Tuesday October 04, 2022

Death toll mounts in Iran protests as online services cut

September 23, 2022

PARIS: At least 17 people have been killed as popular unrest has flared across Iran over the death in custody of Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini, while a rights group said on Thursday the death toll was almost twice as high.

Amini, 22, died last week after her arrest by the Islamic republic’s feared morality police for allegedly wearing a hijab headscarf in an "improper" way, and news of her death sparked widespread outrage.

"Death to the dictator" and "Woman, life, freedom", protesters have been heard shouting in video footage shared widely online during the biggest wave of demonstrations to rock the country in almost three years.

The US Treasury placed the morality police on its sanctions blacklist, holding it responsible for Amini’s death and citing the "abuse and violence against Iranian women and the violation of the rights of peaceful Iranian protesters".

Some Iranian women have burnt their scarves and symbolically cut their hair in protest at the strict dress code, in defiant actions echoed in solidarity protests from New York to Istanbul. The official death toll rose to at least 17, including five security personnel, according to local media, but Iran Human Rights, an Oslo based non-governmental organisation, said it had counted at least 31 civilian deaths.

Iranians have rallied "to achieve their fundamental rights and human dignity... and the government is responding to their peaceful protest with bullets," charged the NGO’s director Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam. Security forces have fired at crowds with birdshot and metal pellets, and also deployed tear gas and water cannon, said Amnesty International and other human rights groups.