In the lead-up to the first anniversary of Mahsa Amini’s death, the Iranian authorities have imposed a heavy military presence in the streets of cities across the western provinces of Kurdistan, West Azerbaijan and Kermanshah.
The human rights website Hengaw released videos on September 15 showing units affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), mounted on motorcycles and armed with military-grade weapons, conducting maneuvers in the Farja neighborhood of Sanandaj, Kurdistan.
شمار زیادی از یگان موتورسواران سپاه پاسداران همراه با اسلحه جنگی در حال مانور در محله فرجه شهر سنندج (سنه) هستند. این نیروها با نمایش نظامی گسترده شهروندان را به سرکوب شدید تهدید میکنند.— Dilan_Azizmoradi (@dilanm73) September 15, 2023
جمعه ٢٤ شهریور ماه ١٤٠٢ (١۵ سپتامبر ٢٠٢٣)#ژن_ژیان_ئازادی#ژینا_امینی pic.twitter.com/yxiUJNQ6RR
Despite the heavy security presence, Hengaw reported that a group of determined young protesters took to the streets in the city’s Ghafouri neighborhood.
Residents of Marivan, Sanandaj, Bukan and Takab witnessed IRGC helicopters hovering in the sky.
Numerous reports emerged regarding the extensive deployment of troops in Saqqez, Amini’s hometown.
Hengaw said that a significant contingent of armed forces, along with military vehicles and equipment, has been stationed in the vicinity of Bisarani Square in Marivan.
According to the Kurdistan Human Rights Network, a massive deployment of police special forces and IRGC troops in the western cities of Urmia, Bukan, Mahabad, Saqqez, Diwandara, Sanandaj, Marivan, Kamiyaran, Javanrud, Kermanshah, Ilam and Abdanan.
Video footage shared on social media depict a substantial number of anti-riot vehicles and motorcycle units stationed on Kermanshah's Azadi Square.
The increased security measures in Iran’s western regions have raised concerns about potential clashes between protesters and security forces on the September 16 anniversary of Amini's death.
The 22-year-old woman died while in police custody after she was detained for allegedly wearing her headscarf improperly.
The tragedy sparked months of protests demanding economic, social and political changes in the country.
More than 500 people were killed, including dozens of children, and over 22,000 others were unlawfully detained in the state crackdown on the protest movement, activists say. Following unfair trials, the judiciary has handed down stiff sentences, including the death penalty, to protesters.