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Wednesday, February 8, 2023
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Protests, violence and censorship in Iran – The future of the country is ominous

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Dozens of people have died in protests in Iran over the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while internet access has been blocked. Fears of further escalation of violence.

The death of the 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was arrested by Tehran’s Ethon Police for not wearing “proper clothing” and died from her injuries, has caused a huge wave of anger and outrage, not only in various cities of Iran, but also around the world. In Iran, the police are using intense violence to quell the protesters. According to information from international media and human rights protection organizations, more than 30 people have lost their lives. Among the victims is a policeman as well as a member of the militia.

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Kurd Ribin Ramani lives and works in London for a Kurdish activist rights network. In an interview with DW, he says: “Alone in Kurdistan province this week until Wednesday about 400 people have been arrested.” 22-year-old Maksha lived in the small town of Sagues in western Kurdistan. Already last Saturday, during her funeral, there were demonstrations against the government and the Ithos Police. “We have the names, photos and addresses of at least eight protesters who were killed by security forces until yesterday,” Rahmani explains. “In the Kurdistan province the security forces are using mass violence against the protesters. They want to suppress the protests as soon as possible.”

The situation is worse than in 2019

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Internet use has been severely restricted since Wednesday afternoon, with mobile networks largely down, according to NetBlocks, an organization set up in 2017 to monitor internet safety and freedom. The only social media that was allowed in Iran until recently, Instagram, has now been blocked. “Iran is now subject to the toughest internet restrictions since the November 2019 massacre,” says NetBlocks. According to human rights groups, around 1,500 people were killed in protests against the 2019 gasoline price hike in Iran.

“I’m afraid we have worse situations ahead of us than what we experienced in 2019,” Tehran-based human rights lawyer Said Dehghan told DW. “The situation is very tense. Many people are angry and desperate. They feel they have nothing to lose. They suffer from the financial crisis and the daily reprisals. The death of a young woman for allegedly violating the mandatory headscarf has led to outrage and outrage at the political system. It is a serious internal crisis and the government has no other response than further repression,” Dehghan points out.

The future of the country is ominous

The human rights lawyer paints a bleak scenario for the future. He believes that the political system in Iran is at constant war with its people and that the blocking of the internet is aimed at the violent suppression of protesters by the police and security forces and the inadequacy of sharing such photos on the internet. The UN’s deputy human rights chief, Nada Al Nassif, has also expressed concern over both the death of Mahsa Amini and the police’s violent response to anti-government protests. She called two days ago for a quick, independent and effective investigation into the death of the 22-year-old and the allegations of torture and ill-treatment against the Ethos police.

On the other hand, Said Dehghan considers this scenario very difficult to implement, as the Iranian government not only denies everything, but acts as if nothing has happened. The president of Iran, Ebrahim Raisi, during his speech at the UN General Assembly in New York emphasized the right of peoples to self-determination. When asked to comment on the death of Mahsha Amini, he accused the West of using “double standards” when it comes to women’s rights, referring to the deaths of indigenous women in Canada. At the same time, hundreds of Iranian exiles were demonstrating in front of the UN building.

For Iranian human rights researcher and writer Azade Pourzad, Ibrahim Raisi’s speech is yet another desperate attempt to claim that the Islamic State is a rule of law misunderstood by the West. She points out that Raisi shared responsibility for the extrajudicial mass executions of thousands of political prisoners between July and September 1988.

DW – Sabnam von Hein/ Iosifina Tsagalidou

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