There is no sign of an end this week to the nationwide protests which have now entered a second month. Workers in the petrochemical industry, vital to Iran’s economy, continue to strike, while students refuse to return to class and instead take to the streets chanting anti-government slogans.
On the streets
Videos circulating on social media on Tuesday showed residents of Ekbatan to the west of Tehran chanting "Death to the dictator!" and "We don't want, we don't want, a government that kills children", referring to the killing of protesting children and teenagers by the Islamic Republic's security forces. The slogan was first chanted in Ardabil at the beginning of this week in protests against the killing of a high school girl. Esra Panahi Khanqah was attacked and beaten by the security forces after she and her classmates mounted a protest.
Protesting students at Allameh Tabatabai University in Tehran prevented presidential spokesman Ali Bahodri Jahromi from giving a speech at the university. They chased him off the campus, crying "Shameless, shameless!"
There were also anti-government demonstrations in Tehran-Pars and several other neighborhoods of the capital. Videos from Ahvaz show a massive gathering in the Koi Mellat district.
The city of Saqqez in Iranian Kurdistan, the birthplace of Mehsa Amini, continues to be very tense. A source in the city told IranWire that people are gathering every night, chanting slogans against the government and celebrating life and gender equality. They are keeping security forces at bay with barricades and bonfires.
According to the sources, most of the protesters are young people and women, who chant Kurdish slogans such as "Women, life, freedom" and "Death to the Dictator!"
Strikes continue to hit industry
On Tuesday, workers in vital industries such as oil and gas, steel, and sugarcane were on strike or about to take action in three provinces of Iran.
Social media users have revealed labor strikes at the Kian tyre factory, the Ghadir steel complex in Fars province, and some phases of the oil and gas industry in Bushehr, Asaluyeh, Abadan, and Bandar Abbas.
The refinery and associated petrochemical industries at Asaluyeh are a central and vitally important source of revenue for the state. But the organizing council of oil industry contract workers warned the government last week they would go on strike if security forces continued to suppress the protests.
Oil worker strikes were pivotal in the Islamic Revolution of 1979 which led to the fall of the Shah. If the oil workers’ strike continues for an extended period, it could cause significant damage to the stability of the current regime. However, this would depend on various issues, such as who joins the strike and how the workers organize.
Prison ‘calm’ after fire, demo
The death toll following the fire and riots in Iran's notorious Evin Prison on Saturday night has risen to 13. At least four political prisoners - Meysam Dehghanzadeh, Reza Qalandari, Sepher Imam Jumeh and Lughman Aminzadeh - who were being held in Ward 8, are now being treated for their injuries in hospital. At least one of these prisoners is reportedly in a critical condition.
Thirty-two political prisoners from Ward 8 who were shot on Sunday night have been transferred to Rajai Shahr Prison after the situation calmed. Another group has also been transferred to Fashafouye Prison.
Sources confirmed to IranWire that the prisoners were severely beaten.
Iran state media broadcast footage from Evin Prison on Monday, claiming the situation was now under control. However, the footage only showed Ward 4 which was not the main area of the conflict.
According to exclusive videos obtained by IranWire, and contrary to the claims of the state media, the yard of Ward 4 was full of burnt items and tear gas canisters on the day after the shootings.
Calls for regime to be held to account
The number of people killed in the current nationwide protests has increased to at least 215 people, including 27 children. Violent attacks and crackdowns against school children have caused public outrage in many cities, the Iran Human Rights group said.
The Oslo-based organization repeated its call for an independent mechanism to be set up under the supervision of the United Nations to hold the perpetrators accountable.
The United Nations itself said the reports from Iran were worrying and called on the government to exercise restraint. "A month after demonstrations erupted across Iran, the unabated violent response by security forces against protesters, and reports of arbitrary arrests and the killing and detention of children are deeply worrying," it said in a statement.
"We repeat previously expressed concerns about patterns of ill-treatment, torture and medical neglect of prisoners. Violations of due process including keeping prisoners incommunicado in solitary confinement with no access to a lawyer are common.
"Under human rights treaties accepted by Iran, the Islamic Republic has an obligation to protect children’s right to life under any circumstances, and to respect and protect their right to freedom of expression and peaceful protest," it added.
Athlete returns to Iran
The Iranian athlete who made history after appearing without a hijab in an international competition arrived in Tehran Wednesday morning.
Elnaz Rekabi received a jubilant welcome on her return as hundreds of people gathered at Imam Khomeini international airport outside Tehran.
Videos showed crowds chanting the 33-year-old’s name and calling her a national hero.
Rekabi broke the strict dress code of the Islamic Republic when she competed in an international climbing competition in South Korea.
The hijab is mandatory for Iranian women in sports competitions, and Rekabi’s failure to wear one in Seoul was widely taken as a very public display of support for the protests in Iran which were sparked by the death of a women detained for not wearing her hijab correctly on the streets of Tehran.
She was filmed by state television at the airport in Tehran and repeated what she posted on Instagram, that appearing without her hijab was “unintentional” and her travel had been as previously planned.
“Because I was busy putting on my shoes and my gear, I forgot to put on my hijab and then I went to compete,” she said on state TV. “I returned to Iran with peace of mind although I had a lot of tension and stress. But so far, thank God, nothing has happened.”