(CTN NEWS) – Hundreds congregated in central London over the weekend to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the passing of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman who tragically lost her life while in police custody in Iran.
Her untimely demise sparked a global outcry against the conservative Islamic theocracy of Iran.
Chanting the rallying cry of “Women! Life! Freedom!” and clutching her portrait, the assembled masses paid tribute to the memory of this young woman, whose life was cut short on September 16, 2022, following her arrest for allegedly violating Iran’s compulsory headscarf law.
Similar demonstrations unfolded in Italy, Germany, and France.
“We implore everyone to not only remember those we’ve lost but to persist in the struggle, for this battle must reach its culmination.
Mahsa Jina Amini and the numerous others cannot have perished in vain,” articulated Maryam Namazie, an Iranian human rights advocate in the United Kingdom.
“Our relentless endeavor should yield a more just society. This arduous battle must bear fruit.”
Iran’s Efforts to Suppress Resurgence of Protests and Commemoration of Mahsa Amini
Within Iran, authorities worked to preempt any resurgence of the protests that had gripped the nation the previous year.
The father of Mahsa Amini was apprehended outside his residence, following the family’s intention to convene at her gravesite for a customary commemorative service, according to the Kurdish rights group Hengaw.
In downtown Tehran, residents reported a substantial security presence, and security forces were spotted in western Iran, where the Kurdish minority had staged significant protests the preceding year.
Hengaw, a monitoring organization, reported a widespread general strike in Kurdish areas on Saturday, sharing videos and photos depicting largely deserted streets and closed shops.
Human Rights Activists in Iran, another group closely monitoring events within the country, also confirmed the occurrence of the general strike. However, there was no acknowledgment of the strike in state media.
According to Hengaw, a man was critically injured after being shot by security forces near Saqqez, in the Kurdish region. The semi-official Fars news agency claimed that he was shot for failing to obey orders to stop at a checkpoint, and his condition was reported as stable.
Social media videos purported to show tear gas being deployed in Mashhad and Karaj, a satellite city of Tehran. The New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran also reported the use of tear gas. Iranian state media did not acknowledge these incidents.
Mahsa Amini’s Controversial Death and the Subsequent Unrest in Iran: A Quest for Justice and Freedom
Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish-Iranian woman from the western region, passed away three days after her arrest by morality police, allegedly for violating laws that require women to cover their hair in public.
While authorities claimed she suffered a heart attack, Amini’s supporters asserted that she was subjected to police brutality, resulting in her demise.
Her death triggered protests that spread across the country and quickly escalated into demands for the overthrow of Iran’s four-decade-old Islamic theocracy.
Authorities responded with a violent crackdown, resulting in the deaths of over 500 people and the detention of more than 22,000 others, according to human rights groups.
Although the demonstrations largely subsided early this year, there are still widespread signs of discontent. For several months, women openly defied the headscarf rule in Tehran and other cities, leading to a renewed crackdown over the summer.
Activists worldwide sought to reignite the protests on the anniversary of Amini’s death. In Rome, around 100 protesters gathered in front of the Iranian Embassy under the banner “Women, life, freedom.”
“Now it is important that all the world start again to demonstrate in the streets, because what we want is to isolate this regime and in particular we want to push all the states not to have political and economic agreements with Iran,” protester Lucia Massi said.
In Paris, Mayor Anne Hidalgo announced that a garden in the French capital now bears Amini’s name, honoring her as an Iranian resistance hero. The Villemin Garden in Paris’ 10th district, next to a canal with popular boat tours for tourists, has been dedicated to her memory.
Iran’s Attribution of Protests to Foreign Powers and Ongoing Economic Hardships: A Look at Recent Development
Iran previously attributed last year’s protests to the United States and other foreign powers, without providing evidence, and has since attempted to downplay the unrest while taking measures to prevent any resurgence.
The protests were partly fueled by the widespread economic hardships Iranians have endured since then-President Donald Trump withdrew from a nuclear deal with world powers and reimposed crippling sanctions on Iran.
However, these economic challenges may have also made it difficult to sustain prolonged demonstrations, as many Iranians struggle to make ends meet.
President Joe Biden issued a comprehensive statement on Friday acknowledging the anniversary of Amini’s death, and the United States imposed new sanctions on Iranian officials and entities.
U.K. Foreign Secretary James Cleverly also noted the anniversary and imposed new sanctions on Iranian officials.
Soheila Sokhanvari, an Iranian-British artist, moved to the U.K. a year before the 1979 revolution that brought Iran’s conservative Islamic leaders to power. She was in London preparing for a solo exhibition on pre-revolutionary feminist icons last year when she learned of Amini’s death.
The protests that ensued marked the first instance of “a revolution instigated by women” globally, she told The Associated Press earlier this month.
She also emphasized the significance of Iranian men standing in solidarity with women during these protests, a departure from Iran’s historical norms. “That’s very original and it’s never happened in the history of Iran,” she remarked.
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