September 23, 2022

IRAN: Protests Grow After 22yo Mahsa Amini Was Beaten To Death In Police Custody For Wearing An Improper Head Covering. Iranian State-Organised Marchers Call For Execution Of Protesters

CBS News
written by Ramy Inocencio
Friday September 23, 2022

Anti-government protests in Iran, initially sparked by the death of a young woman while she was in police custody for wearing an "improper" head covering, have now grown to include anger over rising poverty, soaring unemployment and crushing sanctions.

True figures on the number of people injured and killed in the protests are unclear, but the tally is rising. Iranian state media reported that at least 26 people have died, including demonstrators and security officials. The Oslo-based Iran Human Rights Organization said at least 31 protesters were killed with an unknown number arrested.

In Tehran, marching demonstrators chanted "death to Khamenei" and "death to the dictator," referring to the country's supreme leader, 83-year old Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Crowds of protestors pushed back against Iranian security forces, known as the "basij," with videos shared on social media showing uniformed officers running away as people cheered.

Other videos showed a commander bloodied and a policeman's bleeding body hanging out an overturned car window. Protestors also set fire to two police stations in the capital, according to local reports, with Tehran's mayor accusing them of destroying the city's public transport resources and fire engines.

"These protests are reflective of a 40-year struggle of Iranians to push back against a repressive political system, a system that affords them no voice, no opportunity," says Dr. Sanam Vakil, Mideast policy expert and Iran specialist at Chatham House in London. "They want to feel, ordinary Iranians, that they're part of an international community, and they're fighting for very basic rights and decency and respect."

Last week, enforcers of Iran's strict Islamic dress code arrested 22-year old Mahsa Amini during her family's visit to the capital, Tehran. The special unit, known colloquially as the "morality police," accused her of wearing "unsuitable attire."

After three days, she died while in detention, with officials asserting she suffered a heart attack. Her family and critics believe she was beaten after an image surfaced of her bruised, bloodied and intubated body.

As more protests have erupted, Iran's intelligence ministry warned citizens against taking part, saying those caught at demonstrations would be prosecuted.

"Given the exploitation of recent incidents by opposition groups, any presence and participation in illegal gatherings will result in legal prosecution based on the Islamic Penal Code," the ministry said, according to the state-affiliated Nour News agency.

"We warn the instigators that their dream of destroying the religious values of the Islamic Republic will never materialize."

Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, designated as a terrorist organization by the United States and other governments, issued two statements late Thursday. One condemned the protests as an organized conspiracy by enemies of Iran. The other announced that a pro-government rally would be held after Friday prayers in Tehran.

Internet access in Tehran and other parts of the country has slowed or been shut down. Services like WhatsApp, Instagram and Google Play have been filtered this week — joining Telegram, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, which have been filtered for years.

As protests continue to rage, there's fear that a massive crackdown will soon follow.

"I very much expect that in the coming days. The state's repressive arm will come out in full force," said Vakil of Chatham House.

"They've got the police and the IRGC out on the streets," Vakil said. "They're slowing down access to the Internet to prevent people from coordinating. And in the past, they shut the Internet down completely in order to completely shut off Iran from the international community and from us seeing in. And that could very much unfold and a full repressive attack could be unleashed."

Reuters News
written by Staff
Friday September 23, 2022

DUBAI - State-organised rallies took place in several Iranian cities on Friday to counter nationwide anti-government unrest triggered by the death of a woman in police custody, with marchers calling for the execution of "rioters".

The pro-government marches followed the strongest warning yet from authorities when the army said it would confront "the enemies" behind the unrest - a move that could signal the kind of crackdown that has crushed protests in the past.

The crowds condemned the anti-government protesters as "Israel's soldiers", live state television coverage showed.

"Offenders of the Koran must be executed," they chanted.

The Twitter account 1500tasvir, which has 117,000 followers, reported heavy clashes in the central city of Isfahan between anti-government protesters and security forces.

It also showed anti-government street protests in several parts of the capital and in Shahin Shahr in central Iran.

State TV said 35 people had been killed in the unrest so far based on its own count and an official figure would be announced.

Many Iranians are fuming over the case of Mahsa Amini, 22, who died last week after being arrested by the morality police for wearing "unsuitable attire".

The morality police, attached to Iran's law enforcement, are tasked with ensuring the respect of Islamic morals as described by the country's clerical authorities.

Amini's death has reignited anger over issues including restrictions on personal freedoms in Iran, strict dress codes for women and an economy reeling from sanctions.

The anti-government protests are not expected to pose an immediate threat to Iran's clerical rulers, who have security forces which have put down one protest after another in recent years, analysts say.

But the protests have clearly made the authorities nervous. Women, who have played a prominent role, have challenged the country's Islamic dress code, waving and burning their veils.

Some have publicly cut their hair as furious crowds called for the fall of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.


Iran's police chief Hossein Ashtari weighed in with tough words in an attempt to stop the protests.

"The people's security is our red line," he told state TV. "Those involved in sabotage and creating insecurity based on directives from outside the country should know that they will be strongly dealt with."

The army's message on Friday, seen as a warning to protesters, read: "These desperate actions are part of the evil strategy of the enemy to weaken the Islamic regime."

The military said it would "confront the enemies' various plots in order to ensure security and peace for the people who are being unjustly assaulted".

Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi on Friday also warned "seditionists" that their "dream of defeating religious values and the great achievements of the revolution will never be realized", according to the AsrIran website.

Friday's pro-government demonstrations showed the strength of the Islamic Republic, President Ebrahim Raisi said, adding that turmoil would not be tolerated.

"The people's presence (in the marches) today, is the power and the honour of the Islamic Republic," Raisi, facing the biggest protests since 2019, said on live television after returning from New York where he attended the United Nations General Assembly.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres met with Raisi in New York on Thursday and raised human rights issues, a U.N. spokesperson said.

The United Nations is concerned "about reports of peaceful protests being met with excessive use of force leading to dozens of deaths and injuries", spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told reporters.


Human rights group Hengaw said a general strike was held on Friday in Oshnavieh, Javanroud, Sardasht and other towns in the northwest where many of Iran's up to 10 million Kurds live.

Internet blockage watchdog NetBlocks said mobile internet had been disrupted in Iran for a third time.

Twitter accounts linked to Anonymous "hacktivists" voiced support for the protests and said they had attacked 100 Iranian websites, including several belonging to the government.

Websites of the central bank, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and several state-affiliated news agencies have been disrupted in recent days.

Iran's clerical rulers fear a revival of the protests that erupted in 2019 over gasoline price rises, the bloodiest in the Islamic Republic's history. Reuters reported 1,500 people were killed.

Rights groups such as Hengaw and HRANA, lawyers and social media users reported widespread arrests of students and activists at their homes by security forces in an apparent effort to curb protests.

Majid Tavakoli, a student leader turned human rights activist, was detained overnight, his brother Mohsen said.

"They raided the home and arrested Majid while he was asleep ... We are unable to do anything. Please spread the word," Mohsen Tavakoli tweeted.

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