Protests across Iran spark violent unrest over woman’s death

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  • Supreme Leader’s representative resolved to follow up on the matter
  • Mahsa Amini died after being detained by the morality police
  • The death sparked angry protests around Iran, including in the capital

DUBAI, Sep 20 (Reuters) – Protests broke out across Iran on Tuesday for a fourth consecutive day, and officials said three people died during unrest over the death of a young woman in police custody.

The death last week of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was arrested by ethics police for “inappropriate dress”, sparked a flurry of furious anger over a range of issues including rights, security and an economy battling international sanctions.

It is Iran’s worst unrest since last year’s street clash over a water shortage. The Iranian government accuses foreign agents and unspecified terrorists of inciting violence.

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In an apparent attempt to defuse tensions, an aide of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei offered condolences to Amini’s family, saying Khamenei was affected and traumatized by his death.

“All institutions will take action to protect the rights violated,” said Abdolreza Pourzahabi, Khamenei’s representative in Kurdistan province, visiting Amini’s family home in Kurdistan province.

“As I promised Ms Amini’s family, I will also follow up on the issue of her death till the final outcome,” Porzahabi said.

Amini fell into a coma and died while waiting with other women held by morality police, which enforce strict rules in the Islamic republic that require women to cover their hair and wear loose-fitting clothing in public. Is.

Her father said she had no health problems and had bruises on her leg and blamed the police for her death.

Demonstrations began in Kurdistan and spread to several other provinces in northwestern Iran on Monday and Tuesday.

State media reported “limited rallies” in several cities late Tuesday, where they said protesters raised anti-government slogans, threw stones at police vehicles and damaged public property.

Videos posted on social media websites on Tuesday were purported to show demonstrations in Iran’s provinces, including several areas hitherto untouched by unrest.

Reuters could not independently confirm those videos.

The deadliest unrest has occurred in the Kurdistan region, where state officials and activist websites have reported at least three people killed.

Kurdish human rights group Hangau said three people killed in firing by security forces on Monday were dead.

The governor of Kurdistan province said the deaths were suspicious and blamed unspecified terrorist groups.

“A citizen of Diwandareh was killed with a weapon that is not used by the armed forces. Terrorist groups are looking to kill,” Ismail Zarei Kusha said in comments reported by the semi-official Fars news agency.

Tehran’s governor Mohsin Mansouri accused foreign agents of inciting violence in the country’s capital. He said nationals of three foreign countries were arrested during overnight gatherings.

‘Amini, rest in peace’

Sanam Vakil, a Chatham House think-tank, said the protests triggered by Amini’s death “shed light on the basis of issues that ordinary Iranians face every day related to security, freedom”.

“I don’t think this is an existential challenge to the regime … because Iran has a monopoly of force over the system, a well-respected security strategy that it is already implementing,” she said.

Protesters marched from Tehran’s Grand Bazaar chanting “Mahasa Amini, Rest in Peace” on Monday, according to a video posted by the widely followed 1500 photo Twitter account, which is the only way it can be received from the public. Publishes footage.

At a large protest in Tehran, a crowd of black-clad protesters shouted, “Oh, the day we will be armed”, according to another video posted overnight by 1,500.

Reuters was unable to verify the video.

In a rare acknowledgment by state-affiliated media of the scale of the unrest, the semi-official Fars news agency reported that protesters took to the streets in Tehran raising anti-Khamenei slogans and police fired tear gas to disperse them.

Activist social media accounts, including 1,500 photos, said the demonstrations had spread to several areas of northwestern and central Iran such as Tabriz, Arak and Isfahan.

Hangau said protests broke out in 13 cities on Monday and 250 people were arrested.

Reuters could not independently confirm those reports.

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Reporting by Dubai Newsroom; Writing by Tom Perry; Editing by Jonathan Otis and Howard Goler

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principals.

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