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Iran security forces clash with protesters

Protests have continued to rage in Iran over the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, with demonstrators calling for the end of clerical rule.

September 28, 2022
By Parisa Hafezi
28 September 2022

Iranian riot police and security forces have clashed with demonstrators in dozens of cities as protests raged on over the death of young Iranian woman Mahsa Amini in police custody.

Amini, 22, from the northwestern Kurdish city of Saqez, was arrested on September 13 in Tehran for “unsuitable attire” by the morality police who enforce the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code.

She died three days later in hospital after falling into a coma, sparking the first big show of opposition on Iran’s streets since authorities crushed protests against a rise in petrol prices in 2019.

Demonstrators continue to protesting the death of Iranian Mahsa Amini. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

Despite a growing death toll and a fierce crackdown using tear gas, clubs and live ammunition, videos posted on social media showed protesters calling for the fall of the clerical establishment while clashing with security forces in Tehran, Tabriz, Karaj, Qom, Yazd and many other Iranian cities.

Rights group Amnesty International said on Twitter that Iran’s security forces had responded to the protests with “unlawful force, including by using live ammunition, birdshot and other metal pellets, killing dozens of people and injuring hundreds of others”.

State media branded the protesters “hypocrites, rioters, thugs and seditionists”, while state television said police clashed with “rioters” in some cities.

Videos posted on social media from inside Iran showed protesters chanting, “Woman, Life, Liberty”, while women waved and burnt their veils.

Videos on Twitter showed protesters chanting “Death to the dictator”, a reference to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. In the Kurdish cities of Sanandaj and Sardasht, riot police fired at protesters, Twitter videos showed.

“I will kill those who killed my sister,” chanted protesters in one of the videos from Tehran, while activist Twitter account 1500tasvir said: “The streets have become battlefields”.

The videos on social media could not be verified by Reuters.

State media also reported the arrest of women’s rights activist Faezeh Hashemi Rafsanjani, the daughter of a former Iranian president and founder of the Islamic Republic, for “inciting riots” in Tehran.

Kurdish women hold portraits of Iranian Mahsa Amini during a protest condemning her death in Iran northern Syria. (Hawar News Agency via AP via AP)

To make it difficult for protesters, authorities have restricted internet access in several provinces, according to Internet blockage observatory NetBlocks.

On Tuesday, a spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights called on Iran’s clerical rulers to “fully respect the rights to freedom of opinion, expression, peaceful assembly and association”.

Spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani said reports indicated “hundreds have also been arrested, including human rights defenders, lawyers, civil society activists and at least 18 journalists”.

Officials said 41 people, including and pro-government militia members, had died. But Iranian human rights groups have reported a higher toll.

Demonstrators hold placards outside the Iranian Embassy in London on Sunday. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

Iran’s judiciary has set up special courts to try “rioters”, according to state media.

Activists have called for a nationwide strike. Several university teachers, celebrities and prominent soccer players have backed the protests while students in several universities have refused to take part in classes.

Meanwhile, Amini’s death has drawn widespread international condemnation while Iran has blamed “thugs” linked to “foreign enemies” for the unrest.

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