JAKARTA: Hundreds of Indonesians rallied in front of the Iranian Embassy in Jakarta on Tuesday, calling on Tehran to investigate the deaths of dozens of women and children killed by Iran’s security forces during ongoing anti-regime protests.
Iran’s largest antigovernment protests in over a decade have swollen since mid-September, spreading to all provinces and 80 cities. They were ignited by the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old who was arrested by Iranian morality police on accusations of not properly wearing her headscarf.
In the past weeks, Iranian authorities have escalated their crackdown on demonstrators. Norway-based nongovernmental organization Iran Human Rights estimates that at least 215 people, including 27 children, have been killed.
Civil society organizations, activists and members of the Iranian diaspora who took part in Tuesday’s demonstration in Jakarta have called on the Indonesian government to use its leverage as the largest Muslim-majority country and help stop the violence.
“We urge the Indonesian government to use its power as the country with the largest Muslim population in the world so the Iranian government stops all forms of violence, including the abduction and murder of its people who are calling for reforms in Iran,” Ririn Sefsani, a Jakarta-based women’s rights activist and one of the protest organizers, told Arab News.
Protesters were seen holding placards reading “Woman, Life, Freedom” — the phrase that has been used by demonstrators in Iran. Ten women were also seen cutting their hair in a symbolic act that has been adopted by many Iranian female activists in defiance of the rules of compulsory hijab.
“We hope that our action will spread and strengthen the global solidarity movement for Iran,” Sefsani said.
Indonesian protesters also called for the release of Iranian journalists who have been detained since Amini’s death. Out of at least 31 journalists who have been arrested, 21 are still behind bars, according to Reporters Without Borders.
Andreas Harsono, a senior Indonesian journalist and one of the founders of the Alliance of Independent Journalists in Indonesia, said they would continue to protest as long as their Iranian colleagues remain imprisoned.
“It will be difficult for any country, including Iran, when press freedom is silenced and journalists are imprisoned,” he said.