Mahsa Amini
Mahsa Amini. Photo credit: Center for Human Rights in Iran

Norway-based, Iran Human Rights Organization says that they can confirm that at least 31 protesters have been killed in the on-going anti-government, anti-hijab protest across Iran. Iran’s state-run media acknowledged on Thursday that at least 17 people have been killed in anti-hijab protests which have spread across the country. The protests have spread to more than 80 cities and towns across Iran. In Tehran and some Kurdish cities, protesters torched police stations and vehicles on Thursday as public outrage over the death of Mahsa Amini showed no signs of easing, with reports of security forces coming under attack.

The unrest was sparked by the death of a woman named Mahsa Amini detained by the country’s so-called “morality police,” apparently for not covering her hair as required by Iran’s strict Islamic laws.

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Many protesters cut their hairs. Photo Reuters

Many women have protested by removing their head scarves in public and burning them on bonfires. Others have cut their hair in public, in front of clapping crowds.

“It showcases the level of public anger. People are just fed up, and going for it,” Vakil, from Chatham House, told CBS News. “This is a generation of Iranians that are pushing back.”

Media reports said:

On Thursday, protests continued in Tehran’s neighborhoods, with women burning their veils, according to videos shown by the U.S.-funded news organization Radio Farda.

The morality police, who are tasked specifically with enforcing Iran’s strict Islamic dress code and other religious edicts, arrested 22-year-old Mahsa Amini last week while her family was visiting the capital Tehran.

The special unit accused her of wearing “unsuitable attire.” She died in detention after three days, with officials saying she suffered a heart attack. Critics believe she was beaten after an image surfaced of her bruised, bloodied and intubated body.

“Iranian women, under the law that was imposed in 1981 after the [Islamic] revolution, are required to cover their hair and dress modestly,” Dr. Sanam Vakil, a Middle East policy expert and Iran specialist at London’s Chatham House think-tank, told CBS News. “Over the past 40 years, Iranian women have been pushing back against this mandatory veiling requirement, and there is a morality police that polices the streets, brings women in, punishes them.”

On Thursday, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said Amini’s death would be “thoroughly investigated,” according to AFP.

The U.S. on Thursday imposed sanctions on the morality police and other Iranian government officials, The Associated Press reported. Individuals targeted by the sanctions included the leaders of the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security, the Army’s Ground Forces, the Basij Resistance Forces and other law enforcement agencies, according to AP.

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Iranians clash with police

Amini’s death has sparked Iran’s biggest mass protests since at least 2019, when public anger over skyrocketing gas prices drew huge crowds into the streets.

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People’s demonstration to protest the death of Amini in Tehran on September 21, 2022.STRINGER/ANADOLU AGENCY/GETTY

These new protests have spread from Iran’s Kurdistan region, where Amini lived, to at least 50 cities and towns across the country, according to a human rights watchdog and other opposition groups operating in Iran.

The governor of Kurdistan, Ismail Zareikosha, said earlier this week that three people were killed in his province, but he insisted that Iranian security forces were not responsible, instead blaming “enemies of Iran.”

Internet access in parts of the country was cut on Thursday, a day after Iranian Communications Minister Issa Zarepour warned that such a step could be taken amid the protests.

Opposition broadcaster Manoto TV claimed that Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, had removed a large number of videos from its Instagram page that were related to the protests. The company also said Instagram had removed a video message by Reza Pahlavi, the exiled former crown prince of Iran, addressing the protesters.

During the 2019 protests, before the government’s security forces cracked down, internet access also slowed down or was cut off. As of Thursday, videos and images of defiance and protest were still being uploaded to social media, showing people destroying symbols of government authority, including police cars and water cannon trucks, and defacing images of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamanei.

The death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini late last week in police custody for allegedly violating Iran’s strict Islamic dress code has sparked demonstrations across the country. Protesters have clashed violently with security forces who used tear gas and fired live ammunition.

As the protests spread, authorities on Thursday expanded their campaign to restrict access to the Internet, tightening blocks on platforms such as Instagram and WhatsApp, according to Netblocks, an internet observatory that monitors global traffic outages. Social media apps have been widely used to organize and share footage of the protests.

Internet access through the country’s largest cellular operators was heavily disrupted for several hours Thursday, according to the Internet Outage Detection & Analysis project, or IODA, another internet monitor.

