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Provinces

Mahsa Amini: Protests Spread from Saqqez to Sanandaj

September 17, 2022
OstanWire
2 min read
Security forces have been deployed to the streets of Saqqez after the funeral of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini
Security forces have been deployed to the streets of Saqqez after the funeral of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini
Mahsa's brother weeps over his sister's body
Mahsa's brother weeps over his sister's body
Mahsa's parents, pictured moments after burying their daughter
Mahsa's parents, pictured moments after burying their daughter

Thousands of people in Saqqez gathered in front of the governor’s office on Saturday to protest after the burial of Mahsa Amini.

The 22-year-old died on Friday three days after her arrest by the so-called “morality police” in Tehran. Two hours after being taken away for “re-education” on Tuesday, she was rushed to hospital and declared braindead by doctors.

Videos shared with IranWire show furious residents tearing down the picture of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in the city’s Republic Street.

The protests in Mahsa’s home city were overseen by security forces. Locals reported an internet slowdown and the disconnection of mobile internet access in some areas.

Milad Alavi, a reporter for Sharq newspaper, wrote on Twitter that some officers had fired live ammunition in a bid to disperse the protesters in front of the office. A  number of protesters were injured, he said, and at least four were hospitalized.

Hours later, the Kurdish human rights organization Hengaw reported the total known number of injured was 13, including three women and two teenagers. Officers are said to have thrown stones as well as deploying tear gas and bullets.

In one of the published videos, the crowd sings a Kurdish song for Mehsa. Part of it runs: “Don’t leave me alone here / I’ll freeze the burning winter / The dust will cover me / The darkness of the night will take my moonlight with it."

Mahsa’s body was buried in the city’s Aichi cemetery. One video showed her mother pronouncing her daughter a "martyr" at her graveside. As in Tehran, some in the crowd also chanted “Death to the dictator”.

Protests also broke out in Sanandaj, the capital of Kurdistan province, in the afternoon. Large, chanting  crowds were seen forming in the city's Ighbal Square. They were met with tear gas and scattered arrests by security forces. The internet is also understood to have been completely cut off in Sanandaj earlier today.

Mahsa’s family have told the media that they were made to convey the body there early, "without proper investigations being done by forensic medicine".

On the ostensible orders of President Ebrahim Raisi and the Tehran Public Prosecutor, a special commission has been set up to look into the circumstances of Mahsa’s death.

The Forensic Medicine Organization has pre-emptively said in a statement shared by the judiciary-affiliated Mizan News Agency that "all criteria that should have been met in the physical examination were met, and all necessary samples of tissues and internal organs have been removed”.

On Friday night police and security forces lined the streets of Kasra Hospital where Mahsa died. Scattered protests broke out close by, with angry crowds calling for “Death to Khamenei” and comparing the Iranian regime to ISIS.

Reactions to Mahsa’s death from high-profile public figures in Iran continued on Saturday. The lawyer Mohammed Oliaiefard told IranWire that in his view, it was “state-sponsored murder”.

The Sanandaj Teachers' Trade Union (Clatterzan) published a statement condemning the claim of the morality police that it was offering “guidance" to citizens: “The patrol insists women and girls weren’t arrested but are taken to the police headquarters for explanation. This change of wording means nothing.”

The same statement went on to ask Iran’s police, military, security and judicial institutions: "What problem did Mehsa Amini's hair cause the country, and what pain did killing her cure? If women’s hair being exposed is so dangerous for humanity, why are the children of [Iran’s] religious foreign children abroad so proud of their nudity, and why do their fathers still remain in power?”

Two senior Qom-based clerics critical of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Moghaghegh Damad and Ayatollah Bayat-Zanjani, have sharply condemned Mahsa’s arrest.

On Friday, Ayatollah Mustafa Mohaghegh Damad stressed: "Establishing a ‘Headquarters for the Promotion of Good and Prohibition of Vice’ was a clear deviation from Islamic teachings. It is a way to deprive citizens of their legal and religious freedoms."

Bayat-Zanjani said the pattern of behavior leading to such arrests was “unreasonable, illegitimate and illegal”. None of the country’s laws, he pointed out, assigned the responsibility of educating people to the police.

The Free Union of Iranian Workers also condemned the tragedy of Mehsa Amini's death in a statement that referred back to the so-called Islamic Republic’s 42 years of existence: “A forced, imposed rule on the people of Iran, whose only means of survival is pillaging.” In Iran, it said, femicide was no accident or a morality patrol-themed issue, but “a key element of regime survival”.

It added: "We Iranian workers are and will be on the front line of the struggle for freedom alongside the women who are fed up with this inhumane filth."

The Iranian Teachers’ Union issued a statement saying the police’s claim that Mahsa Amini had died of a heart attack was “unbelievable”. It went on; “Mahsa is one of thousands of female victims in Iran. Serial attacks on women in the street have deprived them, their families and society of peace."

With regard to Mahsa and other women having been forced by fanatics to attend a “re-education” class over their choice of clothing, the Teachers’ Union added: “Didn’t Mahsa attend at least 12 years of school, and classes full of ideological education? What results did you attain for you to still be seeking hours-long training for women and girls?

"Our society does not tolerate violence against women, so we expect decisive action, arrests of morality patrol members and an end to this misogynist policy as soon as possible.”

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