Protests swelled in cities across Iran on November 15 following a day of general strikes marking the anniversary of one of the deadliest uprisings in the country’s history. Sources on the ground in Iran showed protests in multiple districts across the capital, Tehran, and in other cities like Shiraz, Esfahan, Hamedan, Bushehr, Bukan, Rasht, Qom, Mashhad, and Sanandaj. Sparked by the death in police custody of 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman Mahsa Amini, the protests are now in their ninth week and represent one of the strongest public rebukes against the Islamic Republic and its leadership since the 1979 revolution. The Kurdish rights group Hengaw Human Rights Organization said two men had been killed by security forces during protests in the Kurdish town of Kamyaran in western Iran on November 14.
Footage showed security forces such as the IRGC and the Basij responding with overwhelming and brutal force against the protestors that violates all the established norms regarding human rights. One video taken from the platform of a Tehran metro station, showed commuters screaming and trying to run as they were being fired on by security forces. A barrage of shots could be heard even as trains were leaving and approaching the platform. Another video from Shiraz showed someone being shot at close range by an armed and uniformed security officer.
The latest actions in Iran come after nationwide calls for three days of strikes and protests to mark the three-year anniversary of the deadly protests that were sparked by fuel prices. Earlier on November 15, thousands of businesses shuttered, students rallied and some industry workers went on strike, according to social media videos, to commemorate those killed in the November 2019 protests. The 2019 Iranian protests (known as Bloody Aban in Farsi) started in response to the human rights abuses carried out by the Iranian government since 1979, as well as government crackdowns on the Iranian democracy movement. The 2019 protests ultimately resulted in the deaths of 1,500-3,000 protestors and the arrest of over 7,000. Despite the human rights abuses the Iranian government has carried out against its people, the international community has generally ignored the issues of human rights in Iran and has bowed to pressure by the Iranian government to ignore such pressing issues.
In the latest series of protests in Iran, at least 400 people have been killed by security forces and nearly 16,000 have been arrested. Additionally, the Iranian government has utilized the most inhumane and brutal tactics regarding the protestors. Despite the brutality of the Iranian government and lack of prior success in efforts against the regime, the Iranian people remain united in their efforts to remove the government from power and implement positive political change. As such, the ongoing protests in Iran represent the most serious effort to bring about an end to the current Iranian government in nearly 40 years and a massive step forward by the Iranian democratic movement.
The response by the Iranian government to the protests has also encouraged international organizations to begin taking action in support of the Iranian people. London-based rights group Amnesty International said it was investigating the death sentences issued to the protestors by the Iranian government and called on the United Nations to take urgent action. The violent tactics by the Iranian government have also led the European Union (traditionally friendly with the Iranian government) to announce fresh sanctions on Iran’s police and military.
Most of the protests in Iran over the past few days protests erupted after dark. In Tehran, videos showed gatherings and rallies in Enghelab Square, in the heart of the capital, Gisha, Tehran Pars, Ekbatan Town, Sadeghiye and the affluent Shahrak-e Gharb district. People are heard shouting “death to the dictator” or singing “freedom, freedom, freedom” in many of the clips. Young people were also shown forming a human chain in the southern port city of Bandar Abbas and protesters also gathered in Bushehr. Footage showed many people coming out in their cars and honking car horns in solidarity, creating gridlock on some of Tehran’s busiest main streets.