Editor’s note: The following article is one of 30 that we’ve selected from our archives to celebrate World Politics Review’s 15th anniversary. You can find the full collection here.
In the picture, a woman raises her left fist while using her right hand to shield her face from a cloud of tear gas. She’s standing behind a barrier outside the University of Tehran, with spindly trees visible in the background.
The scene dates to December 2017, when Iranian authorities attempted to quash protests that were initially sparked by economic woes but quickly evolved to channel broader political grievances. Some 5,000 people were arrested between the beginning of the protests and the second week of January 2018, when they had mostly simmered out, according to official figures. At least three of those detainees would perish in state custody.