At least 9 dead as protests in Iran spread over death of woman in police custody

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (TBEN) – Clashes between Iranian security forces and protesters angry over the death of a 22-year-old woman in police custody have left at least nine people dead, according to a count Thursday since the violence erupted over the weekend. by The The Bharat Express News.

The extent of the ongoing unrest in Iran, the worst in years, still remains unclear as protesters in at least a dozen cities – expressing anger at social repression and the mounting crises in the country – continue to face security threats. and paramilitary forces.

To prevent protests from spreading, Iran’s largest telecom operator largely shut down access to mobile internet on Thursday, said Netblocks, a group that controls internet access, describing the restrictions as the strictest since 2019.

A presenter on Iranian state television suggested the death toll from the mass protests could rise to 17 on Thursday, but did not say how he reached that figure. “Unfortunately, 17 people and police officers present at the scene of these events lost their lives,” the anchor said, adding that official statistics would be released later.

In a country where radio and television stations are already state-controlled and journalists are regularly threatened with arrest, the paramilitary Revolutionary Guards on Thursday urged the judiciary on Thursday to ban “anyone who spreads fake news and rumors” on social media about the unrest. to prosecute. Widespread outages of Instagram and WhatsApp, used by protesters, also continued on Thursday.

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The demonstrations in Iran started as an emotional outburst over the death of Mahsa Amini, a young woman detained by the country’s vice squad for allegedly violating the strict dress code. Her death has drawn strong condemnations from the United States, the European Union and the United Nations.

Dozens of people stage a demonstration to protest the death of a 22-year-old woman in custody in Tehran, Iran, on Sept. 21, 2022. (Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Police say she died of a heart attack and was not assaulted, but her family has raised doubts. Independent experts affiliated with the UN said on Thursday that reports suggested she was severely beaten by vice squad, without providing evidence.

The protests over the past five days have turned into an open challenge to the government, with women taking off their state-imposed headscarves and burning them in the streets and Iranians calling for the downfall of the Islamic Republic itself.

“Death to the dictator!” was a common cry in the protests.

Demonstrations have shocked university campuses in Tehran and western cities such as Kermanshah. Though widespread, the unrest appears to be different from previous rounds of nationwide protests sparked by wallet problems.

Iranian state media this week reported demonstrations in at least 13 cities, including the capital Tehran. Videos online show security forces firing tear gas and water cannons to disperse hundreds of protesters. London-based Amnesty International reported that officers also fired birdshots and beat protesters with batons.

Social media from the northern town of Tabriz shows a young man allegedly shot by security forces lying bleeding in the street as protesters screamed for help.

At least nine people have been killed in the clashes, according to an TBEN count based on statements from state-run and semi-official media in Iran. In a statement on Thursday, the Guard blamed the unrest at “the enemies of Iran”.

A photo taken by AFP outside Iran on Sept. 21, 2022 shows Iranian protesters burning a garbage can in the capital Tehran during a protest for Mahsa Amini, days after she died in police custody.  (Photo by AFP) (Photo by -/AFP via Getty Images)
A photo taken by TBEN outside Iran on Sept. 21, 2022 shows Iranian protesters burning a garbage can in the capital Tehran during a protest for Mahsa Amini, days after she died in police custody. (Photo by TBEN) (Photo by -/TBEN via Getty Images)

In Amini’s northwest home province of Kurdistan, the provincial police chief said four protesters were killed by live fire. In Kermanshah, the prosecutor said two protesters were killed and claimed the bullets were not fired by Iran’s security forces.

The UN’s independent experts said the clashes killed at least eight people, including a woman and a 16-year-old boy, and dozens more were injured and arrested.

The confrontations have left a trail of destruction. In the northern province of Mazandaran, angry mobs damaged or set fire to more than 40 government properties and injured 76 security officers, Deputy Governor Rouhollah Solgi said.

Iran has experienced waves of protests in the recent past, mainly because of a protracted economic crisis exacerbated by Western sanctions over its nuclear program. Citizens also blame corruption and government mismanagement as prices of basic goods rise and Iran’s currency shrinks in value.

The Biden administration and European allies have been working to revive Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal, which curbed Iran’s nuclear activities in return for sanctions relief, but talks have stalled for months.

From New York, where Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi took the stage at the UN General Assembly on Wednesday, Christiane Amanpour, CNN’s chief international presenter, said she planned to confront Raisi about the protests in Iran in what are would be first US-based interview.

But Amanpour wrote on Twitter that Raisi didn’t show up for the interview. An aide told her the president refused to participate unless she wore a headscarf given the “situation in Iran.” The Iranian government did not immediately acknowledge her account.

“I could not agree with this unprecedented and unexpected situation,” the British-Iranian anchor wrote with a photo of Raisi’s empty chair.

“As the protests in Iran continue and people are being killed, it would have been an important moment to speak with President Raisi.”