Kurds in Iran strike as authorities try to move Mahsa Amini's grave

Her cousin tells The National her grave has been vandalised twice by authorities as officials attempt to relocate tomb

A protester carries the portrait of Mahsa Amini during a demonstration near the Iranian embassy in Paris in May. EPA
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Kurds in Mahsa Amini's hometown of Saqqez went on strike after Iranian authorities renewed attempts to move her grave, relatives have confirmed to The National.

Human rights groups reported a general strike in the city on Tuesday, with footage of local businesses shuttered as residents protest against moves to desecrate and move the tomb of the young woman, whose death in police custody triggered a months-long protest movement.

Hundreds were killed by security forces when Iran was rocked by the protests last autumn, the biggest challenge to Tehran's regime in recent years.

While demonstrations have subsided, protesters and families of the deceased continue to report harassment from security forces, including the disturbing of their loved ones' final resting places.

“In the past few days, the Saqqez municipality wanted to move Zhina's grave and hide it from the public,” Erfan Mortazaei, a cousin of Ms Amini, told The National, using her Kurdish given name.

A strike was held today after families of killed protesters were arrested at the cemetery on Friday, he confirmed.

Children were detained and taken to unknown locations after the arrest of many families from across Kurdish areas in Iran, who had flocked to the Aichi cemetery in support of Ms Amini's family, human rights activists told Farsi news outlets.

Thirty people were arrested upon returning to Saqqez from the site of her grave, including relatives of people killed in the protests sparked by her death in September.

Ms Amini's headstone has been vandalised twice by authorities, with the latest incident taking place two weeks ago, Mr Mortazaei said.

The young woman became the face of the protest movement following her death in morality police custody. She was detained in the capital Tehran in September for allegedly flouting Iran's strict dress code, which requires women to cover their hair and wear loose clothing in public.

Authorities are known to often harass bereaved families, including victims of the Ukrainian Airlines disaster – when a commercial airliner was shot down over Tehran in January 2021 – including interfering in burials and funeral processions.

Security forces have warned relatives against gathering to remember their loved ones.

In October, Mr Mortazaei told The National his relatives were under house arrest as thousands defied the threat of gunfire to gather at Ms Amini's gravesite 40 days after her death.

Last week, the grave of a man executed by Tehran for joining the protests was vandalised on the eve of his birthday.

Rights groups published images of flowers on top of the scorched headstone of Majid Kazemi, who was hanged in March.

Mr Kazemi was accused of being involved in the murder of a member of the Basij paramilitary force, which led the repression of protests.

Several others have also been put to death, convicted of the same crime.

Updated: June 13, 2023, 6:40 PM