HomeLatest NewsDeath toll from unrest in Iran rises to 31 as protests spread

Death toll from unrest in Iran rises to 31 as protests spread

The protests began over the death of Mahsa Amini, a young woman who was jailed for violating a dress code strictly enforced by the country’s morality police.

The protests began over the death of Mahsa Amini, a young woman who was jailed for violating a dress code strictly enforced by the country’s morality police.

At least 31 civilians have been killed in a crackdown by Iranian security forces in protests over the death in custody of Mahsa Amini after she was arrested by morality police, an Oslo-based NGO said Thursday.

“The people of Iran have taken to the streets to demand their basic rights and human dignity… and the government is responding to their peaceful protests with bullets,” Iran’s Human Rights (IHR) director Mahmoud Amiri-Moghaddam said in a statement. The toll is being released after six days of protests.

IHR said it had confirmed protests in more than 30 cities and other urban centers, raising fears of “mass arrests” of protesters and civil society activists.

The IHR said its toll included 11 deaths on Wednesday night in the town of Amol in Mazandaran province north of the Caspian Sea, and six in Babol in the same province.

Meanwhile, the main northeastern city of Tabriz saw its first death in protests, IHR said. “Condemnation and expressions of concern by the international community are no longer enough,” Mr Amiri-Moghaddam said.

of the Islamic Republic of Tehran, Iran on September 21, 2022

People light a fire during a protest over the death of Mahsa Amini, a woman who died after being arrested by the Islamic Republic of Iran’s “morality police” on September 21, 2022, in Tehran, Iran. Photo credit: Reuters

The scope of Iran’s ongoing unrest, the worst in years, remains unclear as protesters in at least a dozen cities – expressing anger over social repression and the country’s growing crisis – continue to face security and paramilitary forces.

Widespread outages of Instagram and WhatsApp, which protesters use to share information about the government’s rolling crackdown on dissent, continued Thursday. Authorities have also been seen disrupting Internet access to the outside world, a tactic that rights activists say the government often employs in times of unrest.

In a country where radio and television stations are already state-controlled and journalists regularly face arrest, the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard urged the judiciary on Thursday to prosecute “anyone who spreads fake news and rumours” on social media about the unrest.

Why are Iranian women cutting their hair in protest?

The protests in Iran were sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini, a young woman jailed for violating the country’s strictly enforced dress code by the country’s morality police. His death drew strong condemnation from the United States, the European Union and the United Nations.

Police say she died of a heart attack and was not abused, but her family has cast doubt on this account. Independent experts affiliated with the United Nations said on Thursday that the report indicated he had been severely beaten by the ethics police and called for an impartial investigation to hold the perpetrators accountable.

Protests have turned into an open challenge to the government over the past four days, with women removing and burning their state-mandated headscarves in the streets and Iranians burning garbage and calling for the fall of the Islamic Republic.

“Death to the Dictator!” There has been a general cry of protest.

Protests rocked university campuses in Tehran and cities as far west as Kermanshah. Although widespread, the unrest appears to differ from previous rounds of nationwide protests over pocketbook problems as Iran’s economy stagnates amid heavy U.S. sanctions.

The unrest triggered by the government’s sudden hike in gasoline prices in 2019 mobilized working-class masses in small towns. The crackdown by security forces has left hundreds dead, according to rights groups, the deadliest violence since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Iran’s state-run media reported hundreds of protests this week in at least 13 cities, including the capital Tehran. Online videos show security forces firing tear gas and water cannons to disperse the protests. London-based Amnesty International said officers fired birdshot and metal bullets and beat protesters with batons.

Social media footage from the northern city of Tabriz showed a young man bleeding in the street after being shot by security forces as protesters screamed for help.

At least nine people died in the clashes, according to one Ap Calculated based on statements from Iran’s state-run and semi-state media. In a statement Thursday, the Guard blamed the unrest on “enemies of Iran,” saying their “insurgency will fail.”

In Amini’s home province, Kurdistan, to the northwest, the provincial police chief said four protesters were killed by live fire. In Kermanshah, prosecutors said two protesters were killed by opposition groups, insisting the shots were not fired by Iranian security forces.

Some protesters appeared to target security forces. Three people linked to the Basij, a volunteer force under the Guard, were killed in clashes in the cities of Shiraz, Tabriz and Mashhad, semi-official media said, with officials saying at least nine were killed on both sides.

In Mashhad, the state-run IRNA agency reported that a policeman was hospitalized with severe burns after protesters tried to set him on fire.

Independent UN experts said they counted at least eight people killed in the clashes, including a woman and a 16-year-old boy, with dozens more wounded and arrested.

The conflict left a trail of destruction. In Mazandaran province along the Caspian Sea coast, angry mobs damaged or set fire to more than 40 government properties and injured 76 security officials, Deputy Governor Ruhullah Solgi said Thursday.

As the protests spread, authorities shut down the internet in parts of the country, with NetBlocks, a London-based group that monitors internet access, describing the restrictions as the most severe since mass protests in November 2019.

Iran has been grappling with waves of protests in the recent past, largely due to a chronic economic crisis caused by Western sanctions linked to its nuclear program. Iranians also blame government corruption and mismanagement as prices of basic goods rise, the currency depreciates and unemployment remains high.

The Biden administration and European allies have been working to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, in which Iran halted its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief, but talks have stalled for months.

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