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Iran, 100 Days and Counting:

Righteous Mass Uprising Against Patriarchy and Oppression Rocks Fascist Theocracy

One hundred days ago, it seemed like Iran’s Islamic Republic was unshakeable. This system is dominated by imperialism and ruled by fascist, fundamentalist religious leaders. For 43 years, they have used their forces of repression—police, militia and armed forces—now one million strong, to brutally oppress Iran’s 85 million people, especially women and minority nationalities. Thousands of radicals and revolutionaries, as well as dissident artists and intellectuals, have been imprisoned and many have been executed.1 In the summer of 1988 alone, the Islamic Republic executed thousands of political prisoners.2

September 16, 2022: The Dam Breaks

Mahsa Amina, 22 year old who was arrested, tortured, and beaten and died.


Mahsa Amini, 22, died from brutality and torture in the custody of Iran's "morality police."   

Protest and rebellion has rocked the Islamic Republic a number of times, including powerfully in 2009, 2017, and 2019. But on September 16, the dam broke in a more profound and unprecedented way.

Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman just beginning her life, was visiting the Iranian capital of Tehran on September 13. She was detained and beaten by the “morality police,” supposedly because her hijab (scarf) didn’t cover all her hair. The beating put her in the Intensive Care Unit; she died on September 16.

In Iran, women are dogged, degraded, and often brutalized every day and for their whole lives. The Islamic Republic’s constitution and legal code treats women as less than fully human. They’re subordinate to their husbands, their fathers, their brothers, and to this whole theocratic system. Women are forbidden from jogging, from dancing in public, from riding a bicycle. They can be forced into marriage at 13 years old, but they can’t get a divorce without the okay of a male judge. And the regime tells them how to dress and how to lookforcing them to wear suffocating “modest” clothing and head coverings whenever they leave home, and bullying, arresting and assaulting them if they don’t.

Mahsa’s murder was the last straw. Thousands of women and men exploded in rage. “Protests broke out immediately in front of the hospital as photos of her youthful smile appeared next to images of her battered body attached to a ventilator in a hospital bed spread on social media like wildfire,” reported. “From Iran’s capital Tehran to the Kurdish city of Saqqez, angry chants rang out of “death to the oppressor” and “death to the [supreme leader Ali] Khamenei” with protesters throwing rocks at banners of his image.”

This was the beginning of an unprecedented nationwide outpouring against the regime that has continued for over 100 days.

By September 24, protests reportedly took place in 146 cities, covering every one of Iran’s 31 provinces, not only in major cities but in remote regions.

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Women have been in the forefront of many protests, joining with others to demand “Woman. Life. Freedom.” They’ve danced around bonfires, tearing off their hijabs and throwing them into the flames. They’ve waved them like banners urging on marching protesters. At universities, women and men have been strictly separated. Now men and women students tore down barriers in cafeterias so they could eat together. Or they went outside and picnicked on the grass, joyfully defying the regime’s misogynist rules. Women in Iran and around the world have cut their hair (long hair is a symbol of women accepting their “place”) in protest and solidarity.

Kurdistan and Baluchistan—Centers of Rebellion

The Kurdish and Baluch peoples are among Iran’s bitterly oppressed, minority nationalities. These and other oppressed nationalities, as well as minority religions (like Sunni Muslims and the Baháʼí community) suffer severe discrimination and violent repression. Large portions of these populations live in desperate poverty.

Since September, Kurdistan in northwest Iran and Sistan-Baluchistan in southeast Iran have been centers of rebellion and massive militant protests. They have also been targets of the Islamic Republic’s barbaric repression. For example, in the Baluchi city of Zahedan on September 30, regime forces opened fire on people leaving a prayer service close to a planned protest. A young man told the New York Times, “’It was a massacre I had only seen in movies. … They started shooting as people still had their heads bowed in prayer.” Between 66 and 86 people were killed in a few hours, most shot in the back.

In November, it was reported that nearly 30 percent of the total protesters killed in Iran were Baluch people, even though they only make up two percent of the population!

Broader Forces Join the Uprising

High school and even middle school students, especially girls, have joined the uprising with incredible energy. They’ve chanted against the regime in their classrooms and on playgrounds. They’ve lined up for the chance to stomp pictures of the “Supreme Leader” Ali Khamenei.

On November 3, 40 lawyers issued a statement denouncing the regime’s repression and declaring that the Iranian people “will no longer be deceived by lies and promises … [the people] are asking the Mullahs to leave.” Not long after that, Taraneh Alidoosti, a beloved and respected Iranian actor, posted a picture of herself without hijab on Instagram. This inspired other female filmmakers and actors to post similar pictures. Later Taraneh was arrested.

Many Iranian athletes and teams—including the Iranian World Cup soccer team—have protested either by not wearing hijabs during events or by refusing to sing the Iranian national anthem. Workers have gone on strike, including in the economically crucial gas and oil industries. Some strikes have included explicitly political demands such as freeing political prisoners.

