Iran witnessed widespread protests on Saturday as people commemorated the first anniversary of the tragic death of Mahsa Amini. The 22-year-old woman passed away while in the custody of Iran’s morality police following her arrest for alleged improper headscarf-wearing.
Video footage acquired by CNN documented demonstrations in numerous Iranian cities, including Tehran, Mashad, Ahvaz, Lahijan, Arak, and the Kurdish town of Senandaj. Chants of “Women, Life, Freedom” echoed through the streets, a poignant slogan that had gained prominence during the nationwide protests triggered by Amini’s demise the previous year. In some instances, protesters directed their frustration towards Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
Authorities responded by deploying armed guards in several cities to display their might, while police officers were observed chasing demonstrators, particularly in the northern city of Lahijan.
These protests weren’t confined to Iran alone. Commemorative rallies occurred in various cities worldwide, including Paris, Brussels, and Berlin. Participants expressed the need to raise their voices when many within Iran could not.
In London, hundreds gathered to mark the first anniversary, with one protester conveying that their struggle was far from over: “We just wanted to let everyone know that this is not going to finish. Our battle has started, and we will not stop until freedom for Iran, until a revolution, until we kick the mullahs out of power.” The protest organizer, Ellie Borhan, even made a symbolic gesture by cutting her hair on stage in front of the crowd.
The news is accompanied by reports of the “detention and persecution” of family members. Iranian journalists and human rights groups reported that Mahsa Amini’s father, Amjad, was detained by authorities on the same day as the protests. Security officers had regularly summoned him in the months following his daughter’s tragic passing. Amjad Amini and his son were detained for several hours on Saturday. His son was warned of banishment to a remote village if he encouraged attending ceremonies marking Amini’s death anniversary.
In a concerning development, according to a family member and a media news outlet, Mahsa Amini’s uncle, Safa Aeli, residing in the city of Saqqez, was also arrested earlier in the week. Iranian authorities claimed that they arrested several members of a “terrorist group” planning to assassinate Amini, a narrative that contradicts the accounts of Iranian journalists and rights groups, labeling them as “false.”