Iran heading for first major wave of protests since 2009 after young woman dies in police custody

Traffic at a intersection in a city of Iran

Traffic at a intersection in a city of Iran. Photo: PxHere. CC0.

Dozens reported dead in protests that have rocked Iran for the past six days over the death of Mahsa Amini after she was arrested for improperly wearing the veil, international news sources reported.

The death of Mahsa Amini in police custody is fast becoming a new moment of truth for the Iranian regime, which fears popular revolt more than intimidation from the rest of the world.

Four days after Amini’s murder in a Tehran hospital, there is no sign of a slowdown in the protests in the Iranian capital. Although they appear mostly peaceful, several demonstrations in Iran’s Kurdish regions have turned violent.

The Iranian government on Wednesday night blocked the internet on cell phones almost completely, and limited apps such as Whatsapp and Instagram in an apparent attempt to control protests.

There are some signs that a wave of widespread protests could be brewing. It would be the first since the 2009 death of another young woman, Neda Agha Soltan, sparked days of unrest not seen since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Even today, her slow death, after being shot in the chest, remains a testament to the way Iran treats its dissidents and women. Soltan was shot by a sniper while attending an anti-government protest in June 2009, sparking a riot and exposing, for a time, the fragility of one of the region’s staunchest police states.

The memory of Soltan’s murder has returned with the images of Amini being dragged last Thursday into a morality police van. The video has invoked the specter of a state that often commits extreme violence against women and men who challenge the system.

Oppression in Iran has grown in the more than ten years that have passed between the two events, with activists being dragged into the shadows of society and the state crushing all possible signs of the Green Revolution that emerged after the controversial 2009 presidential election.

Since the election as president of Ebrahim Raisi, control of the streets is increasingly in the hands of state henchmen called basiji (responsible for the Soltan assassination) and the Revolutionary Guard, which enforces the values of the Islamic Revolution. A hardliner with deeply conservative views, President Raisi has further reduced the scope for dissent, empowering the morality police and entrenching an uncompromising interpretation of Shia Islam in every corner of the country.

The protests began on Friday following news of the death of Mahsa Amini after she was arrested by the Morality Police for improperly wearing the veil and have been spreading across the country.

-Thailand News (TN)

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