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In memory of Mahsa Amini's 23rd birth anniversary - how are things in Iran now?

Photo: Mural by Mahsa Amini - Domingo Alves, Creative Commons

Today would have been Mahsa Amini's 23rd birthday. Unfortunately, her life was horribly ended last year, 4 days before her 22nd birthday. She was arrested by the morality police for not covering her hair in the prescribed manner. After her arrest, she was mistreated to such an extent that she died of her injuries on 16 September 2022. Amini's death led to fierce protests across Iran against the country's strict-religious laws and severely curtailed freedom. Now, just over a year after her death, we can look back on the protests and see whether they have brought about any change in society. In addition, on Amini's death anniversary, four days ago, protests broke out again in several cities. Thus, the struggle against the regime continues.


Following Amini's death, large protests erupted in Iran against which the government cracked down. More than 500 protesters died, many others were injured and more than 20 thousand protesters were arrested. For a while it seemed that the government would allow more freedoms, but as time went on it became clear that this was not the case and extreme conservative parties in parliament were even pushing for even stricter legislation, for example on women's clothing. This legislation is today approved by the Iranian parliament for a 3-year trial period. The new law states that women who do not dress accordingly, mainly those seen as "collaborating with foreign actors" , can be sentenced to a prison term of between five and 10 years.

The now rekindled protests in recent days show that the tensions that existed in Iranian society have not disappeared since last year's protests. On 16 September, the anniversary of Amini's death, groups of protesters again took to the streets in several major cities. Riot police were present in large numbers and intervened harshly. They picked up more than 260 people and managed to prevent major protests in Tehran, for example. Even in the period leading up to 16 September, the Iranian government took several measures to ensure that the protests did not flare up again. The regime, for example, terminated journalists who published about the death of Amini imprisoned, for allegedly rebelling against the regime.


It is important to continue to highlight developments in Iran because peaceful protesters are systematically suppressed by the authorities. Repression has only increased over the past year and manifests itself in the harassment of activists, dissidents, academics, lawyers and other citizens. They are arrested, charged and intimidated in various ways to silence them. In addition, family members of protesters killed during the 2022 protests are threatened. Moral police are also patrolling again, checking whether women are wearing their headscarves in the prescribed manner. The work of these policemen was halted at the beginning of the 2022 protests, as there was great discontent from the population about this service and because Amini was killed by agents of this service. The Iranian authorities are thus doing everything possible to quell any resistance. Nevertheless, the public commemorations on Mahsa Amini's death anniversary show that Iranians are not giving up easily and continue to fight for their freedom.

Mahsa Amini's death and the ensuing protests were previously the subject of our political café on 7 February 2023. Read more about that here.