Iranians Stage Solidarity Strikes As Nationwide Protests Enter Sixth Week

By RFE/RL’s Radio Farda

Iranian factory workers and shopkeepers went on strike on October 22 as nationwide protests sparked by the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, arrested for “improperly” wearing a head scarf entered a sixth week, activists said.

The death of 22-year-old Amini has fueled the biggest protests seen in the Islamic republic in years.

Young women have led the charge, removing their head scarves, chanting anti-government slogans, and confronting the security forces on the streets, despite a crackdown that rights groups say has killed at least 215 people, including 27 children.

Activists issued a call for fresh demonstrations as the Iranian working week got under way on October 22, but it was difficult to immediately assess the turnout due to curbs on Internet access.

“On Saturday… We will be together for freedom,” activist Atena Daemi said in a Twitter post that bore an image of a bare-headed woman with her fist raised in the air.

The 1500tasvir social media channel said that there were “strikes in a couple of cities including Sanandaj, Bukan, and Saqez” but added that it was difficult to see evidence of them online as “the internet connection is too slow.”

Saqez, in the western province of Kurdistan, is Amini’s home town, where angry protests broke out at her burial last month, sparking the nationwide demonstrations.

The Norway-based Hengaw rights group also said that shopkeepers were on strike in Bukan, Sanandaj, Saqez, and Marivan.

At Shahid Beheshti University in Tehran, dozens of students were seen in a video tweeted by 1500tasvir clapping and chanting during a protest on October 22.

Dozens of workers were seen gathering outside the Aidin chocolate factory in Tabriz, the capital of East Azerbaijan province, in other footage it shared.

The videos have not been independently verified.

People were also gathering abroad for rallies in solidarity with the Iranian protest movement.

Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets of Berlin to show support. Iranian activist Hamed Esmaeilion — whose wife and daughter were killed when a Ukrainian passenger plane was shot down near Tehran in 2020 –is expected to be the main speaker in the German capital.

An online petition promoted by Esmaeilion asking the Group of Seven leading industrialized nations to expel the Islamic republic’s diplomats has so far garnered nearly 657,000 signatures.

In Tokyo, demonstrators held up portraits of Amini and others who have been killed in the crackdown, as well as a banner bearing the protest slogan, “Women, life, freedom.”

A teachers’ union in Iran has called for a nationwide strike on October 23 and 24.

The Coordinating Council of Teachers Syndicates said the “sit-in” would be in response to “systematic oppression” by the security forces at schools.

The council identified in a statement four teenagers who had been killed in the crackdown — Nika Shahkarami, Sarina Esmailzadeh, Abolfazl Adinezadeh, and Asra Panahi — and said a large number of teachers had been arrested without charge.

“Iran’s teachers do not tolerate these atrocities and tyranny and proclaims that we are for the people, and these bullets and pellets you shoot at the people target our lives and souls,” it said.

Meanwhile Reza Pahlavi, the exiled former crown prince of Iran, stressed in a speech on October 20 to the protesters that there is a need to form a “pluralist provisional government” for the transition from Iran’s Islamic republic.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian accused the United States of supporting the protests in an effort to win concessions in talks aimed at restarting the nuclear 2015 agreement.

“The Americans continue to exchange messages with us, but they are trying to fan the flames of what has been going on inside Iran in recent days,” Amir-Abdollahian said during a visit to Armenia.

U.S. officials have dismissed Tehran’s accusations that the weeks-long mass protests in Iran have been orchestrated by the United States or Israel