Iran: Protesters return to streets to mark 40 days since executions
Protesters returned to the streets of Iran on Thursday night, calling for freedom and the overthrow of the Islamic Republic.
The marches across several cities, including the capital, were launched to mark 40 days since two protesters were executed.
Mohammad Mehdi Karami and Seyyed Mohammad Hosseini were hanged in early January, after being found guilty of killing a member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's volunteer Basij force during anti-government protests.
Demonstrations swept across the country following the death in custody of Mahsa Amini on 16 September. She was arrested for allegedly wearing her mandatory hijab "inappropriately".
Unverified footage widely shared on social media showed protesters rallying in Tehran, Karaj, Isfahan and Mashhad, among several other Iranian cities late on Thursday, after a lull in protest activity in recent weeks.
"Unfortunately the number of protesters weren’t too much, we were like 50 or 60 people," Soroush, 35, told Middle East Eye after participating in protests in the Ferdos Boulevard neighbourhood west of Tehran.
Soroush said police did not allow the demonstrations to grow and dispersed the crowd.
“They didn’t hit us, but they urged us and the other protesters to go home. However, they did detain at least two people,” Soroush said.
Police confront protesters
Videos showed people clapping and marching, chanting slogans including “Freedom, freedom, freedom” and “Death to the dictator”.
“The inflation rate is going up and that encourages more people to join us in the near future,” said Farzad, 32, who was also at Ferdos Boulevard.
A number of the videos appeared to show live bullets being fired, as well as armed police confronting protesters.
BBC Persian posted on its Telegram channel footage taken from inside a car showing a security officer in riot gear holding a baton approaching the vehicle before the video goes dark.
The owner of the video, taken in Tehran's Sadeghieh district, told BBC Persia that the officer smashed the car's rear windshield after he saw them recording.
A Tehran-based former conservative official told MEE he expects future protests to be more centred around the worsening economic crisis, which has seen prices soaring across the board, than the issue of the mandatory hijab.
“The poorer classes will stand next to the middle class, and that combination is dangerous...the economic protests will pose a much more important threat to the establishment,” he said.
More than 500 protesters have been killed since September and over 20,000 detained, according to the US-based Human Rights Activists News Agency.
Four have been executed and at least 109 people are facing the death penalty in protest-related cases, according to the Norway-based group Iran Human Rights.