Overview of recent events in Iran – A Diary of Protests
WANA (Nov 2022) – Protests have been ongoing in Iran for almost two months. The news of these protests has been widely covered in social media and news networks.
Although the grounds for these protests had arisen several months ago in disputes related to morality police at the national level, the incident that started one of the biggest protests in Iran in recent decades was the death of Mahsa Amini. In the following, we will review the main events during the protests in the last two months.
The first photo of Mahsa Amini, also known as Jina Amini, in a coma on a hospital bed is published. News agencies and police report that Mahsa Amini, a girl from Saqqez, a city in the Kurdish region of Iran, who was on a trip with her family in Tehran, was arrested by the morality police for wearing an inappropriate hijab. While she and other girls were taken to the police station for a briefing class, she fainted and was taken to the hospital.
The hospital’s report indicates that Mahsa Amini fell into a coma due to a heart attack and cerebral infarction. Opposition groups inside and outside Iran seek to prove that Mahsa Amini suffered this accident due to being beaten by the police.
With the announcement of Mahsa Amini’s death, some people gathered in front of the hospital and chanted against the mandatory hijab. The Information Center of Tehran Police Command, in a statement, denies any beating by the police to Mahsa Amini.
The President of Iran, Seyed Ebrahim Raisi, ordered the Ministry of Health and Forensic Medicine to investigate the cause of Mahsa Amini’s death as soon as possible. Also, the Iranian police force was asked to collect the reasons that caused this incident.
CCTV footage is released from the moment Mahsa Amini enters the police station and also the moment she faints. The release of this film caused some protesters to distance themselves from those who wanted to intensify the atmosphere.
The narrative of the Iranian government and the police about Mahsa’s death is that he probably suffered from underlying diseases that she had since childhood and due to the stress caused by detention. Mahsa Amini’s family, however, denies the existence of an underlying illness.
From the very first days, the Persian-language media opposing the Islamic Republic of Iran have changed their regular programs. They are covering the issue of Mahsa Amini’s death full-time. Other news media of the world devoted part of their programs to the news coverage of the protests in Iran from the day after the funeral of the Queen of England.
Mahsa Amini’s funeral was held in her hometown of Saqez, one of the cities of Kurdistan province. Many people participated in this event. Some women took off their headscarves and chanted against the mandatory hijab. Also, protesters chanted the slogan of women, life, and freedom, which later became the main slogan of the protests.
Social media users use the Mahsa Amini hashtag to criticize the Islamic Republic of Iran. They try to use this hashtag as much as possible to make it the most used hashtag on Twitter.
And by using sentences that begin with “for…”, they raise the problems that they believe are caused by the mismanagement of the Islamic Republic of Iran. (The song “For…” was sung by a singer named Shervin Hajipour using these tweets, and it went viral very quickly)
The President of Iran immediately calls the family of Mahsa Amini and expresses his sympathy, and tells the Amini family that “the most important issue for us, in this case, is transparency and the implementation of justice.”
In this call, Mr. Raisi states that “Your daughter is like my own daughter, and I feel that this incident happened to one of my loved ones. Consider me as your partner and sympathizer in your grief.”
While thanking the president for his immediate order to deal with the incident and calling and expressing his sympathy, Mahsa Amini’s family demanded to follow up on the issue until the various aspects of the case were clarified.
Protests start in different cities of Iran, such as Tehran, Isfahan, Sanandaj, Rasht, etc. And they happen in other streets of the city in an unconcentrated manner.
The official authorities invited the people to calm down and asked them to wait for the forensic answer regarding the cause of Mahsa Amini’s death. The judicial authorities will deal with the culprits if the forensic report shows that Mahsa Amini went into a coma due to a beating.
Many are being pressured on Instagram and Twitter to participate in the strikes. Many digital media activists devote part of their activities to covering protests.
Student protests begin in various universities. And in the following days, conflicts arise between opposing students and defenders of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The slogans in the gatherings are becoming more radical day by day. The main goal of the protests is not to oppose the mandatory hijab anymore but to change the entire regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Some slogans contain insults and sexual slogans against the regime’s armed forces and supporters, provoking the anger of a group of pro-government or neutral people. They believe that these ugly slogans, to a large extent, reveal the nature of the protesters and show their anger at the lack of people’s support and their inability to achieve the result they want, which is the overthrow of the Islamic Republic.
