Protests grip Iran as Rights Group says 19 children killed

A police motorcycle burns during a protest over the death of Mahsa Amini, a woman who died after being arrested by the Islamic Republic’s “morality police”, in Tehran, Iran on September 19, 2022. WANA (West Asia News Agency) via

Protests sparked by the death of a young woman in custody continued across Iran on Sunday, defying a crackdown by authorities, as a rights group said at least 185 people, including children, were killed in protests.

Anti-government protests that began on September 17 at the funeral of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the Kurdish town of Saqez have turned into the biggest challenge to Iran’s clerical leaders in years, with protesters calling for the Supreme Leader’s downfall. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

“At least 185 people, including at least 19 children, were killed in the national protests across Iran. The highest number of killings occurred in Sistan and Baluchistan province with half the recorded number,” the Norway-based Iran Human Rights Watch said on Saturday. . .

Authorities have described the protests as a conspiracy by Iran’s enemies, including the United States. They blamed, among others, armed dissidents for violence that reportedly left at least 20 members of the security forces dead.

Videos shared on social media showed protests in dozens of cities across Iran early Sunday with hundreds of high school girls and college students participating despite the use of tear gas, clubs and in many cases live ammunition by security forces, rights groups said. rights.

Iranian authorities have denied that live bullets were used.

“DON’T HIT MY WIFE, SHE’S PREGNANT”

A video posted on Twitter by the widely followed activist 1500tasvir shows 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 police in the town of Rafsanjan on Saturday.

A video shared by the Twitter account Mamlekate, which has more than 150,000 followers, shows security forces chasing dozens of schoolgirls in the city of Bandar Abbas. Posts on social media said shops were closed in several cities after activists called for a mass strike.

Reuters was unable to verify the videos and posts. Details about the victims have been slow to emerge, in part because of internet restrictions imposed by authorities.

Meanwhile, the semi-official Tasnim news agency quoted the deputy interior minister as warning of harsh punishments for those it cited as rioters.

Amini was arrested in Tehran on September 13 for wearing “inappropriate clothing”. He died three days later in a Tehran hospital.

Saturday’s medical examiner’s report said Amini died of pre-existing medical conditions. Her father has blamed the police for her death, with the family’s lawyer saying “respected doctors” believe she was beaten while in custody.

While the United States and Canada have already imposed sanctions on Iranian authorities, the European Union has been considering imposing asset freezes and travel bans on Iranian officials.

“Those who beat (Iranian) women and girls in the street, who kidnap, arbitrarily imprison and sentence to death people who want nothing more than to live free – they are on the wrong side of history,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said. The newspaper Bild am Sonntag on Sunday.

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