Young Iranians Fight Decades of Repression: Mahsa Amini

By: Andrew Raynus—National/International News Editor

The suspicious death of Mahsa “Jina” Amini on September 16, 2022 has sparked widespread protest across Iran and the rest of the world.

Mahsa Amini, a woman from the Kurdistan province, died in the custody of Iranian police after they arrested her for violating Iran’s strict dress code that states a woman must wear a headscarf or hijab. The police allegedly mistreated Amini in custody which put her in a coma. She later passed away in the hospital. The first protests erupted in Iran in Amini’s hometown following her funeral on September 17th. Since then demonstrations have spread across the country and look like they will continue until Amini gets justice.

The protests are dangerous and it is a great risk for people to attend. One protester says shots have been fired. “Several demonstrators got injured. Riot police are everywhere,” said the protester in Sanandaj, the largest city in Amini’s home province. Many have been wounded, arrested, or even killed for going to these protests.

Protestors have been clashing with security forces, attacking symbols of the regime, and burning headscarves in defiance of the Iranian regime. Many crowds chant “death to Khameini,” referring to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khameini, who has been in power since 1979. 

Khameini has responded to the protests by saying that the protests are a result of foreign intervention and has labeled them as “riots.” “These scattered riots are the passive and clumsy design of the enemy against the great and innovative developments and movements of the Iranian nation,” said Khameini.

234 people have died during protests so far due to police brutality including 32 children. The deaths of some of these young women, such as Nika Shakarami, Hadis Najafi, and Sarina Esmailzadeh, have been widely reported. The parents of these victims claim the stories they told on Iranian television were fabricated.

People from all walks of life have been joining in, from teachers to oil workers. “We declare that now is the time for widespread protests and to prepare ourselves for nationwide and back-breaking strikes. This is the beginning of the road and we will continue our protests together with the entire nation day after day,” said a statement from Iran’s Contractual Oil Workers Protest Organizing Council when they called for a strike.

The global response has been strong and persistent as governments are condemning Amini’s murder and Iran’s response to the protests. “Mahsa Amini was a courageous woman whose death in Morality Police custody was yet another act of brutality by the Iranian regime’s security forces against its own people,” said United States Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.

“The Iranian government needs to end its systemic persecution of women and allow peaceful protest,” added US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

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