Monday , 25 September 2023

Timeline of Iran’s Mahsa Amini protests and crackdown, one year on

Al-Monitor – Iranians are marking the one-year anniversary of the death in custody of Mahsa Amini and the ensuing anti-regime protests amid a menacing atmosphere, as continued crackdown by Iranian authorities on any sign of dissent.

Iranian authorities have responded with a harsh crackdown to the peaceful protests that erupted last September in response to Amini’s death, killing more than 500 people and arresting thousands of others, according to the Human Rights in Iran News Agency. Meanwhile, hundreds have been executed despite pleas from rights organizations and activists who accuse authorities of conducting unfair trials and extracting confessions under torture. The Oslo-based group Iran Human Rights has tracked and confirmedthe execution of at least 697 people between September 2022 and September 2023.

Daily Statistics on Iran Protests#Iran#IranProtests— HRANA English (@HRANA_English) February 20, 2023

The following is a timeline of key events since Amini’s arrest and death in custody of Iran’s morality police for improperly wearing the hijab. 

Sept. 13, 2022: Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman from Saqqez in Iran’s Kurdistan region, is visiting Tehran with her brother when the morality police arrest her for allegedly wearing her headscarf too loosely, in violation of the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code for women.

Sept. 16, 2022: Amini dies in a hospital in Tehran after falling into a coma while in detention. Authorities claim she suffered a heart attack, but eyewitnesses say Amini was beaten on her head with a baton, after which she collapsed and was transferred to the hospital. President Ebrahim Raisi orders an investigation into the incident.

Sept. 17, 2022: Protests take place during Amini’s funeral in her hometown of Saqqez and quickly spread to all 31 provinces, with demonstrators chanting “Woman, life, freedom” and “Death to the dictator” (referring to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei), among other slogans. Security forces immediately deploy and unleash excessive and lethal force against protesters.

Sept. 21, 2022: As protests continue to spread, and with demonstrators demanding the fall of the Islamic regime and grants of more freedoms, authorities block access to such platforms as Instagram and WhatsApp, with internet disruptions reported across the country.

Sept. 28, 2022: The Iranian Hengaw Organization for Human Rights reports that 18 people had been killed and 898 others injured since the protests began.

Sept. 30, 2022: Security forces kill at least 82 people in the city of Zahedan after Friday prayers.

Oct. 2, 2022: Security forces clash with students protesting at the elite Sharif University in Tehran, with eyewitnesses recounting the use of tear gas and live bullets. The violent crackdown prompts a wave of condemnation by academics inside and outside Iran.

Oct. 3, 2022: Khamenei, in his first comments since the protests began, accuses the United States and Israel of fueling the unrest, which he describes as “riots.”

Oct. 26, 2022: Thousands of people gather at the cemetery in Saqqez where Amini is buried to commemorate the 40th day since her death. Security forces fire tear gas and live ammunition to disperse the crowds, injuring several people.

Nov. 21, 2022: The semiofficial Tasnim News Agency reports the arrests of two prominent actresses, Hengameh Ghaziani and Katayoun Riahi, who had expressed their support for the protest movement by removing their headscarves in public.

Nov. 23, 2022: Security forces arrest Farideh Moradkhani, a niece of Khamenei and a well-known rights activist opposed to the government, after she posts a video in which she calls Iranian authorities a “murderous and child-killing regime.”

Nov. 24, 2022: The United Nations Human Rights Council establishes an international fact-finding mission to investigate alleged human rights violations related to the deadly crackdown against protesters.

Nov. 30, 2022: At least 18 girls at Noor Yazdanshahr Conservatory for girls in the city of Qom are hospitalized after a suspected poison attack. Since then, 290 schools across the country reported similar attacks, according to the Associated Press. Some believe religious extremists opposed to girls’ education to be behind these attacks, further fueling the debate over the treatment of women in Iran.

Dec. 4, 2022: The Iranian prosecutor general announces the suspension of the morality police.

