Middle East: Tensions in Iran as Mahza Amini’s 40-day mourning ends

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Middle EastTensions in Iran as Mahza Amini’s 40-day mourning ends

Students protested on Tuesday at several universities in Iran, where tensions are high, ahead of celebrations expected to mark the 40th anniversary of Mahza Amini’s death.

Valiyasr Square in Tehran, October 25, 2022.

AFP

A video posted online and verified by AFP showed demonstrators chanting “Students are ready to die but not ready to live in shame” at Shahid Shamran University in Ahvaz, southwestern Iran.

Young women and schoolgirls, many empty-handed, were at the forefront of protests sparked by the death of Mahza Amini on September 16. The 22-year-old Iranian woman died three days after she was arrested in Tehran by morality police who accused her of violating the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code, which in particular imposed the veil on women.

The crackdown on the protests killed at least 141 people, including children, according to a new report released Tuesday by Iran Human Rights (IHR), an Oslo-based NGO.

In addition, the city of Zahedan in Sistan-Baluchistan (south-eastern) province, one of Iran’s poorest countries, was hit by several days of violence on September 30 during demonstrations against the alleged rape of a teenage girl. A policeman who caused at least 93 deaths according to the IHR.

On Tuesday, two members of Iran’s ideological army, the Revolutionary Guards, were shot dead by unidentified men in Zahedan, Tasnim news agency reported. The deaths bring to eight the number of members of the security forces killed in Sistan and Balochistan.

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Fresh demonstrations broke out in several Iranian cities on Tuesday against a crackdown by security forces accused of attacking schoolgirls the day before. Images shared on social media showed students protesting in Tehran, including at Beheshti University and Gaje Nasir Doosi University of Technology.

Footage released by the NGO Hengao on Tuesday shows police patrolling the streets leading to Saghez in Kurdistan.

According to the same source, two figures of Iranian football, legendary striker Ali Dei and goalkeeper Hamed Lakh, are currently in the city and “want to be on the 40th day of mourning” after Mahsa Amini’s death. The day falls on Wednesday and marks the end of the traditional mourning period in Iran.

According to activists, the security forces warned the young woman’s parents not to organize any memorial service, especially at her grave in Kurdistan, going so far as to threaten “the life of their son”.

The official IRNA news agency issued a statement on Tuesday evening, citing Mahza Amini’s family: “To avoid circumstances and unfortunate complications, there will be no ceremony to mark our beloved’s 40th anniversary (after her death)”. The statement was made under pressure, according to human rights activists who are expected to pay tribute at the young woman’s grave on Wednesday.

The students were “beaten up”.

On Monday, videos circulating online showed security forces violently suppressing a gathering of Iranian girls outside a girls’ school in Tehran. “Students were assaulted, searched and assaulted at Shahid Sadr School in Tehran,” reported online media 1500tasvir.

At least one 16-year-old student, Sana Suleimani, has been hospitalized, according to this media outlet, which lists human rights violations by security forces. “Then the parents protested outside the school. Security forces stormed the neighborhood and opened fire on residents’ houses,” 1500Tasweer said.

According to the Ministry of Education, a dispute broke out between the schoolgirls, their parents and school staff after the principal ordered them to hand over their mobile phones for inspection. “We strongly deny that a student died in this clash,” the ministry’s spokesman said, as quoted by Isna news agency.

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On Monday evening, protesters set fire to rubbish bins on the streets of Salsabil district, where the incidents took place, according to videos that AFP failed to identify. “Death to the dictator” and “Death to the Revolutionary Guards,” chanted women protesting at Tehran metro stations, according to videos shared on Twitter.

In a video released by reform-minded Hammihan, students booed government spokesman Ali Bahadori Jahromi during a speech at Gaje Nasir University in the capital.

The Judicial Commission estimates that more than 300 protesters have been charged since the protests began in Tehran. Four others have been charged with crimes punishable by death. State media reported on Tuesday that more than 210 protesters in Kurdistan (west), Ghazwin and Isfahan (centre) had been charged with “breach of security”, “propaganda” and “aggression against order forces”. 105 people have been charged in Iran’s southwestern Khuzestan province, IRNA agency reported, citing a local judicial official.

(AFP)

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