2022 Iranian protests

Protests broke out across Iran in late 2022 after the death in custody of Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini. Amini had been arrested by Iran’s notorious “morality police” for the crime of allegedly not wearing her headscarf properly. She was beaten into a coma and died three days later. The Iran authorities tried to suppress the protests with even more brutality, killing numerous protesters (at least 488 by 29 Nov) including at least 60 kids under 18. In at least one case, they tried to coerce a 16yo girl’s family into saying their daughter had committed suicide, when in fact the police had bludgeoned her to death. Brutality like this has just galvanised the protesters further.

The protests are spearheaded by student movements around the country, with many of these students identifying as socialist and feminist. The abolition of compulsory hijab laws is a central demand of the movement, but they’re also demanding the immediate release of political prisoners (including labour organisers), an end to all repression and the prosecution of Mahsa Amini’s killers. They also cite government corruption and the rising cost of living as reasons for anger. The protests have been particularly strong in the capital Tehran, as well as the parts of Iran where the country’s ethnic minorities are concentrated (such as Iranian Kurdistan and Baluchistan). The regime has tried to whip up sectarianism to get the protesters fighting against each other, but not succeeded, so far. In Tehran and many Kurdish cities, democratic neighbourhood committees have been formed, as an alternate source of authority to the state. And, although they were not the driving force behind the beginning of the protests, the workers’ movement has jumped aboard, taking strike action – firstly the teachers, followed by construction workers, truck drivers, and sugarcane workers; and then after three weeks, 4,000 workers in Iran’s economically central petrochemical industry went on strike. The regime has been accused of trying to quell protests by contaminating food served in university cafeterias to purposely give students food poisoning.

In December 2022, it’s being reported that Iran has “suspended” its morality police unit. Some media outlets are reporting this as Iran “disbanding” the hated morality police, but this seems premature to say. Iran hasn’t abolished its dress code laws (including mandatory hijab) and it seems likely that if the protesters don’t push for more and demand an end to this repression, the morality police patrols will resume once the protests have dissipated. The Iranian government later confirmed that the morality police were absolutely not disbanded.

Numerous protesters have been executed by the regime, on spurious charges like “waging war against God”, after show trials in military courts. There have been thousands of arrests, with torture widely used against prisoners.

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