Mahsa Amini Death: 31 Killed In Crackdown On Anti-Hijab ProtestersSep 23, 2022 | Pratirodh Bureau
At least 31 civilians have been killed in an Iranian security forces crackdown on protests that erupted over the death of Mahsa Amini, after her arrest by the morality police for allegedly violating its strictly enforced dress code, an Oslo-based NGO said on Thursday.
“The people of Iran have come to the streets to achieve their fundamental rights and human dignity… and the government is responding to their peaceful protest with bullets,” Iran Human Rights (IHR) director Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam said in a statement, publishing a toll after six days of protests.
IHR said it had confirmed protests taking place in over 30 cities and other urban centres, raising alarm over “mass arrests” of protesters and civil society activists. Protests first erupted over the weekend in the northern province of Kurdistan, from where Amini originated, but have now spread across the country.
IHR said its toll included the deaths of 11 people killed Wednesday night in the town of Amol in the northern Mazandaran province on the Caspian Sea, and six killed in Babol in the same province.
Meanwhile, the major northeastern city of Tabriz saw its first death in the protests, IHR said. “Condemnation and expression of concern by the international community are no longer enough,” Amiry-Moghaddam said.
Earlier, Kurdish rights group Hengaw said 15 people had been killed in Kurdistan province and other Kurdish-populated areas of the north of Iran, including eight on Wednesday night.
Widespread outages of Instagram and WhatsApp, which protesters use to share information about the government’s rolling crackdown on dissent, continued on Thursday. Authorities also appeared to disrupt internet access to the outside world, a tactic that rights activists say the government often employs in times of unrest.
Amini’s death has sparked sharp condemnation from the United States, the European Union and the United Nations. The police say she died of a heart attack and was not mistreated, but her family has cast doubt on that account.
The protests have grown in the last four days into an open challenge to the government, with women removing their state-mandated headscarves in the streets and Iranians setting trash bins ablaze and calling for the downfall of the Islamic Republic itself. “Death to the dictator!” has been a common cry in the protests.
Demonstrations have also rocked university campuses in Tehran and far-flung western cities such as Kermanshah.
Although widespread, the unrest appears distinct from earlier rounds of nationwide protests triggered by pocketbook issues as Iran’s economy staggers under heavy US sanctions.
The unrest that erupted in 2019 over the government’s abrupt gasoline price hike mobilised working class masses in small towns. Hundreds were killed as security forces cracked down, according to human rights groups, the deadliest violence since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Iran’s state-run media this week reported demonstrations in at least 13 cities, including the capital, Tehran, as protesters vent anger over social repression. Videos online show security forces firing tear gas and water cannons to disperse the protests. London-based Amnesty International reported that officers fired birdshot and beat protesters with batons.
Officials have blamed unnamed foreign countries, which they claim are trying to foment unrest.
Iran has grappled with waves of protests in recent years, mainly over a long-running economic crisis exacerbated by Western sanctions linked to its nuclear programme. Iranians also blame government corruption and mismanagement as prices of basic goods soar, the currency shrivels in value and unemployment remains high.
The Biden administration and European allies have been working to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear accord, in which Iran curbed its nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief, but the talks have been deadlocked for months.