- Protests show no signs of abating amid dire state warnings
- University students clash with security forces
- Journalists are demanding the release of their jailed colleagues.
- Rights groups reported arrests of activists, students.
DUBAI, Oct 30 (Reuters) – Weeks of protests in Iran entered a more violent phase on Sunday after students defied an ultimatum by the Revolutionary Guards and were met with tear gas, beatings and riot police and militia. suffered gunshot wounds, social media videos showed.
Clashes at dozens of universities threatened a tough crackdown in the seventh week of protests after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was arrested by morality police for inappropriate clothing.
Iranians from all walks of life have been protesting since Amini’s death.
The outrage that erupted over Amini’s death on September 16 has become one of the toughest challenges to the religious rulers since the 1979 revolution, with some protesters calling for the death of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The top commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards told protesters that Saturday would be their last day on the streets, the strongest warning yet from Iranian authorities.
Nevertheless, videos on social media, which could not be verified by Reuters, showed clashes between students and riot police and Basij forces at universities across Iran on Sunday.
A video shows a member of the Basij forces firing a gun at close range at protesting students at a branch of Tehran’s Azad University. Gunshots were also heard in a video shared by rights group Hangau during protests at the University of Kurdistan in Sanandaj.
Videos from universities in some other cities also show Basij forces firing on students.
Across the country, security forces tried to stop students inside university buildings, firing tear gas and beating protesters with batons. The students, who appeared to be unarmed, were pushed back, some chanting “lost the disgraced Basij” and “death to Khomeini”.
Date of crackdown
Social media reported the arrests of at least a dozen doctors, journalists and artists since Saturday.
The activist HRANA news agency said 283 protesters had died in the unrest as of Saturday, including 44 minors. Around 34 members of the security forces were also killed.
It said more than 14,000 people, including 253 students, had been arrested in protests in 132 cities and towns and 122 universities.
The Guards and the associated Basij force have cracked down on dissent in the past. “Traitors” are insulting him in universities and on the streets, he said on Sunday, and warned that he could use more force if anti-government unrest continues.
“So far the Basijis have shown restraint and they have shown patience,” Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Mahdavi, head of the Revolutionary Guards in South Khorasan province, was quoted as saying by the state news agency IRNA.
“But if the situation continues, it will be out of our control.”
More than 300 Iranian journalists called for the release of two colleagues jailed for their coverage of Amini in a statement published by the Iranian Alliance and other newspapers on Sunday.
Nilufar Hamidi photographed Amini’s parents hugging each other at a hospital in Tehran where their daughter was lying in a coma.
The photo, which Hamidi posted on Twitter, was the first hint to the world that all was not well with Amini, who was detained three days ago by Iran’s morality police for inappropriate clothing.
Elah Mohammadi performed Amini’s funeral in his Kurdish hometown of Saqiz, where the protests began. A joint statement issued by Iran’s Intelligence Ministry and the Revolutionary Guard’s intelligence agency on Friday accused Hamidi and Mohammadi of being foreign CIA agents.
The arrests match the official narrative that Iran’s staunch enemies, the US, Israel and other Western powers and their local agents, are behind the unrest and are determined to destabilize the country.
According to rights groups, at least 40 journalists have been detained in the past six weeks and the number is rising.
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 on Sunday said the establishment had no plans to back down from mandatory veiling but had to be “judicious” about enforcement.
“Removing the veil is against our law and this headquarters will not back down from its position,” Ali Khan Mohammadi, deputy head of Iran’s Office for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention, told the Khabar Online website.
“However, our actions must be prudent so as not to give the enemy an excuse to use against us.”
A clear gesture of compromise is unlikely to satisfy the protesters, many of whose demands have ranged from a change in dress code to an end to clerical rule.
In a more apparent attempt to defuse the situation, Parliament Speaker Muhammad Baqir Qalibaf said the people were right to demand change and would meet their demands if they distanced themselves from the “criminals” on the streets. will go.
“We believe that protests are not only valid and a 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 told officials. said using the term Commonly used for demonstratives.
Written by Michael Giorgi; Edited by Nick Macfie, Philippa Fletcher and Angus MacSwan
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