Iranian protesters in London

Protesters in London mark one year since the death of Mahsa Amini

Demonstrators marked one year since the death of Mahsa Amini and the subsequent uprising and crackdown in Iran in Trafalgar Square on Saturday.

Protesters, mainly from the Iranian community in London, chanted slogans against the regime in Iran, including “Woman, life, freedom,” and “Down with the dictator.”

Amini, 22, was arrested in September last year for breaking the country’s strict moral dress laws and later died in police custody. 

Pegah, 39, was sitting behind a stall that was giving out pamphlets and T-shirts with Amini’s picture and slogans.

She said: “The way you see me now, if I dressed like this in Iran, I would be arrested.

“Mahsa Amini’s killing sparked large protests. Hundreds died in the crackdown, and thousands more were arrested or even executed.”

Following her death, reports circulated that Amini had been beaten with a baton by law enforcement agents.  

Iranian authorities however maintain that Amini had a heart attack, which has been disputed by Amini’s family. 

Since the 1979 Iranian Revolution, Iran’s regime has implemented strict dress code laws which include mandatory veiling for women. 

Maryam Namazie, 57, a British-Iranian human rights activist said: “Many Iranians in the diaspora fled the dictatorship. We are here to extend the voices of people still in Iran.

“We are dealing with a theocracy whose main pillar is controlling women, especially their dress.”

Amini’s death sparked a large protest movement which many analysts have described as woman-led.

Protesters have been calling for the dissolution of the morality police and the end of the regime. 

Namazie added: “Iran’s generation Z knows what it wants and digital technology has transformed the conversation. There is hope that change is coming.”

The protest took over Trafalgar Square and was large, loud and passionate.

There were stalls where literature was being handed out, a book of remembrance for Amini and even various performances on the sidelines. 

Many protesters carried Iran’s old lion and sun flag, with others showing up in traditional dress or even with their pets.

The atmosphere was one of passion, but also felt safe as police on the sidelines seemed pretty relaxed. 

Masood, 50, was dressed in traditional Luri clothing, an ethnic minority in Iran.

He said: “We want the British government and other governments to be united in their push for human rights in Iran, but all also in other countries, including in Africa and elsewhere.”

Another protest march which had started outside the Iranian embassy in South Kensington arrived later in the afternoon.

Saba, 28, and other protesters were holding placards with QR codes. 

She said: “We have QR codes by the stage, these help people to write to their MPs or sign various petitions.

“Many young Iranians have been using digital technology to dissent against the regime. 

“Iranian voices are not being covered the way they should be. Moreover, there are internet blackouts, shadow bans. We protest outside of Iran to amplify the voices of people in Iran.”

All images by Leo Cricchio

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