People took to the streets across Iran on Wednesday in one of the biggest days of protests so far in the movement against the state’s repressive rule.
Protests marked 40 days since the death of Mahsa Amini, who was arrested by police for allegedly not wearing her headscarf in accordance with Iran’s authoritarian laws. Her death in their custody sparked a movement that quickly grew from a protest against the headscarf’s compulsory wearing into one that challenges the rule of the state.
Thousands of people marched to Mahsa’s grave in the city of Saqqez, in the Kurdish region where she was from, defying massed state forces. Reports say police tried to block the entrance to the cemetery, but that people got there however they could.
Afterwards, some are said to have marched on the regional government offices, where they were attacked by state forces.
Left wing Farsi website Akhbar-Rooz also says that a large demonstration in Mahabad, Iranian Kurdistan, stormed government offices on Thursday.
There were also protests reported in some 45 cities, and dozens of neighbourhoods across the capital Tehran—and even Tehran’s Noor shopping centre. In some cases, protesters fought back bravely against state forces, who opened fire on demonstrations.
One video appears to show people on the roof of a building in Tehran’s Sepahsalar Street—a major shopping area—throwing objects presumably onto state forces below. People filming and watching from nearby windows cheer and laugh.
Protesters stayed on the streets well into the night. In Pirizi, Tehran, young women gathered and set fire to their headscarves. And in the city of Amol, video shows protesters kneeling with arms outstretched in front of security forces, defying them to shoot.
There also appear to have been large demonstrations in the Sadeghieh neighbourhood of Tehran, and in the city of Qazvin, where video shows protesters running from gunfire. In the city of Tabriz, video appears to show protesters responding to regime gunfire with Molotov cocktails.
There were protests on dozens of university campuses, which have been one of the centres of the movement. State forces reportedly opened fire on several campuses, while security guards attacked and beat protesters at others.
Small shopkeepers also closed up as part of a “strike.” But there are not yet reports of organised workers joining in with Wednesday’s action. Akhbar-Rooz said it had reports of a strike by oil refinery workers near Tehran, but that it didn’t know its causes or demands.
Some groups of workers in some areas have struck previously as part of the movement, including teachers, tanker drivers, tyre makers and sections of oil refinery workers. Workers and trade unionists have also been arrested as part of the state’s crackdown on the movement.
But so far the strikes haven’t become widespread, and the street and campus demonstrations are the main sites of resistance. Wednesday’s day of action shows the regime still believes it can crush them with repression—but that, so far, people refuse to be driven from the streets.
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