sought to highlight the turmoil plaguing Iran, through reports from their own sources in the country.
An Iranian refugee living in Greece cuts her hair during a demonstration in Athens on September 24, 2022
The Oslo-based Iranian Human Rights Organization put the death toll at 54, excluding security personnel.
She added that the authorities demanded in many cases the families to conduct a secret burial before handing over the bodies to them.
The Iranian authorities have not yet announced the cause of Amini’s death, who activists say died as a result of a blow to the head.
Interior Minister Ahmed Wahidi stressed that Amini was not beaten and that “we have to wait for the doctor’s final opinion, which takes time.”