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Protests in Iran have killed more than 75 people

Protests in Iran have killed more than 75 people

Tehran’s repression is increasingly bloody and denounced by Western countries. More than 75 people have been killed in Iran in the crackdown on protests sparked 11 days ago by the death of Masha Amini, a woman in police custody, according to an NGO. The Iranian authorities, for their part, put forward a death toll of 41, including members of the security forces.

They also announced the arrest of more than 1,200 demonstrators. Activists, lawyers and journalists were also arrested according to NGOs. The protests, which resumed on Monday evening, erupted on September 16 after the death in hospital of 22-year-old Iranian girl Mahsa Amini, arrested three days earlier in Tehran for breaking a strict dress code for women in Islamic Republic of Iran.

“Live ammunition fired at protesters”

According to the NGO Iran Human Rights (IHR), based in Oslo, “at least 76 people were killed in the demonstrations” including “six women and four children”, in 14 provinces of the country. The IHR claimed to have obtained “videos and death certificates confirming live ammunition fired at protesters”.

Since the death of Mahsa Amini, Iranians have been demonstrating every night in Tehran and elsewhere in the country. Many helmeted police officers armed with sticks then took up position to try to prevent the gatherings. Some demonstrators launch from the roofs of buildings anti-government slogans interspersed with “Woman, Life and Freedom”, says Ali, a resident of the capital.

“Death to the dictator”, the supreme guide

Monday evening, the protests were punctuated by the same slogans of “Death to the dictator” in the capital and in other cities, according to witnesses. In Sanandaj, capital of the province of Kurdistan (north-west), where Mahsa Amini is from, women climbed on the roofs of cars and removed their veils, according to images published by IHR. No police force was visible in the footage.

In Tabriz (north-west), police firing tear gas against demonstrators appear on a video broadcast by the IHR, where we also hear gunshots. Recent videos of the protests released by AFP showed riot police beating protesters with batons and students tearing up large photos of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and his predecessor Ayatollah Khomeini, the founding father of the Islamic Republic.

braziers of veils

According to human rights groups, police also fired pellets and live ammunition at protesters who threw rocks, torched police cars and set fire to public buildings. Other images showed women setting fire to their veils, or symbolically cutting their hair, encouraged by the crowd, in several cities.

Iran denounces “foreign plots” behind the protest movement, pointing the finger at the United States, its sworn enemy. Its head of diplomacy Hossein Amir-Abdollahian criticized “the interventionist approach of the United States in the affairs of Iran”, accusing them of supporting “the rioters”.

Paris condemns “brutal repression”

The European Union denounced the “widespread and disproportionate use of force” against the demonstrators, Berlin calling on the Iranian authorities to “not resort to violence”. Condemning “brutal repression”, France said it was examining with its European partners “the options available in response to these new massive violations of women’s rights and human rights in Iran”.

US President Joe Biden has denounced the crackdown on protests, saying he stands in solidarity with “brave women of Iran”. And the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed its “great concern” at the “violent response (…) of the security forces” as well as the “restrictions (…) on telephone communications, the Internet and social networks. But the Iranian authorities remain firm.

Exclusion of any “indulgence”

On Saturday, conservative President Ebrahim Raïsi called on the security forces to act “firmly against those who undermine the security and peace of the country and the people”. After him, the head of the judiciary, Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei, ruled out any “indulgence” towards the instigators of the “riots”.

Nevertheless, Grand Ayatollah Hossein Nouri Hamedani, an important conservative cleric and ardent defender of Ayatollah Khamenei, called on the authorities to “listen to the demands of the people”. The protests are the largest since those of November 2019, caused by the rise in gasoline prices in Iran, which had been severely repressed (230 dead according to an official report, more than 300 according to Amnesty International).

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