Dozens of deaths in the repression, hundreds of arrests in Iran

Authorities deny any involvement in the death of Mahsa Amini on September 16, three days after she was arrested for violating the Islamic Republic’s dress code.

But the protesters have been shouting their anger every night since the death of the 22-year-old young woman from the Kurdistan region (northwest).

A viral video apparently filmed on Saturday evening shows a woman walking with her head uncovered and waving her veil in the middle of the street in Tehran, flouting strict dress rules.

In Iran, women must cover their hair and body to below the knees and must not wear tight pants or ripped jeans.

Viral footage of the protests in recent days has shown Iranian women burning their headscarves.

The reformist “People’s Union of Islamic Iran” party on Saturday urged the state to rescind the veil requirement and release those arrested.

At the same time, the ultra-conservative president Ebrahim Raïssi promised to act in a “decisive” way against the demonstrators, described by the authorities as “rioters” or “counter-revolutionaries”.

Witnesses reported in the evening of a large deployment of security forces at a crossroads north of the Iranian capital.

State television on Saturday evening gave a new death toll of 41 “during the recent riots”.

But the toll could be heavier, the NGO Iran Human Rights (IHR), based in Oslo, reporting at least 54 dead in the repression of the demonstrations.

“Counter-revolutionary groups”

Mahsa Amini was arrested on September 13 in Tehran for “wearing inappropriate clothes”, by the police in charge of enforcing the dress code. She died three days later in hospital.

Since then, Iranian men and women have been demonstrating at nightfall in dozens of cities in the country, including the capital Tehran, Isfahan and Qom (center) or Machhad (north).

The demonstrations are marked by clashes with the security forces and police vehicles are set on fire by the protesters who chant slogans hostile to the Islamic Republic, according to media and activists.

Hundreds of protesters were apprehended. In the northern province of Guilan alone, “739 rioters including 60 women” were arrested, its police chief said on Saturday, according to the Tasnim news agency.

According to IHR, about half of the 54 people killed were in this province and neighboring Mazandaran. The NGO indicates that in many cases “the handing over of the bodies to the families is conditional on a burial in secret”.

For its part, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), based in the United States, indicated that 17 journalists had been arrested in Iran since September 19.

Claiming to be based on witnesses, videos and forensic opinions, Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi affirms that Mahsa Amini was not beaten by the police – as her relatives accuse – assuring that an investigation on his death was ongoing.

The minister accuses the demonstrators of “following the United States, European countries and counter-revolutionary groups”.

Denouncing “American attempts to undermine the stability” of Iran, Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani warned him in a tweet that “efforts to violate Iran’s sovereignty will not go unchecked. answers”.

“Deliberate” shootings

For several days, online videos have shown scenes of violence in Tehran and other major cities such as Tabriz (northwest). On some, we see the security forces shooting at demonstrators.

Amnesty International accuses the security forces of “deliberately (…) firing live ammunition at demonstrators”, calling for “urgent international action to end the repression”.

Internet connections are still disrupted on Saturday, with the blocking of WhatsApp and Instagram. NetBlocks, a London-based site that monitors internet blockages around the world, also reported on Skype.

The Kurdish human rights organization Hengaw for its part claimed that demonstrators had taken control of certain parts of the city of Oshnaviyeh (north-west). Videos show protesters marching with victory signs.

The judicial authority recognized that “rioters (y) had attacked three bases of the Bassidjis”, in reference to the Islamic militiamen. But she denied, according to her agency, that the security forces had lost control of Oshnaviyeh in the Kurdistan region.

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