Uprisings across Iran don’t stop: women keep fighting for freedom

Uprisings across Iran don’t stop: women keep fighting for freedom
photo via iStock


Eleonora Spina

Middle East Team Researcher

Global Human Rights Defence 

Since the election of Ebrahim Raisi, the current president of Iran in 2021, rules regarding the compulsory hijab for Iranian women have become stricter in practice; fitting with the increase in systemic oppression of women in the country. Iran had already seen “NoToHijab'' protests after the introduction of the first “Hijab and Chastity Day” on 12 July 2022 [1]. Sepideh Rashno had gone viral for refusing to wear a headscarf and was arrested for “association and collusion with the intention of committing a crime against the country's security through communication with foreigners and propaganda activity against the Islamic Republic and encouraging people to commit corruption and prostitution" [2]. After disappearing for weeks, she was seen on the state-affiliated television channel IRIB, making “confessions” denouncing herself and other activists and expressing regret for her previous actions; this led to claims that she had been subjected to torture [3].

To some extent, the story of Masha Amini takes the same turns. The 22-year-old was in Tehran to visit relatives when she was arrested on September 13 by the Morality Police for violating the hijab rule [4]. According to eyewitnesses, Amini was beaten by the police before falling into a coma in custody, and she died three days later [5]. The Government has claimed that Masha Amini’s death was caused by pre-existing medical issues [6].

Amini was yet another victim of the unlawful and excessive use of force by Iranian police: anger and shock have raised voices all across the world and protests spread all over Iran. Security forces responded with live ammunition, pellet guns and teargas [7] and many videos were sent to the UN Human Rights Office where women are seen brutally harassed on the streets and beaten, seemingly for wearing their hijabs too loose [8]. After 3 weeks of protests, at least 185 people, including at least 19 children, have been reported to have been killed during the nationwide uprising [9]. Internet shutdowns and police efforts to conceal events give way for suspicions of a higher death toll [10]. Hadis Najafi, Nika Shakarami, Sarina Esmsilzadeh are only a few of the women who have died [11]. As the State of Iran is part of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Nada Al-Nashif has called on the state to respect the right to freedom of expression, assembly and association, and condemned the unjustified use of force against demonstrators [12].  

Iran Human Rights, an international non profit organization based in Oslo, Norway, is urging the United Nations for the creation of an international fact finding mission under their supervision, to investigate the violent repression of protests by the security forces [13]. An international People Tribunal, the Aban Tribunal, had already been established to try and raise awareness about Iran’s disproportionate use of force during the 2019 fuel protests [14]. 

The international community is asking Iran to stop the violence.

Sources & Further Reading:

[1] Radrio Free Europe Radio Liberty, “Women protest Iran’s Hijab and Chastity Day”, 12 July 2022 <https://www.rferl.org/a/iran-women-removing-hijab-chastity-day-/31940376.html> accessed on 13 October 2022

[2] Iran International, “Iranian Women refusing hijab indicted for propaganda against regime”, 8 October 2022 <https://www.iranintl.com/en/202208208541 > accessed on 13 October 2022


[4] Human Rights Activists In Iran, “The international community must take robust action as Iran repress women and protesters”,  23 September 2022 <https://www.hra-iran.org/en/uncategorized/the-international-community-must-take-robust-action-as-iran-represses-women-and-protesters > accessed on 7 October 2022


[6]BBC News, “Iran protests: Supreme leader blames unrest on US and Israel”, 4 October 2022 <https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-63118637 > accessed on 7 October 2022


[7] Iran Human Rights, “Masha Amini: Acting UN Human rights chief urges impartial probe into death in Iran”, 20 September 2022 <https://iranhr.net/en/articles/5493/>, accessed on 10 October 2022


[8] ibid


[9] Iran Human Rights, “Iran Protests: at Least 185 Killed/ 19 Children Amongst Dead”, 8 October 2022 <https://iranhr.net/en/articles/5515/>, accessed 10 October 2022

[10] ibid


[11] Iran Human Rights, “Masha Amini: Acting UN Human rights chief urges impartial probe into death in Iran”, 20 September 2022 <https://iranhr.net/en/articles/5493/>, accessed on 10 October 2022

[12] ibid


[13]Iran Human Rights, “The murder of Masha Amini; Iran Human Rights calls for an International Fact-Finding Mission”, 16 September 2022, <https://iranhr.net/en/articles/5489/>, accessed on 11 October 2022

[14]Iran Human Rights, “International People’s Tribunal established to investigate Iran atrocities”, <https://abantribunal.com/2020/11/14/international-peoples-tribunal-established-to-investigate-iran-atrocities/>, accessed on 13 October 2022