Four people were killed in Iran’s Kurdish region on Monday when security forces opened fire during protests over the death of a woman in police custody, a Kurdish rights group said, on the third day of unrest over the outbreak. of an event, which ignited revolt across the country.
Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old from Iran’s Kurdistan province, fell into a coma and died after her arrest in Tehran last week by moralistic police, sparking demonstrations in several areas, including the capital.
Two of the people were killed when security forces opened fire on protesters in the Kurdish town of Saqez, Amini’s hometown, the Hengaw Human Rights Organization said on Twitter.
He said two more were killed in the town of Divandarreh “by direct fire” by security forces.
There has been no official confirmation of the deaths. Reuters could not independently verify the reports.
State TV said several protesters had been arrested but rejected “some allegations of deaths on social media”, showing two injured youths who denied reports they were killed. Their names were different from those in Hengaw’s report.
In the national condemnations of Amini’s death, the Persian hashtag #MahsaAmini reached nearly 2 million mentions on Twitter.
Police said Amini fell ill while waiting with other women detained by the morality police, which enforces strict rules in the Islamic republic requiring women to cover their hair and wear loose-fitting clothing in public.
But her father has repeatedly said his daughter had no health problems, adding that she suffered leg bruises. He blamed the police for her death.
The protests were most intense in the Kurdish region, where authorities have already quelled the unrest of the Kurdish minority. Hengaw said 15 people were injured in Divandarreh.
A video posted to Twitter earlier by Hengaw showed protesters throwing stones as a man could be heard saying “there is a war in Divandarreh” and accusing police of attacking.
Reuters could not verify the authenticity of the video.
Internet blocking observatory NetBlocks reported “almost total disruption of internet connectivity in Sanandaj” – the provincial capital of the Kurdish region – on Monday, linking it to the protests, according to its Twitter account.
In Washington, the White House demanded accountability for Amini’s death.
“Mahsa Amini’s death following injuries sustained while in police custody for wearing an ‘improper’ hijab is a terrible and blatant affront to human rights,” said a White House spokesperson.
Tehran police commander Hossein Rahimi said “cowardly accusations” were leveled against the police, that Amini suffered no physical harm and that the police “did everything” to keep her alive.
“This incident was unfortunate for us and we wish to never witness such incidents,” Rahimi said.
A police video showed a woman identified as Amini entering a room and sitting next to other people, before quickly moving forward to show her standing talking to someone who was inspecting some of her clothes.
The woman then put her hands to her head and fainted.
Violators of Iran’s sharia, or Islamic law, face public reprimand, fines or imprisonment. But activists recently urged women to remove their veils despite hardline rulers’ crackdown on “immoral behavior”.
Masoud Barzani, the former president of Iraq’s Kurdish region, sent condolences to Amini’s family on Sunday, a statement said.
In Tehran, a widely followed Iranian protest account on Twitter posted footage showing what it said was a protest at a university against the paramilitary Basij, a militia.
Other videos showed police using a water cannon to disperse protesters in Tehran and demonstrations spreading to cities such as Rasht, Mashhad and Isfahan.
Reuters could not independently verify the videos.
Vali Nasr, from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, said the protests reflected pent-up frustrations over issues such as “the ethnic issue, the hijab issue, as well as unhappiness with the way the authorities react and brutally deal with the population.” . .
An official organization promoting Islamic morals has called for an overhaul of the way Iran implements rules on wearing the hijab, calling for less policing and more encouragement for women to abide by the rules.
Source: CNN Brasil