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Iran protesters mark bloody 2019 uprising with fresh strikes

Nov. 15, 2022 Updated Tue., Nov. 15, 2022 at 12:26 p.m.

Shops that were destroyed during demonstrations against petrol price hikes, are pictured on Nov. 20, 2019, in Shahriar, west of Tehran. Protesters resumed anti-government strikes on Tuesday to mark the one year anniversary.   (Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)
Shops that were destroyed during demonstrations against petrol price hikes, are pictured on Nov. 20, 2019, in Shahriar, west of Tehran. Protesters resumed anti-government strikes on Tuesday to mark the one year anniversary.  (Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)
By Golnar Motevalli and Arsalan Shahla Bloomberg News

Businesses, students and workers in Iran resumed anti-government strikes on Tuesday to mark the anniversary of one of the deadliest protests in the country’s history.

Scores of unverified videos shared on social media purportedly showed deserted town centers and shuttered shops in various locations.

The latest action comes as the current uprising against Iran’s ruling Islamic system enters its ninth week despite a violent crackdown by security forces that rights groups say has so far killed more than 320 people. The violence led the European Union to announce fresh sanctions on Iran’s police and military on Monday.

Tehran’s Grand Bazaar — seen as a traditional linchpin of support for the clerical establishment — was also closed, according to several videos and traders were shown shouting slogans in some footage. The state-run Islamic Republic News Agency later denied the closures.

Other footage showed students protesting at a number of universities and demonstrators gathering in various parts of Tehran including Enghelab Square, in the heart of the capital, Sadeghiyeh, and the affluent Shahrak-e Gharb district. People are heard shouting “death to the dictator” in the clips. None of the videos can be verified by Bloomberg News.

Some videos also showed industry workers participating, including Esfahan Steel Co.’s, one of the country’s largest steelmakers. The company wasn’t immediately available to comment.

Rights groups say at least 15,000 people have been arrested since the protests started on Sept. 17 following the death in custody of 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian Mahsa Amini, who was detained for allegedly flouting Islamic dress codes.

According to Iran’s judiciary, some 1,000 people have been indicted for protesting and many of them face serious national security charges. One person has been formally sentenced to death, according to the judiciary’s news portal, Mizan Online.

Tuesday’s strikes, intended to last three days, are meant to keep up momentum of the current rallies and mark the three-year anniversary of the so-called Bloody Aban protests that gripped the country in November 2019.

The demonstrations, triggered by an unexpected hike in gasoline prices and worsening economic conditions, quickly turned into a broad rebuke of the Islamic Republic and one of the biggest challenges to the regime at the time. At least 321 people were killed by security forces over a three-day period, according to London-based rights group Amnesty International.

Many of those killed were from the mainly Arab province of Khuzestan, including the county of Mahshahr where the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps was said to have gunned down as many as 100 people it had surrounded in marshland, according to a report by The New York Times.

A December 2019 report by Reuters, citing three unnamed sources, said the overall death toll in the uprising was as high as 1,500, a number frequently used by Iranian activists.

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