Iranians Protesting Woman’s Death Chant ‘Death to the Dictator!’
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Clashes between Iranian security forces and protesters angry over the death of a 22-year-old woman in police custody have killed at least nine people since the violence erupted over the weekend, according to a tally Thursday by The Associated Press.
“Death to the dictator!” has been a common cry in the protests.
The scope of Iran’s ongoing unrest, the worst in several years, still remains unclear as protesters in at least a dozen cities — venting anger over social repression and the country’s mounting crises — continue to encounter security and paramilitary forces.
To prevent protests from spreading, Iran’s biggest telecom operator largely shut down mobile internet access again Thursday, said Netblocks, a group that monitors internet access, describing the restrictions as the most severe since 2019.
An anchor on Iran’s state television suggested the death toll from the mass protests could be as high as 17 on Thursday but did not say how he reached that figure, adding that official statistics would be released later.
Crackdown on Free Media
In a country where radio and television stations already are state-controlled and journalists regularly face the threat of arrest, the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard urged the judiciary on Thursday to prosecute “anyone who spreads fake news and rumors” on social media about the unrest. Widespread outages of Instagram and WhatsApp, which are used by protesters, also continued Thursday.
Video of protesters in #Iran setting fire to a government banner in Tehran. #MahsaAmini pic.twitter.com/rAJOc1gcBq
— Jason Brodsky (@JasonMBrodsky) September 22, 2022
The demonstrations in Iran began as an emotional outpouring over the death of Mahsa Amini, a young woman held by the country’s morality police for allegedly violating its strictly enforced dress code. Her death has sparked sharp condemnation from the United States, the European Union, and the United Nations.
Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, who was in New York on Thursday for the U.N. General Assembly, condemned the crackdown and said Germany would raise the violation of women’s rights at the U.N. Human Rights Council.
“The brutal attack on the brave women in Iran is also an attack on humanity,” she said.
The police say Amini died of a heart attack and was not mistreated, but her family has cast doubt on that account. Independent experts affiliated with the U.N. said Thursday that reports suggested she was severely beaten by the morality police, without offering evidence.
Niloufar Hamedi, a journalist who took photographs at the hospital after Amini’s death, was arrested on Thursday, according to the reporter’s lawyer, Mohammadali Kamfirouzi. He said her house was raided. There was no official comment.
Iranians Call for Downfall of Islamic Republic
The protests have grown in the last five days into an open challenge to the government, with women removing and burning their state-mandated headscarves in the streets and Iranians calling for the downfall of the Islamic Republic itself.
Incredible video of protesters in #Iran destroying security vehicles. We’ve never seen these kinds of images in previous protests. The Iranian people’s quest for accountability remains the greatest fear of the mullahcracy of terror. #Mahsa_Amini pic.twitter.com/Clf4PNsVHL
— Jason Brodsky (@JasonMBrodsky) September 21, 2022
They are the most serious demonstrations since 2019, when protests erupted over a government hike in the price of gasoline. Rights groups say hundreds were killed in the crackdown that followed, the deadliest violence since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
The latest protests are similarly widespread, but seem to have much broader support among the population, with Iranians of all walks of life expressing fury at Amini’s death and the government’s treatment of women.
Iran’s state-run media this week reported demonstrations in at least 13 cities, including the capital, Tehran. Videos online show security forces firing tear gas and water canons to disperse hundreds of protesters. London-based Amnesty International reported that officers also fired birdshot and beat protesters with batons.