On Monday, September 19, a huge crowd of Tehran residents gathered between Keshavarz Boulevard, Hejab Avenue and Valiasr Square to protest the death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini.
Thousands of people remained on the streets until late at night, chanting for their rights and an end to dictatorship in Iran.
Women burned their headscarves in the street to cheers, in a symbolic gesture against the Islamic Republic’s mandatory hijab policy that appears to have claimed Mahsa’s life.
It came despite brutal attacks on civilians from armed security forces throughout the day. A number of protesters were arrested, others savagely beaten and shot at with birdshot and what appeared to be live ammunition.
A group of demonstrators in Keshavarz Blvd, #Tehran overturned a police car. Several women reportedly arrested this afternoon including the documentary filmmaker Mahnaz Mohammadi. Latest: https://t.co/m6FNUIkxoT #مهساامینی #مهسا_امینی pic.twitter.com/pOf1u5Bjmm— IranWire (@IranWireEnglish) September 19, 2022
One eyewitness told IranWire that hospitals in the area were refusing to treat people who had been injured during the protests, though they said the demonstrators far outnumbered the police and stateforces.
“They’d closed the doors to all the hospitals between Hejab Avenue and Keshavarz Boulevard,” they said. “I took an injured person to one of them and was told ‘You’d be closing the place too if two plainclothes men carrying guns came in and told you too.’”
۱۵۰۰ نفر کشتهی آبان ما. تهران ۲۸ شهریور تهران.— +۱۵۰۰تصویر (@1500tasvir) September 19, 2022
پ.ن: شما خودتونم میدونید با آبان نابود شدید و این آبان ادامه داره. pic.twitter.com/frhnrBocJn
One citizen who helped a family out of the area in his car told IranWire: “The father’s head was injured and bleeding, and the young girl’s ear was swollen from a baton strike. I got them to their home, then I took my car to the carwash.”
Teargas was also hurled at protesters by security forces and water cannons were deployed in some areas.
One witness, who said he had personally seen at least four people injured and tens arrested, said citizens in Tehran had pushed back: “Plainclothes officers were filming people with their mobile phones. Some people then attacked them, and took away their phones.”
Some of the videos also showed people rushing to police cars and overturning them. Among the chants heard were “Unity, Unity, from Kurdistan to Tehran” and “Justice, liberty, no to forced hijab”.
Among the demonstrators were both conservatively-dressed women in full chador and women who had spurned the headscarf and heavier clothes.
One woman previously detained by the so-called “morality patrol” told IranWire some of them, too, wear heavy makeup and fake nails: “I asked one of the young recruits why she’d joined. She said ‘I was unemployed, and our salaries here are lower than minimum wage’.”