The First Anniversary of the Iranian Uprising “Jina, my soul, you will not die. Your name will become a symbol”
September 16, 2023, marks the first anniversary of the killing of Jina (Mahsa) Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman. Amini was visiting Tehran when Iran’s morality police detained her for breaching the country’s mandatory headscarf law. She was brutally beaten and days later died in police custody. Amini’s killing sparked nationwide protests all over the Islamic Republic of Iran and for first time in more than four decades Persians from all walks of life came out alongside Iran’s non-Persian national and ethnic minorities: the Kurds, Baluchi, and Ahavzi chanting “Death to the Dictator”, in reference to Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
On Jina’s gravestone, her family engraved “Jina, my soul, you will not die. Your name will become a symbol”. Undoubtedly, Amini became the symbol of the uprising against the oppressive rule of the Ayatollahs, a symbol that one year on, it still alive and worrying the Ayatollahs. Just last month, on August 1, Hossein Salami, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ commander-in-chief called the nationwide protests as “most powerful, dangerous, serious, and widespread struggle”. Therefore, David Barnea, the Director of the Mossad was right when he recently said that the uprising “almost led to the collapse of the regime” adding “this week, they will mark the one-year anniversary, I can only imagine the trepidation of the Iranian leadership when they think of the 16th of this month”.
On the anniversary of the killing of Jina Amini, it is important to remember that she was the first women in Iran to lose her life because she supposedly wore her hijab loosely. This is not to say that before Amini, Iranian women weren’t harassed or jailed for allegedly breaching hijab law.
Speaking to Khalil Nadri, the spokesperson of Kurdistan Freedom Party (PAK), Nadri state his belief that “Amini was killed for being a Kurd and a woman”. On what has happened to the uprising and the Women Life Freedom Movement, Nadri says “it has slowed down but it’s still alive, because the underlying factors that led to this great uprising still remain in place and at any moment it can spark again”. Nadri continue saying that both internal and external factors led to the weakening of the uprising, starting with the regime deploying lethal oppression against the rising-people; hundreds of people have been killed, thousands were injured and more than 30,000 were arrested and still lingering in jails facing an imminent death. There were also insufficient coordination between the cities with each moving on its own. But also the absent of unified political leadership played a major role in weakening the protest movement.
Nadri lays also some of the blame on the Persian opposition and Persian-speaking media who hijacked the people uprising by promoting as a ‘Persian uprising’. About 45% of Iran’s population are non-Persian nations but rather Kurds, Baluchi, Azeri and Ahwazi, Nadri adds for decades the Persian-speaking media has engaged in concealing this reality, “Iran is a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-sectarian country. Freedom means that each of these different groups can express their existence and have equal rights.”
“The Exiled Prince is a mockery, his position during the uprising served the regime in Tehran and caused people to become discouraged”, Nadri continue “We (Kurds) will never work with Reza Pahlavi. Reza is the heir to the Pahlavi Dynasty. His father and grandfather all committed heinous atrocities against us Kurds, against Baluchi, Ahvazi, Azerbaijani Turks and Turkmens. While the Revolutionary Guards and the Iranian army were shooting at demonstrators, Reza Pahlavi had planned to protect the Revolutionary Guards and merge them with the army for the post-Islamic Republic”
And on the toppling of the regime, to that Nadri replies “since the establishment of the so-called Iranian state, our forefathers, fore-mothers, our grandparents, our fathers and mothers have resisted this oppressive state and we will continue doing so. Therefore, Iran’s threats and dangers, no matter how many, do not matter to us and we think of it as a mosquito bite. Our struggle for freedom and independence will continue”.