Anti-police protests escalate in Iran; death toll rises to 17

Published September 23, 2022
DEMONSTRATORS take to the streets of Tehran on Thursday to vent their anger over the death of Mahsa Amini.—AFP
DEMONSTRATORS take to the streets of Tehran on Thursday to vent their anger over the death of Mahsa Amini.—AFP

PARIS: At least 17 people have been killed as popular unrest has flared across Iran over the death in custody of Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini, while a rights group said Thursday the death toll was almost twice as high.

Amini, 22, died last week after her arrest by the Islamic republic’s feared morality police for allegedly wearing a hijab headscarf in an “improper” way, and news of her death sparked widespread outrage.

“Death to the dictator” and “Woman, life, freedom”, protesters have been heard shouting in video footage shared widely online during the biggest wave of protests to rock the country in almost three years.

The US Treasury placed the morality police on its sanctions blacklist on Thursday, holding it responsible for Amini’s death and citing the “abuse and violence against Iranian women and the violation of the rights of peaceful Iranian protestors”.

Some Iranian women have burnt their scarves and symbolically cut their hair in protest at the strict dress code, in defiant actions echoed in solidarity protests from New York to Istanbul.

The Oslo-based non-government group Iran Human Rights said at least 31 civilians had been killed in Iran’s crackdown during six nights of violence against protesters in over 30 towns and cities.

Iranians have rallied “to achieve their fundamental rights and human dignity... and the government is responding to their peaceful protest with bullets,” charged the group’s director Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam.

Security forces have fired at crowds with birdshot and metal pellets, and also deployed tear gas and water cannon, said Amnesty International and other human rights groups.

Demonstrators have hurled stones at them, set fire to police cars and chanted anti-government slogans, the official IRNA news agency said.

On Thursday, Iranian media said three militiamen “mobilised to deal with rioters” had been stabbed or shot dead, in northwestern Tabriz, central Qazvin and northeastern Mashhad.

Unprecedented images have shown protesters defacing or burning images of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and late Revolutionary Guards commander Qasem Soleimani.There were fears violence could escalate further after Iran restricted internet access and blocked messaging apps including WhatsApp and Instagram, as they have done during past crackdowns.

The two apps were the most widely used in Iran after the blocking of other platforms in recent years, including Facebook, Twitter, Telegram, YouTube and TikTok.

“People in Iran are being cut off from online apps and services,” Instagram chief Adam Mosseri tweeted, adding that “we hope their right to be online will be reinstated quickly”.

Activists have said that Amini, whose Kurdish first name is Jhina, suffered a fatal blow to the head after her arrest in Tehran — a claim denied by officials, who have announced an investigation.

Iranian women on the streets of Tehran said they were now more careful about their dress to avoid run-ins with the morality police.

Published in Dawn, September 23rd, 2022

Opinion

Editorial

Retracted offer
04 Dec, 2022

Retracted offer

WITH so many U-turns under his belt, it was hardly surprising when on Saturday, PTI chairman Imran Khan decided to...
Embassy attack
Updated 04 Dec, 2022

Embassy attack

The Taliban should have enhanced the existing security arrangements.
Smog season
04 Dec, 2022

Smog season

FOR the past week, major cities of Pakistan have been among the top most polluted cities in the world. Lahore ranked...
Fleeting good news
Updated 03 Dec, 2022

Fleeting good news

Indeed, there is no other option to get out of the economic mess we have created in the last few years.
Battle for spoils
03 Dec, 2022

Battle for spoils

THE spectacle playing out inside a London courtroom shines a light on the struggle for control of the assets of the...
CM Bizenjo’s complaint
03 Dec, 2022

CM Bizenjo’s complaint

BALOCHISTAN Chief Minister Mir Abdul Qudoos Bizenjo’s claim that his province is facing a financial crunch due to ...