Iran unrest death toll rises as protests intensify

Published September 21, 2022
<p>Nasibe Samsaei (C), an Iranian woman living in Turkey, holds up her hair after cutting it off with scissors, during a protest outside the Iranian consulate in Istanbul on Wednesday, following the death of an Iranian woman while in custody in Tehran. — Reuters</p>

Nasibe Samsaei (C), an Iranian woman living in Turkey, holds up her hair after cutting it off with scissors, during a protest outside the Iranian consulate in Istanbul on Wednesday, following the death of an Iranian woman while in custody in Tehran. — Reuters

<p>A protester holds a portrait of Mahsa Amini during a demonstration in support of Amini, a young Iranian woman who died after being arrested in Tehran by the Islamic Republic’s morality police, on Istiklal avenue in Istanbul on Tuesday. — AFP</p>

A protester holds a portrait of Mahsa Amini during a demonstration in support of Amini, a young Iranian woman who died after being arrested in Tehran by the Islamic Republic’s morality police, on Istiklal avenue in Istanbul on Tuesday. — AFP

At least eight protesters have been killed in Iran in several days of unrest, according to a count of officially announced deaths and those reported by a human rights group.

Public anger has flared over the death of Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini, 22, after her arrest by the morality police responsible for enforcing a strict dress code for women.

Protests first erupted Friday in her home province of Kurdistan, where governor Ismail Zarei Koosha said Tuesday that three people had been killed, without specifying when.

Like other officials, he blamed the deaths on “a plot by the enemy”.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei did not mention the protests — some of Iran’s worst unrest since street clashes last year over water shortages — during a speech on Wednesday commemorating the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war.

A top Khamenei aide paid condolences to Amini’s family this week, promising to follow up on the case and saying the Supreme Leader was affected and pained by her death.

A picture obtained by AFP outside Iran shows a bin burning in the middle of an intersection during a protest for Mahsa Amini, a woman who died after being arrested by the Islamic republic’s “morality police”, in Tehran on Tuesday. — AFP
A picture obtained by AFP outside Iran shows a bin burning in the middle of an intersection during a protest for Mahsa Amini, a woman who died after being arrested by the Islamic republic’s “morality police”, in Tehran on Tuesday. — AFP

The official IRNA news agency said a “police assistant” died from injuries on Tuesday in the southern city of Shiraz.

“Some people clashed with police officers and as a result one of the police assistants was killed. In this incident, four other police officers were injured,” IRNA said. An official quoted by IRNA said 15 protesters were arrested in Shiraz.

In Kermanshah, the city prosecutor said two people had been killed on Tuesday in riots.

“We are certain this was done by anti-revolutionary elements because the victims were killed by weapons not used by the security apparatus,” the semi-official Fars news agency cited prosecutor Shahram Karami as saying.

Two Kurdish human rights groups — Hengaw and the Kurdistan Human Rights Network — said a 43-year-old man was killed by security forces’ gunfire on Tuesday in Urmia, a city in the western Azerbaijan province.

There was no official confirmation of that death.

Amini fell into a coma and died while waiting with other women held by the morality police, who enforce strict rules in the Islamic Republic requiring women to cover their hair and wear loose-fitting clothes in public.

Her father said she had no health problems and that she suffered bruises to her legs in custody and holds the police responsible for her death. The police have denied harming her.

Tehran rally

Women have been heavily present in the protests, with many waving or burning their veils, or cutting their hair in public.

Videos shared on social media have also shown demonstrators damaging symbols of the Islamic Republic.

A police motorcycle burns during a protest over the death of Mahsa Amini, a woman who died after being arrested by the Islamic republic’s “morality police”, in Tehran, Iran on Monday. — AFP
A police motorcycle burns during a protest over the death of Mahsa Amini, a woman who died after being arrested by the Islamic republic’s “morality police”, in Tehran, Iran on Monday. — AFP

One showed a man scaling the facade of the townhall in the northern city of Sari and tearing down an image of Ayatollah Khomeini, who established Iran’s Islamist government after the 1979 revolution.

People rallied again on Wednesday in Tehran, with hundreds shouting “death to the dictator” at Tehran University, a video shared by 1500tasvir showed.

Reuters could not verify the authenticity of the videos.

Demonstrators cut their hair during a protest in solidarity with the women in Iran, following the death of Mahsa Amini, in Berlin, Germany, September 19. — Reuters
Demonstrators cut their hair during a protest in solidarity with the women in Iran, following the death of Mahsa Amini, in Berlin, Germany, September 19. — Reuters

Hengaw, the Kurdish rights group, said internet had been cut completely in the Kurdistan province, where protests have been particularly intense and Iran’s Revolutionary Guards has a history of suppressing unrest.

It also reported the death of another man killed on Tuesday in Piranshahr, also in the western Azerbaijan province, while saying that another died from wounds sustained on Monday in Saqez, Amini’s hometown.

There was no official confirmation of these fatalities.

Hengaw said all the civilians it reported killed were Kurds.

People attend a protest in solidarity with the women in Iran, following the death of Mahsa Amini, in Toronto, Canada, September 19. — Reuters
People attend a protest in solidarity with the women in Iran, following the death of Mahsa Amini, in Toronto, Canada, September 19. — Reuters

The governor of Kurdistan province has blamed the deaths of three men in Kurdistan province on unspecified terrorist groups. Hengaw has said they were killed when security forces opened fire.

The Tehran governor said authorities had identified 1,800 people with a “history of taking part in previous riots, including 700 who have significant records within various police, security and judicial institutions”.

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