People’s thinking began to change. One young woman said, “As long as I remember, I always wanted, and I couldn't do anything [about the regime and its policies] because I was alone. Now, I feel we are united.” Others talked about how their deeply religious moms were starting to be won over.

A Growing Radical, Revolutionary Edge

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The protests have gotten increasingly radical. What began (and remained) as a righteous uprising against the oppression of women, is now raising other grievances. Uprisings in past years have demanded reforms from the Islamic Republic. Now, people are insistently demanding revolution and an end to the Islamic Republic. Protesters say there is “no turning back.”

On September 21, protesters in the city of Amol charged at police attacking them and forced them to retreat. On September 26, reported that “A deluge of Instagram and Facebook posts show burning government buildings, police stations, and police cars, some with women standing atop them waving their hijabs while shouting, ‘We don’t want the Islamic Republic!’”

Government officials who have tried to speak at universities and high schools have been run off campus by angry crowds. On November 18, people set fire to the former home (now a museum) of Ayatollah Khomeini, who led the founding of theocratic rule in Iran in 1979. Burning his former home was an unprecedented act of rebellion against the regime, its ideology and its leaders.

Savage and Sadistic Repression

The response of the regime to this uprising has been escalating savagery, depraved and brutal repression. In the first nine days of the uprising, 180 people were reportedly killed and 8,000 arrested. As of December 30, at least 508 protesters have been killed, including 69 children, and at least 19,000 have been arrested.3

The regime has targeted groups it hates and fears. Women protesters, including young girls, are reporting being raped and sexually abused. CNN reports4 that one 20-year-old woman was arrested for social media posts against the regime, and later taken to the hospital. Hospital employees said she was shaking, her head was shaved, and she was “hemorrhaging from her rectum … due to repeated rape.” The same article reports on the widespread rape of women, girls, and young boys in the regime’s detention centers. Some detainees are never seen again.

The regime is also stepping up its executions—including for the “crime” of protesting—to terrorize people. The first execution of a protester came on December 8 at a Tehran prison. A second man was hanged from a construction crane four days later. In the last few weeks, Iran’s fascist judicial machine has quickly tried and sentenced people without any real legal representation. It is reported that at least 100 people have already been sentenced to death or are facing trial on death penalty charges.

The regime’s depraved violence and cruelty also includes:

  • On October 15, a massive fire broke out in Evin Prison, where most political prisoners are held. This was followed by an armed assault by police forces on the inmates. At least eight died and at least 61 were injured. There is significant evidence that this was a pre-planned assault by the IRI on the inmates.
  • Children are being tortured and murdered. Children and young adults have been tortured so severely that it either killed them or pushed them to suicide. One 23-year-old man died in custody, supposedly of a “heart attack.” But his family reported that “His face was smashed. His nose, jaw and chins were broken. His torso from his neck to his navel, and over his kidneys, was stitched up.”5
  • Dissident film and theater industry artists and workers have been imprisoned, subjected to torture, and in some cases execution. An estimated 100 are now in prison, including rapper Toomaj Salehi and actor Hossein Mohammadi. Both are facing possible execution.

In the face of all this bloodshed and brutality, the people of Iran are continuing to find ways to speak out against and resist their widely hated regime. For example, as of December 30, there have been at least 1,230 protests in 161 cities and 144 universities across Iran during the 105 days of the uprising.6

The secret diaries of courageous women protesters in Iran—A video by BBC News

What does it feel like to put your life and liberty on the line just to attend a protest? Or to carry medical supplies hidden in your backpack to a "safe house" treating wounded demonstrators who dare not go to the hospital? How does your religious mother react to the regime violently enforcing enslaving religious codes against women that she herself believes in... and to you risking your life to oppose this?

These are some of the experiences brought vividly to life in a video by BBC News consisting of excerpts of voice notes, writings and drawings that have been sent by women in Iran to BBC correspondent Saba Zavarei during the current uprising. They must delete notes or videos every day in case their phones are confiscated, so this provided a way to share this information with the wider world. The video is illustrated with animated drawings and news footage from Iran.



1. See “Update from the Emergency Campaign to Free Iran’s Political Prisoners—The Urgency of Acting Now: Executions Underscore Danger to Iran’s Political Prisoners,”, April 19, 2021. [back]

2. See “Revolutionary Defiance of Torture and Death: Iranian Ex-Political Prisoners Bear Witness,”, October 26, 2008. See also, “Iran: Blood-soaked secrets: Why Iran’s 1988 prison massacres are an ongoing crime against humanity,” Amnesty International, December 4, 2018. [back]

3. Human rights activists say that the regime is “disappearing” many people so they are not counted. It is also terrorizing the families of people they murder into remaining silent or saying their loved ones died of “natural causes.” One activist estimates the death toll may be as high as 1,000. [back]

4. “How Iran’s security forces use rape to quell protests,” November 21, 2022. [back]

5. Iran protests: Family finds signs of torture on man's exhumed body, BBC, December 19, 2022. [back]

6. Iran Protests 2022—Daily Update December 30, HRANA Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA). [back]

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