Iranian officials didn’t comment on the internet disruptions. Mohammad Khansari, the deputy communications minister, told state television that Iran’s domestic messaging services and websites were functioning normally.

Authoritarian governments across the world are increasingly using the tactic of cutting people off from the global web, often to stop protests, censor speeches, control elections and silence people, human-rights advocates say. Iran accounted for five out of 23 shutdowns documented in the Middle East and North Africa last year, according to Access Now, a nonprofit that advocates for a free internet. Others within that list of 23 shutdowns included Sudan, Yemen and the Israeli-controlled Palestinian territories, for a variety of reasons including security.

Netblocks said the latest restrictions in Iran are the most severe since the November 2019 economic protests rocked the country.

The latest shutdown has affected the daily lives of millions of Iranians. Many in Tehran said they faced problems while trying to access services such as cash machines, online payments and car-sharing apps.

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Demonstrations in western Iran. PHOTO: AFP/GETTY IMAGES

It was not immediately clear if the internet shutdowns have helped curb the demonstrations, but the flow of social-media posts related to the protests appeared to be much slower.

Security forces are also coming down harder on protesters. Protests began on Saturday after Ms. Amini’s funeral, as clashes erupted with security forces, according to Hengaw, a human-rights organization in Iran’s Kurdish region, where Ms. Amini was from.

Ms. Amini’s death and actions by Iran’s security forces to suppress the protests have drawn condemnation from many including the UN.

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Demonstration in Iran. PHOTO: AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Some U.S. lawmakers are calling on the Treasury to do more to approve technology exports that can help Iranian citizens counter Tehran’s crackdown. “Congress is calling on the Treasury Department to do everything in its power to help the Iranian people stay connected to the internet,” said Rep. Claudia Tenney (R., N.Y.), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “We need to cut through any bureaucratic red tape and get this done,” she said, referring to the licensing required to export communications tech to Iran.

In response to calls to help Iranians access the Internet freely, Elon Musk earlier this week said his satellite-internet system Starlink would seek an exception to sanctions to make its service available in Iran.

A cottage industry of tools, some partly funded by the U.S. government, has sprung up to help Iranian people — including journalists and dissidents —access the internet in the country. Starlink could add a significant new source of internet access to those tools. But it was not clear how Mr. Musk intends to ship Starlink kits into Iran, or to whom the company would distribute them.

Iranian officials have dismissed Western responses to Ms. Amini’s death, saying they reflect a double standard, criticizing Tehran while letting other abuses go.

Threat Of Crackdown

Following widespread protests in Iran, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the Judiciary threatened the protesters with a crackdown.

On 22 September, IRGC in a statement called on the judiciary to deal decisively with “rumor makers and liars in virtual and real space”. The judiciary responded to this request and said that the “insurgents” will be dealt with.

Iranian security forces have used force and weapons to disperse the protesters.The Iranian armed forces including the police, antiriot police, IRGC, and the Basiji militia forces, in the past six days, have used excessive force against the protesters including the use of pellet shotguns and live ammunition. Security forces have killed tens of protesters and have wounded many.

Since Friday, 16th of September, and according to the Kurdistan Human Rights Network, at least 11 protesters were killed in Kurdish cities including Fereydoun Mahmoudi (Saqqez), Zakaria Khyal (Piranshahr), Farjad Darvishi (Urmiya), Fawad Gadmi (Divandara), Reza Lotfi (Dehgolan), Mohsen Mohammadi (Dehgan), Mino Majidi (Kermanshah), Amin Marafet (Ashnoyeh), Milan Haghighi (Ashnoyeh), Danesh Mahla (Balo Village, Urmiya) and Sadruddin Liati ( Ashnoyeh).

More videos are posted on social media that show lifeless bodies of protesters that are killed in the cities of Tabriz, Kermanshah, Amol, Garmsar, Noshahr, and Tehran. Zamaneh Media is still confirming the identities of those killed.

It is possible that the number of those injured and killed is much higher than what is currently being reported.
According to a report, security forces used automatic weapons against night protests on Wednesday 21 September in Amol. There are unconfirmed reports that more than 10 protesters transferred to hospitals have died.

