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How Mahsa Amini Became the Cipher of Uprising

She was announced dead on Friday September 16, 2022, three days after going to a coma. Mahsa Amini, 22, was arrested in Tehran for “improper hijab” by “Hijab Commanders” of the Islamic Republic. According to witnesses, she was beaten, and was taken to hospital with a long delay.

The Islamic Republic media tried their best to keep people calm, but the outrage on social media was signaling a huge wave is coming. As soon as the first news of Mahsa’s death came out, people gathered in front of Kasra Hospital. Protests erupted, people chanting against the regime. At the same time, Islamic Republic deployed its “special units” to the hospital, attacking and arresting peaceful protesters. Leila Mirghafari and Zanyar Mohammadnejad were 2 of the detainees. Leila was released on bail telling her horrifying experience when arrested, as an officer called “colonel” was about to strangle her in the police van. Zanyar called his family that he was in the van with several others, but there is no reports about his whereabouts since Friday.

State-media continued reporting false claims, officials insisting on the police’s innocence, even released an edited CCTV recording from the Vozara building. The video was refuted on social media nine ways to Sunday. Oppressive forces transferred Mahsa Amini’s body to Saqez at night and tried to bury her in secret. They were faced with resistance from the family and people of the city. Her funeral was grand. It turned into anti-regime protest. Saturday, September 17, Saqez became the scene of clashes between oppressive forces and mourners fed up with the Islamic Republic. Women took off their headscarves, encouraging others to do the same: “Murder for headscarf, how long do we tolerate this indignity?!”

Protests reached Sanandaj, capital of Kurdistan province. Islamic Republic oppressive forces opened fire directly at protesters. However, people did not back down, they pushed forward. Sunday, September 18, 2022 was another day. More cities joined the protests, more radical slogans. Khamenei and Qassem Soleimani banners were teared down and set on fire. Tehran University students called on unity of people against “the common enemy!”

September 20, 2022 – Students at Tabriz Medical University: “Freedom is our right, Zhina is our cipher!”

The Turning Point

Monday, September 19, 2022 was a turning point. Widespread strikes across Kurdistan province, Zanjan, Kermanshah and West Azerbaijan led people into the streets. Divandareh in Kurdistan became a war zone. Empty-handed people against machine guns of the oppressive forces. Several videos circulating social media proved direct shots at people with machine guns, as if they had come to massacre the entire city.

All major universities in Tehran started their protests early in the morning. Videos showed radical slogans: “Cannon, tank, firecracker, mullahs must get lost,” “Death to dictator,” “Basiji, get lost,”… Clashes in AmirKabir and Beheshti University were prominent with students resisting and winning battles. Several arrests and wounded reported.

In the afternoon, center of Tehran was on fire. People were everywhere. Eye witnesses reported huge crowds on Kargar St and Valiasr Sq. Islamic Republic oppressive forces used their water cannons, tasers, batons and even live ammo. But people’s wrath was bigger than their violence. They chased away oppressive forces. “Reza Shah, God bless your soul,” “This is the last warning, the entire regime is the target,” “Death to Khamenei,” “Death to Dictator,”… were heard everywhere. Women were at the front line with men defending them against any harassment.

In Rasht, north of Iran, people stood up against armed-to-teeth forces, beat a few plain-clothes oppressive forces, which went viral on social media. Again, women were the leaders in most scenes. Isfahan joined the protests too. In Isfahan University, students arranged a strike and commemoration for Mahsa Amini. Protesters gathered in the city and chanted against the regime.

In Mashhad, where Khamenei’s Representative, Alamol-Hoda had claimed “there is no citizen here, no landlord, everything belongs to Imam Reza,” meaning himself and Khamenei, men and women chanted: “Islamic Republic, we don’t want, we don’t want,” “We don’t want headscarves,” “Reza Shah, God bless your soul,”…

In Saqez, protesters took down Islamic Republic’s flag. In Tehran, several police cars were damaged. Women took off their headscarves and chanted against the regime, from the “Supreme Leader” to other officials, IRGC, Police and IRIB.

Utmost Brutality

A 10-year-old girl was shot in Boukan. An elderly lady in Mahabad was beaten in the head with baton, who passed away a few hours later. 2 were killed in Divandareh as a result of direct shots: Mohsen Mohammadi, Foa’d Ghadimi. 2 unconfirmed deaths in Saqez were reported too. Number of wounded is in the 3-digit territory.

Mahnaz Mohammadi, a filmmaker and former political prisoner, was arrested in Tehran. Several arrested in Saqez, Sanandaj, and Paveh and other cities across Iran. Exact number of detainees is not known.

Internet was shut down in Sanandaj, confirmed by Netblocks. Hengaw, Kurdish human rights group, tweeted: “They are killing people in blackout!” Mobile internet was out in central Tehran where the commotion was happening. Islamic Republic’s SharghDaily reported that “Mahsa Amini’s name has been censored in text messages and mobile users cannot text each other the name!” Head of Hamrah-e-Avval, one of the major carriers in Iran, implied the order was from the higher ups: “We did not order the censorship!”

At the same time, Islamic Republic media tried to downplay the massive and widespread protests. IRGC’s Fars News reported “300-400 gathered in response to enemy’s call and chanted. They were dispersed by special units’ use of tear gas and baton!” In addition, they continued blaming everything on the “enemies of the sacred regime, including separatists!” The same narrative was used by the international arm of the regime’s propaganda network such as Ali Vaez! However, Mahsa Amini’s uncle had preemptively responded to such claims:

By Monday evening, Secretary Blinken and US State Department’s Spokesman tweeted about ongoing protests. Anthony Blinken asked the Islamic Republic to stop “systematic persecution of women and allow peaceful protests.” Ned Price’s tweet was along the same lines. Many celebrities, including “Harry Potter” creator and Sharone Stone shared the story of Mahsa. #MahsaAmini and her name in Persian (مهسا امینی) were used more than 10.2million times on Twitter, at the time of this writing.

Continued protests are expected, but so is extreme violence from the Islamic Republic oppressive forces. Empty-handed people have to stand up against machine guns and other military equipment. The regime used helicopters and tanks to crackdown November 2019.

Zhina, Mahsa’s other name, is derived from “Zhin” which means “Life” in Kurdish. Iranians deserve and want a better life. The world needs to stand up to the terrorist regime, or another massacre is to happen in Iran. Nobody can claim they did not know!

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