Ghanbari was arrested during the protests. After being detained for five days in the so-called quarantine center of Tehran's Evin Prison, he died on his 22nd birthday.
Prison authorities told his mother Fatemeh Malayan Nejad that her son had killed herself. "My son called me from jail and told me they beat him up," Nejad tells CNN. "It's a big lie that he committed suicide, and I will not rest until the truth comes out." Ghanbari's mother says she believes he was murdered.
Ghanbari is one of nine protesters arrested by the Iranian authorities under "suspicious circumstances" in 2018, according to a report by Amnesty International published on January 24. The right-wing group also said at least 26 demonstrators were killed More than 7,000 dissidents were arrested on the streets during the year. Of these, 1
The Iranian government has not responded to CNN's request.
But Iran's protest movements show little signs of weakening. As the security forces reinforce their actions, dissidents continue to conduct demonstrations. Experts say that the repression of Iran may have encouraged activists instead of dissuading dissent.
"Protesters feel they have nothing to lose," says Mansoureh Mills, Iran researcher at Amnesty International. "Over the past year, thousands of workers across the country have been scared because they have not been paid for months and are struggling to feed their families."
"You just have to watch videos of these protests social media and listen to the staff shouting," We're not afraid of jail because we have nothing left to lose to understand how encouraged they have become, " Mills added
The wave of protests in 2018
But while the Green Movement attracted far more people, the geographical scope of the 2017 and 2018 protests surprised the authorities, who were largely outside the capital, gathering in major northeastern cities – like the conservative ones Fortress Mashhad – and in the provinces – they also came largely from the working class of the country – both demographics For a long time they were regarded as centers of the popular base of the regime.
"Noteworthy was the geographical spread," says Mohammad Ali Shabani, Iran Pulse's editor at Al-Monitor. "Equally remarkable was the lack of elitist support: in addition to general sympathy for demands such as more jobs and lower consumer prices, there was no important political camp among the demonstrators."
Despite the regime's violent reaction to the first demonstrations in 2017 and 2018, individuals and coordinated groups of dissidents publicly called for political and social reform throughout 2018.
Peaceful demonstrations took place in July and August as Iran's economic crisis deepened These authorities scattered live ammunition, tear gas and water cannons, according to Amnesty.
"(The raid) is the worst we've seen in the last decade," says Raha Bahreini, Iran researcher at Amnesty International, to CNN.
A few brave women
Perhaps the most prominent social movement that gained momentum in 2018 was protests against Iran's compulsory hijab.
On December 27, 2017, Vida Movahedi, a The 31-year-old Iranian mother climbed onto a supply box in one of the crowded streets of Tehran and silently waved a white bandana on a stick. She stood undisguised and her long hair fluttered in the breeze.
Movahedi was arrested a few hours later, but a photo of her lonely act became viral. The image helped spread the "White Wednesdaydays" social media campaign of Iranian Masih Alinejad. The movement encourages people to protest against the obligatory headscarf law by wearing white on Wednesday or going out.
Through her campaign, Alinejad receives photos and videos of these demonstrations. She then splits them together on her social media accounts with more than 2.3 million. Within weeks of Movahedi's act, women across the country were filming in solidarity on busy streets.
At least 112 activists had been arrested or detained by the end of 2018, according to Amnesty. Despite the arrests, the white Wednesday movement continues today and shows no signs of fading.