Iranians protest once more, emboldened by the “brutal” crackdown

For the second night in a row, Iranians demonstrated against the deaths of youths during the well-publicized crackdown on protests started by Mahsa Amini’s passing.

Protests that started after Amini, 22, died in detention after being detained for allegedly violating Iran’s stringent clothing codes for women based on Islamic sharia law have gripped the clerical state for six weeks.

Security forces have had difficulty controlling the protests spearheaded by women that have grown into a larger movement to overthrow the Islamic republic established in 1979.

In a late-Thursday footage posted online and confirmed by AFP, hundreds of protestors shouted “This is the year of blood, Seyed Ali will be toppled!” in the Chitgar neighborhood of west Tehran.

The fresh rallies came as people gathered to mourn young demonstrators killed in the crackdown.

ecurity forces on Thursday shot dead at least three protesters in Mahabad and another two in Baneh, both near Iran’s western border with Iraq, said Hengaw, a Norway-based human rights group.

A woman walks in Tehran without a headscarf, in defiance of Islamic sharia law
A woman walks in Tehran without a headscarf, in defiance of Islamic sharia law – AFP/File

Amnesty International said “unlawful killings” by Iran’s security forces had claimed the lives of at least eight people in four provinces within 24 hours, in a statement late Thursday.

The deadly gunfire came after mourners paying tribute to Ismail Mauludi, a 35-year-old protester killed on Wednesday night, left his funeral and made their way towards the governor’s office, it said.

Governor’s office burns

“Death to the dictator,” protesters yelled, using a slogan aimed at Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as the Mahabad governor’s office burned, in an online video verified by AFP.

Other verified footage showed clashes near the grave of 16-year-old Nika Shahkarami, outside the western city of Khorramabad, where dozens of people were marking the end of the traditional 40-day mourning period since she was killed by security forces.

“I’ll kill, I’ll kill, whoever killed my sister,” they could be heard chanting, in a video posted on Twitter by the US-based Human Rights Activist News Agency.

Women around the world have burned scarves and cut their hair in solidarity with the Iranian protest movement
Women around the world have burned scarves and cut their hair in solidarity with the Iranian protest movement JULIEN DE ROSA AFP/File

Dozens of men were seen hurling projectiles under fire as they drove back security forces in riot gear on a bridge near Shahkarami’s tomb.

The latest demonstrations came despite a crackdown that the Oslo-based Iran Human Rights group says has already killed at least 141 protesters, including more than two dozen children.

At least another 93 people were separately killed during protests that erupted in the southeastern city of Zahedan on September 30 over the reported rape of a teenage girl by a police commander, IHR says.

The protests were held in defiance of warnings from Khamenei and ultra-conservative President Ebrahim Raisi, who appeared to try to link the Amini protests to a mass shooting at a Shiite Muslim shrine in the southern city of Shiraz after Wednesday evening prayers that state media said killed at least 15 worshippers.

However, the demonstrations started by Amini’s passing on September 16 are still going strong in response to popular indignation over the crackdown that has also taken the lives of numerous other young women and girls.

More murders would fuel protests,
Analysts claim that the Iranian government has used a variety of techniques to put an end to the demonstrations, presumably in an effort to prevent inciting further public outrage.

According to Henry Rome, an Iran expert at the Washington Institute, “I doubt that the security forces have ruled out carrying out a larger-scale violent crackdown.”

“For now they appear to be trying other techniques — arrests and intimidation, calibrated internet shutdowns, killing some protesters, and fuelling uncertainty and an overall securitised environment,” he told AFP.

“They may be making the calculation that more killing would encourage, rather than deter, protesters — if that judgement shifts, then the situation would likely become even more violent.”

Amnesty International called for urgent action to halt the bloodshed.

There are growing calls for an international investigation into the bloody crackdown
There are growing calls for an international investigation into the bloody crackdown OLIVIER DOULIERY AFP/File

“Failure to act decisively will only embolden the Iranian authorities to further crackdown against mourners and protesters set to gather in the coming days during commemorations marking 40 days since the first deaths of protesters,” it said.

The UN special rapporteur on human rights in Iran on Thursday decried the “brutality” of Iran’s regime and called for an international mechanism to investigate scores of deaths.

“In the absence of any domestic channels of accountability… the international community has a responsibility… to take action to address impunity for human rights violations in Iran,” said Javaid Rehman.

An official Iranian medical report issued on October 8 concluded Amini’s death was caused by illness, due to “surgery for a brain tumour at the age of eight”, and not police brutality.

But lawyers acting for her family have rejected the findings and called for a re-examination of her death.

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