War of attrition in Iran as strike calls grow

Iranian authorities say the protests are over, threatening activists and celebrities amid strike calls by various groups, including some oil workers.

Officials, who only refer to the protests as ‘riots’ and blame ‘foreign enemies’, said on Thursday the ‘rioters’ were back home and all was calm now, before protests resumed in the ‘afternoon.

“Recent riots have ended and security has been established in Tehran, which has been secured for the past few nights,” Tehran Provincial Governor Mohsen Mansouri said Thursday. “We will take action against celebrities who have stoked the fire of the riots,” he said.

Authorities also say they have arrested some of the “riot leaders” in various cities and threatened to take action against celebrities, many of whom have posted messages on social media supporting the protesters’ cause and condemning the violence against them.

Reports on social media on Wednesday, however, painted a different picture. These reports indicated that protesters were staging smaller flash mob-style protests in many areas amid the very heavy presence of security forces and plainclothes officers, who had turned out in large numbers on foot and on motorbikes. , amid severe internet disruptions.

Various reports point to a situation of physical and psychological fatigue for the security forces, while the demonstrators seem determined to persevere.

Teenagers in Basij militia uniforms holding batons and shields circulated on social media, showing them deployed in the streets on Wednesday

The internet disruption has seriously affected the uploading of protest footage to social media platforms, all of which are now blocked. New images of protests from previous days continue to appear on social media. Mostafa Faghihi, general manager of the Entekhab site, in a tweet on Wednesdaythere said he had to try different VPNs for five hours to finally access his Twitter account at four in the morning.

Strike calls came from various groups, including teachers and university students. In a video posted on the union’s Twitter On Wednesday, a lorry driver said some drivers had been on strike for three days but had been unable to notify others of their strike call due to internet disruptions. On Thursday, the Oil Industry Contract Workers Coordinating Council issued a statement saying they would go on strike if the crackdown on protesters and arrests continued.

Meanwhile, the media has been gagged for not reporting on the protests. There were no photos or headlines referring to the protests on the front pages of the newspapers, but a few dared to lightly criticize the situation. However, extremist newspapers such as the IRGC-linked Javanese newspaper have been beating the drums of revenge against celebrities for siding with the protesters. “The priority of the law is to punish rioting celebrities,” Javan wrote on its front page Thursday.

Authorities have also targeted journalists. Niloufar Hamedi of the reformist newspaper Sharq, who reported Mahsa’s case from the hospital with a photo of the young woman in a coma, was arrested a few days ago while Elaheh Mohammadi, a journalist with the reformist newspaper Ham Mihan, who reported the funeral of Mahsa Amini, the young woman whose death in custody sparked the protests, from her hometown of Saqqez in Kordestan province, was also arrested on Thursday.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) published on Wednesday a list of 16 journalists arrested in Iran since the start of the protests.

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