Iran: activists call for mass demonstrations on Saturday

Iran: Activists call for mass protests on Saturday

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Iranian activists called for mass protests across the country on Saturday as the protest movement sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini entered its fifth week despite a deadly crackdown.&nbsp ;

The outrage over the September 16 death of this 22-year-old Iranian Kurd has sparked the largest wave of protests and violence in Iran since the 2019 protests over rising fuel prices. gasoline in this oil-rich country.

Mahsa Amini was arrested on September 13 by the morality police in Tehran for allegedly violating the Islamic Republic's strict dress code for women, including the wearing of the veil.

Iranian authorities say the young woman died of an illness and not of “beatings”, according to a medical report rejected by her father. Her cousin claimed she died after “a violent blow to the head”.

Since then, young women, students and schoolgirls have spearheaded protests in which they chant anti-government slogans, set their headscarves on fire and clash with security forces.

At least 108 people have been killed since September 16, according to the Oslo-based Iran Human Rights (IHR) association. For its part, Amnesty deplored the deaths of at least 23 children “killed by Iranian security forces”, adding that they were between 11 and 17 years old.

Two members of the security forces were shot and killed in the southern province of Fars as part of the protests, bringing to at least 20 the number of members of the security forces killed since the start of the dispute, local authorities reported on Friday. official media.

Despite authorities blocking internet access to popular apps such as Instagram and WhatsApp, activists launched an online call for mass protests on Saturday under the slogan “The beginning of the end!” of the regime.

They encouraged young people and the Iranian population to demonstrate in places where the security forces are not present and to chant “Death to the dictator”, in reference to the Supreme Leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

“Interference”

The protest movement has prompted solidarity rallies abroad as well as Western sanctions targeting Iranian officials and institutions accused of involvement in the crackdown.

On Friday, Tehran condemned the French president's remarks , Emmanuel Macron, who on Wednesday expressed his “admiration” for the “women” and the “young people” who demonstrate. And “very clearly, France condemns the repression carried out today by the Iranian regime,” he said.

Mr. Macron's remarks are “interference” and they served to encourage “violent people and offenders”, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani reacted in a statement on Friday.

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According to analysts, the multifaceted nature of anti-government protests, including young people who gather in small groups in certain neighborhoods to avoid detection, makes it difficult for law enforcement to try to stop them.< /p>

In an open letter published on its front page on Thursday, the reform-minded newspaper Etemad called on Iran's top security official to end arrests made under “sometimes fallacious pretexts”.

In recent days, deadly clashes between demonstrators and security forces have taken place in particular in Sanandaj, capital of the Kurdistan province where Mahsa Amini was from.

The city of Zahedan (south -is) was also touched ed by violence sparked on September 30 during protests over the alleged rape of a young girl by a police officer, which left at least 94 people dead according to the IHR.