Some protestors seem to be looking to incite the police into more violent confrontations in the street, so that the Iranian police may lose control of the situation and resort to extreme violence against the rioters, and as a result, the protests will have more global news coverage.
Internet in Iran is cut off today, and only servers inside Iran can be accessed. Apps such as WhatsApp, the primary messenger used by Iranian people, and Instagram, the digital business platform of 9 million Iranians, are filtered.
The Iranian government declares the reason for this filtering is the rioters’ use of these social networks to promote violent behavior, such as making Molotov cocktails and using them against the police. Clashes between the people and the police forces increased, and there are reports that several policemen and protesters have been killed in the protests.
Opposition groups attack celebrity pages on social networks, pressuring them to join this movement and publish subversive posts. A number of these celebrities are accompanying these protests for different reasons. Despite these restrictions, a large volume of content on the issue of forced hijab and the death of Mahsa Amini is still produced on social networks by Iranians inside Iran with the help of VPNs or Iranians abroad.
While Ebrahim Raisi was speaking at the UN General Assembly, protesters gathered near the UN headquarters, chanting slogans against the Iranian government.
Documents related to Mahsa Amini’s medical history are presented, which show that she had an operation for a neurological condition (possibly a brain tumor) at the age of eight. Mahsa Amini’s father, who denied any underlying disease in the past, confirms the brain surgery but still believes the condition was unrelated to Amini’s death.
Many believe that Mahsa Amini’s father is getting dragged into the political environment of foreign news media that opposes the Islamic Republic of Iran, like Iran International, led by Saudi Arabia. He denies the facts regardless of the harmful results of fanning the flames of protests. This is also true for many other protestors’ families.
CNN reporter Christian Amanpour, who was supposed to interview Ebrahim Raisi in New York, says the interview was canceled because she refused Raisi’s team’s request to wear a hijab.
Groups of people in different cities gathered in support of the Islamic Republic. They chanted slogans of “Death to America” and “Death to Israel,” considering foreign enemies as the leading cause of the recent disturbances. The images show the presence of many Iranians in these marches.
The president of Iran, who personally followed the case of the late Mahsa Amini from the very first days, believes that “for some, the main issue was not Mahsa Amini… The destruction of public property has started in some areas.”
Iranian singer Shervin Hajipour, who became famous for the first time by participating in the TV talent show “Asre Jadeed”, made a song using people’s tweets that started with “For…” about the mismanagements of government.
The video of him singing the song got 40 million views on Instagram within 24 hours. This song became the top song of the protests. The singer of this song was arrested two days later and was released on bail.
During the Friday prayer in Zahedan, some people were killed and injured due to the clashes in the police station near where the Friday prayer was held. The opposition groups of the Islamic Republic tried to use this incident to intensify ethnic differences and violence to achieve their political goals.
Creating division between Sunnis and Shiites has been one of the main plans of the opponents of the government in order to overthrow the Islamic Republic.
Protests continue in different cities in Iran. Demonstrations were held by Iranians in other major cities of the world. According to local reports, around 50,000 people participated in the protest rally in Toronto, Canada.
At Sharif University, which is one of the most prestigious universities in Iran, there are clashes between the police and students, and as a result, some students are arrested.
This conflict ended with the intervention of several university professors and the presence of the Minister of Science at the university. The students and professors of this university go on strike and announce that they will not attend classes until all the arrested students are released.
Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of Iran, in his first reaction to the protests, declared foreign enemies as the leading cause of the unrest in Iran and condemned violence against the police and insults against the sanctities of the people.
The silence of the leader of Iran during this time angered many opponents of the Islamic Republic. Many believed that the silence of the leader of Iran was to humiliate domestic and foreign rioters. It is to say that we do not attach importance to these childish games of yours on the street and social networks, and we are not afraid of your riots.
In this speech, the leader of Iran says: “I say clearly that this planning is the work of the United States, the work of the usurping and fake Zionist regime and their followers; they have sat down and planned. Their workers and mercenaries and their salary earners and some traitorous Iranians who are outside the country have helped them.”
The family of a teenager named Nika Shahkarami, after ten days without hearing from her, claimed that their daughter was killed by the police after attending the protests. The Islamic Republic of Iran Radio and Television and the police also showed photos and videos of Nika Shahkarami’s body, proving that she fell from a building near her residence and that it took ten days to identify her because she did not have identification documents.
