17 dead in protests over the death of Mahsa Amini, access to social networks blocked

LThe toll is likely to be much heavier. The opposition NGO Iran Human Rights (IHR), based in Oslo, reports at least 31 civilians killed by the security forces.

The death of 22-year-old Iranian Mahsa Amini has drawn strong condemnation around the world as international NGOs decry a crackdown ” brutal “ of demonstrations. At the UN podium on Wednesday, United States President Joe Biden said he was in solidarity with the “brave women of Iran”.

Mahsa Amini, originally from Kurdistan (north-west), was arrested on September 13 in Tehran for “wearing inappropriate clothing” by the morality police responsible for enforcing the strict dress code in the Islamic Republic, where women must cover their hair and are not allowed to wear short or tight coats or jeans with holes in them. She died on September 16 in hospital.

Activists said she was fatally shot in the head, but Iranian officials denied this and announced an investigation. Demonstrations erupted immediately after his death, affecting fifteen cities across the country.

“Seventeen people including protesters and police have died in the events of the past few days”, according to a new report given by state television which does not give further details. A previous Iranian media report reported seven demonstrators and four police officers killed.

Iranian officials, however, denied any involvement of security forces in the deaths of the protesters.

But like other international NGOs and the UN, Amnesty International has denounced a “brutal repression”. She reported “illegal use of shots, steel pellets, tear gas, water cannons and sticks to disperse the demonstrators”.

Since the beginning of the demonstrations, connections have been slowed down, “And since Wednesday evening, it is also no longer possible to access Instagram, by decision of the authorities. Access to WhatsApp is also disrupted”, reports the Fars news agency. This measure was taken because “actions carried out via these social networks by counter-revolutionaries against national security”.

Instagram and WhatsApp were the most used apps in Iran since the blocking of platforms like Youtube, Facebook, Telegram, Twitter and Tiktok in recent years. In addition, Internet access is largely filtered or restricted by the authorities.

UN human rights experts have ruled that these “disruptions are usually part of efforts to stifle free speech and limit protests”.

During the protests in several provinces of Iran, demonstrators clashed with security forces, burned police vehicles and chanted anti-government slogans, according to media and activists. Police responded with tear gas and arrested an unknown number of people, according to Iranian media.

According to activists, clashes broke out on Wednesday evening in Mashhad (north-east) demonstrators and security forces who opened fire. In Isfahan (center), protesters tore down a banner showing Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

The most viral images on social networks are those where we see women setting fire to their headscarves.

“No to the headscarf, no to the turban, yes to freedom and equality!” »shouted demonstrators in Tehran, their slogans having been taken up in solidarity in New York or Istanbul.

According to Azadeh Kian, professor of sociology at Paris Cité University and specialist in Iran, “What is new in these demonstrations is that we find women at the front of the stage”.

Friday, at the call of a government organization, demonstrations in favor of the wearing of the veil must take place across Iran, in particular in front of the University of Tehran after the weekly Muslim prayer, according to the official agency Irna. These “demonstrations aim to condemn the indecent actions of a few mercenaries who have (…) burned down mosques and the sacred Iranian flag, desecrated the hijab of women, destroyed public property and undermined security”.

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