The president of Iran, the ultraconservative Ibrahim Raisipromised a “decisive action” against the wave of protests that has shaken the country since the death of the young Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini in the custody of the morality police.
Raisi described the protests as “riots” and urged to take “decisive measures against those who oppose the security and peace of the country and the people.”speaking to relatives of a Basij militiaman killed in the city of Mashhad, in a phone call on Saturday, his office said.
According to official balances, at least 41 people have died due to the repression, although human rights groups say the true figure is much higher. In addition, there are also casualties among members of the regime’s security forces.
Hundreds of protesters, reform activists and journalists have been arrested since the mostly night-time demonstrations and street clashes erupted after Amini’s death on September 16 and then spread to dozens of cities.
Security forces have fired live ammunitionrights groups denounce, while protesters have thrown stones, set fire to police cars, set fire to state buildings and shouted “death to the dictator”.
These are the biggest protests in Iran in almost three years, they are led by women and they are not motivated by classic political or economic grievances, but by the rejection of the Islamic republic’s strict gender-based dress code.
Amini, whose given name in Kurdish is Jhina, was arrested on 13 September for allegedly violating regulations requiring a well-fitting hijab to be covered over the head and prohibiting, among other things, ripped jeans and brightly colored clothing. .
Since then, some Iranian protesters have removed and burned their hijabs at rallies and cut off their hairit; some have danced near large bonfires to the applause of the crowd who have chanted “zan, zendegi, azadi” or “woman, life, freedom”.
outrage and hope
The Oscar-winning Iranian film director, Asghar Farhadi, has been the latest to add his voice in support of the “progressive and courageous women who lead the protests for their human rights alongside men.”
“I saw the outrage and hope on their faces and in the way they marched in the streets”, he said in a video message on Instagram. “I deeply respect their fight for freedom and the right to choose their own destiny despite all the brutality they are subjected to.”
The world has learned of much of the turmoil and violence through shaky mobile phone footage posted and spread on social media, even as authorities have throttled internet access.
A widely shared video shows a young woman, her hair flying, struggling with security forces dressed in black and wearing helmets, before being pushed to the ground, the back of her head hitting the curb, before getting up and being helped by other women.
WhatsApp, Instagram and Skype have been blocked and internet access has been restricted, according to internet monitor NetBlocks, following previous bans on Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and Telegram. The London-based human rights group Amnesty International has warned of the “risk of further bloodshed amid deliberately imposed internet blackout”.
Overseas protests in solidarity with Iranian women have been held in recent days in Athens, Berlin, Brussels, Istanbul, Madrid, New York, Paris, Santiago, Stockholm, The Hague, Toronto and Washington, among other cities.
Iran – led by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, 83, and which has been isolated and punished with sanctions mainly for its nuclear program – has blamed “foreign plots” for the unrest.
It has also organized large rallies in defense of the hijab and conservative values, and another pro-government rally was scheduled for Sunday at Enghelab (Revolution) Square in central Tehran.
The main reformist group inside Iran, the Islamic People’s Union Party of Iran, has called for the repeal of the mandatory dress code and the reduction of police morale.
The party – led by former aides to former President Mohammad Khatami, who oversaw the thaw with the West between 1997 and 2005 – has also called on the government to “authorize peaceful demonstrations” and release detainees.
Foreign-based human rights groups have tried to shed light on the turmoil rocking Iran, with reports from their own sources in the country.
The Iran Human Rights group, based in Oslo, has put the death toll at 54, not counting security personnel. He has also said that in many cases the authorities have required families to carry out secret burials before handing over the bodies.
Iranian authorities have not yet declared the cause of Amini’s death.who according to activists died as a result of a blow to the head.
The Minister of the Interior, Ahmad Vahidi, has insisted that Amini was not beaten and that “we must wait for the final opinion of the forensic doctor, which takes time.”
(With information from AFP)