Five dead in Iran after death of Mahsa Amini sparks protests

Five people were killed in Iran’s Kurdish region on Monday when security forces opened fire during protests over the death of a woman in police custody, a Kurdish rights group said on the third day of unrest over an incident that has sparked nationwide anger.

Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old from Iran’s Kurdistan province, fell into a coma and died after being arrested by vice squads in Tehran last week, sparking demonstrations in numerous areas including the capital.

Two of the people were killed when security forces opened fire on demonstrators in the Kurdish city of Saqez, Amini’s hometown, the human rights organization Hengaw said on Twitter.

It said two others were killed “by direct fire” by security forces in the town of Divandarreh and a fifth was killed in Dehgolan, also in the Kurdish region.

Reuters could not independently verify the reports.

Iranian Kurds take part in a march at a park in the Iraqi Kurdish city of Sulaimaniya September 19, 2022 against the killing of Mahsa Amini, a woman in Iran who died after being arrested by the Islamic Republic "moral police".
Iranian Kurds take part in a march in a park in the Iraqi Kurdish city of Sulaimaniya on September 19, 2022 against the assassination of Mahsa Amini.
AFP via Getty Images

There was no official confirmation of the deaths. The official IRNA news agency said there had been “limited” protests in a number of cities in seven provinces, which police had broken up.

State television said a number of protesters had been arrested but dismissed “some claims of deaths on social media” by showing two injured youths who denied reports they had been killed.

In the nationwide condemnation of Amini’s death, the Persian hashtag #MahsaAmini garnered nearly 2 million Twitter mentions.

Police said Amini fell ill while waiting with other women who were being held by morality police, which enforces strict rules in the Islamic Republic requiring women to cover their hair and wear loose-fitting clothing in public .

People gather during a protest for Mahsa Amini,
People gather during a protest for Mahsa Amini and set fires in retaliation for her murder.
Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

But her father has repeatedly said his daughter has no health problems, adding that she suffered bruises on her legs. He blamed the police for her death.

The protests were most intense in the Kurdish region, where the authorities had previously put down the unrest of the Kurdish minority of 8 to 10 million.

According to Hengaw, 75 people were injured on Monday.

A video posted by Hengaw on Twitter showed protesters throwing stones while a man could be heard saying “There is a war in Divandarreh” and blaming the police for the attack.

Reuters could not verify the authenticity of the video.

Internet blocking observatory NetBlocks on Monday reported an “almost complete internet disruption in Sanandaj” — the provincial capital of the Kurdish region — linking it to the protests, according to its Twitter account.

While Hengaw reported deadly violence by security forces in the Kurdish region, there were no immediate reports of deaths during protests elsewhere in Iran.

A police motorcycle lies on the street next to burning debris during the protests for Mahsa Amini
A police motorcycle lies on the street next to burning debris during the protests for Mahsa Amini.
AFP via Getty Images

Videos on social media showed demonstrations in Tehran and spreading to cities like Rasht, Mashhad and Isfahan.

A video shared by Twitter account 1500tasvir, releasing footage sent by its 70,000 followers, showed police cars with windows smashed in Tehran as a security force vehicle fired water cannons at protesters nearby.

“People throwing stones have taken action against the police. Death to the dictator!” a woman is heard saying.

It also shared footage showing it was a protest at a Tehran university against the paramilitary Basij, a militia.

Reuters could not independently verify the videos.

It marks some of the worst unrest in Iran since street fighting that began in late 2021 over water shortages.

newspapers.
The death of Mahsa Amini has sparked a powder keg of protest across Iran.
Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

“unfortunate incident”

The United States demanded accountability for Amini’s death.

“The death of Mahsa Amini, following injuries sustained while in police custody for wearing an ‘inappropriate’ headscarf, is an appalling and egregious assault on human rights,” a White House spokesman said.

France condemned her arrest “and the violence that caused her death,” the Foreign Ministry said, calling for a transparent investigation.

Earlier Monday, Tehran police commander Hossein Rahimi said that “cowardly allegations” had been made against the police, saying that Amini was not physically harmed and that the police “did everything” to keep her alive.

Activists place flowers on images of Iranian political prisoners at an installation near the United Nations calling for the prosecution of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi
Activists place flowers on images of Iranian political prisoners in an installation calling for the prosecution of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi near the United Nations in New York City.
Getty Images

“This incident was unfortunate for us and we never want to experience such incidents,” Rahimi said.

Police have released surveillance cameras which appear to support their version of events. Reuters could not authenticate the video.

Violators of Iranian Sharia or Islamic law and hijab rules face fines or arrest. But activists have recently urged women to remove the veil, despite hardliners’ crackdown on “immoral behavior”.

Amini’s death could lead to tensions between the establishment and the Kurdish minority.

Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards have quelled unrest in the country’s Kurdish areas for decades, and many Kurdish activists have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms or the death penalty.

https://nypost.com/2022/09/20/five-killed-in-iran-after-mahsa-amini-death-sparks-protests/ Five dead in Iran after death of Mahsa Amini sparks protests

JACLYN DIAZ

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