More than 40 Iranian lawyers arrested during protests so far

Welcome back to The Farda Briefing, an RFE/RL newsletter that tracks the top issues facing Iran and explains why they matter. Click to subscribe here.

I’m Frud Bezhan, Regional Editor for Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Here’s what I’ve been tracking and what I’ll be paying attention to in the coming days.

The big topic

Fewer Iranians have taken to the streets in recent days, more than three months after anti-establishment demonstrations erupted across the country.

From the start, the authorities responded to the rallies with deadly force and mass arrests. But in recent weeks the government has used increasingly brutal tactics, including the public execution of protesters, to quell the rallies.

But that hasn’t stopped some Iranians from risking their lives and taking to the streets, particularly in the western Kurdistan region, which has been the epicenter of the demonstrations. Three days of protests and strikes took place from December 19-21 after protesters called for action.

More Iranians have taken their protests to their rooftops and windows as the risk of arrest and physical injury has increased on the tightly controlled streets.

Videos circulating widely on social media appear to show protesters shouting from rooftops and windows late into the night in major Iranian cities in recent weeks. The practice is not new, but has become more widespread in recent times.

Why it matters: During the protests, Iranians have found new and creative ways to continue the demonstrations. Aside from shouting anti-establishment slogans from their rooftops and windows at night, some protesters have turned to protest art and graffiti.

Those protesting from home, while less dangerous, are not completely safe. Security forces shot and broke them window of apartment buildings where residents have been chanting anti-establishment slogans. Security personnel also damaged cars parked in front of these apartment buildings.

What’s next: These acts of dissent are likely to continue and increase as government crackdowns increase. They are difficult for authorities to stop and allow protesters to sustain demonstrations with fewer risks.

Stories you may have missed

• An Iranian political activist who was detained in the western city of Bukan and then transferred to hospital after falling into a coma died on December 18th.

Hengawa Norway-based group that monitors rights abuses in Iran’s Kurdish regions said Mohammad Haji Rasoulpour was arrested in October during anti-establishment protests in Bukan.

After his arrest again in November, Rasoulpour fell into a coma and later died from severe injuries sustained as a result of torture, his family said.

• Activis’ 15-year-old Iranian teenager, who was being held in downtown Karaj, was released on December 15 after an interview with his mother viral on social media.

Amirhossein Rahimi’s mother told the Tehran-based newspaper Etemad that her son has been in prison for two months, although he still has pellets in his head and chest, inflicted by wounds inflicted on him by security forces held during shot at crowds during an anti-establishment protest.

She told Etemad that the judge would not reduce bail to an amount she could afford. After the interview, the teenager was released on reduced bail.

what we observe

Iran’s national currency, the rial, has fallen record lows against the US dollar in recent days. The rial was trading at 396,700 to the dollar on Dec. 20, according to traders in Tehran and foreign exchange website

The anti-establishment protests have worsened an already grim economic picture in Iran, where years of US sanctions and government mismanagement have crippled the economy. During the protests, businesses and state employees have staged days-long strikes that have hit the economy.

Since the protests broke out in mid-September, the rial has lost almost 20 percent of its value.​

Why it matters: The falling value of the rial will increase pressure on authorities in Iran, where protests over economic grievances have preceded recent nationwide demonstrations.

The rallies have not yet brought large parts of the economy to a standstill. But if the protests continue and larger and more regular strikes by public workers take place, observers say there could be significant repercussions for the clerical regime.

That was all from me. Don’t forget to send me your questions, comments or tips.

Until next time,

Ms. Bezhan

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