More than seven people have been killed in protests over the death of a young woman arrested for her alleged failure to properly observe the Islamic dress code across Iran, officials said
Protests continued in towns and cities across Iran on Thursday, as thousands of people have taken to the streets in recent days to express their anger at the death of the 22-year-old Mahsa Aminu.
Iran’s morality police arrested Aminu on 13 September in Tehran, where she was visiting from her hometown in the country’s western Kurdish region.
She collapsed at a police station and died three days later.
Amini’s death unleashed anger over issues including freedoms in the Islamic Republic and an economy reeling from sanctions.
Women have played a prominent role in the protests, waving and burning their veils, with some cutting their hair in public.
Iranian media and a local prosecutor said four people were killed in the last two days, bringing the total death toll according to official sources to eight, including a member of the police and a pro-government militia member.
The protests, which were concentrated in Iran’s Kurdish-populated northwestern regions but have spread to at least 50 cities and towns nationwide, are the largest since a wave of demonstrations in 2019 over gasoline price rises.
Reports from Kurdish rights group Hengaw, which Reuters could not verify, said 10 protesters had been killed.
Three died on Wednesday, adding to the seven people the group said had been killed by security forces.
Iranians struggled to get access to the internet and Instagram, where videos of security officials attacking demonstrators had been circulating in recent days.
Activists expressed concern that the internet shutdown echoed a government move before a crackdown against the 2019 fuel price protests, when Reuters reported that 1,500 people were killed.
NetBlocks and residents said access had been restricted to Instagram – the only major social media platform that Iran usually allows and which has millions of users – and that some mobile phone networks had been shut down.
“Iran is now subject to the most severe internet restrictions since the November 2019 massacre,” NetBlocks said.
WhatsApp users said they could only send text, not pictures, while Hengaw said access to the internet had been cut in Kurdistan province – moves that would hinder videos being shared from a region where the authorities have previously suppressed unrest by the Kurdish minority.
Officials blamed foreign and opposition forces for the deaths, which included one member of the Iranian security forces.
A top aide to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei paid condolences to Amini’s family this week, promising to follow up on the case and saying Khamenei was pained by her death.
Activists said they feared an escalating crackdown. “We are worried that the world will forget about Iran as soon as the regime shuts down the internet – which is already happening,” one activist told Reuters.
Fars news agency, close to the elite Revolutionary Guards, carried videos accusing protesters of torching a mosque, an Islamic shrine and buses, attacking a bank and pulling off a woman’s veil.
Such accusations against dissidents have preceded violent crackdowns after protests dating back to unrest in 2009.
“We are getting warnings from the security organisations to end the protests or face jail,” an activist in the northwestern Kurdistan province said.