Thousands of people took to the streets on Tuesday evening, with videos of protests emerging from dozens of towns and cities – ranging from the capital Tehran to more traditionally conservative strongholds like Mashad.
Footage shows protesters chanting “Women, Life, Freedom”. Others can be seen lighting bonfires, brawling with police or removing and burning their headscarves – as well as destroying posters of the country’s supreme leader and shouting ‘Death to the dictator “.
In a video in Tehran, young protesters march around a bonfire in the street at night, chanting: “We are the children of war. Come and fight, and we will fight back.”
Almost all provincial towns in Iran’s Kurdish region, including Kermanshah and Hamedan, also saw protests.
The protests are striking in their scale, their ferocity and their rare feminist character; the last protests of this magnitude date back three years, after the government raised petrol prices in 2019.
Witnesses told CNN that Tuesday night’s protests appear to be ‘flash protests’ – meaning groups form and break up quickly, to avoid clashes with Iranian security forces after violence escalates of last week.
A source said there was at least one instance of a brutal police response on Tuesday, near Iran’s Enghelab (“Revolution”) Square, on the west side of Tehran University – historically a rallying point for events.
“Two young men were kicked and beaten by plainclothes and riot police, then dragged to the van outside (the) subway entrance door,” a witness told CNN. “An injured young girl lying on the sidewalk was taken by ambulance to hospital, and five others were arrested on the north side of Enghelab Square.”
He said another 75 people were injured in other cities over the weekend.
The protests erupted after the death of Amini, who was arrested and detained by Iranian morality police last Tuesday.
Iranian officials said Amini died last Friday after suffering a “heart attack” and falling into a coma following her arrest.
However, her family said she had no pre-existing heart condition, according to Emtedad News, a pro-reform Iranian media outlet that claimed to have spoken to Amini’s father.
Edited security camera footage released by Iranian state media appears to show Amini collapsing at a “re-education” center where she was taken for “counselling” on her dress code.
Iran’s morality police are part of the country’s law enforcement and are tasked with enforcing the Islamic Republic’s strict social rules, including its dress code that requires women to wear a headscarf, or hijab, in public. .
An aide to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei promised a “thorough investigation” into Amini’s death during a meeting with his family at their home on Monday, according to Iran’s semi-official Nour News agency.
Abdolreza Pourzahabi, Khamenei’s representative in Iran’s Kurdish province, said the supreme leader “is sad” and that the family’s grief “is also his grief”, according to Nour.
He added that he hopes the family will show “good will to help bring calm to society”.
He added that Amini was not physically harmed during or after her arrest and called her death “unfortunate”.
Since Amini’s death, internet monitoring website Netblocks has documented internet outages since Friday – a tactic Iran has previously used to prevent the protests from spreading.