Despite a bloody crackdown by security forces, fresh protests erupted in Iran this Saturday (24) over the death of a young woman detained by moral police, according to official figures.
Iran’s main reformist party on Saturday called on the government to end the requirement for women to wear veils in public. The use of the Islamic headscarf led to the arrest of 22-year-old Mahza Amini.
Hundreds of protesters were arrested, along with reform activists and 17 journalists, including the reformist newspaper Sharqin Nilofar Hamedi, who the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reported on Mahza’s death.
State television put the death toll at 41. It also showed images of protesters allegedly setting fire to public and private property in the streets of northern and western Tehran, as well as in “some provinces”.
Iran’s human rights group put the death toll at 54, excluding security officials, and in many cases authorities have made it a condition of agreeing to return the bodies to their families for secret burials. The Oslo-based NGO said most of the deaths occurred in Guilan and Mazandaran provinces.
Webmonitor NetBlocks reported that Skype has been banned in the country as part of a communications blackout affecting other platforms and social networks such as Instagram, WhatsApp and LinkedIn.
Attacked military bases
Authorities reported a wave of arrests: Guilan’s police chief announced that they had “arrested 739 protesters, including 60 women” in that province alone.
Protests erupted again Saturday night in the provincial capital Rasht and several parts of Tehran, according to videos posted on social media. Riot police were deployed in large numbers after dark in northern Tehran, witnesses told AFP.
According to Henga, a Kurdish human rights NGO based in Norway, protesters have “taken control” of parts of the town of Oshnavih in West Azerbaijan province.
Iran’s judiciary acknowledged that protesters had attacked three bases of Basij, an Islamist militia operating under state orders, in Oshnaviyev, but denied that security forces had lost control of the city.
Iran’s president, the ultra-conservative Ibrahim Raisi, said those behind the violence must be dealt with “decisively”. The comments came shortly after Amnesty International warned of the “risk of further bloodshed”, facilitated by “deliberate internet blackouts” by authorities in an attempt to curb the protests and preventing repressive images from traveling abroad.
The London-based NGO said the evidence gathered in 20 cities across Iran “shows an appalling pattern of Iranian security forces deliberately and illegally firing on protesters”.
In Europe, hundreds of people demonstrated today in Paris, Athens, Madrid and other cities against the Iranian authorities’ actions against the protests.
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