The anti-government protests in Iran have entered their third week. These protests erupted on 16th September 2022, after the death of a 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman, Mahsa (Zhina) Amini. She was detained, by the morality police of Iran for not fully complying with Iran’s veiling laws.
Why are Iranians Protesting?
Amini’s death sparked intense riots against the Iranian regime across the nation. According to the American-Iranian historian Firoozeh Kashani-Sabet, these are a result of the pent-up frustration of people.
The expert on modern Iran in the School of Arts & Sciences said,
“Although we have seen the strangling of women’s voices in the past, this extraordinary movement has amplified people’s strident cries against political repression, in the face of unspeakable peril. The crime that resulted in the unjust and brutal killing of a young woman who was, in fact, very modestly dressed, is nothing short of unconscionable and horrific.”
Counterstrike By Iranian Authorities
Iranian authorities counterstruck these protests by ruthlessly cracking down on them with excessive and lethal force throughout Iran. Humans Right Watch documented numerous incidents of Iranian security forces unlawfully using lethal force against protestors. Videos showed security forces using shotguns, assault rifles, and handguns against protesters in largely peaceful crowded settings. In some cases, going as far as shooting at people who were running away, altogether killing and injuring hundreds.
The senior Iran researcher at Human Rights Watch, Tara Sepheri Far said,
“The Iranian authorities’ brutal response to protests across many cities indicates concerted action by the government to crush dissent with cruel disregard for life. The security forces’ widespread shooting of protesters only serves to fuel anger against a corrupt and autocratic government.”
Global Impact of Iranian Protests
It caused a global stir-up, as the supporters and opponents took on to social media to state opinions. As a way to prevent this, the elected officials of Iran imposed a near total blackout of independent information coming out of the country.
Therefore, with access to social media blocked in Iran, the outsiders have taken onto fighting the online battle to control the narrative.
“It is normal for people to rush to social media when protests break out… It has happened in Iran and the Arab world,” said Marc Owen Jones, an associate professor at Qatar’s Hamad Bin Khalifa University. “But the scale here seems quite substantial.”
People of Iran are not strangers to either protests, or internet blackouts – but the efforts of those trying to get a message across the border have polished. A Twitter expert said that coordinated manipulation campaigns may be at play regarding tweets about Mahsa Amini, which might include bots. The unusually increased number of new accounts opened on Twitter only in the last month statistically support this analysis.