The bold tactics that kept the protests going in Iran | daily express online

The bold tactics that kept the protests going in Iran |  daily express online

The bold tactics that kept the protests going in Iran

Posted On: Friday, October 21, 2022

By: AFP

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The protests erupted in response to the death of Amini, 22, following his arrest by Tehran’s morality police for allegedly violating the Islamic republic’s strict dress code.

NICOSIA: Flashmob-style protests, images projected onto tower blocks, water fountains dyed blood red: young Iranians armed with little more than their phones have adopted a range of tactics to demonstrate about the staying power of Mahsa Amini’s death. . The protest movement is showing it can go the distance more than a month after it emerged, despite a crackdown by security forces that has cost at least 122 lives. The protests erupted in response to the death of Amini, 22, following his arrest by the morality police in Tehran for allegedly violating the Islamic republic’s strict dress code.

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Women have led the charge, discarding and burning their headscarves, marching and chanting “Woman, life, liberty”, actions copied around the world. Despite internet restrictions that cut off access to popular apps like Instagram and WhatsApp, smart young people have still managed to post videos of their protests. In a game of cat and mouse, drivers honked their horns in support of protesters and blocked roads with cars to slow down security forces, footage shows. Streets have also been clogged by overturned and burning dumpsters and, in some cases, overturned police cars. Security forces have responded by taking over motorcycles to cut off traffic and have been seen ripping off license plates to identify drivers for later arrest. Officers riding in the back seat are often seen shooting protesters with buckshot, tear gas, or even paintballs to mark and eventually track them down. Young people, in turn, have grown accustomed to wearing masks, switching their phones to “airplane mode” to avoid being spotted, and packing extra clothing to replace paint splatter. In a video shared on social media, protesters dismantled a surveillance camera atop a road in Sanandaj, a town in Amini’s home province of Kurdistan. Protesters have been seen organizing larger but smaller pop-up gatherings away from the city squares typical of demonstrations. “Compared to previous protests, this new round is more decentralized, without a particular leadership and organization and a particular demand like a policy change,” said Omid Memarian, senior Iran analyst at Democracy for the Arab World Now ( DAWN).

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“Instead, everything has been about ‘Death to the dictator’ and that the Islamic republic should disappear. This is an important outlet. “It has disarmed the machinery of repression that is trained to repress mass protests, student protests and the like,” he said. Women have been filmed cutting their hair in protests, a symbol of grief turned into a show of resistance rooted in Persian folklore. Those too intimidated to take to the streets have found other, more discreet ways to contribute to the cause. One form of protest emerged two weeks ago, with fountains in Tehran appearing to be filled with blood after an artist dyed their waters red to reflect the deadly crackdown. Along the same lines, art students at a university in Tehran filmed a video showing their hands raised in the air and covered in red paint. On the same day, activists from the Edalat-e Ali group hacked into a live news broadcast on state television, superimposing crosshairs and flames over an image of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Images shared online this week showed an effigy of a cleric hanging from an overpass on the Tehran highway. In a video taken one night, Amini’s face was projected onto the side of a residential tower in Tehran’s Ekbatan Town as protesters chanted from the safety of windows or rooftops. And in a video that emerged Wednesday, two bareheaded women are seen standing in front of a sign that reads “Hugs for those who are sad” hugging passersby on an Ekbatan street. Schoolgirls have even taken the lead, turning their backs on the camera and removing their hijab before raising their middle fingers in portraits of Khamenei in the classroom. Independent researcher Mark Pyruz said his analysis of visual evidence on social media showed the protests peaked on September 21 and turnout declined this month. But “while experiencing peaks and valleys, there remains a level of sustainability that has not been seen in previous periods of protest,” such as the 2019 demonstrations sparked by a fuel price hike, he said. Henry Rome, an Iran specialist at the Washington Institute, said he expects the protests to continue for some time. “The more organized and coordinated they are, the greater the chance that they can broaden their support base and present a clear short-term challenge to the system,” he said. “But the state security apparatus excels at disrupting precisely that kind of organized opposition, with a well-honed toolkit of violence, arrests, internet disruptions and intimidation. “So, for the time being, the state and the protesters are in an uneasy balance, with neither able to rise to the challenge posed by the other, suggesting that these current protests and violence could persist for an extended period.”
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