Iranian authorities are claiming that protests are over, threatening activists and celebrities amid calls to strike by various groups including some oil workers.
Officials, who only refer to the protests as “riots” and blame “foreign enemies”, claimed Thursday that ‘rioters’ are back in their homes, and all is quiet now, before protests resumed in the afternoon.
“The recent riots have ended, and security has been established in Tehran which has been secure in the past few nights,” governor of Tehran Province, Mohsen Mansouri said Thursday. “We will take action against celebrities who fanned the fire of the riots,” he said.
Authorities also say they have arrested some of the “leaders of the riots” in various cities and threatened to take action against celebrities many of whom have published posts on social media supporting the protesters’ cause and condemning violence against them.
Reports on social media Wednesday, however, portrayed a different picture. These reports said protesters were staging smaller flash mob style protests in many areas amid the very heavy presence of security forces and plainclothes agents, who had turned out in large numbers on foot and on motorbikes, amid serious disruption of the internet.
Various reports point to a situation of physical and psychological fatigue for security forces, as protesters seem determined to persevere.
Teenage boys in Basij militia uniforms holding batons and shields have been circulating on social media, showing them deployed in the streets on Wednesday
Disruption of the internet has seriously affected uploading of footage from protests on social media platforms all of which are now blocked. Some new footage of protests from previous days is still emerging on social media. Mostafa Faghihi, managing director of Entekhab website, in a tweet Wednesday said he had to try various VPNs for five hours to finally access his Twitter account at four in the morning.
Calls to strike have come from various groups, including teachers and university students. In a video posted on the union’s Twitter Wednesday a truck driver says some drivers have been on strike for three days but have not been able to inform others of their call to strike due to internet disruptions. On Thursday, the coordination council of contracted oil industry workers issued a statement saying they would go on strike if suppression of protesters and arrests continue.
Meanwhile, media have been gagged from reporting the protests altogether. There were no photos and no headlines referring to the protests on the front pages of newspapers, but a few have ventured some mild criticism of the situation. Hardliner newspapers such as the IRGC-linked Javan newspaper, however, beat on the drums of revenge against celebrities for siding with protesters. “The Law’s Priority Is Punishing Rioter Celebrities”, Javan printed across its front-page Thursday.
Authorities have also targeted journalists. Niloufar Hamedi from the reformist Sharq newspaper, who had reported Mahsa’s case from the hospital with a photo of the young woman in coma was arrested several days ago whileElaheh Mohammadi, a journalist with the reformist Ham Mihan newspaper, who had reported the funeral of Mahsa Amini, the young woman whose death in custody sparked the protests, from her hometown Saqqez in Kordestan Province, was also arrested Thursday.
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) on Wednesday published a list of 16 journalists arrested in Iran since the protests began.