Tehran,UPDATED: 11 Oct 2022 11:55 AM IST
Women carry banners and play instruments during a protest against the death of 22-year-old Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini in Iran (Reuters photo)
By Reuters: Iranian security forces stepped up crackdown on anti-government protests in several Kurdish cities on Monday, as demonstrations elsewhere in Iran spread to the country’s vital energy sector.
Protests have engulfed Iran since Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old from Iran’s Kurdish region, died on September 16 while being held for “inappropriate clothing,” marking one of the most brutal challenges facing the Islamic Republic since the 1979 revolution.
While university students played a vital role in the protests with dozens of universities on strike, unconfirmed social media reports showed workers from the Abadan and Kangan oil refineries and the Bushehr Petrochemical Project had joined.
Iran’s oil ministry was not immediately available for comment.
A combination of mass protests and strikes by oil workers and Bazaar merchants helped the clergy rise to power four decades ago during the Iranian Revolution.
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However, analysts said Iran’s spiritual rulers will contain the unrest for now and that prospects for the impending dawn of a new political order are slim. read more
A video posted on Twitter showed dozens of workers blocking the road to Bushehr’s petrochemical plant in Assaluyeh on Iran’s Gulf Coast, chanting “Death to the dictator.”
Tensions have been particularly high between the authorities and the Kurdish minority, which human rights groups say have long been suppressed – an accusation the Islamic Republic denies.
Human rights group Hengaw reported on Monday a heavy presence of armed security forces in the Kurdish cities of Sanandaj, Saqez and Divandareh. It said at least five Kurdish residents have been killed and more than 150 injured in protests since Saturday.
Videos shared on social media showed protests in dozens of cities across Iran early Monday, with fierce clashes between protesters and riot police in towns and villages in the indigenous Kurdistan province of Amini. Iranian social media posts called for mass protests on Wednesday.
Iranian authorities have attributed the violence to a range of enemies, including armed Iranian Kurdish dissidents, with the Revolutionary Guards attacking their bases in neighboring Iraq a number of times during the latest unrest.
“READY TO DIE”
Iran has a track record of cracking down on unrest among its more than 10 million Kurds, who are part of a Kurdish minority whose pursuit of autonomy has also led to conflict with authorities in Turkey, Iraq and Syria.
Heavy gunfire was heard in several videos shared on Twitter by the activist 1500tasvir. A video showed several explosions causing blinding flashes in a neighborhood of Sanandaj, the capital of Kurdistan province.
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Activists said on social media that several people, including two teenagers, have been killed by security forces in the province. Reuters was unable to verify the videos and posts.
Unfazed by tear gas, batons and, in many cases, live ammunition used by the security forces, protesters across Iran have persisted with protesters burning photos of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei calling for the downfall of the church establishment.
At least 185 people, including 19 minors, have been killed, hundreds injured and thousands arrested by security forces, according to human rights groups. Authorities blamed the protests on Iran’s foreign enemies, saying “rioters” killed at least 20 members of the security forces.
Schoolgirls across Iran have joined the protests, videos posted on social media show.
“Hey world, hear me: I want a revolution. I want to live free and I’m willing to die for it,” said a 17-year-old protester in a central Iranian city, whose name and location could not be released by Reuters due to concerns. about safety.
“Instead of dying every minute under this regime’s repression, I’d rather die with their (security forces) bullets in protests for freedom.”
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