Widespread general strike
On 16 September 2023, coinciding with the first anniversary of Iran’s killing of Jina Mahsa Amini and the beginning of the Jin Jiyan Azadi (Woman, Life, Freedom) uprising, many cities in Kurdistan commenced their day with a widespread general strike.
This general strike had been called for by Kurdish opposition parties and had garnered support from activists and civilians in Kurdistan.
The Kurdistan Human Rights Network (KHRN) has learned that local businesses in Saqqez, Mahabad, Oshnavieh, Piranshahr, Bukan, Divandarreh, Dehgolan, Sanandaj, Baneh, Marivan, and Kamyaran observed a complete shutdown of their businesses on this day.
In addition, in cities like Ilam, Abdanan, Sardasht, and Javanrud, parts of the market were closed in solidarity with the strike.
Security forces had previously warned local business owners and shopkeepers through summonses against participating in the strike and closing their businesses on this day.
Several business owners in various Kurdish cities had received threats of consequences such as bank account freezes, business license suspensions, business closures, and even detention if they participated in the strikes, the KHRN has learned.
Extensive military and security presence at city entrances and streets
In the days leading up to the anniversary of Jina Mahsa Amini’s government killing and the start of the anti-government protests, the Islamic Republic of Iran deployed thousands of its military and security personnel, along with military vehicles and equipment, from neighbouring provinces to the central cities of West Azerbaijan, Kurdistan, Kermanshah, and Ilam provinces. These areas had witnessed widespread protests in the past year.
Since 15 September, Special Forces, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) units, and security personnel in plain clothes have been stationed in the streets and neighbourhoods of many Kurdish cities, including Ilam, Abdanan, Bukan, Bijar, Sanandaj, Saqqez, Kermanshah, Kamyaran, Mahabad, Marivan, Divandarreh, Dehgolan, Sardasht, Piranshahr and Oshnavieh.
The security-military presence in some of these cities continue to be extremely high, the KHRN has learned.
Simultaneously, more of these forces were on standby at military and IRGC garrisons.
In recent weeks, surveillance cameras were installed on most of the main streets of these cities on the orders of security services in Azerbaijan, Kurdistan, Kermanshah and Ilam provinces, a move that further underscores the heightened security measures.
Based on images and videos published on 16 September, military and security helicopters and reconnaissance drones were observed in the skies of Saqqez, Bukan, Divandarreh, and Darreh Drezh neighbourhood of Kermanshah.
Sources in Saqqez, Kamyaran, Sanandaj, and Bukan also reported the establishment of inspection checkpoints at the entrances and exits of these cities by the IRGC, where they controlled civilians’ identification documents and mobile phones during inspections.
The establishment of static inspection and civilian control posts, especially in the city of Saqqez, the hometown of Jina Mahsa Amini, has been much stricter, the KHRN has learned.
Since 16 September, the IRGC forces have prevented the entry of civilians who are not residents of Saqqez by deploying at all entrances to the city.
Simultaneously, the IRGC armoured corps, while stationed on the route to the Aichi cemetery where the grave of Jina Mahsa Amini is located, on 16 September, prevented civilians from accessing the cemetery to commemorate the anniversary of her death.
These forces also opened one of the gates of the Cheragh Vais dam to block access to the grave of Jina through secondary routes.
People’s protest gatherings and government’s violent suppression
Despite the widespread presence of military and security forces and a highly secure atmosphere, on 16 September, coinciding with the anniversary of the government’s murder of Jina Mahsa Amini and the beginning of the Jin, Jiyan, Azadi (Woman, Life, Freedom) uprising, groups of people in some cities in Kurdistan and other cities in Iran once again took to the streets, protesting and chanting slogans against the government.
People’s protest gatherings in the cities of Sanandaj, Kermanshah, Bukan, and Mahabad were brutally suppressed by government forces.
Many protesters were severely beaten and many others were detained by these forces.
According to reports, special units and IRGC forces equipped with weapons such as Kalashnikovs and sniper rifles also opened fire on the protesters in some cases.
Fardin Jafari, a 27-year-old civilian from the village of Mameh Shah in Saqqez, was one of those who was targeted by the IRGC snipers near the Aichi cemetery in Saqqez on the afternoon of 16 September and was wounded by a bullet to his head.
Jafari, who has a documented mental disability and is from the village of Mameh Shah in Saqqez, was targeted by an IRGC sniper on the road near Aichi cemetery as he was returning to his village, the Kurdistan Human Rights Network (KHRN) has learned.
Following the incident, Jafari was immediately admitted to the intensive care unit of Shafa Hospital in Saqqez.
Pressure on families of victims
In recent weeks, security authorities have continued to exert pressure on the families who lost their loved ones during the protests of the past year.
They have summoned and detained several of these families across Iran to prevent the commemoration ceremonies for the deceased.