Nika Shahkarami’s family, however, rejects the police’s claims. The case of Nika Shahkarami and the cause of her death are still under investigation.
In a speech, Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi invited the people to unite and confirmed the supreme leader’s words about the interference of foreign countries in inciting people and managing riots.
There are many videos of teenage girls who take off their hijab and chant slogans against the Islamic Republic in schools. Perhaps one of the reasons for encouraging girls and women to participate in this movement is to exploit the population and capacity of Iranian women in this matter.
They know that Iran’s military forces rarely deal with women in street protests, and on the other hand, the presence of women in these protests attracts more international attention.
Channel 1 of IRIB is hacked for a few minutes, and an image of the girls allegedly killed in the protests and the slogan “Women, Life, Freedom” is broadcasted. Contrary to the opinion of many people who think that Iranian TV is in the hands of fundamentalist parties, most of the employees of this national media are from reformist parties. It is possible that this happened with the help of some people inside the IRIB organization.
Protests continue in universities and cities in Iran.
The police chief says that rioters wearing police uniforms are shooting at people to destroy the image of the police.
Clashes occur between the police and students in a girls’ high school in Ardabil. Twelve students are taken to the hospital. One of these students, named Asra Panahi, died in the hospital. As in other incidents, the protestors consider the leading cause of his death to be beating by the police, but the police deny it.
In one of his speeches, Ayatollah Khamenei compares the Islamic Republic to a strong tree that no one can uproot.
Parts of Evin prison, where most political prisoners are kept, caught on fire. Officials consider the fire to be planned. During this fire, eight prisoners were killed due to suffocation caused by fire smoke and conflicts with police forces.
The European Union imposes sanctions against individuals and organizations in Iran under the pretext of human rights concerns.
According to the opposition, around 80,000 Iranians from various European cities rallied in Berlin against the Islamic Republic of Iran in support of the Women, Life, Freedom movement. The German police estimated the number of participants in these gatherings to be around 38,000.
Demonstrations were held in other cities in support of Iran’s protests. Many experts believe this gathering was planned and implemented with the help of all security services of European countries, Mossad, the CIA, and some Arab countries. It is said that many attendees appeared at these gatherings with various threats and using multiple methods.
Thirteen people were killed, and ten were injured during the terrorist attack in Shahcheragh, Shiraz. The attacker entered the Shahcheragh shrine with a Kalashnikov and shot people. ISIS took responsibility for this attack in a statement published in the Al-Amaq news agency affiliated with this group.
In addition to condemning this terrorist attack, the authorities of the Islamic Republic blamed those who facilitated such incidents by creating disturbances in the country.
Iran considers Saudi Arabia and Israel to be involved in this bitter incident.
After the attack on pilgrims in Shahcheragh, most of the people of Iran demanded severe punishment for the terrorists. This incident increased the distance between the people and the rioters, and the number of street protesters decreased daily.
During these riots, in Ekbatan town of Tehran, some rioters stole a person named Arman Ali Verdi from the Basij supporters of the government, injured and tortured him with multiple stabs, and left him in the street. Arman Ali Verdi died of his injuries after being transferred to the hospital. The images of his tortured body angered many people over this violent behavior.
In a joint statement, the Ministry of Intelligence and the IRGC Intelligence Organization pointed out the various aspects of the involvement of the spy services of hostile countries in the formation and management of riots. In a part of the said statement, Niloufar Hamedi and Elaha Mohammadi, two journalists who published the first reports about Mahsa Amini and were arrested by the security forces in the early days of the protests, were introduced as reporters who were “trained in the courses of the American mafia regime in foreign countries.”
Most of the employees of the Persian-language media outside Iran, as well as many political activists who have left Iran and are seeking to overthrow the Iranian government, belong to the left wing or the reformists. The reformist party, especially its radical forces, is famous for seeking to westernize Iranian society.
In different cities, people held demonstrations after Friday prayers to condemn the attack on Shahcheragh and the rioters disrupting national security.
Ayatollah Khamenei emphasized in his speech to students that the protesting youths are “our children, and we have no argument with them.” “But the important thing is the original directors who came in with the plan.” And once again emphasized the role of foreign forces in directing the riots.
Joe Biden emphasized in his speech during an election campaign that the protesters in Iran would soon succeed in liberating Iran. The US State Department withdrew from this position and declared that the US does not seek to overthrow the Iranian government. An opinion that Tehran never accepts and believes that the plan to change and destroy the Iranian regime has always been and will be on the agenda of the Americans.
