At least 9 dead in Iran protests over the spread of a woman’s death

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – Clashes between Iranian security forces and protesters angry over the death of a 22-year-old woman in police custody have left at least nine people dead, according to a count Thursday since the violence erupted over the weekend. by The Associated Press.

The scale of the ongoing unrest in Iranthe worst in years, still remains unclear as protesters in more than a dozen cities – expressing anger at social repression and the mounting crises in the country – continue to face security and paramilitary forces.

To prevent protests from spreading, Iran’s largest telecom operator largely shut down access to mobile internet on Thursday, said Netblocks, a group that controls internet access, describing the restrictions as the strictest since 2019.

A presenter on Iranian state television suggested the death toll from the mass protests could rise to 17 on Thursday, but did not say how he reached that figure.

In a country where radio and television stations are already state-controlled and journalists are regularly threatened with arrest, the paramilitary Revolutionary Guards on Thursday urged the judiciary on Thursday to ban “anyone who spreads fake news and rumors” on social media about the unrest. to prosecute. Widespread Outages from Instagram and WhatsApp, which are used by protesters, also continued on Thursday.

WhatsApp tweeted that it “worked to keep our Iranian friends connected and will do everything within our technical capacity to keep our service up and running.”

The demonstrations in Iran began as an emotional outburst over the death of Mahsa Amini, a young woman detained by the country’s vice squad for allegedly violating the strict dress code. Her death has led to harsh condemnation from the United States, the European Union and the United Nations.

The US government has imposed sanctions about the morality police and leaders of other Iranian security forces, who say they use “routine force to repress peaceful protesters.”

Iranian police say Amini died of a heart attack and was not mistreated, but her family has raised doubts. Independent experts affiliated with the UN said on Thursday that reports suggested she had been severely beaten by vice squad, without providing evidence.

Niloufar Hamedi, a journalist who took pictures in hospital after Amini’s death, was arrested Thursday, according to the reporter’s lawyer, Mohammadali Kamfirouzi. He said her house had been robbed. There was no official comment.

The protests over the past five days have turned into an open challenge to the government, with women taking off their state-imposed headscarves and burning them in the streets and Iranians calling for the downfall of the Islamic Republic itself.

“Death to the dictator!” was a common cry in the protests.

They are the most serious demonstrations since 2019, when protests erupted over a government hike in petrol prices. Human rights groups say hundreds have been killed in the crackdown that followed, the deadliest violence since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

The latest protests are also widespread but appear to have much wider popular support, with Iranians from all walks of life expressing anger at Amini’s death and the government’s treatment of women.

Iranian state media this week reported demonstrations in at least 13 cities, including the capital Tehran. Videos online show security forces firing tear gas and water cannons to disperse hundreds of protesters. London-based Amnesty International reported that officers also fired birdshots and beat protesters with batons.

Social media from the northern city of Tabriz shows a young man allegedly shot dead by security forces bleeding in the street as protesters cry out for help.

Another video showed a police officer firing a shotgun at a protester who was tearing down a pro-government sign in North Khorasan province. It is not clear if he was injured.

Another video shows protesters setting fire to a huge billboard depicting Qassem Soleimani — Iran’s top general killed in a US airstrike — in his hometown of Kerman. Soleimani has iconic status among government supporters.

At least nine people have been killed in the clashes, according to an AP count based on statements from state-run and semi-official media in Iran. In a statement on Thursday, the Guard blamed the unrest at “the enemies of Iran”.

In Amini’s home province of Kurdistan, the provincial police chief said four protesters were shot dead. In Kermanshah, the prosecutor said two protesters were killed and claimed the bullets were not fired by Iran’s security forces.

Three men associated with the Basij, a voluntary force under the guard, were killed in fighting in the cities of Shiraz, Tabriz and Mashhad, semi-official media reported, pushing the death toll recognized by officials on both sides at least. nine is coming.

In the northern province of Mazandaran, angry mobs damaged or set fire to more than 40 government properties and injured 76 security officers, Deputy Governor Rouhollah Solgi said.

Iran has experienced waves of protests in the recent past, mainly because of a protracted economic crisis, exacerbated by Western sanctions related to the nuclear program. Citizens also blame corruption and mismanagement in government.

The Biden administration and European allies have been working to revive Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal, which curbed Iran’s nuclear activities in return for sanctions relief, but talks have stalled for months.

From New York, where Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi took the stage on Wednesday at the UN General Assembly, Christiane Amanpour, CNN’s chief international presenter, said she planned to confront Raisi about the protests in what would be his first US-based interview.

But Amanpour wrote on Twitter that Raisi didn’t show up. An aide told her the president refused to participate unless she wore a headscarf, given the “situation in Iran.” The Iranian government has not commented on the incident.

“I could not agree with this unprecedented and unexpected situation,” the British-Iranian anchor wrote with a photo of Raisi’s empty chair.

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