DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – At least nine people have been killed in clashes between Iranian security forces and protesters angry over the death of a 22-year-old woman in police custody since violence erupted over the weekend, according to reports on Thursday. . by The Associated Press.
Widespread outages of Instagram and WhatsApp, which protesters use to share information about the government’s rolling crackdown on dissent, continued on Thursday. The authorities also appeared to disrupt internet access to the outside world, a tactic rights activists say the government often uses in times of unrest.
The demonstrations in Iran began as an emotional outpouring over the death of Mahsa Amini, a young woman who was being held by the country’s morality police for allegedly violating its strictly enforced dress code. Her death drew sharp criticism from the United States, the European Union and the United Nations. Police say she died of a heart attack and was not abused, but her family doubts that.
Over the past four days the protests have escalated into open defiance of the government, with women removing their state-mandated headscarves in the streets and Iranians setting fire to bins and demanding the Republic Lowering Islamic self.
“Death to the dictator!” crying was common in the protests.
A university campus in Tehran and cities as far away as Kermanshah have also been affected by demonstrations. Although widespread, the unrest appears to be different from earlier rounds of nationwide protests fueled by pocketbook issues and Iran’s economy languishing under heavy US sanctions. The unrest that erupted in 2019 due to the government’s sudden hike in the price of gasoline fueled the masses of workers in small towns. Hundreds have been killed in what human rights groups say is the deadliest violence since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Iran’s state-run media this week reported demonstrations in at least 13 cities, including the capital, Tehran, as protesters expressed anger at social repression. Online videos show security forces firing tear gas and water cannons to disperse the protests. London-based Amnesty International reported that officers shot birds and beat protesters with batons.
At least nine people have died in the clashes, according to an AP count based on statements from Iran’s state and semi-official media. Officials have blamed unnamed foreign countries, which they say are trying to foment unrest.
In Amini’s home province in northwestern Kurdistan, the provincial police chief said four protesters were killed by live fire. In Kermanshah, the prosecutor said that two protesters were killed by opposition groups, arguing that the shots were not fired by the Iranian security forces.
Meanwhile, three men affiliated with the Basij, a volunteer force under the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, were killed in the cities of Shiraz, Tabriz and Mashhad, reported in the semi-official media, bringing the death toll on both sides to nine.
As the protests spread, authorities shut down the internet in parts of the country, according to NetBlocks, a London-based group that monitors internet access, describing the restrictions as the most severe since major protests. November 2019.
Iran has faced waves of protests in recent years, largely due to a long-standing economic crisis exacerbated by Western sanctions related to its nuclear program. Iranians also blame government corruption and mismanagement as prices of basic goods rise, the currency depreciates and unemployment remains high.
The Biden administration and European allies have been working to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, in which Iran curbed its nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief, but talks have stalled in recent months.