Mahsa Amini Hijab Killing – Iranian riot police and security forces clashed and even fired bullets over the protesters in dozens of cities on Tuesday, state media and social media said, amid continued protests over the brutal killing of young Iranian woman Mahsa Amini in police custody.
Amini, 22, from the Iranian Kurdish city of Saqez, was arrested and beaten black and blue in Tehran this month for so called “inappropriate clothing” by morality police who enforce the suppressing Islamic Republic’s strict dress code.
Her brutal death sparked the first major protests on Iran’s streets since authorities cracked down on protests against rising gasoline prices in 2019.
Despite the rising death toll and a crackdown by the authorities, videos posted on Twitter showed protesters calling for the downfall of the clerical establishment in clashes with security forces in Tehran, Tabriz, Karaj, Qom, Yazd and many other Iranian cities.
State television said police clashed with what it called “rioters” in some cities and didn’t hesitate to fire bullets and tear gas at the peaceful protestors to disperse them.
Videos posted on social media from inside Iran showed protesters chanting “Woman, life, freedom” as women waved and burned their veils to demand their basic right.
Videos on Twitter showed protesters chanting “Death to the dictator”, a reference to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. In the Kurdish towns of Sanandaj and Sardasht, riot police fired on protesters, videos on Twitter showed.
“I will kill those who killed my sister,” protesters chanted in one of the videos from Tehran, while activist Twitter account 1500tasvir said: “The streets have become battlefields.”
To make it difficult for protesters to post videos on social media, authorities have restricted internet access in several provinces, according to NetBlocks on Twitter and sources in Iran.
A spokesman for the UN high commissioner for human rights called on Iran’s clerical rulers on Tuesday to “fully respect the rights to freedom of opinion, expression, peaceful assembly and association”.
Ravina Shamdasani said in a statement that reports indicated “hundreds of people have also been arrested, including human rights defenders, lawyers, civil society activists and at least 18 journalists.”
“Thousands of people have joined demonstrations across the country over the past 11 days. Security forces have at times responded with live ammunition,” the statement said.
Officials said at least 41 people died during the protests which were earlier reported as 31 deaths, including members of the police and pro-government militia. But Iranian human rights groups report a higher death toll.
The Iranian human rights group Hengaw said “18 have been killed, 898 people have been injured and more than 1,000 Kurdish protesters have been arrested in the past ten days”, estimating the numbers to be higher.
“From Monday to Friday, more than 70 women were arrested in Iranian Kurdistan … at least four of them are under 18,” Hengaw said on Tuesday.
According to state media, Iran’s judiciary has set up special courts to try “troublemakers”.
Social media posts, along with some activists, are calling for a nationwide strike. Several university teachers, celebrities and prominent footballers supported the protests against Amini’s death, according to statements they posted on social media.
Students at several universities refused to participate in classes, protesting widespread arrests of students and violent clashes with university security forces.