Angry protesters took to the streets again across Iran on Saturday, despite internet restrictions, as the protest movement sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini in custody entered a fifth week.
Young women have been at the forefront of the largest wave of street protests in the country for years. (Photo: AFP)
By Agence France-Presse: Angry protesters took to the streets again across Iran on Saturday, despite internet cuts, as the protest movement sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini in custody entered a fifth week.
The 22-year-old died on September 16, three days after falling into a coma following her arrest by Iran’s notorious vice squad for allegedly violating the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code for women.
Young women have been at the forefront of the largest wave of street protests in the country for years.
“Guns, tanks, fireworks; the mullahs must get lost,” chanted women without hijabs at a rally at Tehran’s Shariati Technical and Vocational College, in a video widely shared online.
Dozens of yelling and whistling protesters threw projectiles at security forces near a historic roundabout in the city of Hamedan, west of Tehran, in images verified by AFP.
Despite what online monitor NetBlocks called a “major disruption to internet traffic,” protesters were also seen on the streets of the northwestern city of Ardabil, in videos shared on Twitter.
Shopkeepers went on strike in Amini’s hometown of Saqez, in Kurdistan province, and Mahabad in western Azerbaijan, the 1500tasvir social media outlet that follows protests and police violations said.
They responded Saturday to a call for a large turnout for protests under the cry of “The beginning of the end!”
“We have to be present in the squares because the best VPN these days is the street,” activists declared, referring to virtual private networks used to circumvent internet restrictions.
In response to the protests, one of Iran’s main revolutionary bodies, the Islamic Development Coordination Council, has called on people to “express their revolutionary anger at incitement and rioters” after Saturday night prayers.
An appeal was also issued this week for Revolutionary Guard “retirees” to meet on Saturday, given the “current sensitive situation”, according to a reporter from Shargh newspaper.
At the meeting, a Guardsman said three members of the Basij militia had been killed and 850 wounded in Tehran since the start of the “sedition,” state news agency IRNA said.
The women-led protests have gained the support of the US president.
“I want you to know that we stand behind the citizens, the brave women of Iran,” said Joe Biden late Friday night.
“It amazed me what it has awakened in Iran. It has awakened something that I don’t think will settle down for a long time.”
Iran “must end violence against its own citizens simply by exercising their fundamental rights,” the US leader added.
At least 108 people have been killed in the Amini protests, and at least 93 others have been killed in separate clashes in Zahedan, the capital of the southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchestan, according to the Oslo-based Iran Human Rights group.
The unrest continues despite what Amnesty International has called a “relentless brutal repression”, including a “comprehensive attack on child protesters” – which has resulted in the deaths of at least 23 minors.
The crackdown has led to international condemnations and sanctions against Iran from Britain, Canada and the United States.
Iran’s supreme leader has accused the country’s enemies, including the US and Israel, of fomenting the “riot”.
Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian has called on the European Union to take a “realistic approach” to the Amini protests as the bloc prepares to impose new sanctions on the Islamic republic.
“Who would believe that a girl’s death is so important to Westerners?” he said in a statement Friday.
“If so, what have they done regarding the hundreds of thousands of martyrs and deaths in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Lebanon?” he added.
EU countries this week agreed to impose new sanctions, and the move is expected to be ratified at the bloc’s foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg on Monday.
In response to the protests, the state security forces have also launched a campaign of mass arrests of artists, dissidents, journalists and athletes.
Iranian filmmaker Mani Haghighi said authorities had banned him from traveling to the London Film Festival because of his support for the protests.
The British Film Institute said Haghighi would attend the festival for his latest film Subtraction, but Iranian authorities have “confiscated his passport”.
“I cannot express the joy and honor of having witnessed this great moment in history first hand,” said Haghighi.
“So if this is punishment for what I’ve done, let it come.”