Woman, Life, Freedom’ revolution: Ongoing protests in Iran five months after Amini’s death
On February 16, 2023 thousands of Iranians once again took to the streets to protest against the Iranian regime, on a scale not seen in weeks. Security forces responded to anti-regime chants, rallies and burning car tyres with tear gas and shotguns, arresting many of the demonstrators.
Iranian protesters commemorated the 40th day after the deaths of Mohammad Hosseini and Mohammad Mahdi Karami, two Iranian protesters who were executed by the Islamic regime in Tehran after hasty court verdicts for killing a police officer, in what Amnesty International described as an "arbitrary execution".
Protesters took to the streets in several neighbourhoods of the capital Tehran and its suburbs on February 16. Many other cities joined in: Mashhad in the northeast, Ahvaz in the southwest, Isfahan in the centre, Sanandaj in the west and dozens of others including Qazvin, Arak and Izeh, Kermanshah and Rasht.
In Tehran and the suburbs, the protests were particularly fervent, as crowds of people chanted and demonstrated. Security forces fired shotguns to disperse them.
In Sanandaj, the capital of Kurdistan province in Iran, people set fire to rubbish and car tyres to block security forces' vehicles.
Isfahan, the historical capital of the Safavid Dynasty, was also the site of protests.
There were also protests in Mashhad, one of the holiest cities for Shia Muslims. This city, once considered a stronghold of the Tehran theocracy, has become one of the main centres of massive protests against the regime since September 16, 2022, when protests began raging across Iran under the slogan "Woman, Life, Freedom".
The protests also took place in smaller cities, many of them organised for weeks via social media, even though the Iranian authorities strictly censor the internet and have banned almost all social media outlets.
Iranians, who have become masters at circumventing these restrictions over the past two decades through the use of VPNs and anti-proxy apps, were, however, able to join the calls for protests in their cities on February 16.
In Arak, an industrial city 280 kilometres southwest of Tehran where people have been actively protesting against the regime for five months, protesters took to the streets again, chanting anti-regime slogans.
People in Qazvin, a historic town 150 kilometres west of Tehran, also shared videos of their protests on social media, which continue despite massive arrests across Iran.
According to human rights organisations, at least 19,000 Iranians have been arrested in the past five months. More than 481 protesters have been killed by security forces.
Residents of Izeh, a small town in Khuzestan province in southwestern Iran, have expressed their displeasure with Iran's Islamic regime after Mahsa Amini died in police custody in Tehran last September, leading to the most massive protests against the regime that the Islamic Republic has seen in the last four decades.
On February 13, 2023, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, often a target of angry slogans in this wave of protests, ordered a "mass pardon" of prisoners. According to official reports, thousands of arrested protesters will be released if they meet certain specific criteria and agree to sign a repentance document.
However, given the numerous preconditions for this pardon, the ongoing arrests and the pressure, it is not clear what impact this pardon will actually have. According to Amnesty International, 14 arrested protesters are charged with crimes that could lead to a death sentence.
Despite the crackdown in this city over the past five months, which has seen many protesters killed, including 9-year-old Kian Pirfalak on November 16, 2022, people were back on the streets last night.