The footballers of the Iranian national team did not sing their national anthem before their World Cup opener against England. As the Iranian anthem was played at the stadium in Doha on Monday, the players remained silent in a show of solidarity with government critics back home. Meanwhile in Iran, two well-known actresses, Hengameh Ghasiani and Katajun Riahi, have been arrested for supporting the protests and taking off their headscarves in public.

The captain of the Iranian national team, Alireza Jahanbakhsh, had said before the start of the World Cup in Qatar that the team would decide “together” whether or not to sing the national anthem as a sign of support for the victims of the suppression of the protests.

During the anthem, television images briefly showed a spectator wearing a white headscarf in the stands applauding the silent players while tears streamed down her face. A placard reading “Woman, Life, Freedom” in English, the protest movement’s slogan, was briefly displayed in the stands area for Iranian fans.

In Iran, since the death of the young Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini in mid-September, people across the country have been taking to the streets against the leadership in Tehran. The 22-year-old was arrested by the moral police because she is said to have worn her headscarf improperly. She died a short time later in hospital. Activists accuse the police of abusing Amini.

The protests against the moral police quickly turned into demonstrations for more women’s rights and freedoms in Iran and for democracy in general. The security authorities are taking extremely tough action against the protests, most recently in the Kurdish areas in the north-west and west of the country.

On Monday, security forces used heavy weapons and live ammunition against demonstrators there, according to the Norwegian-based human rights organization Hengaw. The cities of Piranshahr, Mariwan and Dschawanrud were shelled during the night. Within 24 hours, security forces in the region killed 13 people, Hengaw said.

One person was also killed in rocket and drone attacks by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards on Kurdish exile groups in northern Iraq on Monday. “A member of the peshmerga was killed in an Iranian attack on the Koyinjak region,” said Ali Budaghi of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (PDKI). Peshmerga are the armed forces of the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq.

Tehran accuses Kurdish exile groups in northern Iraq of fueling the protests in Iran. Kurdish organizations support the protests in Iran and denounce the violence against demonstrators.