Defying strong security measures, protesters gathered this Wednesday at the Iranian Kurdistan cemetery where the young woman is buried. Mahsa Amini to pay their respects at the end of the 40-day mourning period.
“Woman, life, freedom!”, “Death to the dictator!” were some of the slogans chanted by hundreds of women and men gathered at the Aichi cemetery in Saqqez, Amini’s hometown in the Kurdistan province, in western Iran, according to videos posted on social media.
This 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman died on September 16 after being detained three days earlier by the morality police while visiting Tehran with her brother, for allegedly breaking the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code that requires women to wear of the veil
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Her death has sparked a wave of protests across the country, led by young women defying authorities by burning their veils.
This Wednesday marks the 40th day since Amini’s death, marking the end of the traditional mourning period in Iran.
According to human rights activists, the security forces warned the girl’s parents not to hold any commemoration ceremony, even at her grave, even threatening “The life of his son”.
Videos uploaded to the internet by the independent human rights group Hengaw showed authorities patrolling the streets of Saqqez since Tuesday night, the entrances to which were said to have been blocked.
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“Year of Blood”
Despite this, groups of people began making their way to the cemetery early on Wednesday, on foot, in vehicles and on motorbikes, according to footage released by Hengaw.
Hundreds of people were gathered at the cemetery, located eight kilometers from Saqqez, according to images released by Hengaw.
“This year is the year of blood, Seyed Ali will be overthrown”shouted a group in a video authenticated by AFP, referring to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
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“Kurdistan, Kurdistan, the graveyard of the fascists!” another group was chanting, according to a video shared on Twitter by activists. AFP was unable to verify the authenticity of the images.
According to Hengaw there are demonstrations in several cities in Kurdistan.
The Isna news agency reported that a group of inhabitants of Saqqez and neighboring towns gathered at the cemetery, “in a quiet environment”, “without any tension with the police”.
According to Hengaw, two Iranian soccer stars, Ali Daei and Hamed Lak, also went to Saqqez to participate in the 40-day mourning ceremony.
The two footballers stayed at the Kurd hotel, according to Hengaw, but were “transferred to the government hotel (…) under the control of the security forces.”
Daei had already been in trouble for supporting the protests on social media.
Unverified images posted online by the Norway-based NGO Iran Human Rights (IHR) showed people gathering outside the Kurd hotel for a “night demonstration”
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The daily Hammihan quoted the Governor of Kurdistan, Esmail Zarei Koosha, as saying that Ali Daei and other personalities were in Tehran and that “everything was calm in Saqqez”.
“The enemy and its media (…) try to use the 40th day of the death of Mahsa Amini as a pretext to provoke new tensions, but fortunately, the situation in the province is completely stable”, declared the governor, quoted by the official agency Irna. The latter denied that the streets are blocked.
According to Hengaw, much of the city was “empty” on Wednesday as large numbers of residents flocked to the cemetery.
Demonstrations were also underway in other parts of the country, notably at universities, according to the 1500tasvir website, which documents human rights violations by security forces.
The crackdown on protests across Iran has left at least 141 dead, including children, according to an updated balance from IHR.
There has also been a campaign of mass arrests of protesters and their supporters, including university professors, journalists and celebrities.
According to Amnesty International, 23 children have died in the crackdown on the protests, 29 according to IHR.
I, Ronald Payne, am a journalist and author who dedicated his life to telling the stories that need to be said. I have over 7 years of experience as a reporter and editor, covering everything from politics to business to crime.