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The Guardian: Demonstrations in Iran continue despite violent repressions

17-2-2023 |

Protesters in Iran have marched through the streets of multiple cities in the most widespread demonstrations in weeks, online videos purported to show on Friday.

The demonstrations overnight on Thursday marked 40 days since Iran executed two men on charges related to protests that began last year and went on to grip the Islamic Republic for month.

The initial unrest – which began after 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died on 16 September, three days after her arrest by “morality police” – morphed into one of the most serious challenges to Iran’s theocracy since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Videos showed demonstrations in Iran’s capital, Tehran, as well as in the cities of Arak, Isfahan, Izeh in Khuzestan province and Karaj, the group Human Rights Activists in Iran said. Associated Press could not immediately verify the videos, many of which had been blurred or showed grainy night-time scenes.

In Iran’s western Kurdish regions, online videos shared by the Hengaw Organisation for Human Rights showed burning roadblocks in Sanandaj, which has seen repeated demonstrations since Amini’s death.

Hengaw shared one video that included digitally altered voices shouting: “Death to the Dictator!”.

That call has been repeatedly heard in the demonstrations, targeting Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Other videos purportedly shot in Tehran had similar chants, as well as scenes of heavily protected riot police in the street.

Since they began, at least 529 people have been killed in demonstrations, according to Human Rights Activists in Iran. More than 19,700 others have been detained by authorities amid a violent crackdown trying to suppress the dissent. Iran for months has not offered any overall casualty figures, though the government seemed to acknowledge making “tens of thousands” arrests earlier this month.

The demonstrations had appeared to slow in recent weeks, in part due to the executions and crackdown, though protest cries could still be heard at night in some cities.

Forty-day commemorations for the dead are common in Iran and the wider Middle East. But they also can turn into cyclical confrontations between an increasingly disillusioned public and security forces that turn to greater violence to suppress them, as they had in the chaos leading up to Iran’s 1979 revolution.

Iran’s hardline government has alleged, without offering evidence, that the demonstrations are a foreign plot, rather than homegrown anger.

Source: The Guardian