Iranians celebrate this year’s Shab-e Yalda, the winter solstice festivities held in Iran, Iraqi Kurdistan, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan and Turkey, in conjunction with nationwide protests that have continued since September when 22-year-old Kurdish woman Jîna Mahsa Amini died in morality police custody.
Wednesday night, the longest of the year, saw protesters take to the streets in memory of more than 500 protesters killed by security forces.
Citizens in Tehran chanted “Death to the killer Khamanei” as they marched through the capital’s Amaniyeh district, as seen in a video released by Iran International.
Protesters also threw Molotov cocktails at a government building on Yalda night. Activist network 1500 Tasvir shared videos of the incident with the caption, “Happy Yaldā”.
Others gathered on the Tehran highway to put up a poster of 19-year-old Yalda Aghafazli from an overpass. Aghafazli committed suicide two days after being released from prison.
Iranians around the world celebrated Shab-e Yalda in their assumed homelands.
A group called Cook for Iran in the United States spent the holiday raising funds in support of the protesters back home.
The US State Department issued a message of condolences to mark Yalda.
“Yalda is a time for celebrating at home with loved ones as the longest night of the year gives way to light – a symbolic triumph of good over evil. Instead, many families face empty chairs tonight,” State Department Spokesman Ned Price said in his message.
“Iran’s leadership has used executions, arbitrary detention, forced disappearances, and sexual violence to stifle peaceful protests by the Iranian people. It appears no act is beneath the Islamic Republic’s leadership in their attempts to silence dissent,” he continued.
Kurds in Turkey also celebrated Yalda in cities such as Diyarbakır (Amed), Batman (Êlih), Adana and Izmir, expressing solidarity with the protests in Iran.