The use of pellet guns has been excessive and at least one woman hit in the face by pellet bullets has died. Another protester in Kurdistan has been blinded in one eye by pellets.

Firing live ammunition, automatic weapons and birdshot have been reported in many Kurdish cities, in the city of Mashhad and in Garmsar.

Widespread protests against the government’s murder of Mehsa (Zhina) Amini started in Kurdish cities, and universities in Tehran supported the cause with slogans against dictatorship and compulsory hijab. The protest moved to the streets of Tehran and has been continuing in cities and villages since.

Female Activists Arrested

The government has mass arrested a member of the feminist activists and civil society activists in Kurdistan, Tehran, Tabriz, and other cities at their homes or workplaces by presenting arrest orders. They have arrested at least 40 student activists in similar manners. Many more have been arrested at the protests the identities of which have yet to be confirmed.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has threatened the protesters and has called on law enforcement to bring order by showing decisive action against “rioters and disrupters of public order”.

Basiji Stabbed To Death

There are also causalities on the side of the government forces. Tasnim and Fars news reported that a Basiji force was stabbed to death during the protests in Mashhad. Tasnim also said that another member of the Basij was killed in Qazvin by protestors. NurNews, close to the Supreme National Security Council of Iran, shared a video of an armed officer confirming the death of a soldier.

How the death of Iranian Mahsa Amini caused thousands of women to defy hijab laws

Angelica Silva writes in abc.net.au:

Here’s a recap of the events that led up to this.

What happened to Mahsa Amini?

Ms Amini was visiting Iran’s capital, Tehran, from her hometown in the country’s western Kurdish region.

On September 13, Iran’s morality police arrested her.

They said she was wearing her hijab too loosely.

While in police custody, she fell into a coma and died three days later.

Advocates accused the morality police of beating Ms Amini.

Police rejected the allegations, saying the 22-year-old had a heart attack as she waited with other detained women at a morality police station.

“Based on detailed investigations, since her transfer to the vehicle and also at the [station], there was no physical encounter with her,” a police statement said.

But Ms Amini’s father told pro-reform news website Emtedad his daughter had no health problems or history of heart issues.

He said his daughter was bruised and he held the police responsible for her death.

Iran’s state broadcaster aired footage that appeared to show a woman identified as Ms Amini falling over after getting up from her seat to speak to an official at a police station — but the video could not be independently verified.

What is Iran’s morality police?

Iran’s morality police is the component of Iran’s Law Enforcement Forces (LEF), tasked with enforcing the country’s laws against immodesty and societal vices.

The country requires women to wear the headscarf in a way that completely covers their hair when in public.

What are the hijab laws in Iran?

The hijab has been compulsory for women in Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution and the morality police are charged with enforcing that and other restrictions.

Iranian women have full access to education, work outside the home and hold public office.

But they are required to dress modestly in public, which includes wearing the hijab as well as long, loose-fitting robes.

What’s happening with the protests in Iran?

Protests following Ms Amini’s death began on Saturday and have now spread to more than 80 Iranian cities.

Most of the demonstrations have been concentrated in Iran’s Kurdish-populated north-west.

The demonstrations over Ms Amini’s death are the biggest in the Islamic Republic since 2019, when protests erupted over a government hike in the price of gasoline.

Rights groups say hundreds were killed in the crackdown that followed, the deadliest violence since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

How has the world reacted to Ms Amini’s death?

Videos online show some women tearing off their mandatory headscarves, demonstratively twirling them in the air.

Others show some Iranian women cutting off their hair while at a protest.

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Women take part in a sit-in following the death of Ms Amini, in Beirut, Lebanon.(Reuters: Mohamed Azakir)

Demonstrations have taken place in countries around the world, from Greece to Turkey to Canada.

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Demonstrations are held around the world following death of Iranian Mahsa Amini

How has Iran’s government responded?

Iran’s Intelligence Ministry has warned that attending protests over the death of Ms Amini is illegal and anyone who takes part will face prosecution, Iranian news websites have reported.

On Wednesday, the governor of Tehran said that authorities arrested three foreign nationals at protests in the capital, without elaborating.

Iranian security forces have arrested at least 25 people, and the governor of the Kurdistan province says three people have been killed by armed groups in unrest linked to the protests. However, the exact death roll remains unconfirmed.


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