‘Our people are so alone:’ Iranian women express hope and despair amid violent protests
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TEHRAN, Iran, Jan 15 The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) is reporting that Iran has arrested over 1,500 people since December 1. Human rights and NGO groups say this represents an average of one arrest every hour. This is the sixth consecutive day of mass arrests in Iran which is seen as a major test for the new government after the overthrow of the Islamic system.
Last Thursday and Friday, women in Iran’s northern cities of Urmia and Semnan protested in solidarity with their sisters in the south. As night fell on 14th, protesters marched in solidarity with Tehran’s women, who demonstrated the morning before.
At the beginning of the night, demonstrators in Tehran took to the streets to call for a peaceful protest that would be a show of solidarity with the people of south Iran. Many women, according to the BBC, carried pictures of their faces covered in traditional Iranian attire, and chanted slogans of support and joy.
The BBC reporter in Tehran said there was a high sense that change was imminent.
‘Our people are so alone. They are waiting for a strong leader to change their reality,’ said one protester.
Another woman said their demands were not limited to changing the government, but to change the system that has ‘hurt’ women and families since the 1979 revolution.
After three nights of mass protests, thousands again took to the streets in solidarity with the women of south Iran the next morning. There were reports that Iranian soldiers and police had fired rubber bullets or tear gas in the crowd during the night.
In downtown Tehran alone, two protesters were seriously injured.
The situation escalated into violence when protesters broke store windows and doors, smashing windows and cars. This is one of the most violent demonstrations ever witnessed in Iran, one that has taken the world by surprise.
Protesters in the capital shouted for death to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his supporters and blamed them for the recent anti-establishment protests. In response, Ahmadinejad said ‘the people are tired of the lies and the lies won’t change anything’.
Some observers are pointing fingers at the Iranian