The Iranian bigwigs threw a spanner in the works last Saturday. They stopped Mahsa Amini’s family from hosting a memorial on the first anniversary of her tragic death, and pretty much put her father under house arrest. Tensions ramped up during this first somber milestone.

Now, if you haven’t been keeping tabs: Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish young woman, tragically passed away on September 16, 2022.

Why? She apparently flouted the iron-clad dress code for women – a code that’s been a heavy yoke since the Islamic Republic took over in 1979 after pushing out the secular Shah. Mahsa’s family is convinced that a blow to the head led to her tragic end. However, the authorities? They’re singing a different tune.

Her death struck a nerve. Furious protests erupted across Iran, with women, in particular, taking the lead, boldly challenging the regime and its top dog, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

On Saturday, Mahsa’s dad, Amjad Amini, found himself in a tight spot when he tried to leave the family house in the western city of Saghez. He was detained, warned off from holding any memorial at his daughter’s grave, then released, according to a trio of NGOs – Kurdistan Human Rights Network (KHRN), 1500tasvir monitor, and the Norway-based Iran Human Rights (IHR). Now, they’ve essentially got him cooped up at home with a team of security guys posted outside, these NGOs reported.

Now, rewind to the immediate aftermath of Mahsa’s death. The movement was on fire, but after several months, the authorities clamped down hard. The result? A staggering 551 protestors, including 68 kids and 49 women, ended up dead, and over 22,000 found themselves behind bars, as per Amnesty International. Seven guys even faced the ultimate penalty – execution – linked to these protests.

Activists are raising the alarm that the crackdown has kicked into overdrive, especially as the anniversary approached. The aim? Silence those closely connected to the protestors, ensuring they remain mum.

In just August, families of at least 36 individuals, either killed or executed during the clampdown, faced a whirlwind of interrogations, arrests, trials, or jail sentences, as highlighted by the NGO, Human Rights Watch (HRW).

Doubling Down

Tara Sepehri Far, an Iran expert at HRW, pulled no punches: “The Iranian authorities are going all out, trying to snuff out any dissent. They’re hell-bent on preventing public commemorations for Mahsa Amini, who’s now an icon symbolizing the regime’s systematic oppression of women, and their unchecked power.

Meanwhile, two reporters, Niloufar Hamedi and Elahe Mohammadi, who were all over Mahsa’s story like white on rice, have been cooling their heels in jail for almost a year. And another journalist, Nazila Maroufian, who interviewed Mahsa’s dad, got arrested more times than you could count.

Hengaw, an NGO focusing on Kurdish issues, highlighted that the government sent an extra batch of security forces to Mahsa’s hometown of Saghez and other potential hotspots over the weekend.

“Extrajudicial Mass Killing”

In the meantime, there’s a bill currently on the floor in the Iranian Parliament. Dubbed the “Support for the Culture of Hijab and Chastity“, it’s looking to amp up the penalties for breaking the current dress code.

Amnesty International went on the offensive, slamming Iranian leaders for their litany of abuses and a stranglehold on power. They’re frustrated that no official has been grilled over Mahsa’s death or the brutal crackdown.

On the eve of this grim anniversary, the U.S., who isn’t exactly buddy-buddy with Iran, alongside its Western allies, including the UK and the EU, slapped new sanctions on Tehran due to their handling of the protests.

In response, Iran hit back, branding these moves as “meddling statements“.

Wrapping up Saturday, Iranian President, Ebrahim Raisi, took a moment to meet with families of security forces members who lost their lives during the 2022 upheaval.