- Protests show no sign of abating amid fierce state warnings
- University students clash with security forces
- Journalists demand the release of their imprisoned colleagues
- Rights groups report arrests of activists and students
DUBAI, Oct 30 (Reuters) – Weeks of protests in Iran entered a more violent phase on Sunday as students defied a Revolutionary Guard ultimatum and were met with tear gas, beatings and beatings. gunfire from riot police and militias, videos on social media showed.
Clashes at dozens of universities have raised the threat of a tougher crackdown in the seventh week of protests since Mahsa Amini, 22, died after being arrested by vice squad for an outfit on trial inappropriate.
Iranians from all walks of life have been protesting since Amini’s death.
What began with outrage over Amini’s September 16 death has become one of the toughest challenges for religious leaders since the 1979 revolution, with some protesters calling for the death of Supreme Leader the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The commander-in-chief of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards told protesters that Saturday would be their last day to take to the streets, the most stern warning ever issued by Iranian authorities.
Nonetheless, social media videos, unverifiable by Reuters, showed clashes between students, riot police and Basij forces at universities across Iran on Sunday.
A video showed a member of the Basij forces firing a gun at close range at students protesting outside a branch of Azad University in Tehran. Gunshots were also heard in a video shared by rights group HENGAW during protests at Kurdistan University in Sanandaj.
Videos from universities in some other cities also showed Basij forces opening fire on students.
Across the country, security forces attempted to block students inside university buildings, firing tear gas and beating protesters with sticks. The students, who appeared disarmed, pushed back, some chanting “Disgraced Basij, get lost” and “Death to Khamenei”.
HISTORY OF REPRESSIONS
Social media has reported arrests of at least a dozen doctors, journalists and artists since Saturday.
The militant HRANA news agency said 283 protesters were killed in the unrest on Saturday, including 44 minors. Some 34 members of the security forces were also killed.
More than 14,000 people were arrested, including 253 students, during protests in 132 cities and towns and 122 universities, he added.
The guards and their affiliated Basij forces have crushed dissent in the past. They said on Sunday that “seditionists” insulted them in universities and on the streets, and warned they could use more force if anti-government unrest continued.
“So far, the Basijis have shown restraint and they have been patient,” said the head of the Revolutionary Guards in Khorasan Junubi province, Brigadier General Mohammadreza Mahdavi, quoted by the news agency. IRNA official.
“But it will be out of our control if the situation continues.”
CALL FOR JOURNALISTS
More than 300 Iranian journalists demanded the release of two colleagues imprisoned for their coverage of Amini in a statement published Sunday by Iranian Etemad and other newspapers.
Niloofar Hamedi snapped a photo of Amini’s parents hugging in a Tehran hospital where their daughter lay in a coma.
The image, which Hamedi posted on Twitter, was the world’s first signal that all was not well with Amini, who had been arrested three days earlier by Iran’s morality police for what they deemed inappropriate.
Elaheh Mohammadi covered Amini’s funeral in her Kurdish hometown, Saqez, where the protests began. A joint statement released Friday by Iran’s Intelligence Ministry and the Revolutionary Guards intelligence organization had accused Hamedi and Mohammadi of being foreign CIA agents.
The arrests fit an official narrative that Iran’s nemesis, the United States, Israel and other Western powers and their local agents are behind the unrest and are determined to destabilize the country.
At least 40 journalists have been detained in the past six weeks, rights groups say, and the number is growing.
Students and women have played a prominent role in the unrest, burning their veils as crowds call for the fall of the Islamic Republic, which came to power in 1979.
An official said on Sunday the facility had no plans to back out of compulsory veiling but would have to be “wise” about enforcement.
“Removing the veil is against our law and this headquarters will not back down from its position,” said Ali Khanmohammadi, spokesperson for Iran’s Headquarters for Promoting Virtue and Preventing Vice on the Khabaronline website.
“However, our actions must be wise to avoid giving enemies a pretext to use it against us.”
The apparent hint of compromise is unlikely to appease protesters, most of whose demands have gone beyond dress code changes to calling for an end to clerical rule.
In another apparent attempt to defuse the situation, Speaker of Parliament Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf said people were right to call for change and that their demands would be met if they distanced themselves from the ‘criminals’ who were descending in the street.
“We believe that protests are not only correct and the cause of progress, but we also believe that these social movements will change policies and decisions, provided they are separated from violent people, criminals and separatists,” he said. he declared, using official terms. typically used for protesters.
Written by Michael Georgy; Editing by Nick Macfie, Philippa Fletcher and Angus MacSwan
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