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What is Happening in Iran?

Despite a warning from the judiciary, Iranians have protested Mahsa Amini’s death on the streets for the tenth night in a row.

Officially, at least 41 people mostly protestors but some security personnel have perished since the turmoil started, although sources claim the number is much higher.

The women-led protests have spread to numerous cities, according to the Norway-based organization Iran Human Rights (IHR), which reported on Sunday evening that at least 57 people had died. However, the group noted that ongoing internet outages were making it harder and harder to confirm the number of fatalities.

According to the head prosecutor of Mazandaran, a province in northern Iran, during the most recent 10 days of protests, at least 450 people have been detained.

Nationwide demonstrations have been called off in response to the death of Mahsa Amini, 22, while she was being held by the police. They have been faced with brutal repression and internet shutdowns.

Human rights organizations claim that there have been more than 75 deaths in the disturbance, however, the official death toll is 41.

Since the start of the protests, at least four children have been killed by state troops, according to Amnesty International. The “deliberate and unlawful shooting of live ammunition towards protestors” was described as a “harrowing pattern”.

“The mounting death toll is a worrying indicator of just how vicious the authorities’ assault on human life has been under the shadows of the internet shutdown,” said Heba Morayef, director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa division.

More than 1,200 individuals have been detained, according to Iranian officials, as the dragnet surrounding the protests grew. In Tehran and other cities, protesters took to the streets once more on Monday night, according to witnesses who spoke to Agence France-Presse.

Images produced by the Oslo-based organization Iran Human Rights depicted demonstrators in front of the sound of tear gas canisters being fired by police officers in a video apparently shot in the city of Tabriz.

Videos of people reportedly slain during the protests have been circulating on social media despite efforts to prevent Iranians from accessing applications like Instagram and WhatsApp.

Parents of young people slain during the protests have voiced their dissatisfaction with the international community’s attitude. 

On Sunday night, protests were captured on video in Tehran and other cities like Yazd, Isfahan, and Bushehr.

Despite a significant military presence, a demonstration was conducted in Amini’s hometown of Saqqez, according to the Kurdish rights organization Hengaw, while a 10-year-old girl was reportedly brought to the hospital after being shot in the northern town of Bukan.

According to other accounts, students at three universities in Tehran were skipping classes.

Graffiti writing has become more common among protestors in recent days, and many others who don’t go outside to demonstrate show their support by shouting slogans from rooftops and their windows at night or honking their cars. This puts a strain on the security personnel on hand, forcing them to overlook some protest signs.

Since the unrest started after 22-year-old Amini’s death in police detention on September 16, hundreds of protesters, reformist activists, and journalists have been detained during the primarily nighttime demonstrations. The morality police apprehended Amini for improperly donning a hijab.

Security forces have fired live rounds at protestors at Iran’s largest demonstrations in almost three years, while demonstrators have thrown rocks, set fire to police cars, and burnt government buildings.

Some female protestors have chopped off their hair, removed their hijabs during the rallies, and screamed “zan, zendegi, azadi” or “woman, life, freedom” while dancing next to massive bonfires.

In addition to other places, demonstrations in support of Iranian women have taken place in Athens, Berlin, Brussels, Istanbul, Madrid, New York, and Paris.

Asghar Farhadi, an Iranian Oscar-winning filmmaker, urged artists and activists to join the demonstrators in their quest for “simple yet essential rights that the regime has denied people for years.”

How These Protests Are Different From Previous Protests in Iran? 

Although there are some similarities between today’s protests and prior anti-government uprisings, experts argue that there are certain key differences that make them more serious.

Economic issues were the main driver of earlier waves of protests, which occurred in 2019, 2021, and more recently this year. This was one of the key reasons why protests did not spread to other spheres of society.

It has become simpler to create solidarity among various social groups because this movement is different as what people are truly seeking is a more significant form of political change.

Instagram and WhatsApp, two of the most popular communication apps that Iran typically permits, according to internet monitoring company NetBlocks, have been blocked. WhatsApp claimed it was attempting to maintain connectivity for Iranian users.

Millions of Iranians use the two Meta-owned applications, which have grown in popularity as a result of the government’s recent blocking of other websites like Facebook and Twitter. Additionally, TikTok, YouTube, and Telegram have all occasionally been shut down.

According to NetBlocks, the internet was partially restored on Thursday night, but on Friday it experienced another “nation-scale disruption of connectivity.”

Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri tweeted that “people in Iran are being shut off from online apps and services,” adding that “we hope their right to be online will be reinstated swiftly.”

Others, however, asserted that Meta was involved in the user disconnections.

The main mobile phone operator in Iran being offline is largely to blame for the internet disruptions. There are more than 60 million customers of Iran Mobile Communications Company.

The stoppage was attributed to security concerns by the communications minister earlier in the week.

Younger Iranians with internet access who have never experienced Iran before the Islamic Republic are also gathering at today’s protests.

After more than a week of anti-government protests, Iran’s president has pledged to retaliate against the demonstrators.

Conclustion

The protests, which have now expanded to the majority of Iran’s 31 provinces, will be “handled forcefully,” according to President Ebrahim Raisi.

Videos that have been making the rounds on social media over the past several days have documented violent upheaval in dozens of towns around the nation, with some showing security personnel firing what seemed to be a live fire on protestors in the northwest cities of Piranshahr, Mahabad, and Urmia.

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