News on Iran Protests & DemonstrationsWomen's Role in Leading Iran's November 2019 Protests

Women’s Role in Leading Iran’s November 2019 Protests

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On November 15, 2019, anti-establishment protests broke out in Iran, starting over the tripling of fuel prices and then becoming about all the problems caused by the ruling system and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

Hundreds of thousands of Iranians came to the streets in 200 cities, led by the horrendously oppressed women and young people, because they saw that they had nothing to lose. They were already starving, impoverished, and suppressed as a result of the ayatollahs’ rule, so they joined the protests when women called on them, something acknowledged by many state-run media outlets.

“Women’s special role in running and leading the recent riots seemed remarkable. In numerous places particularly in Tehran suburbs, women who were apparently between 30 to 35 years old, had a special role in leading the riots,” The Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)-affiliated Fars news agency wrote.

These women wore the same garbs, each had a different role; one filmed the riots, the other stopped the cars, and another one incited the people to join the ranks of riots,” Fars added.

Of course, the protests were not unnoticed by the authorities. Indeed, the reality that they could be overthrown by the people was a real fear for the ayatollahs, so Khamenei ordered his security forces to open fire on the defenseless protesters, with snipers shooting into the crowd from rooftops, plainclothes agents attacking the wounded with axes, and other members of his militias shooting into the crowd from helicopters.

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During the massacre, the government cut off the internet and mobile networks so that protesters couldn’t communicate with each other or the outside world.

At least 1,500 people, including 400 women, were killed, while 8,000 were injured and some 12,000 arrested. Many of the wounded were arrested and many of those arrested have been tortured. Some detainees have even been sentenced to death. This is one of the most horrific crimes against humanity in this century and must be dealt with accordingly.

“Security forces shooting unarmed demonstrators from behind while they were running away, and shooting others directly in the face and vital organs – in other words shooting to kill. These are clear violations of international norms and standards on the use of force, and serious violations of human rights,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet.

While Amnesty International verified this “shoot-to-kill policy” in a report on May 20, 2020.

“The fact that so many people were shot while posing no threat whatsoever shows the sheer ruthlessness of the security forces’ unlawful killing spree,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

Amnesty said that in all but four cases the victims were shot by Iranian security forces, including the IRGC, paramilitary Bassij, and, the police. The other four cases included two people suffering fatal head injuries after being beaten by the security forces and two who suffocated from tear gas.

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