Situational Report: Civil Unrest in Iran

Written by Akshat Sharma

October 6, 2022

Safety | Situation Room | Travel

Travel Risk: HIGH

Licensed under Creative Commons 4.0

Brief introduction to the situation

  • There have been large-scale protests across multiple provinces in Iran after Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish-Iranian woman travelling to Tehran, died in custody following her detention by the Iranian morality police due to improper wearing of the hijab. The details regarding the cause of her death are unclear. However, it has been alleged that Amini was beaten and tortured in custody, eventually leading to her death.

What has led to the current situation?

  • On 13 September, Mahsa Amini was arrested by the morality police due to her “inappropriate attire”. 
  • Three days after her detention, Mahsa Amini collapsed and was reportedly transferred to the Kasra hospital, where she was declared to be in a state of coma. Shortly after, Amini passed away.
  • According to the police, she had a heart attack after being taken to the police station. Mahsa Amini’s family denies that she ever had any heart issues. According to her father, she had bruises on her legs. The family has blamed the morality police for her death. 
  • This incident spread heavily on social media and led to widespread protests. Many people swarmed the University of Tehran while yelling “Woman, Life, Freedom“. There were violent confrontations between security personnel and protesters as demonstrations became more intense in Tehran, Rasht, Mashhad, and Isfahan.
  • On September 23, the Iranian government restricted access to WhatsApp and Instagram. In the subsequent riots, eight deaths were confirmed by official sources, including a police officer and a volunteer of the extreme paramilitary group called the Basij.
  • Protests have since continued across universities, high school premises, and local districts across multiple provinces in Iran. According to the Iran Human Rights, the cumulative death toll (as of 5 October 2022) has reached at least 154 people.

Is it Safe to Travel to Iran?

  • It is currently NOT safe to travel to Iran due to the political unrest and vulnerable security situation. Protests and demonstrations are highly prone to violence with law enforcement agencies.

 Assessment

  • Avoid all political demonstrations and protests as even peaceful ones can quickly turn violent. Violent confrontations between law enforcement and protestors may lead to deadly injuries. The use of tear gas, riot equipment and batons to deter and disperse the crowd is frequent.
  • Internet shutdowns and restrictions on social media apps such as Instagram, Twitter, Whatsapp and Facebook may be implemented by the government to quell mobilizations and suppress dissent. Plan and prepare backups to avoid loss of any data or information. 
  • Avoid travel near protest rallies as well as university/school campuses to minimize disruptions as well as safety risks. Comply with law enforcement authorities at all times.
  • It is highly likely that protests will continue throughout October and may also intensify due to the provocative deaths of demonstrators. The civil unrest does not look likely to fatigue in the status quo.
  • Businesses may face threats to their infrastructure as well as their workforce. Tentatively halt operations until tensions subside to minimize logistical disruptions and added damage costs. Maintain constant contact with your workforce to ensure their safety and security.
  • Consider a Sitata membership which will give you disruption and threat warnings while you’re on the ground along with emergency travel assistance should you find yourself in a troubling situation.

Conclusion 

  • The travel risk to Iraq is currently HIGH. Many countries advise against travelling to Iran due to the lack of personal security.
  • For businesses that require a more detailed report on the situation, please refer to our in-depth country analysis report which is available from our support representatives.

References

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