Iran protests: Death toll rises amid global outrage over Mahsa Amini’s death SBS News

At least 17 people have been killed in protests across Iran over the death in custody of Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini, but a rights group said the death toll was almost twice as high.
Ms Amini, 22, died last week after being arrested by the Islamic Republic vice police for allegedly wearing a hijab scarf “inappropriately” – news of her death sparked widespread outrage.

“Death to the dictator” and “woman, life, freedom” protesters were heard shouting in video footage shared widely online in the biggest wave of protests to rock the country in nearly three years.

The US Treasury Department has placed the vice squad on its sanctions blacklist, holding them responsible for Ms Amini’s death and citing ‘abuse and violence against Iranian women and violation of the rights of peaceful Iranian protesters’ .
Some Iranian women burned their headscarves and symbolically cut their hair to protest the strict dress code, in defiant actions that echoed solidarity demonstrations from New York to Istanbul.

The official death toll was at least 17, including five security personnel, according to local media, but Iran Human Rights, an Oslo-based non-governmental organization, said it had counted at least 31 civilians dead .

CNN interview canceled due to headscarf requirement

CNN reporter Christiane Amanpour said she was due to conduct an interview with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, which was canceled after she refused the president’s suggestion to wear a headscarf.
Amanpour recounted a conversation with an aide to Mr Raisi, who said the request was made as it was the holy months of Muharram and Safar.
The veteran reporter, who has Iranian heritage and lived there as a child, said she politely declined the suggestion.
“We are in New York, where there is no law or tradition regarding the headscarf. I pointed out that no previous Iranian president had demanded it when I interviewed them outside Iran” , she wrote on Twitter.
“The assistant made it clear that the interview would not take place if I was not wearing a headscarf. He said it was ‘a matter of respect’ and brought up ‘the situation in Iran’ – alluding to the protests sweeping the country.”

Amanpour said she couldn’t agree with the “unprecedented and unexpected condition” and as a result the interview was cancelled.

Iranians have come together “to obtain their basic rights and human dignity … and the government is responding to their peaceful protest with bullets,” said Iran’s director of human rights, Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam.
Security forces fired into the crowd with shot and metal pellets, and also deployed tear gas and water cannons, Amnesty International and other human rights groups said.

Demonstrators threw stones at them, set fire to police cars and chanted anti-government slogans, the official IRNA news agency said.

Footage showed protesters disfiguring or burning images of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and late Revolutionary Guards commander Qasem Soleimani.

On Thursday, authorities arrested two female photographers, Niloufar Hamedi, of the reformist newspaper Shargh, and Yalda Moayeri, who works for the local press, as well as activist Mohammad-Reza Jalaipour, Iranian media reported.

Protests continue in Iran

Dozens of people stage a demonstration to protest the death of a 22-year-old woman in police custody in Tehran, Iran, September 21, 2022. Source: Getty / (Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

‘I’m afraid’

There were fears the violence could escalate further after Iran restricted internet access and blocked messaging apps, including WhatsApp and Instagram, as they have done in previous crackdowns.
The two apps were the most widely used in Iran after authorities blocked other platforms in recent years, including Facebook and Twitter.

“Iranians are cut off from online apps and services,” tweeted Instagram chief Adam Mosseri, adding that “we hope their right to be online will be quickly restored.”

Activists said Ms Amini, whose Kurdish first name is Jhina, was fatally shot in the head after her arrest in Tehran – a claim denied by authorities.
Iranian women on the streets of Tehran have told AFP that they now pay more attention to their dress to avoid run-ins with the morality police.
“I’m scared,” said Nazanin, a 23-year-old nurse who asked to be identified by her first name only for security reasons, adding that she thought the morality police “shouldn’t confront the people”.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi complained of a “double standard” and pointed to Israeli actions in the Palestinian territories and the deaths of indigenous women in Canada. Source: AFP / (Photo by ED JONES/AFP via Getty Images)

Iran complains of double standard on human rights

Iran’s ultra-conservative President Ebrahim Raisi, also speaking at the UN, complained of a “double standard” and pointed to Israeli actions in the Palestinian territories and the deaths of indigenous women in Canada, as well as the actions of the American police.
But he then told reporters that Ms Amini’s death “will certainly be investigated”, confirming an earlier announcement by authorities.
Mr Raisi’s comments came as he turned the tables on the country he was visiting for the UN General Assembly and asked about all those killed by US police.
“Have all these deaths been investigated? Raisi said during a press conference held in New York on the sidelines of the annual meeting of world leaders.
He said Ms Amini’s death “definitely needs to be investigated”.
“I contacted his family at the very earliest opportunity and assured them that we would steadfastly continue to investigate this incident. … Our utmost concern is safeguarding the rights of every citizen.”

In a speech to the UN on Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid accused Tehran’s leadership of leading an ‘orchestra of hate’ against Jews, and said Iranian ideologues ‘hate and kill Muslims who think differently , like Salman Rushdie and Mahsa Amini”.

The protests are among the most serious in Iran since the November 2019 unrest sparked by a sharp rise in gasoline prices. The crackdown then left hundreds dead, according to Amnesty.
The unrest comes at a particularly sensitive time for the leadership, as Iran’s economy remains mired in a crisis largely caused by sanctions imposed on its nuclear program.

Iran’s powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps called the protests a “plot of the enemy” and a “vain attempt doomed to failure”, while praising the “efforts and sacrifices of the police”.

She also denounced what she called “the psychological operation and the excessive media war” during the demonstrations which, according to her, had been triggered “under the pretext of the death of one of the compatriots”.
A rally in support of the hijab and a conservative dress code for women was announced by Iran’s Islamic Development Coordinating Council on Friday, IRNA reported.

Demonstrations would be held across Iran, the news agency said, “to condemn the indecent actions” of those who insulted Islam and the nation, destroyed public property, undermined public security and ” desecrated the hijab of women”.