On the anniversary of the seizure of the US embassy in Tehran, many rallies were held in different cities. Millions of people participated in these rallies. In Tehran, Ebrahim Raisi responded to Biden’s words in his speech and emphasized, “Mr. Biden! Iran was freed from your clutches 43 years ago and is determined not to fall into your captivity again.”
The President of Iran announced in this ceremony, “Today, anyone who incites unrest, mayhem, uproar, unrest anywhere in this country, whether they know it or not, whether they want it or not, has moved in the direction of the strategy of the Americans and the enemy.”
protests in Zahedan, Khash, and Saravan lead to conflict. Some people in Sistan and Baluchistan are protesting the government’s response to the killing of worshipers in the September 30 incident in Zahedan and believe there was no proper response in dealing with the perpetrators of this incident.
Molavi Abdolhamid Ismaeelzahi, an Iranian Sunni Muslim cleric regarded as a “spiritual leader for Iran’s Sunni Muslim population,” asked the government to hold a referendum to resolve the protests. Some people in Iran believe that his words complicate the situation, and the statements of this famous Sunni cleric in Sistan and Baluchistan align with Saudi Arabia’s goals.
These people believe that Abdul Hamid, as someone whose records show that he places the most restrictions on women, cannot support the wishes of Iranian women.
Using the potential of Iran’s Sunnis in the recent riots seems to be still on the agenda of the opponents of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Two hundred twenty-seven parliamentarians, mainly from fundamentalist groups, demanded severe punishment for the rioters.
Moinuddin Saeedi, one of the representatives of Sistan and Baluchistan province in the parliament, criticized the harsh treatment of the police against the people in this province and demanded the sympathy of the officials with the suffering people of this province and punishment of the perpetrators of the events of September 30 in Zahedan. He also condemned the activities of separatist groups and emphasized that the people of Sistan and Baluchistan do not support these activities.
The next days
Street protests in Tehran have decreased significantly.
Videos of turbans being tossed off the heads of clerics in the streets are circulated on social networks. There are different reactions to these films. This act is considered offensive by a big part of society who believe Muslim clerics have respect and a place beyond politics.
Iran’s military and security forces believe that they have tried not to react harshly to the street protesters. They ordered the military forces not to carry military weapons dealing with riots. Paintballs and batons have been the main equipment used by the police to deal with the recent riots.
The government believes most Iranian people want to deal with violent rioters and forgive ordinary protesters. Iran’s security institutions arrested many rioters in recent days and released many of them temporarily and on bail.
Experts believe the number of protesters was much smaller than the foreign media claimed. They think the riots were greatly exaggerated in the foreign media for specific purposes, while this was not an accurate picture of Iran.
The exact statistics of the number of those arrested and killed in recent events have not been officially announced by the Iranian government. But some people have inevitably been killed on both sides of this conflict.
Tehran has threatened to take revenge on the actors behind the recent riots in Iran and will carry out this threat. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps commander, General Salami, said, “The enemies are on alert and are sending messages through different countries that we should not respond (i.e., do not take revenge).” General Salami stated, “They want a non-independent and religionless Iran.” Enemies should know that the Iranian nation is alive, and they make their destiny..”
15- 17 November
Opposition groups outside Iran are still trying to keep protests alive inside Iran. For this purpose, they have called to close markets and shops on November 15-17 as a sign of protest. In these three days, the rioters faced a limited company. Marketers have not welcomed this call. It has been observed that the rioters often threatened the shopkeepers to close their shops.
Protesters have increased violence these days and have entered the military phase.
Rioters have attacked police and ordinary people with guns in Izeh city of Khuzestan province of Iran. Rioters killed some Basiji forces with knives and guns in Isfahan and Mashhad.
The Iranian side claims that these days, Arab, Hebrew, and Western intelligence services are trying with all their efforts to deliver weapons to the protesters inside Iran.
Footage shows armed rioters in the Iranian city of Izeh firing guns and terrorizing the town – UGC.
It seems that the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei, is still against the harsh treatment of rioters. He underestimates the number of troublemakers and does not want to play in the field of opponents of the Islamic Republic of Iran by killing protesters.
Another deadly terrorist attack in Iran – Izeh City – Khuzestan province
We have to wait and see the political and security arrangement of the Iranian side and the opponents of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the coming days.
Written by: F & R Ganji