Friday , 2 June 2023

Violence Reported As Iranians Mark New Year With More Protests

Iranwire – Protesters returned to the streets across Iran overnight to call for the downfall of the Islamic Republic, as Iranians marked Nowrouz, the Persian New Year, amid more than six months of protests against the clerical establishment.

Clashes were reported between demonstrators and security forces in western Kurdish areas, where the protest movement and clampdown on dissent have been particularly intense.

Several people were reportedly injured in Mahabad, where social media footage showed armed forces firing directly at protesters.

Pellets were fired at peaceful protesters in Dehgolan. In a video shared on social media, a crowd can be seen chanting “Death to the dictator,” in reference to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, amid sounds of gunshot.

In Bukan, people set fires in the streets and chanted “woman, life, freedom,” the main slogan of the protest movement.

Demonstrators in Saqqez could be heard chanting “Khamenei the Zahhak! We’ll take you down into grave.”

The slogan was shouted by well-known civil rights activist Sepideh Qoliyan when she was released on March 15 from more than four years in prison. She was re-arrested hours later and sent back to Tehran’s Evin prison.

The slogan referred to a mythical king said to have fed serpents growing out of his shoulders with young people’s brains.

Tehran residents also took to the streets in several areas despite a heavy presence of security forces across the capital.

Social media footage shows people chanting anti-government slogans from balconies and roofs, while Khamenei’s annual speech was being broadcast on state TV after midnight. 

“There were lots of armed and masked forces at the Tajrish roundabout last night,” a resident said. “They prevented people from gathering, but I could hear some chanting from their roofs.”

Iran has been swept by popular protests demanding fundamental economic, social and political changes since the September 2022 death of a 22-year-old Kurdish woman from Saqqez in police custody. Mahsa Amini had been arrested in Tehran for allegedly wearing the mandatory headscarf improperly.

The women-led protest movement poses one of the most serious challenges to the theocracy installed by the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Security forces have killed more than 520 people and detained over 20,000 since the demonstrations began, activists say. Following biased trials, the judiciary has handed down stiff sentences, including the death penalty, to protesters.