Iranians strike to mark 2019 protests in fresh rebuff to ruling clerics


DUBAI, Nov 15 (Reuters) – Iranians went on strike in several cities on Tuesday to commemorate the 2019 protests over fuel prices, a display of dissent that was crushed by security forces in one of the bloodiest crackdowns in the history of the Islamic Republic.

The move will add to pressure on Iran’s clerical rulers, who have been battling two months of nationwide protests triggered by the death of 22-year-old Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini in the custody of the morality police.

In 2019, Reuters reported 1,500 people were killed in that wave of unrest, including at least 17 teenagers and about 400 women as well as some members of the security forces and police.

In the latest protests, the rights activist HRANA news agency said 344 people have been killed, including 52 minors. The news agency also reported 40 members of the security forces being killed, in addition to 15,820 people being arrested.

The demonstrations have turned into a legitimacy crisis for the clerical establishment, in power for more than four decades.

Videos shared on social media showed strikes and gatherings. Footage shared by activist 1500tasvir Twitter account showed closed shops in the Tehran Bazaar, with people gathering there to shout anti-government slogans.

Hengaw also reported mass strikes in several Kurdish-populated cities of northern and northwestern Iran, adding that universities in these locations had also gone on strike.

The Azad University of Karaj near Tehran did the same, with 1500 people sharing a video of the university’s empty corridors and closed doors. The Twitter account also showed a video of people at a metro shouting “death to the dictator”, a popular slogan referring to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Reuters could not verify the authenticity of the videos.

In the central Iranian city of Isfahan, steel workers stood outside their factory and joined the strike. 1500 Tasvir said the workers were using the slogan “enough with promises, our table is empty.”

Support for the protest movement is pouring in from various parts of Iranian society, with famous retired footballer Ali Daei saying on Instagram that he refused FIFA’s invitation to attend the World Cup in Qatar.

“In these difficult days when most of us are unwell, I have given a negative response to FIFA’s invitation and prefer to stay alongside my compatriots and share my condolences to families who have recently lost their loved ones,” Daei said.

Iran, which said Amini’s death was due to pre-existing conditions, has blamed its foreign enemies, including the United States, for the unrest.

On Monday, the European Union imposed additional sanctions on the Islamic Republic over the crackdown on protests and French president Emmanuel Macron characterizing the unrest as a revolution. (Writing by Michael Georgy, Editing by William Maclean)



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