ARTICLE

Iran’s Violent Crackdown on Anti-Government Protests

By Himpunan Mahasiswa Hubungan Internasional (HIMHI) • October 31, 2022
Source: BangkokPost

Chronology of Protests in Iran

It was the 13th of September 2022 when Mahsa Amini got arrested in Tehran by Iran’s infamous morality police. They took her to Vozara Detention Center, where she received training on hijab rules. Mahsa Amini was wearing her hijab loosely at the time she was arrested. According to Iran’s regulation, all women above the age of puberty must fully cover their hair with hijab and wear modest clothing in public (Al Jazeera, 2022). Three days after her custody, she died in a hospital. It was predicted that Mahsa had been abused by law enforcement. United Nations experts also mentioned that some reports say Amini died because of violence by the authorities (OHCHR, 2022). Authorities confirmed Amini died from a heart attack. However, her family said otherwise; Amini had no health issues. Mass protests finally began after Amini’s death. 

Human Rights Violations

Mahsa Amini’s death lead to mass protest in Iran ( Source: cnbc.com)

 

In response to the protest, multiple reports of police brutality also increased. In October 2022, a group of police officer was caught sexually assaulting a woman during a protest at Tehran’s Argentina Square. The video was circulating on social media as the video showed a police officer touching the woman inappropriately and the other policemen pulling her hair. While Tehran’s police already stated that they are going to investigate the case, they also point out that the enemies are trying to provoke public anxiety and violence (Ghorbani, 2022). Since September 2022, hundreds of protesters, human rights activists, and journalists have been detained by Iranian security agencies. The use of excessive and lethal weapons by the Iranian security force also sparks outrage from the international community. Human Rights Watch has verified around 16 videos throughout September that depicts police use of excessive weapons against the protesters. The death toll at the end of September 2022 was estimated to reach 60 people and 10 security forces members (Human Rights Watch, 2022).

Society’s reaction toward the violence

(Source: CNN.com)

 

The incident of the arrest of Mahsa Amini by the “Moral Police”, led to protests in various regions of Iran, especially in Kerman, Iran and throughout the Kurdish region. A number of women protested by cutting their hair which was not covered by a hijab. In addition, the women protesting fought with local police and burned hijabs. The action of cutting hair was not only carried out by the demonstrators, but several actresses in France also took part in the action. For example, Marion Cotillard and Juliette Binoche filmed themselves cutting their hair with the aim of providing support to protesters in Iran (CNN, 2022; VOA Indonesia, 2022). Iranians also criticized security forces during demonstrations. This was caused by the brutal attitude of the security forces towards demonstrators, one of whom was Abolfazl Adinezadeh, a 17-year-old boy who was shot dead at close range (Strzyżyńska, 2022). 

Iran’s government response

Amini’s death gave rise to an anti-government protest movement in Iran. Regarding this, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on Wednesday said that the death of a young woman in custody had saddened everyone in the Islamic Republic but warned that chaos would not be accepted amid spreading violent protests over Mahsa Amini’s death (Reuters, 2022). In this statement, President Ebrahim wanted to emphasize that the demonstrations caused by Amini’s death must be dealt with firmly because it is believed that it will disrupt public order. This firm response has led to an increase in the number of deaths and violence by the security forces using tear gas, batons, and, in some cases, there is a use of live bullets by the security forces.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks during Friday prayers in Tehran. [REUTERS / Morteza Nikoubazl / Photo File]

The Iranian government has made attempts to quell the unrest and place the responsibility for the demonstrations heavily on external parties. The Iranian authorities promised to investigate Ms. Amini’s death in response to claims that she was tortured by the police. In an effort to show support for the dictatorship, it has also organized counterprotests. The government has additionally accused foreign powers of engineering the demonstrations, they alleged that the US and Israel must be the ones to blame for these cases.

 

Conclusion 

The mass protests caused by the death of Mahsa Amini is considered to be Iran’s largest protest since the 1979 revolution with people uniting and having similar demands towards the regime. The government of Iran denied the death was caused by police brutality, but by “underlying diseases”. The protests pose the regime’s major challenge in recent years. The death of Mahsa Amini also led to distrust among the supporters of the Islamic Republic.

 

Author: Tim Politics IRB News

Editor: Dustin Rashidi Hasan, Hafsyah Azzahra, Jennifer Clara Aprilia & Viranty Yulia Putri

 

References

Al Jazeera. (2022, September 23). Mahsa Amini’s death sparks anger towards Iran’s morality police. Explainer News | Al Jazeera. Retrieved October 20, 2022, from https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/9/23/iran-morality-police-root-cause-iranian-protest-anger-explainer 

Askew, J. (2022, October 21). ‘Threshold of revolution’: Why Iran’s protests are different this time. euronews. https://www.euronews.com/2022/10/14/iran-protests-what-caused-them-who-is-generation-z-will-the-unrest-lead-to-revolution

Ghorbani, P. (2022, October 14). Iran protests: Fury over police sex assault video. BBC News. Retrieved October 21, 2022, from https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-63254385

Iran: Security forces fire on, kill protesters. Human Rights Watch. (2022, October 18). Retrieved October 21, 2022, from https://www.hrw.org/news/2022/10/05/iran-security-forces-fire-kill-protesters

Kohli, A. (2022, September 24). What to Know About the Iranian Protests Over Mahsa Amini’s Death. Time. Retrieved October 20, 2022, from https://time.com/6216513/mahsa-amini-iran-protests-police/ 

OHCHR. (2022, September 22). Iran: UN experts demand accountability for death of Mahsa Amini, call for end to violence against women. Retrieved October 20, 2022, from https://www.ohchr.org/en/press-releases/2022/09/iran-un-experts-demand-accountability-death-mahsa-amini-call-end-violence 

Person, & Hafezi, P. (2022, September 27). Iran security forces clash with protesters over Amini’s death. Reuters. Retrieved October 22, 2022, from https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/iran-security-forces-clash-with-protesters-over-aminis-death-2022-09-27/

Person, & Hafezi, P. (2022, September 28). Iran president says Amini’s death is ‘tragic incident’, but ‘chaos’ unacceptable. Reuters. Retrieved October 22, 2022, from https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/irans-nationwide-protests-pile-pressure-state-2022-09-28/

Protests in Iran: Death of mahsa amini – house of lords library. (n.d.). Retrieved October 22, 2022, from https://lordslibrary.parliament.uk/protests-in-iran-death-of-mahsa-amini/ 

Turak, N. (2022, September 23). Mass protests in Iran, sparked by woman’s death in police custody, are the regime’s biggest challenge in years. CNBC. https://www.cnbc.com/2022/09/23/mass-protests-in-iran-is-the-regimes-biggest-challenge-in-years.html