Schoolgirls have become the latest target of Iran's security agencies in anti-government protests that entered the fourth week on Sunday. Security forces stormed girls’ schools in several cities on Sunday, reports indicate, and footage obtained by IranWire shows security forces arriving in vans, some without license plates, and checking students' mobile phones for any sign that they had participated in the protests.
Girls across the country have joined the nationwide protests in recent days, leading to clashes with teachers and ultimately security forces, who have arrested some they suspect of having taken part in demonstrations. Videos shared on social media showed protests in dozens of cities across Iran early on Sunday with hundreds of high school girls and university students participating despite the threat of arrest.
در این ویدیو که از دبیرستانی دخترانه در شهر #لاهیجان به دست ایرانوایر رسیده است، دانشآموز دختر سرود «برای..» شروین حاجیپور را همخوانی میکنند.#مهسا_امینی #اعتصابات_سراسری pic.twitter.com/KfHkEg6JwO— ایران وایر (@iranwire) October 9, 2022
One group in the southern city of Bandar Abbas walked out of school, took off their headscarves and ran in their uniforms through the streets chanting slogans while being chased by riot police.
Students outside another school are seen in a video chanting "Women, life, freedom," as members of the security forces check the phones of students inside. Officers confiscated some phones and took some students to the police station.
Female police officers stormed a girls’ high school in the central city of Zanjan on Sunday. "We were all surprised," a student from the school told IranWire. "We were sitting in our classroom when the principal opened the door, accompanied by four police officers."
"They started checking us and took our phones. Then they asked us to remove our headscarves. It seemed they were looking for some specific girls. I do not know why but they told students with long hair to cut their hair shorter. I love my hair; I do not want to cut it short. They warned us not to participate in protests, or we would not be allowed back to school," she said.
Another student in the central city of Karaj told IranWire that police arrested several of her classmates when security forces stormed their houses overnight.
The Prosecutor-General, Mohammad Jafar Montazeri, admitted that schoolgirls have been involved in the protests. "The fact that 16-year-olds are present in these events is because of social media,” he said.
Schoolgirls apparently pose a major challenge to the political establishment in Tehran. Security and intelligence agencies are now considering how to suppress crowds of children calling for their freedom as they join the biggest demonstrations in Iran since 2019.
Saturday saw another wave of protests sweep across the country, with the capital and several other cities witnessing violent clashes between angry protesters and riot police. Security forces have responded with live ammunition and brutal violence, killing at least 185 people, including 19 children.
Despite internet restrictions designed to impede gatherings and stop images of the crackdown getting out, protesters have found new ways to get their message across and to share footage to the outside world. Global condemnation of the regime’s brutal crackdown has ensued.
"Those who beat up women and girls on the street, who abduct, arbitrarily imprison and condemn to death people who want nothing other than to live free, stand on the wrong side of history," German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock was quoted as saying on Sunday, as the German government called for an EU-wide ban on Iranian officials involved in the crackdown.