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Paris (AFP) – Shopkeepers and factory workers went on strike in Iran on Saturday as nationwide protests sparked by the death in custody of Mahsa Amini entered their sixth week, activists said.
The death of 22-year-old Amini after her arrest for allegedly violating Iran’s strict dress code for women has fueled the biggest protests seen in the Islamic republic in years.
Young women led the charge, removing their headscarves, chanting anti-government slogans and confronting security forces in the streets, despite a crackdown that rights groups say has killed at least 122 people.
Activists called for further demonstrations as the Iranian workweek began on Saturday, but it was difficult to immediately gauge participation due to restrictions on internet access.
“On Saturday… we will be together for freedom,” activist Atena Daemi said in a Twitter post that featured an image of a woman with her head uncovered with her fist raised in the air.
Social media channel 1500tasvir told AFP there had been “strikes in some cities, including Sanandaj, Bukan and Saqez”, but added that it was difficult to see evidence online because “the internet connection is very slow”.
Saqez, in the western province of Kurdistan, is Amini’s hometown, where anger erupted at his burial last month, helping to spark the protest movement.
Norway-based human rights group Hengaw also said shopkeepers were on strike in Bukan, Sanandaj and Saqez, as well as in Marivan.
Elsewhere, dozens of students were seen clapping and singing during a protest at Shahid Beheshti University in Tehran, in a video tweeted by 1500tasvir on Saturday.
Dozens of workers were seen gathering outside the Aidin chocolate factory in Tabriz, capital of East Azerbaijan province, in other images shared. AFP was unable to immediately verify the videos.
People were also gathering around the world on Saturday for rallies in solidarity with the Iranian protest movement.
In Tokyo, protesters held up portraits of Amini and others who were killed in the crackdown, as well as a banner with the protest slogan: “Women, life, freedom”.
Iranians living in Germany are converging on Berlin ahead of a large demonstration on Saturday, activists said.
A teachers union in Iran called for a nationwide strike on Sunday and Monday against a crackdown that Amnesty International says has claimed the lives of at least 23 children.
In a statement, the Coordinating Council of Teachers Unions said the “sit-in” would be a response to “systematic oppression” by security forces in schools.
He identified four teenagers who were 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 proclaim that we are for the people, and these bullets and projectiles that you shoot at people are targeting our lives and souls,” he said.
‘Detention, mutilation and death’
Activists also accused the authorities of a campaign of mass arrests and travel bans to quell the protests, with athletes, celebrities and journalists trapped in the network.
Overnight, an Iranian climber, who was reportedly placed under house arrest for competing abroad last weekend without a headscarf, thanked her supporters on Instagram.
Elnaz Rekabi, 33, wore only a headband at an Asian Championships event in Seoul, in what many saw as a gesture of solidarity with Amini’s protests.
“I sincerely thank all those who came to the airport for welcoming me, I love you,” Rekabi said in his first comments on social media since returning to Iran on Wednesday for a hero’s welcome.
The BBC and London-based Iran International television said on Friday that Rekabi had been placed under house arrest.
Her phone would have been seized from her before she returned home.
On Friday, a New York-based human rights group called on the International Sport Climbing Federation to do more to protect her.
The IFSC “should engage with human rights organizations to protect professional climber #ElnazRekabi and all Iranian athletes,” tweeted the Center for Human Rights in Iran.
“Do not take the government of Iran at face value – it has a documented record of detaining, maiming and killing those who oppose it,” CHRI added.
© 2022 AFP