Protests sparked by the death of a young woman in police custody continued across Iran on Sunday, despite a crackdown by authorities after a human rights group said at least 185 people, including children, had been killed in demonstrations.
The anti-government protests, which began September 17 at the funeral of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in her Kurdish town of Saqez, have grown into the biggest challenge facing Iran’s spiritual leaders in years, with protesters calling for the supreme leader’s ouster demanded Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
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“At least 185 people, including at least 19 children, have been killed in the nationwide protests across Iran. Most of the killings occurred in Sistan and Balochistan province, with half the number recorded,” Norway-based Iran Human Rights said on Saturday.
Authorities have described the protests as a conspiracy by Iran’s enemies, including the United States. They have accused armed dissidents, among others, of the violence that has reportedly killed at least 20 members of the security forces.
Videos shared on social media showed protests in dozens of cities across Iran early Sunday, attended by hundreds of high school girls and university students despite the use of tear gas, batons and in many cases live ammunition by security forces. said human rights groups.
Iranian authorities have denied live bullets were used.
“DO NOT HIT MY WIFE, SHE IS PREGNANT”
A video posted to Twitter by well-known activist 1500tasvir showed security forces armed with clubs attacking students at a high school in Tehran.
In another video, a man shouted “don’t hit my wife, she’s pregnant” while trying to protect her from riot police in the city of Rafsanjan on Saturday.
A video shared by the Mamlekate Twitter account, which has more than 150,000 followers, showed security forces chasing dozens of schoolgirls in the city of Bandar Abbas. According to social media posts, shops in several cities have been closed after activists called for a mass strike.
Reuters could not verify the videos and posts. Details of victims are slowly leaking out, partly because of internet restrictions imposed by the authorities.
Meanwhile, the semi-official Tasnim news agency quoted the deputy home secretary as warning of harsh penalties for those she labeled rioters.
Amini was arrested in Tehran on September 13 for wearing “inappropriate clothing”. She died three days later in a Tehran hospital.
A state coroner’s report on Saturday said Amini had died of pre-existing medical conditions. Her father blamed the police for her death. The family’s lawyer said “respectable doctors” believed she had been beaten while in custody.
While the United States and Canada have already imposed sanctions on Iranian authorities, the European Union is considering imposing asset freezes and travel bans on Iranian officials.
“Those who beat (Iranian) women and girls in the streets, who kidnap, arbitrarily detain and sentence to death people who want nothing more than a life in freedom – they are on the wrong side of history,” said Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock Bild am Sonntag newspaper on Sunday.