Alarming footage reveals Iranian security forces shooting towards protesters at a Tehran metro station, as well as beating women who were not wearing mandatory hair coverings. The Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has violently cracked down on protesters for the third month since the death of Mahsa Amini on September 16th, 2022. The 22-year-old Kurdish woman was beaten to death by the Guidance Patrol, Iran’s religious morality police, for improperly wearing her hijab. This has since sparked worldwide protests against the nation’s oppressive regime.
Videos posted on social media depict protesters screaming, running towards exits and falling and being trampled on while police opened fire. Protesters had stood along the platform at Theatr-E Shahr station burning their headscarves and repeating phrases such as “You’re amoral! You’re dishonourable! I am the free woman!” Police were also filmed walking through train carriages and assaulting women with batons who were not wearing hijabs or failing to wear them in accordance with government standards. Iranian journalist and activist Masih Alinejad reported that one clip showed a police officer arresting a woman while dragging her by the hair. The United Nations has asserted that women and girls are treated as second-class citizens in Iran, citing the high rates of domestic violence, child marriages and entrenched suppression seen through politics, culture and dress.
Female protestors have unveiled themselves, with men too demanding equality and civil liberties. According to the Oslo-based Iran Human Rights group, the government’s security forces have severely repressed these demonstrations, killing over 300 civilians, including 52 children. The Human Rights Activists News agency has reported that approximately 15,820 protesters have been detained thus far.
Iran’s Judiciary chief Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei has stated that “key perpetrators” should be given sentences that would have a preventive effect on other protestors. He cautioned that civilians who counter the oppressive regime may be charged with “moharebeh” (enmity against God), “efsad fil-arz” (corruption on Earth) and “baghy” (armed rebellion). All of these charges have the potential to carry the death penalty in Iran’s legal system.
According to recent reports from the Guardian, at least five protestors have now been officially sentenced to death. The Iran Human Rights organization has warned the international community of the possibility of further executions. The Iranian government has executed 6,885 individuals since 2010, making the nation one of the world’s leaders in enforcing capital punishment. Despite this, protests show no signs of dissolving as civilians remain valiant against violent crackdowns. French President Emmanuel Macron has applauded this stating that “something that has changed [on the ground in Iran] is this revolution of women, young people of Iran, defending universal values like gender equality. It’s important to commend the courage and legitimacy of this fight.” This sentiment has reverberated internationally, shown through mass support for fundamental rights such as women’s autonomy and freedom of choice.
In defiance, the European Union and the United Kingdom have vehemently supported the protests and have taken action through imposed sanctions against Iranian officials. As German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has stated, sanctions “send a clear message to those who think they can suppress, intimidate and kill their own people without consequences.” Agreeing with this, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has declared that “we stand with the Iranian people and support their right to protest peacefully and voice their demands and views freely.”
World leaders must continue to support Iranian civilians and send a strong warning to Iran’s Islamic Republic that their actions will have severe consequences. Nations must implement human rights actions and should work on releasing the thousands of Iranians who have been detained for simply engaging in peaceful protest, demanding their inherent liberty as human beings.
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