“I know that I have died before—once in November.” Anne Sexton
To Iranians, November smells of blood.
November is best known for Thanksgiving and Veterans Day, (and in the case of Canada, Remembrance Day) and if you take a look at national and international calendars, this cold autumn month is filled with an array of celebrations. For Iranians, however, November has become the anniversary of resistance and bloodshed.
In 2019, after an abrupt rise of 300% in fuel prices, people in different cities took to the streets in Iran to protest against inflation and economic hardship. The Islamic Republic regime reacted to these protests in the same fashion it has ruled over the country for four decades–it suppressed peaceful protests with oppression and a level of brutality that cast a lingering shadow over the nation. Based on the Amnesty International investigation, which is translated from Farsi to English, a confirmed number of 324 people were killed throughout the protests during the bloodiest 72 hours between the 15th to 17th of November. Amnesty International suspects that this is only a smidgen of the true number of victims who were killed.
What started as chants against inflation on November 15th, 2019, quickly changed into opposition against the supreme leader Ali Khamenei. Fearful of social media and outside attention, the regime slowed down the internet to prevent the circulation of the news, and then shut it down completely, to further isolate the country. Barret Lyon, the man behind Opte Project, has created a stricken visualization of this nationwide internet shutdown. Based on his work, on November 16, green starbursts, representing groups of Iranians, just vanished into the darkness. Some tenuous connections from Iran to the global internet remained, but the lines connecting them grew thinner and stretched further away. The country was thrust into complete darkness and without the attention of the world, the regime carried out bloodshed that gave November its nickname: Bloody November.
In the City of Mahshahr, the capital of Mahshahr country in southern Iran, revolutionary forces armed with machine guns clashed with protestors, and opened fire, slaughtering whoever was in front of them. It is reported that more than 100 unarmed people were killed that day, and while the regime finally admitted that it shot and killed protestors, it never said how many fell victim to its brutality. The Mahshahr massacre is carved into Iran’s history as the most inhumane act of terrorism carried out by a regime toward its own people.
In other big cities like Tehran, Kerman, Kermanshah, Isfahan and etc., the police forces crackdown of protestors was carried out just as violently. In an article by Reuters published on December 5th, 2019, U.S Special Representative for Iran, Brian Hook said that Iranian security may have killed more than 1,000 people since protests over gasoline price hikes began in mid-November. While unofficial reports from families who have lost their loved ones during these horrific few days suggest the count of victims is as close to 4000, a number close to 1500 names have been reported by Aban Tribunal; amongst Iranians, this number has become the symbol of bloody November since 2019.
Last week, and just as #IranRevolution2022 entered into its third month of persistence since the murder of Mahsa Amini, activists called for countrywide protests/strikes on November 15th, 16th, and 17th, to mark the anniversary of Bloody November of 2019, also known in Farsi as “Aban Khoonin” and to pay homage to those who were killed by the IRGC.
This nationwide demonstration is expected to give more forceful momentum to the ongoing protests that have shaken Iran for the last two months. As it is said by Iranians: “The month of Aban (November) didn’t end; it has lived and continued to bring us back together here and now.”
The nationwide strikes have started with high schools, universities, and local markets and grand bazaars in different cities and continue with neighbourhood-centred gatherings to move to main squares. With these three-day strikes, freedom fighters are aiming to show their unity and hopefully cripple the economic foundations of the Islamic Republic regime.
This report will be continued as we monitor the development in Iran.