Independent shopkeepers in Iran’s Kurdish town of Saqqez staged a coordinated shutdown on Tuesday to protest the desecration and modifications made to Aichi cemetery that specifically target the tomb of Jina Mahsa Amini.
Videos recorded during the day depicted a significant number of closed shops, as business owners joined forces to voice opposition.
Recent reports have surfaced regarding attempts to desecrate, destroy, and remove Amini’s tomb, along with the tombs of other individuals who lost their lives during nationwide protests. While Amini’s tomb remains located in the cemetery, Aichi cemetery modifications have made her memorial stone inaccessible to the public.
Saqqez businesses issued a call urging work to be suspended on Tuesday as a means of expressing discontent with the ongoing changes, particularly to Amini’s tomb. The strike also served as a unified response to the mass arrests and harassment experienced by several families in Kurdish-populated regions in Iran’s west, known as Rojhilat.
Over the past few months, the cemetery has transformed into a frequent demonstration site for condemning the Iranian government’s authorised killing of protesters. Many individuals who lost their lives, alongside Amini, have been laid to rest there. The families of the victims have face ongoing harassment and intimidation from security forces.
Last week, several victims’ families peacefully protested in the cemetery, holding up photographs of loved ones. However, the response from the authorities was heavy-handed. Regime agents arrested approximately 40 protesters, including six mothers who had lost their young children in the nationwide uprisings.
According to the Kurdistan Human Rights Network, the detainees were taken to an undisclosed location by security forces.
Furthermore, in various cities across the country, graves of those killed during the nationwide protests have been recently destroyed and rights groups accuse the Iranian government of desecrating graves as an intimidation tactic against the protesters.
The security forces’ response to the months-long nationwide demonstrations sparked by the September 2022 death of Amini in police custody has been characterised by deadly crackdowns. Activists report that over 520 people were killed during the demonstrations, with more than 20,000 others unlawfully detained. Biased trials have resulted in harsh sentences, including the death penalty, for several of the protesters.