As the anniversary of Mahsa Jina Amini’s death nears, Iran is ramping up its crackdown on civil society, aiming to suppress public commemoration of Amini, a symbol of the government’s systematic oppression, particularly against women. The educational sector is also facing repercussions with university instructors being dismissed and students facing disciplinary actions for their activism. 

As the anniversary of Mahsa Jina Amini‘s death [Sep 16 2023] approaches, Iran intensifies its crackdown on civil society. The government aims to suppress public commemoration of Amini’s death, a symbol of its systematic oppression, especially against women. Human Rights Watch urges UN member states to focus on the activists’ plight in their engagements with Iranian representatives. The Iranian regime faces growing resistance and calls for fundamental change from a frustrated society.


Iran has escalated its repression through various means including intimidation, arrests, and trials targeting activists, artists, and students, among others. The government has also been enforcing strict hijab rules, pressuring private businesses to adhere to these regulations. Families of those killed in the 2022 protests are facing increased scrutiny and pressure, with human rights groups investigating over 500 deaths, including 69 children, from the protests. The government has been discouraging families from holding memorial services for the victims.


The crackdown extends to the educational sector, with numerous university instructors facing dismissals and suspensions for criticizing government policies. Students too are facing disciplinary actions for their activism related to the protests. Artists supporting the protest movement have not been spared; many face arrests and prosecutions, including charges for releasing songs in support of the movement. Despite a broad amnesty announced in February, many human rights defenders and protesters facing serious charges were excluded, and the crackdown continues with new arrests and sentences.


Iran is also witnessing a stringent enforcement of compulsory hijab laws, with women, including celebrities, facing prosecution for defying the dress code. The government is advancing a draft bill to impose additional penalties for non-compliance with hijab rules, moving forward without public debate. The international community, which supported the protest movement vocally last year, is urged to continue backing the activists, artists, and civil society members resisting oppression in Iran, recognizing that achieving the protesters’ demands is a long-term endeavor.

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