This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
Anti-government demonstrations sparked by the death of a young Iranian woman after being detained by the morality police for allegedly improperly wearing a hijab continue across the country despite official warnings that an already deadly crackdown on unrest would be tightened.
Videos published on social media overnight showed demonstrations and protest gatherings being held in at least six cities of Iran, including Tabriz, Najafabad, Isfahan, Tehran, Mashhad, Sanandaj, and Urmia.
Activists and relatives say 22-year-old Mahsa Amini was killed as a result of blows to the head sustained in detention. The authorities claim she died of a heart attack.
Simmering anger over Amini’s death in Tehran has struck a nerve in a country already wracked by unrest in recent months over poor living conditions and economic hardships exacerbated by crippling U.S. economic sanctions in response to Iran’s nuclear program.
The outrage also has reignited decades-old resentment at the treatment of women by Iran’s religious leadership, including laws forcing women to wear Islamic scarves to cover their heads in public, and have reverberated outside Iran.
Many Iranians living abroad announced on social media that they are going to gather in more than 70 cities around the world on October 1 in support of the protests in Iran.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said on September 29 she was pushing for EU sanctions on Iran over the lethal crackdown after summoning the Iranian ambassador to Berlin.
“The clubs and the tear gas are not an expression of power — the violence of the system in Iran speaks of pure fear,” Baerbock wrote on Twitter.
“Within the framework of the EU, I am doing everything I can to get sanctions under way against those in Iran who are beating women to death and shooting demonstrators in the name of religion.”
The Iranian government has imposed a near-total Internet shutdown as the nationwide protests continue, which has helped thin crowds by making it harder to communicate and suppressing the publishing of video of the protests. Meanwhile, videos released from Shiraz show police and security agents attacking a protest gathering at the Shiraz University of Medical Sciences on September 28.
The Washington-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) says at least 25 journalists have been arrested since the protests erupted, including Elahe Mohammadi, who covered Amini’s funeral and was detained on September 29.
In a sign of the rising stakes over the protests, Iranian oil industry workers warned the government on September 29 that if it does not end its crackdown on protesters, they will strike, a move that could cripple one of the few sectors of the economy still generating money for the state.
Meanwhile, on September 28 the musicians of the Iran’s National Orchestra refused to appear onstage, forcing the cancellation of a concert that was supposed to be held on the anniversary of the start of the Iran-Iraq war.
Music journalist Bahman Babazadeh said on Twitter that the musicians refused to take the stage due to requests made to them on social media pages.
Employees at two Iranian startup giants, Snapp and Digikala, also joined the nationwide strikes in support of the protests by publishing a joint statement on their social media.
“The violent suppression of the people’s protests is intolerable and unforgivable” Digikala employees wrote in their statement, adding, “We join the nationwide strikes in solidarity with the grieving and suffering people of Iran.”
Reports indicate that security forces tried to prevent a gathering of protesters in the central Iranian city of Najafabad on the evening of September 28.
Unconfirmed reports that security forces were using young Iranians to quell the protests, prompting child and youth literature activists in Iran to publish a statement on September 29 condemning the arrest of protesting teenagers and the possible presence of youths in special units to suppress protests.
“This way of dealing will have unfortunate and irreparable consequences for the perpetrators,” they wrote.
The Iran Human Rights Organization said on September 27 that at least 76 people have been killed in the anti-government protests.