Dec. 8, 2022: The first known execution related to the anti-regime protests is carried out: Mohsen Shekari is hanged in prison after he was convicted for blocking a street in Tehran and wounding a security officer during protests in the capital in September. Amnesty International condemned the execution, accusing authorities of conducting “a grossly unfair sham trial.”

Dec. 12, 2022: Majidreza Rahnavard is hanged in public from a construction crane in the city of Mashhad, in the second known execution linked to the protests. He was accused of fatally stabbing two security officers during protests in Mashhad.

Jan. 7, 2023: Mohammad Mehdi Karami and Seyyed Mohammad Hosseini are hanged on charges of killing a member of the paramilitary Basij forces during protests in the city of Karaj, near Tehran.

Feb. 11, 2023: Iran marks the 44th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution. President Raisi delivers a televised speech, in which he accuses “Iran’s enemies” of orchestrating the protests to block Iran’s accomplishments. His speech is briefly interrupted after a group calling themselves Edalate Ali (Ali’s Justice) hack a web-based TV service affiliated with Iranian state TV and post “Death to Khamenei” on the site.

March 13, 2023: Khamenei pardons 22,628 people who were arrested in connection with the protests.

April 8, 2023: Iranian police announce the installation of cameras in public places to track and identify unveiled women, a measure widely denounced by rights activists.

May 19, 2023: Majid Kazemi, Saleh Mirhashemi and Saeed Yaghoubi are executed at a prison in the central city of Isfahan over their alleged role in the killing of three security forces during protests in Isfahan in November 2022.

June 12, 2023: Students at Tehran University of Art begin a sit-in to protest a new rule forcing female students to wear the “maqnaa,” the black headscarf that covers the head, neck and shoulders.

July 2, 2023: An Iranian court sentences prominent activist and journalist Golrokh Iraee to five years in prison on charges of organizing illegal gatherings and violating national security. Iraee had been detained in October at her home in Tehran.

July 16, 2023: The government announces the return of morality police patrols nationwide to enforce the Islamic dress code.

Aug. 19, 2023: Human Rights Watch reports the detention of activists ahead of the one-year anniversary of Amini’s death. “The arbitrary arrests of a dozen activists are aimed at suppressing popular discontent with ongoing impunity and rights violations,” says Tara Sepehri Far, senior Iran researcher at Human Rights Watch.

Aug. 28, 2023: Authorities arrest the popular Iranian singer Mehdi Yarrahi after he releases a song encouraging women to remove their headscarves.

Aug. 31, 2023: Javad Rouhi, a protester arrested and sentenced to death on charges of destroying public property and inciting strife, dies under mysterious circumstances while in the Nowshahr prison, in Mazadanran province. Human Rights Watch says Rouhi was “horrifically tortured” following his arrest and conviction in an “unfair trial.”

Sept. 5, 2023: Security forces arrest Safa Aeli, Amini’s uncle, at his home in Saqqez and take him to Tehran. The reason for his arrest is unknown.

Sept. 11, 2023: Military vehicles are spotted heading toward Saqqez, just days before the anniversary of Amini’s death, according to the Hengaw organization.

According to reports received by Hengaw, a significant number of armed forces from the IRI, along with heavy artillery and ammunition, are being transported towards Saqqez on Monday, September 11, 2023.

Given the substantial presence of armed soldiers and ammunition in this…— Hengaw Organization for Human Rights (@Hengaw_English) September 11, 2023

Sept. 12, 2023: Raisi, in his first interview with a Western outlet since Amini’s death, tells NBC’s Lester Holt that those who seek to destabilize his country will pay a heavy price, referring to protesters. He defends his government’s response to the demonstrations, claiming they were “supported” by Iran’s enemies. He adds that the death of Amini was “an incident” that could happen anywhere in the world.

Sept. 13, 2023: Hamed Bagheri, from the Kermanshah province in Iranian Kurdistan, dies after being shot four times by security officers in the city of Karaj, near Tehran, while chanting anti-government slogans and encouraging people to take part in protests to mark the anniversary of Amini’s death, according to the Hengaw Organization for Human Rights