Iran: Protests over woman’s death persist despite crackdown


  • Protesters call for an end to clerical rule
  • Social media shows tanks being moved to Kurdish areas
  • Iran accuses Iranian Kurdish dissidents of some unrest
  • The protests have spread to the vital energy sector

DUBAI, Oct 11 (Reuters) – Clashes between protesters and security forces continued across Iran on Tuesday, with videos on social media showing tanks being transported to Kurdish areas, which have been at the center of a crackdown on protests against the death of Mahsa Amini in custody.

Demonstrations calling for the fall of the clerical establishment have swept Iran since Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian, died on September 16 while being detained by vice squad in Tehran for “inappropriate dress “.

While observers do not believe the unrest, now in its fourth week, is about to topple the government, the protests mark one of the boldest challenges to the Islamic Republic since the 1979 revolution. , with reports of strikes spreading to the vital energy sector.

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The authorities are carrying out a deadly crackdown. Videos on social media showed trucks transporting dark green tanks to Kurdish areas, raising the stakes for the revolt. Reuters could not verify the video footage.

Tensions have been particularly high in Kurdish areas, given Amini’s ethnic background. Human rights groups say Iran’s Kurdish minority, numbering more than 10 million, has long been oppressed – a charge the Islamic Republic denies.

Human rights group Hengaw on Tuesday reported an “intense conflict” between protesters and security forces in three towns in Kurdistan province: Sanandaj, Baneh and Saqez, where Amini was buried last month.

Protesters in Saqez set fire to a statue of local members of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard Corps, Hengaw said.

In video footage shared on Sanandaj’s widely followed Tavsir1500 Twitter account group, gunfire could be heard and women screaming. Reuters could not independently verify the images from Hengaw or Tasvir1500.

At least 185 people, including 19 minors, have been killed, hundreds injured and thousands arrested by security forces, rights groups say. The government claims that more than 20 members of the security forces have been killed.

Iranian authorities have said they will investigate civilian deaths.

They blamed the violence on a range of enemies, including armed Iranian Kurdish dissidents, with the Revolutionary Guards having attacked their bases in neighboring Iraq on several occasions during the latest unrest.

Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi reiterated accusations that Iranian Kurdish dissident groups were supporting the protests and said security forces would “neutralize the desperate anti-revolutionary effort”.

ENERGY SECTOR

Energy facilities in southwestern Iran were hit by strikes for a second day on Tuesday, with workers demonstrating at the Abadan oil refinery in Kangan and the petrochemical plant in Bushehr, according to the account. Twitter Tavsir1500.

Videos posted to the account showed a few dozen workers chanting “Death to the Dictator”, referring to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

A regional official said workers at the Assaluye plant were angered by a wage dispute and were not protesting Amini’s death.

Governor Ali Hashemi said some Iranians tried to hijack the workers’ protests by chanting anti-government slogans, according to the Young Iranian Journalists‘ Club Telegram account.

It was a combination of mass protests and strikes by oil workers and bazaar merchants that helped propel the Shia clergy to power in the Iranian revolution four decades ago.

Dozens of universities are also currently on strike, with students playing a central role in the protests.

In several neighborhoods of Tehran, such as Shahrak’e Gharb and Narmak, witnesses said people were chanting “Death to Khamenei” from rooftops after dark. Videos on social media showed protests in the cities of Isfahan and Qom with protesters insulting and throwing stones at security forces.

The authorities’ crackdown on protesters has prompted some Western states to impose more sanctions on Iran, stoking diplomatic tensions at a time when talks to revive Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers have stalled. .

France’s foreign minister said on Tuesday that five of its nationals were being held in Iran and that the European Union had agreed technicalities to impose sanctions on Tehran, which would come into effect next week.

France lashed out at Iran on October 6, accusing it of “dictatorial practices” and taking its citizens hostage after a video emerged in which a French couple appeared to confess to spying.

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Reporting by John Irish in Paris and the Dubai newsroom: Writing by Michael Georgy/Tom Perry/Dominic Evans; Editing by Gareth Jones, Alistair Bell and Jonathan Oatis

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