Iranians strike as Mahsa Amini protests enter sixth week

Iranians strike as Mahsa Amini protests enter sixth week


Shopkeepers and factory workers went on strike in Iran on Saturday as nationwide protests sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini in custody entered their sixth week, activists said.

The death of 22-year-old Amini after her arrest for allegedly violating Iran’s strict dress code for women has fueled the largest protests in the Islamic Republic in years.

Young women have led the charge, removed their headscarves, chanted anti-government slogans and confronted security forces in the streets, despite a crackdown that rights groups say has killed at least 122 people.

Activists called for new demonstrations as Iran’s working week began on Saturday, but it was difficult to gauge turnout immediately as internet access was curtailed.

“On Saturday … we will be together for freedom,” activist Atena Daemi said in a Twitter post that featured an image of a bare-headed woman with her fist raised.

Social media channel 1500tasvir told AFP that there had been “strikes in some cities, including Sanandaj, Bukan and Saqez,” but added that it was difficult to see evidence of this online because “the internet connection is too slow”.

Saqez, in the western province of Kurdistan, is Amini’s hometown, where anger over her funeral flared last month, sparking the protest movement.

The Norway-based Hengaw rights group also said shopkeepers in Bukan, Sanandaj and Saqez and Marivan were on strike.

– “Systematic suppression” –

Elsewhere, dozens of students were seen clapping and singing during a protest at Tehran’s Shahid Beheshti University, in a video tweeted by 1500tasvir on Saturday.

Dozens of workers were seen in other footage gathering outside the Aidin chocolate factory in Tabriz, capital of East Azerbaijan province. AFP could not immediately verify the videos.

Also on Saturday, people around the world gathered for rallies in solidarity with the Iranian protest movement.

In Tokyo, protesters held up portraits of Amini and others killed in the raid and a banner with the protest slogan: “Women, Life, Freedom.”

Iranians living in Germany arrived in Berlin ahead of a large demonstration later Saturday, activists said.

A teachers’ union in Iran has called a nationwide strike for Sunday and Monday over the crackdown that claimed the lives of at least 23 children, according to Amnesty International.

In a statement, the Coordinating Council of Teachers’ Unions said the sit-in was in response to “systematic repression” by security forces at schools.

It identified four teenagers killed in the raid – Nika Shahkarami, Sarina Esmailzadeh, Abolfazl Adinezadeh and Asra Panahi – and said a large number of teachers had been arrested without charge.

“The Iranian teachers do not tolerate these atrocities and tyranny and proclaim that we are for the people and these bullets and pellets that you shoot at the people are aimed at our lives and souls,” it said.

– “Imprison, Maim and Kill” –

Activists have also accused the authorities of a campaign of mass arrests and travel bans to quell the protests, with athletes, celebrities and journalists being dragnetted.

Overnight, an Iranian mountaineer who was reportedly placed under house arrest for competing abroad without wearing a headscarf last weekend took to Instagram to thank her supporters.

Elnaz Rekabi, 33, wore just a headband at an event at the Asian Championships in Seoul in what many took as a gesture of solidarity with the Amini protests.

“I sincerely thank everyone who came to the airport for welcoming me, I love you,” Rekabi said in her first comments on social media since returning to Iran on Wednesday at a hero’s reception.

The BBC and London-based television Iran International said on Friday that Rekabi had been placed under house arrest.

Her phone was reportedly confiscated before she flew home.

On Friday, a New York-based human rights group called on the International Federation of Sport Climbing to do more to protect them.

The IFSC “should work with human rights organizations to protect professional climber #ElnazRekabi and all Iranian athletes,” the Center for Human Rights in Iran tweeted.

“Don’t take the Iranian government at face value – it has a documented history of detaining, maiming and killing opponents,” the CHRI added.

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