Iranian authorities have confirmed that three people were killed during public unrest following the death of a young woman in police custody, but sought to deflect blame from the security forces by saying the killings of protesters were “suspicious “.
Protests continued Tuesday night in Tehran and police fired tear gas, the semi-official Fars news agency reported.
Tehran Governor Mohsen Mansouri has accused foreign agents of fomenting violence in the country’s capital.
He said citizens of three countries were arrested during rallies overnight, Iran’s state news agency IRNA reported.
The unrest is among Iran’s worst since street clashes last year over water shortages and reflects popular discontent not only over women’s rights, but also over security and a sanctions-stricken economy. international.
In an apparent effort to defuse tensions, an aide to Iran’s supreme leader has offered condolences to the family of the woman killed in police custody in Tehran after vice police arrested her for ‘inappropriate dress’ .
Kurdish human rights group Hengaw said three people were killed in Kurdistan on Monday when security forces opened fire.
The governor of Kurdistan province confirmed that three people had been killed but said the deaths were suspicious and did not say who was responsible.
“A citizen of (the city of) Divandarreh was killed with a weapon that is not used by the armed forces. Terrorist groups seek to kill,” said Esmail Zarei Koosha in remarks reported by the news agency semi-official Fars.
Mahsa Amini, 22, from Iran’s Kurdistan province, fell into a coma and died while waiting with other women detained by the vice squad, which enforces strict rules in the Islamic Republic requiring women to cover their hair and wear loose clothing in public.
Ms Amini’s father has repeatedly said his daughter has no health issues, adding that she suffered bruises on her legs.
He held the police responsible for his death.
Protests erupted in Kurdistan and spread Monday and Tuesday to several other provinces in northwestern Iran.
The most violent unrest took place in the Kurdistan region.
Videos posted on social media showed protests in many cities, with women waving headscarves and demonstrators confronting security forces.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in Tehran, Iran, September 17, 2022. Source: Anatolia / “IRANIAN LEADER’S PRESS OFFICE / HANDOUT”
The protests, sparked by Ms Amini’s death, “have also brought to light the wave of issues that ordinary Iranians face every day when it comes to security and freedom,” said Sanam Vakil of the Chatham House think tank.
“I don’t think this is an existential challenge for the regime (…) because the Iranian system has a monopoly on force, a well-honed security strategy that it is already implementing” , she added.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s representative in Kurdistan Province Abdolreza Pourzahabi paid a two-hour visit to Ms Amini’s family home on Monday, Tasnim news agency said, quoting Mr. Pourzahabi also reported by the official news agency.
Mr Pourzahabi told Ms Amini’s family that “all institutions will take action to defend the rights that have been violated” and that he was sure Khamenei was “equally affected and saddened” by his death.
“As I promised Mrs Amini’s family, I will also follow the issue of her death until the final outcome,” Mr Pourzahabi said.
Protesters marched through Tehran’s Grand Bazaar on Monday chanting “Mahsa Amini, rest in peace”, according to a video posted by the widely followed Twitter account 1500tasvir, which posts images it says it received from the public.
During a large demonstration in Tehran, a crowd of protesters dressed in black shouted: “Oh the day we will be armed”, according to another video published by 1500tasvir overnight.
Reuters was unable to verify the videos.
By late Tuesday, protests had spread to a number of other cities, mostly in northwestern Iran, according to 1500tasvir.
Hengaw said there were protests in 13 cities on Monday and 250 people were arrested.
Reuters could not independently verify this information.
In Gilan province, police arrested 22 people for destroying public property, the deputy police commander said.