The Washington Post could not independently verify the authenticity of the videos, which showed protests in Tehran, Rasht, Karaj, Gorgan, Arak and several cities in the Kurdish region of western Iran.
Videos show evidence of escalating crackdown on Iranian protests
One video showed a handful of women burning their scarves at a bonfire in Tehran, while another showed people throwing firecrackers at a group of security forces on motorcycles. In a separate video, a group also burns a photo of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in the capital, chanting “freedom, freedom, freedom”.
Iran’s theocratic government has discouraged the celebration of Chaharshanbe Suri for years because of its pre-Islamic roots and also because it gives people a chance to gather and publicly criticize the government.
This year’s Chaharshanbe Suri protests are of particular significance as the Islamic Republic has faced one of its greatest challenges for months since it took office in 1979.
According to the activist news agency HRANA, there has been a relative lull in protests in recent months after a brutal crackdown that led to the deaths of more than 500 people and the arrest of nearly 20,000 at the end of February.
Four protesters were executed for allegedly taking part in attacks on security forces.
“People are eager to protest again, but they don’t want to go it alone,” said Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI). “These occasions definitely send a collective signal that this is a time when people will not be alone in protesting.”
The demonstrations began last September after 22-year-old Mahsa Amini was arrested by Iran’s vice squad for allegedly wearing clothes that violate the country’s strict laws on conservative dress required for women in public. She later died in police custody.
A video posted online Tuesday showed people chanting “Death to Khamenei” in Amini’s hometown of Saqqez.
Protests broke out in several cities last week over the suspected gas poisoning of thousands of schoolgirls in recent months. The suspected poisonings began three months ago in the holy city of Qom, but have since spread to more than 20 provinces, according to CHRI.
Suspected poisonings at Iranian girls’ schools lead to dozens of hospitalizations
The government has announced a handful of arrests in connection with the attacks without identifying any particular group that may be responsible. Activists and protesters say only the authorities or a group backed by the authorities can carry out organized operations on such a scale.