Our statement on Iran – one year on

On the 16th of September last year, 22-year-old Mahsa (Jina) Amini died by police brutality after being arrested by Iran’s “morality police” for failing to properly cover her hair.

Her death triggered a wave of anti-government protests that lasted for several months, with security forces responding swiftly and violently across the nation.

As the anniversary approaches, the police have announced that they will “not tolerate any kind of individual or collective behaviour and action in violation of the [hijab] law”. Iranian authorities have prepared by installing cameras in public places to enforce the rule and promised harsh responses for those who break it; social media content is monitored and internet access is often blocked. They have even urged citizens to confront unveiled women, which has led to acts of violence from civilians.

In spite of the threat, women are not backing down: many are walking the streets of Iran without their headscarves on, risking violence and arrest, an act which would have been unthinkable a year ago. Many more are preparing for protests on the anniversary, with the full knowledge that security forces are preparing to come down hard on those involved.

While the headscarf remains a powerful symbol, the issues it represents are much greater – as a starting point, it is about bodily autonomy and fundamental human rights for women. In BBC’s From Our Own Correspondent, two young Iranian women, Zara and Laila, were keen to point out that demonstrations have been painted as a feminist uprising against the headscarf because it makes for a palatable story in the West, but that it’s not the most important thing: ‘When a woman chooses not to wear one, she’s saying no to every aspect of this regime […] it’s about civil injustice, the environment, the economy’. The absence of the headscarf has become a protest against the living conditions for Iranian people that has led to calls for the end of the Republic.

Solace stands in solidarity with the women of Iran and the The Woman Life Freedom movement in their fight to end the systemic oppression of women in Iran. We continue to be moved by the resistance and resilience shown by protestors and our thoughts are with the loved ones of all the people who have lost their lives over the last year.

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