Iran: Death Toll Grows in Mahsa Amini Murder Protests

21 September 2022, Hessen, Frankfurt/Main: An Iranian woman takes part in a demonstration
Boris Roessler/picture alliance via Getty

Protests against the death of a young Kurdish woman named Mahsa Amini, killed by the “morality police” for failing to keep her head properly covered, grew and spread across Iran on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The death toll from the protests stood at seven on Wednesday morning, with Iranian officials claiming police officers were among those killed and injured.

“On Tuesday evening some people clashed with police officers and as a result one of the police assistants was killed. In this incident four other police officers were injured in Shiraz,” Iran’s official IRNA news agency reported.

Kurdish groups challenged the official narrative on Wednesday, claiming more protesters have been killed than the authorities will admit. These groups also accused Iran of cutting off Internet service to the Kurdistan region, in a bid to suppress the growing protest movement.

Iranian communications minister Issa Zarepour was quoted by state media on Wednesday warning that “restrictions to the Internet” could be imposed across more of Iran as unrest grows. Zarepour quickly denied these reports, claiming he was misquoted and insisting there have only been “temporary restrictions in some places and at some hours, which have been resolved.”

Outside monitoring groups noted total Internet blockages were indeed imposed in western Iran, despite Zarepour’s denials, and their timing corresponds with the first Iranian deployments of lethal force against Kurdish demonstrators. Also contrary to Zarepour’s statements, government restrictions on social media were still in force on Wednesday:

Iranian opposition groups said on Tuesday the protests have spread to “dozens of cities,” expanding far beyond the Kurdistan region, where outrage over a woman being fatally beaten in Tehran for not wearing a hijab was mixed with suspicions of anti-Kurdish racism:

Demonstrators are determined to defy the hijab law in overwhelming numbers, in some cases dancing in public (another activity forbidden to women under Iranian religious law) and burning their discarded headscarves.

“While we were waving our headscarves in the sky I felt so emotional to be surrounded and protected by other men. It feels great to see this unity. I hope the world supports us,” a woman in the central city of Isfahan told the BBC on Wednesday.

The BBC cited ominous comments from Iranian officials laying the groundwork for an even more brutal crackdown:

Tehran Governor Mohsen Mansouri tweeted on Tuesday that the protests were “fully organized with the agenda to create unrest”, while state TV alleged that Ms. Amini’s death was being used as an “excuse” by Kurdish separatists and critics of the establishment.

Sky News on Wednesday reported “solidarity” demonstrations in Istanbul, Toronto, and Berlin, with marchers emulating the Iranian women who defiantly cut their hair in public and brandishing photos of Mahsa Amini.

The Associated Press saw “thick clouds of tear gas” rising over Tehran on Wednesday, and speculated it was only a matter of time before the murderous Basij militia – a gang of thugs fanatically loyal to the theocracy – is unleashed against demonstrators.

Human rights activists wondered how any civilized nation could continue with increasingly risible efforts to resolve the Iran nuclear deal while Iran is beating women to death for not wearing their headscarves tightly enough, and might be preparing for a bloodbath in the streets:

Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Tuesday said the violent crackdown on “protesters demanding accountability for a woman’s death in police custody” only reinforces the “systematic nature of government rights abuses with impunity” in Iran.

Acting U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Nada al-Nashif said she was alarmed by both Amini’s death and “the violent response by security forces to ensuing protests.”

“The international community shouldn’t be silent observers of the crimes the Islamic Republic commits against its own people,” said Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, director of Iran Human Rights (IHR), a group based in Oslo, Norway.

Even a member of the Iranian parliament, Jala Rashidi Koochi, made a rare break with the regime by publicly stating the Gasht-e Ershad morality police were “wrong” to assault Amini, and “the main problem is that some people resist accepting the truth.”


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