It was reported that six people were killed when protests spread in Iran over the death of a woman

It was reported that six people were killed when protests spread in Iran over the death of a woman

Protests have spread across Iran over the death of Mahsa Amini after the young woman was arrested by morality police, and a total of six demonstrators were killed in a crackdown according to a rights group.

Public anger has been burning in the Islamic Republic since authorities on Friday announced the death of 22-year-old Amini, who was detained for allegedly wearing a hijab headscarf in an “inappropriate” manner.

Activists said the woman, whose Kurdish first name is Jhina, suffered a fatal blow to the head, a claim denied by officials who announced an investigation.

Some female demonstrators have defiantly removed their hijabs and burned them in bonfires or symbolically cut their hair before cheering the crowds, video footage that went viral on social media showed.

“No to the scarf, no to the turban, yes to freedom and equality!” Protesters in Tehran were heard chanting in a rally echoed by solidarity protests abroad, including in New York and Istanbul.

Iranian state media reported on Wednesday that in the fifth night of street protests that spread to 15 cities, police used tear gas and made arrests to disperse crowds of up to 1,000 people.

London-based rights group Article 19 said it was “deeply concerned by reports of unlawful use of force by Iranian police and security forces” including the use of live ammunition.

The demonstrators threw stones at security forces, set fire to police vehicles and bins and chanted anti-government slogans, the official IRNA news agency said, adding that rallies were held in cities including Mashhad, Tabriz, Isfahan and Shiraz.

“Death to the dictator” and “Woman, life, freedom”, protesters could be heard shouting in video clips that spread across Iran, despite online restrictions reported by internet access monitor Netblocks.

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei spoke publicly on Wednesday, but did not comment on the spreading unrest, while ultra-conservative President Ebrahim Raisi was to address the United Nations General Assembly in New York later in the day.

– ‘A significant shock’ –

The wave of protests about Amini’s death is a very significant shock, it is a societal crisis,” said Iran expert David Rigoulet-Roze of the French Institute for International and Strategic Affairs.

“It is difficult to know the outcome but there is a disconnect between the authorities with their DNA of the 1979 Islamic revolution and an increasingly secular society.

“It is a whole social project that is being questioned. There is hesitation among the authorities about the way forward in relation to this movement.”

Ismail Zarei Koosha, the governor of Kurdistan province — where Amini lived and where the protests began — said on Tuesday that three people had been killed during protests, but blamed it on “a plot by the enemy”.

The Norway-based Kurdish rights group Hengaw — which first reported the three deaths — said on Wednesday that two more protesters had been killed overnight.

The two, aged 16 and 23, died in the towns of Piranshahr, which was rocked by fierce clashes, and Urmia, both in West Azerbaijan province, Hengaw said.

Another male protester who was injured in Divandareh on September 17 died of his injuries in hospital, he said.

“The number of deaths in the protests has increased to six,” the group said, also reporting that around 450 people were wounded and 500 arrested, in figures that could not be independently verified.

– ‘Enemy plot’ –

Videos circulated online showing security forces firing on protesters in the southern city of Shiraz, where protests continued early this morning.

Amini’s death and Iran’s response to the protests prompted criticism from the United Nations, the United States, France and other countries.

The protests are among the most serious in Iran since November 2019 over unrest over fuel price hikes.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani on Tuesday criticized what he called “foreign intermediary jobs”.

“It is very unfortunate that some countries try to take advantage of an incident that is being investigated as an opportunity to pursue their political goals and aspirations against the government and people of Iran,” he said.

Iran’s Telecommunications Minister Issa Zarepour warned of internet restrictions on Wednesday, citing “security issues these days,” ISNA news agency said.

Article 19 said he was “dismayed” by the local internet shutdown, recalling that authorities “used the blackout to kill, injure and arrest protesters and onlookers with impunity”.

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