Protest strikes in Iran reported as solidarity rallies held around the world | Iran

Shopkeepers and factory workers reportedly went on strike in Iran on Saturday as nationwide protests led by women sparked by the death in custody of Mahsa Amini entered a sixth week and solidarity rallies took place around the world.

The death of Amini, 22, after he was arrested for allegedly breaking Iran’s strict dress code for women, has fueled the largest protests seen in the Islamic Republic in years.

The young women led the charge, removing their headscarves, chanting anti-government slogans and clashing with security forces, despite a crackdown that human rights groups say has killed at least 122 people.

Activists called for further protests as Iran’s work week began on Saturday, but it was difficult to gauge turnout due to internet access restrictions.

“Saturday… We will be together for freedom,” activist Atena Daemi said in a Twitter post that carried an image of a bareheaded woman raising her fist.

Iranian Deputy Interior Minister Majid Mirahmadi told state media that the protests were in their “last days”.

“There are various gatherings in some universities, which are decreasing every day, and the riots are living their last days,” he said.

Social media channel 1500tasvir told AFP that there were “strikes in a few towns including Sanandaj, Bukan and Saqez”, while adding that it was difficult to see evidence of this online because ” Internet connection is too slow”.

Saqez in the western province of Kurdistan is Amini’s hometown, where anger flared at his funeral last month, helping spark the protest movement.

A still from a user-generated video on Twitter allegedly taken on Saturday, October 22, shows students protesting outside the Tabriz University of Medical Sciences. Photography: UGC/AFP/Getty Images

Verified footage circulating on social media shows dozens of students holding Iranian flags and chanting outside one of Iran’s largest campuses, Shahid Beheshti University in Tehran.

Some female students among them did not wear the obligatory headscarf.

In northwestern Iran, dozens of students cheered and chanted slogans during a protest at the Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, verified footage showed.

Iran has accused its nemesis, the United States, of seeking to use the protests to secure concessions in talks aimed at reinstating the 2015 nuclear deal.

“The Americans continue to exchange messages with us, but they are trying to fan the flames of what is happening inside Iran in recent days,” Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said. .

An aerial view of the crowds surrounding Berlin's Victory Column.
An aerial view of the crowds surrounding Berlin’s Victory Column. Photography: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Organizers of a mass rally in Berlin in solidarity with Iranian protesters called on “democratic governments…to stop negotiating with the criminal state called the Islamic Republic”.

In a statement, the Iranians for Justice and Human Rights group also called for the expulsion of Iran’s ambassadors.

“We are not asking you to intervene in Iran, to wage war or to punish the Iranian people,” he said. “We want you to impose targeted sanctions on the leaders, agents, oligarchs and lobbyists of the Islamic Republic.”

The Berlin rally, which police say drew more than 80,000 people, was one of many protests around the world, including in Australia and Japan.

On Saturday, protesters against Iran's religious police march through the Shibuya district of Tokyo, Japan.
On Saturday, protesters against Iran’s religious police march through the Shibuya district of Tokyo, Japan. Photography: Takashi Aoyama/Getty Images

Organizers said the Iranians came from the United States, Canada and across the EU.

“From Zahedan to Tehran, I sacrifice my life for Iran,” human rights activist Fariba Balouch said after delivering a speech at the Berlin rally, referring to Iranian cities swept by protests. The crowd responded with “Death to Khamenei”, referring to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Anti-government activists said the Berlin march was the biggest ever protest against the Islamic Republic by Iranians abroad.

A teachers’ union in Iran has called for a nationwide strike on Sunday and Monday against the crackdown which Amnesty International says has claimed the lives of at least 23 children.

The Coordinating Council of Teachers’ Unions said the “sit-in” would be a response to the “systematic oppression” of security forces in schools.

Activists also blamed authorities for a campaign of mass arrests and travel bans to quell protests, with athletes, celebrities and journalists caught in the net.

Protests outside the Iranian consulate in Istanbul, Turkey on Saturday.
Protests outside the Iranian consulate in Istanbul, Turkey on Saturday. Photography: Emrah Gürel/AP

Overnight, an Iranian climber, who would have been under house arrest for competing overseas last weekend without a headscarf, thanked her supporters on Instagram.

Elnaz Rekabi, 33, wore just a headband to an event at the Asian Championships in Seoul, in what many saw as a gesture of solidarity with the Amini protests.

“I sincerely thank everyone who came to the airport for welcoming me, I love you,” Rekabi said in his first social media comments since returning to a hero’s welcome on Wednesday.

The BBC and London-based Iran International television said on Friday that Rekabi had been placed under house arrest. Her phone was seized from her before she got home.

On Friday, the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran called on the International Sport Climbing Federation to do more to protect Rekabi and all Iranian athletes.

Reuters contributed to this report

About Chris Stevenson

Check Also

Southeast Asian leaders call for unity amid global tensions

Cambodian leader Hun Sen called for unity on Sunday, telling a rally including Russia, China …