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

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — 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 since violence erupted over the weekend, according to a recount on Thursday. by the Associated Press.

The extent of the ongoing unrest in Iran, the worst in several years, remains unclear as protesters in at least a dozen cities, expressing anger at the country’s social repression and growing crises, continue to clash. security forces and paramilitaries.

To prevent the protests from spreading, Iran’s largest telecoms operator largely shut down mobile internet access again on Thursday, Netblocks, a group that monitors internet access, said, describing the restrictions as the most severe since 2019.

An anchor on Iran’s state television suggested the death toll from the mass protests could reach 17 on Thursday, but did not say how he arrived at that figure. “Unfortunately, 17 people and police officers present at the scene of these events lost their lives,” the presenter said, adding that official statistics will be published later.

In a country where radio and television stations are already controlled by the state and journalists regularly face the threat of arrest, the paramilitary Revolutionary Guards urged the judiciary on Thursday to prosecute “anyone who spreads false news and rumours” in the media. social networks about the riots. Widespread outages of Instagram and WhatsApp, which are used by protesters, also continued on Thursday.

the demonstrations in iran It began as an emotional outpouring over the death of Mahsa Amini, a young woman detained by the country’s morality police for allegedly violating their strict dress code. Her death has provoked a strong condemnation of the United States, the European Union and the United Nations.

Dozens of people stage a rally to protest the death of a 22-year-old woman in custody in Tehran, Iran, on September 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 mistreated, but her family has disputed that point. Independent experts affiliated with the UN said Thursday that reports suggested she was severely beaten by the morality police, without offering evidence.

The protests over the past five days have turned into open defiance of the government, with women removing and burning their state-mandated veils in the streets and Iranians calling for the fall of the Islamic Republic itself.

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

Demonstrations have rocked university campuses in Tehran and Western cities like Kermanshah. Though widespread, the unrest appears unlike previous rounds of protests across the country sparked by pocketbook troubles.

The protest movement that broke out in 2019 over the government’s gasoline price hike mobilized the masses of the working class in the cities of Iran. Hundreds of people were killed as security forces cracked down, according to human rights groups, in the deadliest violence since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

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

Images on social media from the northern city of Tabriz show a young man allegedly shot by security forces bleeding to death in the street as protesters shouted for help.

At least nine people have been killed in the clashes, according to an AP count based on statements by state and semi-official Iranian media. In a statement Thursday, the Guard blamed the unrest on “Iran’s enemies.”

An image obtained by AFP outside Iran on September 21, 2022 shows Iranian protesters burning a garbage container 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)
An image obtained by AFP outside Iran on September 21, 2022 shows Iranian protesters burning a garbage container 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)

In Amini’s home province of northwestern Kurdistan, the provincial police chief said four protesters were killed by live ammunition. In Kermanshah, the prosecutor said two protesters were killed and insisted that Iranian security forces did not fire the bullets.

Some protesters appear to have attacked the security forces. Three men affiliated with the Basij, a volunteer force under the Guard, were killed in clashes in the cities of Shiraz, Tabriz and Mashhad, semi-official media reported, bringing the death toll acknowledged by officials to at least nine on both sides.

Independent UN experts said the clashes have killed at least eight people, including a woman and a 16-year-old boy, and dozens more have been injured and arrested.

The clashes 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, said deputy governor Rouhollah Solgi.

Iran has struggled with waves of protests in the recent past, mainly because of a long-standing economic crisis exacerbated by Western sanctions linked to its nuclear program. Citizens also blame government corruption and mismanagement as prices of basic goods soar and the Iranian currency loses value.

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

From New York, where Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi took the stage Wednesday at the UN General Assembly, CNN’s top international anchor Christiane Amanpour said she had planned to confront Raisi about the protests rocking Iran in what it would be his first interview in the United States.

But Amanpour wrote on Twitter that when the interview was due to start, Raisi did not show up. An aide told him that the president was refusing to participate unless he wore a headscarf given the “situation in Iran.” The Iranian government did not immediately acknowledge his account.

“I could not agree to this unexpected and unprecedented condition,” the British-Iranian presenter wrote alongside a photo of Raisi’s empty chair.

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


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