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Iranian shop owners and factory workers join strike as Mahse Amini’s protests spread

Iranian shop owners and factory workers join strike as Mahse Amini’s protests spread

PARIS – Traders and factory workers went on strike in Iran on Saturday as nationwide protests over the death of Mahsa Amini in custody entered their sixth week, activists said.

The death of 22-year-old Amina, after her arrest for allegedly violating Iran’s strict dress code for women, sparked the biggest protests seen in the Islamic Republic in years.

Young women led the charge, removing their headscarves, chanting anti-government slogans and clashing with security forces in the streets, despite a crackdown that rights groups say has killed at least 122 people.

Activists called for more demonstrations as Iran’s work week began on Saturday, but it was difficult to immediately gauge turnout due to restrictions on internet access.

“On Saturday… We will stand together for freedom,” activist Athena Daemi said in a post on Twitter that carried a picture of a topless woman with her fist raised in the air.

Social media channel 1500tasvir told AFP that there were “strikes in several cities including Sanandaj, Bukan and Saqez”, but added that it was difficult to see evidence of them online because “the internet connection is too slow”.

An Iranian woman protests the death of a 22-year-old woman, Mahsa Amini, after she was detained by morality police in Tehran, October 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Middle East Images)

Saqez, in the western province of Kurdistan, is Amini’s hometown, where anger erupted at her funeral last month, helping to spark a protest movement.

Norway-based human rights group Hengaw also said traders are on strike in Bukan, Sanandaj and Saqez, as well as Marivan.

‘Systematic oppression’

Elsewhere, dozens of students were seen clapping and chanting during a protest at Tehran’s Shahid Beheshti University, in a video posted on Twitter by 1500tasvir on Saturday.

Dozens of workers were seen gathering outside the Aidin chocolate factory in Tabriz, the capital of East Azerbaijan province, in other footage he released. AFP could not immediately verify the videos.

People also gathered around the world on Saturday in solidarity rallies with Iran’s protest movement.

In Tokyo, demonstrators held portraits of Amini and others who were killed in the suffocation, as well as a banner with the protest slogan: “Women, life, freedom.”

People demonstrate during the “Rally for the Freedom of Iran” following the death of Mahsa Amini in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo on October 22, 2022 (Yuichi Yamazaki/AFP)

Iranians living in Germany were gathering in Berlin ahead of a major demonstration later on Saturday, activists said.

A teachers’ union in Iran has called for a nationwide strike on Sunday and Monday over a crackdown that Amnesty International says has cost the lives of at least 23 children.

In a statement, the Coordinating Council of Teachers’ Unions said the “sit-in” would be in response to “systematic oppression” by security forces in schools.

It identified the four teenagers killed in the action – Nika Shahkarami, Sarina Esmailzadeh, Abolfazl Adinezadeh and Asra Panahi – and said a number of teachers had been arrested without charge.

“Iranian teachers do not tolerate these crimes and tyranny and proclaim that we are for the people, and those bullets and bullets you are firing at people are targeting our lives and souls,” it said.

‘Imprisonment, maiming and killing’

Activists have also accused the authorities of a campaign of mass arrests and travel bans to quell the protests, with athletes, celebrities and journalists caught in the net.

The Iranian climber, who was reportedly placed under house arrest for competing abroad last weekend without a headscarf, thanked her supporters on Instagram overnight.

Iranian competitive climber Elnaz Rekabi speaks to reporters at Imam Khomeini International Airport in Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2022. (IRNA via AP)

Elnaz Rekabi, 33, wore only a headband at the event at the Asian Championships in Seoul, in what many saw as a gesture of solidarity with the Amini protests.

“I sincerely thank everyone who came to the airport to welcome me, I love you,” Rekabi said in her first comments on social media since returning to Iran on Wednesday to a hero’s welcome.

The BBC and London-based Iran International television announced on Friday that Rekabi had been placed under house arrest.

Her phone was reportedly taken before she flew home.

On Friday, the New York-based human rights group called on the International Sport Climbing Federation to do more to protect her.

The IFSC “should engage with human rights organizations to protect pro-climber #ElnazRekabi and all Iranian athletes,” the Center for Human Rights in Iran tweeted.

“Don’t take the government of Iran at its word – it has a documented history of detaining, maiming and killing those who oppose it,” added CHRI.

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