Iranian shopkeepers begin 3-day strike marking brutal killing of hundreds

A strike by shopkeepers began across Iran on Tuesday to mark the third anniversary of the brutal crackdown on those protesting fuel price hikes as anger against the Islamic Republic’s rulers continues to mount.

The call to commemorate the hundreds of people killed in the unrest that began on November 15, 2019, is expected to give fresh impetus to the protests that have rocked Iran for the past 10 weeks.

Three years ago, a surprise rise in the price of fuel led to bloody mob violence in which police stations were attacked, shops looted and banks and gas stations set on fire.

Amnesty International said at least 304 people were killed, although a tribunal convened in London this year by human rights groups suggested the death toll was much higher.

Demonstrator for Iran in Madrid
A protester attends a rally in support of Iranian women on November 5, 2022 in Madrid, Spain. Protests in the Islamic Republic have been going on since the death of Mahsa Amini, a woman who was arrested in September by the country’s vice squad.
Aldara Zarraoa/Getty Images

Khosro Kalbasi Isfahani, a journalist with BBC Monitoring, tweeted that in Tehran’s Grand Bazaar, where shops were closed, people were chanting “honourable entrepreneurs support us”.

Isfahani noted that the site played a “key role” in the 1979 revolution.

Meanwhile, women waved headscarves on the streets in the southern city of Shiraz, according to online videos verified by Agence France Presse, while striking steel workers gathered elsewhere in a parking lot in Isfahan.

Video also showed commuters chanting “Death to the dictator” at a Tehran metro station addressed to Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Isfahani also said there were strikes and protests in Karaj, Babool and dozens of Kurdish towns.

“‘Freedom, freedom, freedom’ students chant at Tabriz University,” Isfahani tweeted alongside a video of protesters. In addition to another video he shared, Isfahani wrote: “Women have taken off their hijabs to defy the regime, while passing cars honk in support.”

Protesters have been mobilizing since the death of Mahsa Amini on September 16, three days after the 22-year-old was detained by the country’s vice squad for allegedly wearing an “inappropriate” form of hijab.

The demonstrations initially focused on restrictive rules for women, but have turned into widespread anger against the ruling regime.

At least 326 protesters, including 43 children and 25 women, have been killed in the crackdown by security forces, according to Iran Human Rights, and up to 15,000 people have been detained.

A court in Tehran has issued the first death sentence against a person arrested for participating in the protests, prompting a backlash from former Iran national football team captain Ali Daei.

He tweeted that he had turned down an invitation to attend the World Cup “to be with you in my country and offer my condolences to all the families who have lost their loved ones.”

“Hoping for good days for Iran and Iranians,” he added, according to a translation.

News Week has contacted the Iranian Foreign Ministry for comment.

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