Pictured: Crowds gathered outside a police headquarters in southeastern Tehran, seeking updates on the status of their loved ones who were arrested during protests on September 16, 2023 for exercising their basic rights of free speech and assembly.
Stop Iran Now Via Iran International
September 18, 2023
During rallies on the anniversary of Mahsa Amini’s death in custody, Iranian security apparatus arrested dozens of protesters across the country.
State media in Iran only published scattered reports about the arrests in different cities and did not disclose any details about their identities or the circumstances surrounding their apprehension.
Regime authorities only label the detainees as "vandals" and "counter revolutionaries," accusing them of "disrupting public order" or “planning sabotage.”
Human rights groups have identified a small number of the arrestees. Several family members of the protesters who were killed during last year’s rallies are among those detained. Fahimeh Moradi -- the bereaving mother of 19-year-old Yalda Aghafazli -- and Jaber Najafi -- the father of Hadis Najafi, who was shot dead by live bullets, were among those who were arrested Saturday.
Iranian actress Hanieh Tavassoli was also arrested Saturday and released on bail the following day. Theater director Ali Nourani and poet Nima Safar were also arrested on Saturday. Nourani was detained after regime agents raided his home but there is no information on how Safar was arrested.
Internet shutdowns have also made verifying the extent of oppression difficult as the regime disrupted down the country's internet system over the anniversary period.
People in numerous Iranian cities took to streets on Saturday to mark the day Mahsa Amini died at the hands of the morality police, the incident that sparked Iran’s largest anti-regime protests known as the Women, Life, Freedom movement.
Despite internet disruptions, videos surfaced online showing demonstrations throughout multiple cities, including the capital Tehran, Karaj, Mashad, Ahvaz, Lahijan, Arak, and several Kurdish majority cities such as Sanandaj, Divandareh, Baneh, and Marivan as well as Mahsa’s hometown Saqqez. The turnout was not as large as last year’s protests amid a massive security presence.
Iranian security forces especially cracked down on protests in Kurdish areas of the country - Amini of Kurdish-Iranian heritage - and briefly detained the father of Mahsa Amini. The Revolutionary Guards also claimed they have detained a dual national suspected of "trying to organize unrest and sabotage."
Judiciary and security officials have refrained from announcing the exact number of detainees, but the Saturday arrests were reported in dozens of cities including Gorgan, Fasa, Bojnourd, Zahedan, Zanjan, and Qeshm.
Rahim Jahanbakhs, the police commander of West Azarbaijan Province, said that 137 people had been detained, charged with "disturbing public opinion in virtual space." Most of the arrested individuals published various content “to mislead public opinion and inciting unrest.”
Javad Hashemi, the Deputy for Political, Security, and Social Affairs of Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad Province Governor office, said “at least 15 protesters" were detained in Dehdasht city.
In Kordestan Province, Amanollah Gashtasbi, the IRGC commander of the province, reported the detention of "14 individuals" in the nighttime rallies in the cities of Sanandaj, Divandareh, Baneh, and Marivan. In Esfahan (Isfahan), police announced the detention of "10 citizens" for "intending to create turmoil."