Woman, Life, Freedom: A summary on the feminist revolution in Iran

Mahsa Amini was a 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman who was beaten to death by morality police in Tehran three weeks ago.

17th October 2022
Image Credit: Pixabay
Mahsa Amini was a 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman who was beaten to death by morality police in Tehran three weeks ago. 

Her hijab had been deemed to have been worn incorrectly, in breach of the strict Islamic dress code that has been imposed on Iran’s women for the past 40 years. This has sparked outrage in Iran and amongst the international community, with demonstrations calling for the dissolution of the Islamic Republic taking place in over 150 cities across the world. Such protests have not only highlighted the heinousness of the attack but have also targeted the cover-up attempts by Iranian authority representatives who, despite irrefutable evidence, have continued to claim Amini’s death was the result of a sudden and unrelated fall of ill-health.

Iran’s women have reached overwhelming indignation. Gender violence remains rife and the state continually demands obedience to authoritarian laws that deny its people basic human rights. What began as a feminist movement over Amini’s killing and the mandatory hijab law has quickly began to embody all suffering amongst the Iranian people.

Most Iranians today were born after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Many have never resonated with the regime’s conservative, Islamic theocracy. Despite continual widespread social unrest and international sanctions, dictatorial rule has survived through ruthless force; paranoid and obsessive over regional dominance of the Shi’ite faith in favour of the wellbeing of its own people. It is a travesty that such disregard for human rights has survived for so long behind the guise of legitimate rule. In unified response, protestors have taken to the streets across all 31 of Iran’s provinces, putting their own lives and safety at risk against the Basij, a volunteer militia and faction of the IRGC.

Although difficult to verify, at least 185 protest-related civilian deaths have been estimated.

Numerous videos have leaked from Iran, showing activists as young as schoolgirls removing their hijabs and chanting anti-regime slogans, with few risking their identities being exposed on camera out of fear of being targeted by authorities. Globally, protests outside Iranian embassies and countless posts online demand the end of the brutality and corruption of a regime that has trashed Iran’s reputation and people.
State officials have desperately tried to curb protests with denial and cover-ups. Country-wide internet ‘blackouts’ seek to prevent organised insurgence and footage of state brutality being leaked outside Iran. These responses have, on many occasion, featured the use of lethal force on protestors, which often include children.

This is a pivotal moment for Iran. Amnesty International reported the killing of at least 66 protestors and bystanders of an oppressed ethnic minority group in the Baluchistan region, a massacre since referred to as ‘Bloody Friday.’ These protests had been staged in response to the reported rape of a 15-year-old girl by a police commander. Ten days prior, Nika Shakarami, a 16- year old girl, was murdered after participating in a protest against the mandatory hijab. She was reportedly beaten to death before her body was snatched from a morgue and buried in secret by security forces.

Her family were not notified of her death until 9 days later.

Most recently, students at Sharif University, one of Iran’s most prestigious institutions, staged walk-outs and protests on campus, before being reportedly entrapped in the facility by security forces, beaten and shot at.
Although difficult to verify, at least 185 protest-related civilian deaths have been estimated. This number will inevitably grow as protests gain more momentum, and authorities deliver their promised harsh and imminent crackdown on further dissent.

Social media, and sharing videos of similar crimes taking place, can be a mobilising force. With this comes the hope that international attention will eventually match the scale of these crimes, and the movement will be given the attention that it is due. Internet crackdowns and blatant misinformation from state media leaves a narrow outlet for international attention.
Through this statement, we urge everyone to take notice on this issue as Iranians face rising violence as the movement continues. Stand in solidarity by sharing on social media to help platform the hushed voice of a generation amidst ongoing slaughter.

For any students affected by the protests, student wellbeing services are available at wellbeingconsultancy@newcastle.ac.uk.

.زن. زندگی. آزادی
Woman. Life. Freedom.

Due to the dangers of speaking out against the Iranian Islamic Regime, the writers of this article have requested to remain anonymous. The Courier and the 2022/23 Sabbatical Officer Team, stand in solidarity with all who are fighting for justice and freedom against the government clear violation of their human rights.

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