A year after Jina’s murder
Widespread but subdued protests in Iran on the first anniversary of Mahsa/Jina Amini’s murder, which occurred in the past days. It must be said that the country and especially Iranian Kurdistan, the area of origin of the dead student who became a heroine, have been heavily armored by the police forces, Pasdaran together with those of the Islamic Basij militia .
On the occasion of the anniversary of the inception of the “Women, Life, Freedom” movement, the Islamic regime deployed a substantial military presence in an attempt to instill fear among the populace. The citizens, however, keenly assess the distribution of power but have shed their apprehension. They no longer live in fear, but they are acutely aware that a formidable and challenging struggle lies ahead.
There were still a few weeks remaining until the anniversary of Mahsa/Jina’s murder and the commencement of protests following the militarization of most of Iran’s cities by the Islamic Republic regime. Even though the street demonstrations had calmed down, in certain cities, there were still reports and images circulating depicting the presence of security personnel in the central squares and restrictions on the entry and exit of these cities. Despite the extensive deployment of repressive forces, what appears to be beyond the government’s control is the unwavering “determination” of the Iranian protesters.
Markets in Kurdish cities responded positively to the strike call in solidarity with the protesters on the anniversary day. Night protests took place in different cities of Kurdistan including Mahabad, Sanandaj, Marivan, Bukan and Kermanshah.
Despite the systematic blocking of the internet ordered by the authorities, some videos published by activists appeared on social media, where the demonstrators shouted “Death to the dictator”, i.e. the supreme leader Ali Khamenei, and “Life, woman, freedom”, the motto of the protests . On the street there were also veilless women challenging the guards, supported by the sound of their horns by motorists.
During the widespread protests in Iran against the Islamic Republic, the exceptional courage and valor displayed by the demonstrators, particularly women, were consistently evident in the images and videos disseminated, as well as in the firsthand accounts provided by the protesters.
The courage to confront the government is increasing every day in the society. Everyone shows their protest in different ways. In last year’s protests, people did not run away like in previous years, but fought tooth and nail. This struggle still continue.
Despite a year passing since the protest uprising in Iran, repressive forces still engage in violence across various regions of the country. In recent days, as the anniversary of Jina drew near, security agencies in Iran arrested hundreds of activists and protestors. Although there were no street protests in Saqqez due to the highly militarized environment, security forces took a disturbing action by directly shooting a mentally disabled citizen named “Fardin Jafari” in the head, leading to his hospitalization.
Days later, the forces of repression forcefully entered the family residence of “Javad Heydari,” a protester who had killid during the protest last year. This incident occurred in the tranquil village of Rahmatabad, situated in the Qazvin region. Once inside, they subjected the family to a brutal assault and violence.
Iran’s domestic media, as always, denied any kind of conflict.
Javad Heydari was a protester who was shot by the repressive forces of the Islamic Republic. Tragically, he succumbed to his injuries a few hours later due to their severity and the lack of timely medical attention.
Javad was a agricultural engineering. He was struck by bullet from behind, as reported by witnesses. Instead of immediately transporting him to the hospital, the security forces brought him into the police station. It was only later that he was transferred to the hospital, all the while bleeding profusely.
The precise count of casualties from last year’s protests remains undisclosed, but human rights reports indicate that a minimum of 560 individuals lost their lives due to direct use of force by government repression units. Shockingly, among these victims, 68 were innocent children.
The protests of 2022 had a women’s theme, with the title being “the rise of Jina or Mahsa.” These demonstrations were ignited by the active participation of women, who also assumed leadership roles. In the Islamic Republic, women not only lack the same legal rights as men, but the cultural and social policies of the Islamic government label them as “weak,” “unintelligent,” and “second class.” In many instances, they are even unjustly blamed for Iran’s “drought and miseries.”
According to this perspective, a significant number of clerics hold women responsible for the deterioration of society. At the beginning of the year, one of Ali Khamenei’s representatives made a statement in a mosque, asserting that the deplorable state of the hijab is one of the reasons for the reduction in life’s blessings and the absence of heavenly precipitation, such as rain and snow.
Statements like this, coupled with legislative initiatives and bills aimed at restricting women’s rights, as well as religious propaganda efforts, seek to minimize the influence of women in society as much as possible. Over the course of four decades, the social and cultural policies of the Islamic government have successfully marginalized Iranian women across various domains and even influenced the beliefs of many men. However, the protests of the past year have had a significant impact on these programs, potentially challenging the status quo and paving the way for a more equitable society.
However, the slogans chanted by Iranians during the Jina protest in the streets, universities, and schools have provided a surprising glimpse into the transformation of Iranian society in recent years. For historians and researchers who may seek to analyze the women’s rights, quality of life, and freedom movement in Iran several years or decades from now, these slogans offer a rich source of data that encompasses the movement’s defining features and characteristics.
Slogans like “Hey indifferent, the next Mahsa is from you” and “You wrote with our blood, we didn’t kill Mahsa” besides exposing the nature of the oppressive government, they warned the society that silence is not an option anymore.
Another unprecedented event in the Jina protest was that other protests and demands of the people, including economic problems and tyranny, were also defined under women’s egalitarian demands. The slogans such as “unemployment, exploitation, also women’s hijab mandatory”, “rape in prison, this was in the Quran” and “rape, crime, curse on this welayah” are among them.
The protestors of the Women, Life, Freedom movement, in the 44th year of the establishment of the Islamic Republic, responded to the Islamic groups and Khomeini supporters who threatened women with the slogan “either a headscarf or punch to the head”, with a progressive slogans such as “no headscarf, no punch, freedom and equality”.