Riots and clashes keep on inflaming the pacific movements in Teheran in the name of the defense of women’s rights and against the restrictions they have to face day by day for Islam’s sake in a climate of repression exerted by the clerical authority. Forty days after the death of Mahsa Amini, an important date in the Islamic calendar, marking the end of the mourning and the visit of the family of the girl stopped by the police the last 17 September because of an ill-donned and unadjusted veil, new public demonstrations have crowded the squares and the streets of Berlin proclaiming the “Women, Life, Liberty” slogan. At the same time an important signal of protests have been shown in the United Kingdom and United States, ” in a sign of solidarity against the brutality of the Iranian moral police that has so far caused 248 victims, 12000 arrests, 315 investigated for “conspiracy against the national security.
These pacific movements don’t involve just students of secondary and high schools but wide swaths of society, counting hundreds of civilians. The death of this woman has provoked a wave of indignation, becoming the emblem of ongoing injustices imposed by the Iranian authority, headed by Ali Khamenei . Furthermore, many women with uncovered faces screamed against the ayatollah, defining him as “the shame of the nation”, hymning to the crackdown of the regime, even through shrine attacks. These protests don’t concern just the question of the veil but also the abolition of the moral police and greater freedom of expression and information. The Z generation (“Z” for Zoomer) pleads for important reforms. It’s undeniable the importance represented by the internet and social media in nowadays society in which people are, in comparison with darker past times, much more informed and aware of what’s going on in their country and internationally. After 40 years of gender discrimination, repression, fundamentalism, and economic inequalities the Iranian government has been brought to the brink of collapse by people of any class and social rank, asking for a change. While up to now the anti-government movements referred to male figures, today in Iran the revolution is woman, not forgetting the death of the young Nika Shakaramini and Sarina Esmaeilzadeh, which contributed to foment the turmoil.
Responding to the unlawful killings of at least eight people by Iran’s security forces as they again opened fire on mourners and protesters in at least four provinces and building on growing international calls for a UN mechanism on Iran, Amnesty International invoked:
“The Iranian authorities’ reckless and unlawful use of firearms against protesters, including live ammunition, reveals yet again the tragically high cost of international inaction. All member states of the UN Human Rights Council must take decisive action now and immediately convene a special session on Iran to prevent further loss of life. Failure to act decisively will only embolden the Iranian authorities to further crackdown against mourners and protesters set to gather in the coming days during commemorations marking 40 days since the first deaths of protesters after the deadly repression began in mid-September. ”
“The UN Human Rights Council must make clear to the Iranian authorities that their crimes under international law will not go uninvestigated by establishing an independent reporting and accountability mechanism on Iran. The ongoing failure to enact such a mechanism, despite widespread unlawful killings of protesters since the nationwide protests of December 2017-January 2018 is indicative of how such brutal tragedies in Iran have seemingly become normalized. It is long overdue for the international community to hear the cries of victims’ families and human rights defenders for justice.”
On 26 and 27 October 2022, Iran’s security forces intensified their use of unlawful force, including by shooting firearms with live ammunition, metal pellets, and teargas against protesters who had gathered in Kurdistan, West Azerbaijan, Kermanshah, and Lorestan provinces.
On 21 November, UN experts, including the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran, called on the Human Rights Council to urgently take action, including by establishing an international mechanism on Iran during a special session. The German minister of foreign affairs also spoke out in support of an independent UN mechanism on Iran.
In conclusion, Iranian authorities continue to brutally repress their people, especially women, in their basic freedoms, from veil to education and leadership role in the public sphere. The country’s security and intelligence apparatus, along with Iran’s judiciary, harshly cracked down on dissent, including through excessive and lethal force against protesters and reported abuse and torture in detention. Impunity ramps up and Ebrahim Raeesi, a serial human rights violator, took over the presidency during unfree elections. Furthermore, deteriorating economic conditions due to US unilateral sanctions, government policies, and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic have increased the level of poverty in the nation and reduced living standards for millions. The hard work of the community itself and sensitization operated by many ONG, as the outlet Iran Wire and others, in the country and all around the world leave room that rising awareness and making appeals to the United Nations Human Rights Council, in the aftermath of these civilians screams of alarms could provoke a radical change and a more compliant regime with the international Human Rights standard, encouraging that need of resilience and adaptation that the Islamic countries in general found so difficult to realize and implement, in a strict interpretation of the Koran.
Paola Canale is a writer/journalist covering International Relations and Human Rights.