Some of the family members who have been summoned, threatened, or arrested in recent weeks are: Amjad Amini and Safa Aeli, the father and uncle of Jina Mahsa Amini; Reza Babrnezhad, the brother of Mehdi Babrnezhad; Hassan Daroftadeh and Mardin Daroftadeh, the father and brother of Komar Daroftadeh; Mashallah Karami, the father of Mohammad Mehdi Karami; Sharmin Habibi, the wife of Fereydoun Mahmoudi; Abdollah Aboubakri, the father of Zanyar Aboubakri; and Shahrouz Hosseinpouri, the brother of Azad Hosseinpouri; Ahmad Hassanzadeh and Solmaz Hassanzadeh, the father and sister of Mohammad Hassanzadeh; Rezan Saedi and Moayyad Saeid, the aunt and brother of Sarina Saedi; Omid Niyazi, the brother of Mohsen Niyazi; Khosrow Fathi, the son of Habibollah Fathi; and the family of Erfan Khazaei.
The KHRN has learned that the Ministry of Intelligence in various Kurdish cities have threatened the families of those who lost their lives during last year’s protests, stating that they have no right whatsoever to hold anniversary ceremonies for their loved ones.
Some members of these families have been threatened with detention or even death.
On 16 September, security forces also detained Amjad Amini, Jina’s father, as he left his home in Saqqez on the anniversary day of his daughter’s death.
He was released after several hours of interrogation and threats about not holding a commemoration ceremony for his daughter.
However, security forces continued to surround Jina’s family home until the end of the day, not allowing them to leave their house.
Jina’s parents had previously announced that they would hold the anniversary ceremony at their daughter’s gravesite.
In recent weeks, security forces had repeatedly summoned Amjad Amini, pressuring him to negate this announcement and refrain from holding the anniversary ceremonies.
The interrogators had also threatened Jina’s father, warning that any family member engaging in activities, sharing messages on social media, or attending Jina’s grave during the anniversary would result in the arrest of their other child, Ashkan.
Earlier, on 5 September, security forces arrested Jina’s uncle, Safa Aeli, in Saqqez as part of the ongoing pressures on the Amini family.
Extensive summonses and arrests of civilians
In the continuation of summons and arrests of Kurdish civilians, there has been a widespread wave of summonses and detentions of activists and civilians in various Kurdish cities by security and judicial authorities over the past month.
Among these are hundreds of civilians who had been detained over the past year for participating in protests in these cities, were re-summoned and threatened not to participate in the anniversary ceremonies.
These individuals were forced to sign written pledges promising not to take part in the anniversary protests of the uprising. They were warned of severe consequences, including imprisonment and substantial fines if they disobeyed these orders.
According to statistics compiled by the KHRN, in the past two weeks alone, at least 125 Kurdish civilians and activists have been detained by security forces in Marivan, Saqqez, Sanandaj, Divandarreh, Mahabad, Dehloran, Arak, Kamyaran, Qorveh, Javanrud, Kermanshah, Baneh, Bukan, and Oshnavieh.
In addition, dozens of Kurdish civilians have been summoned by security authorities for posting written content and pictures on social media and have been released after signing written undertakings.
This comes at a time when internet access in many Kurdish cities has experienced severe disruptions in recent days.
KHRN’s sources in various cities have reported internet outages or very slow speeds in their areas.
Identities of detained civilians
Saturday, 16 September
Saqqez: Loghman Bidari, Mohammad Ghafourinezhad, Mehran Saedi, Sirvan Hassani, Farzad Rahmati
Qorveh: Abdollah Abdolmaleki (retired teacher), Mehdi Feyzi, Arman Kouhi, Omid Khosravi
Marivan: Rahim Ghobadi (member of Chia the Green Organisation), Karim Ghobadi, Bakhtiar Nazari (photographer), Rozhan Maleki (a 16-year-old boy who was released after being summoned and detained for several hours)
Kermanshah: Parisa Mohammadi (athlete), Pezhman Azizi
Sanandaj: Behrouz Golnama, Galavezh Tahmasebi (environmental activist) and Adel Mirzaei, Mahan Nasaji, Mobin Parvin
Eslamabad-e Gharb: Mohammad Bagher Moradian, Babak Zolfaghari
Dehloran: Sajjad Sayd-Moradi
Oshnavieh: Hawre Kharazm
Kamyaran: Mohammad Moradinezhad (employee of the Ministry of Natural Resources)
Javanrud: Rahim Azizi (Released after a few hours)
Divandarreh: Arman Sohrabi (teacher)
Sunday, 17 September
Dehloran: Mehdi Hatam
Arak: Bahman Balvi (from Dehloran, Ilam Province)
Divandarreh: Saman Khaledian
Monday, 18 September
Kamyaran: Mohsen Asadi