People protest in Trafalgar Square on the first anniversary of the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman arrested by the morality police in 2022 for flouting mandatory dress codes, in London, Britain, September 16, 2023.

Iran Protest Anniversary Marked With Rallies And Prison Fire

Saturday, 09/16/2023

The anniversary of Mahsa Amini's, whose death birthed the biggest anti-regime protests in Iran, was marked by heavy security, sporadic rallies and a prison fire. 

Since Saturday morning, social media was brimming with footage of security forces stationed at strategic spots in different cities as the regime had prepared its security forces in anticipation of protests.

Pockets of protests were reported throughout the day despite a heavy presence of regime agents, who were quick to act against any gathering that resembled the beginning of a demonstration, but as the night progressed, people started to build up confidence and pour into the streets chanting slogans against the regime. 

Mahsa Amini's death anniversary, which started with the regime putting her parents under house arrest and diverting water from a nearby dam to block access to her resting place, ended with reports about a fire purportedly started by female inmates in a prison near the capital Tehran.

State media said female convicts on death row set fire to the women's ward at the Qarchak jail by burning their clothes, claiming that it was unclear if the incident was linked to the protests. 

Earlier in the day, a Kurdish human rights group had reported that female inmates held protests at the prison to commemorate the anniversary. It also said special forces entered the ward, beat up the women and fired pellet bullets at some of the protesters. Moreover, detainees in the women's ward of Tehran's Evin Prison gathered in protest to mark the occasion, chanting slogans against the regime, refusing to enter their cells, and setting fire to their headscarves in the prison courtyard.

There are numerous reports of arrests of protesters and clashes between security forces and people during the day. In addition to the capital Tehran, cities of Rasht and Mashhad, which hosted President Ebrahim Raisi during the day were scenes of protests, in which people renewed their calls against the regime. 

The presence of security forces was intense and access to the internet was disrupted during the day to prevent the flow of information about any unrest. However, by midnight local time people were reported to be clashing with security forces in several neighborhoods of the capital and several other cities across the country. 

In Tehran and several predominantly Kurdish cities such as Kermanshah and Sanandaj, there were reports of gunshots fired at protesters. There is no immediate confirmation of possible casualties or information about the clashes. 

The regime tried to portray the clashes as not related to the popular uprising, with state media claiming that the security forces foiled numerous sabotage plots. To justify the house arrest of Mahsa Amini’s father, the regime said it foiled an assassination attempt on Mahsa's father Amjad Amini. 

The official IRNA news agency said the attempt on his life took place as he was on his way to visit his daughter's grave at the Aichi cemetery in the western town of Saqqez. "Security forces arrested several members of a terrorist group who wanted to assassinate Amjad Amini," IRNA said, citing the deputy governor of Kordestan province, Mehdi Ramezani.

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