Protests in Iran continue today as the country roils with rage over the murder of a 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian woman named Mahsa Amini while in police custody.
Amini was picked up by Iran’s “morality police” on September 13 and never left their custody alive. Police have said that she had an underlying health condition that led to a heart attack, coma, and eventual death.
But photos have leaked of Amini covered in blood and hooked up to tubes in the hospital before she eventually succumbed to her injuries and died – injuries people say show a horrifying case of police brutality.
When the police first picked her up, Amini’s family was told she was taken to a “re-education center” for an hour to be scolded over breaking the country’s strict extremist dress code (including wearing a hijab), but they never saw her alive again.
Protests erupted all over the country in the days since, with 50 cities seeing incidents of “flash protests.” Protests are being led by the young and the furious, many of them women burning their hijabs and cutting their hair in public in defiance of draconian religious laws.
Protesters began sharing images of young men and women they say the police have murdered similarly over the years, and the state’s attempt to crack down on protestors turned quickly bloody. Hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries are estimated among protesters, who continue to rail against what they see as state-sanctioned murder. The Iranian state has cut internet to much of the country to stop video footage and information about the brutal crackdowns from being shared worldwide, but they have not stemmed the tide much. Over the last week, the head of the Judiciary, Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Eje’i, ordered the preemptive arrests of dozens of political leaders, students, and activists – leading many to fear what’s coming next as they attempt to control the situation, which is snowballing quickly out of control.
While Iran’s militant state is no stranger to violent protests (this is the fourth such in the past few decades), this one feels different – perhaps because of the unprecedented connectivity with the rest of the world, despite the state’s attempts to blackout communications outside of the country.
A Change.org petition pleads with world leaders to intervene and bring justice to Amini – and safety for the protestors fighting a life-or-death battle against an oppressive regime.
The murder of Amini may have lighted the fury and unrest a spark, but it goes well beyond one person’s death. One analyst in Tehran who wished to stay anonymous said of the movement, “The death of Mahsa Amini was the spark in the powder keg of near-universal discontent among Iranians. Whether it be political and personal freedoms, economic hardships, or social limitations, many Iranians no longer have any hope for the future in the Islamic Republic… and the state no longer has the economic means to solve or delay its problems by throwing money at it.”
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