Women at the Forefront: Protests in Iran Surge and Spill Into Iraq as Kurds Mourn the Loss of Jina Mahsa Amini

Written by Bushra Bani-Salman

October 3, 2022

Protests continue for nearly two weeks after the death of Jina Mahsa Amini. Amini was a 22 year old from East Kurdistan/ Western Iran who died in Iran’s police custody after she had been accused of violating the country’s modesty laws. Amini was allegedly beaten by the police and went into a coma. She passed soon after. 

What began as a protest against the morality police and the strict modesty laws in place for women, became a demonstration for Iranians and Kurds to express their grievances with the repressive Iranian government. The regime has made attempts to subdue these demonstrations through blocking the internet, detaining protesters and sympathizers, tear gas, rubber and real bullets on protesters. While these efforts have made it difficult for protesters to organize, they have not been able to stop the protests from spreading.

Protests have grown to reach the semi autonomous Kurdish region of Iraq, Erbil. Iranian forces have attacked the region with drones and artillery. Kurdish officials state there have been at least 18 deaths and more than 50 people have been injured, including children after one of the strikes hit a refugee camp. Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corp blames the Kurds for the unrest in Iran. Authorities in Iran said that 41 protesters have been killed and more than 1,200 people were arrested. According to Reporters Without Borders, nearly 19 journalists have been arrested across Iran. 

Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi said on a televised interview that the demonstrations were orchestrated by foreign enemies who want to further divide the Iranian people from the government. US President Joe Biden publicly sided with protesters in his speech to the United Nations and imposed sanctions on Iran’s morality police. Additionally, the US administration allowed for satellite links and internet services to activate in support of the protesters’ access to information, after the Iranian government blocked the internet. This is different from previous President Barack Obama’s uncertainty to back the anti-government rally back in 2009.

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