Iran Protests Enter Third Week Despite Heavy Crackdown

Anti-government protests in Iran have entered their third week despite strict internet restrictions and a crackdown, human rights groups said dozens killed.

videos posted on social media appeared to show protests in cities across Iran on Friday night and Saturday, with students at several universities chanting “death to the dictator!”

Other forms of civil disobedience, such as B. Residents chanting from rooftops, motorists honking their horns in unison, and public figures supporting the protesters have emerged.

Solidarity demonstrations took place around the world on Saturday, including in Rome, London, Frankfurt and Seoul.

The protests were sparked by the September 16 death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who was detained for allegedly not covering her hair properly. She later died in the custody of Iran’s Morality Police.

While Iran’s strict internet restrictions make it difficult to gauge the scale of the protests, said Hadi Ghaemi, director of the Center for Human Rights in Iranan independent organization based in New York, said the protests would “certainly continue”.

Related story: Iran protests furiously as family says police tortured and killed woman over scarf

He pointed to a “bloodbath” on Friday in the southeastern Iranian city of Zahedan that reportedly killed at least 19 people following a standoff between protesters and police. He said the protests were directly linked to Amini and the rape of a 15-year-old by a police commander.

As in the earlier days of the protests, recent videos show that many of the protesters are women.

They have led and marched in demonstrations, cutting their hair in public and dancing with their exposed locks despite the Islamic regime’s strict moral codes.

“We keep getting a lot of videos that show women are fearless,” said Masih Alinejad, an Iranian journalist and activist who fled Iran in 2009 and now lives in New York. “They approach the security forces fearlessly. It seems like this time people have made up their minds.

These days, Alinejad spends day and night posting images of the protests and other protest actions to her millions of followers on social media. The Iranian regime made it a crime for Iranians to send her videos. It’s also made her a target, even in New York City, where she spoke to CBS News from an FBI safe house. But she said she wasn’t afraid.

“My real leaders are these women and men in Iran,” she said. “I’m not doing anything, just using my freedom in the US and giving her voice back.”

In recent years, women in Iran have taken part in other nationwide protests. But this time the spark was the death of a woman, and a journalist – Niloufar Hamedi of Shargh daily – broke the story. She was arrested and placed in solitary confinement in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison.

Hamedi is one of at least 19 journalists – including seven women – who have been arrested across the country since the protests began Reporters Without Borders. (The Center for Human Rights in Iran puts the number at 25 or higher.)

“This is the first time that women have burned their headscarves shoulder to shoulder with men in large numbers,” said Alinjead, who runs an online campaign called “My Stealthy Freedom,” which shares images of girls and women in Iran who are making fun of them the hijab rules. “[The hijab] is the mainstay of the Islamic Republic, so they firmly believe that by burning headscarves they are actually shaking the regime.”

In the decades leading up to the 1979 Islamic Revolution, women on the streets of Iran wore both the hijab and the latest Western fashions. But soon after the revolution, the new Islamic regime decreed that women – and girls from an early age – had to cover their hair and bodies in public. Hardliners have proclaimed that the hijab protects women’s honor, but for many protesters it is a symbol of oppression.

Women demonstrating want a choice about whether or not to wear the hijab, said Azadeh Pourzand, co-founder of the US-based Siamak Pourzand Foundation, which campaigns for freedom of expression in Iran.

“It’s essentially about women feeling humiliated and women feeling compelled to do something that they may or may not want to do,” said Pourzand, who is also a PhD researcher at the University of London specializing in women’s activism in Iran concentrated.

While Iranian women have pushed for legal reforms for years, very little has been achieved, she said. Women are present in society, particularly in higher education, but family and labor laws remain deeply discriminatory against women, as do norms and practices, she said.

Still, Pourzand pointed out that the protests had united Iranians of different ages, ethnicities and cities. In addition to demanding women’s rights, the demonstrators are also protesting against political repression, corruption, Iran’s struggling economy and a climate crisis stemming from mismanagement.

Alinejad wants Western countries to sever ties with the Islamic Republic of Iran and “recognize the Iranian uprising.”

Young Iranians demonstrating in the streets believe that “history will judge those democratic countries that can help us but have chosen to help our killers,” she said, adding, “They say: … ‘We are willing to die for the future of Iran. for having a better country to live in.’”

A teacher, who spoke to CBS News on condition that her name not be given, said she twice took her daughter to protests in Tehran.

“For 43 years we’ve lived and slept in fear, so much so that we’ve gotten used to it,” she said. “But now we’re not afraid anymore.”