Iranian Forces Accused of Shooting Female Protester in Eye, Video Shows

A video widely shared on social media shows a woman who was reportedly shot in the eye during protests that have swept Iran.

Ghazal Ranjkesh, described as a law student from the city of Bandar Abbas in Hormozgān Province, is seen in the footage lying down with a bandage over her right eye.

"She lost her right eye to pellet bullets during the protests," tweeted Omid Memarian, a senior Iran analyst at the organization Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN). "'The last image my right eye recorded was the person's smile when he shot,' she says."

Iranian journalist and activist Masih Alinejad also highlighted Ranjkesh's case, tweeting a photograph of Ranjkesh before the injury, with the message, "while en route to work from home, she was shot by the Islamist regime's police and lost one eye. The Islamist regime in Iran is an occupying force."

Iranians mourn Izeh in Iran's Khuzestan province
Above, Iranians mourn in front of the coffins of people killed in a shooting attack, during their funeral in the city of Izeh on November 18, 2022. Video widely shared on social media shows the eye injury of a woman named Ghazal Ranjkesh during the protests that have swept the country. ALIREZA MOHAMMADI/Getty Images

"My eyes were very gorgeous—everybody said that," Ranjkesh had said, according to the Persian language news outlet Iran International.

The incident comes amid reports that hundreds of victims taking part in demonstrations that have raged across the country since mid-September have suffered severe eye injuries inflicted by Iranian security forces.

Memarian told Newsweek that pellet bullets were being used against protesters "not just to push them to go back home but to create maximum harm. That's why we see they shoot at protesters' faces, neck and heads so the chance that they ever come back to the streets is zero."

"There is no doubt that the state has chosen to use extreme levels of violence to scare people from joining the protests by maximizing the costs and harm," he said.

Rights groups have said that more than 300 people have died in the protests which were sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini on September 16, who was arrested by the country's morality police after being accused of improperly wearing a hijab.

Widespread anger has morphed into a movement seeking the end to the clerical leadership in the Islamic republic under Ayatollah Ali Khamenei which faces its biggest challenge since the Islamic Revolution of 1979.

Last week saw a national three-day strike coinciding with the third anniversary of the Bloody November uprising of 2019 in which hundreds were killed in a crackdown.

However, protest activity decreased on Tuesday as the Persian calendar month Aban ended, according to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

The U.S. think tank said that the reduced turnout was "unsurprising and does not indicate that this protest wave is yet close to over" as it noted social media users calling for protests on Thursday.

"Even if there are ups and downs in the number of people or the days people come to the streets, there is no doubt that it will continue as the movement adds to its domestic and international support by the day," Memarian told Newsweek.

This was because he believed the use of violence by the Iranian authorities "had given more reasons for people to hate the regime and want it to go."

Meanwhile, officials close to Khamenei have expressed that there could be political reform to placate protesters, "although it is unlikely that any such reform would fundamentally change the regime's behavior or nature," the ISW said.

The ISW referred to a report in The Wall Street Journal which said Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Secretary Ali Shamkhani had discussed "liberalizing measures" with reformist leaders to quell the unrest.

Newsweek reached out to the Iranian foreign ministry for comment.