Protests erupted across Iran following the brutal death of Mahsa Amini in police custody, and they remain strong nearly three weeks after they began.
The 22-year-old woman died after being detained and tortured by the Gasht-e Ershad (Guidance Patrols), the nations’ so-called ‘morality police’, for allegedly wearing her hijab incorrectly.
The death of one woman sparked the largest opposition movement in the streets of Iran against Gasht-e Ershad. Iranian women have been fighting for fundamental freedoms for decades, hundreds have died, and thousands have been unjustly killed. Yet, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei classed Mahsa Amini’s death as a mere “bitter incident”. Following centuries of consistent repression and opposition movements, the government in Iran remains out of touch with a population that desires more and deserves better.
Since the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran, women have been legally required to wear modest “Islamic” clothing. Today, in a powerful act of defiance, the mandatory hijabs are being set to flames whilst posters of the country’s Supreme Leader are being destroyed and the chant; “Death to the dictator.” is heard in the crowds. Iranian protesters have faced a violent crackdown resulting from the protests, the Iranian Human Rights Organization (IHRO) announced that at least 154 people have died, some of which were children protesting peacefully alongside their parents as the smell of tear gas hovered in the air.
Members of the European Union call for sanctions for the “widespread, deliberate, and excessive” use of force by Iranian security forces against protesters, in a statement to the European Parliament, Josep Borrell, the head of the EU’s foreign policy, said that the organization would “continue to follow what’s happening in the country and to use every opportunity to raise our position and our concerns on human rights in Iran.”. Many major cities, including London, Melbourne, New York, Paris, Rome, Seoul, Stockholm, Sydney, and Zurich, saw demonstrations under the banner “Women, life, liberty.”, what began in a city is now spreading across all continents.
The worldwide demonstrations of defiance prove that despite the prolonged coercion within the government, the Iranians are losing their fear. It is difficult to say whether this movement will lead to substantial change. The campaign against repressive governments in Iran, similarly to many other nations is persistent and yet, many similar movements have been successfully silenced by the government’s tyrannic measures. However, the longevity and metamorphosis of the leaderless protests pose a new threat to Tehran, such confrontations were rare and infrequent in previous years. Crucial moments thus lie ahead.