Iranian lawmakers chant ‘thank you, police’ amid public outrage over women’s deaths

Iranian lawmakers chant 'thank you, police' amid public outrage over women's deaths
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DUBAI, Oct 2 (Reuters) – Iranian lawmakers chanted “thank you, police” during a parliamentary session on Sunday, in support of a crackdown on widespread anti-government protests over the death of a young woman in police custody.

The protests, sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini from Iranian Kurdistan, have become the biggest show of opposition to Iranian authorities in years, with many calling for an end to the Islamic cleric’s more than four-decade rule.

Pledging allegiance to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of the Islamic republic’s supreme authority, the lawmakers chanted: “The blood in our veins is a gift to our leader”, a video shared on Iranian state media showed.

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Iran Human Rights, a Norway-based group, said in a statement that “133 people have been killed across Iran so far”, including more than 40 people. He was killed in clashes in Jahedan last weekCapital of southeastern Sistan-Baluchistan province.

Iranian authorities did not give a death toll, though said many members of the security forces were killed by “rioters and thugs supported by foreign enemies”. Last week, state television reported that 41 people, including members of the security forces, had died.

Khamenei has not commented on the nationwide protests, which began during Amini’s funeral in September. 17 and quickly spread to Iran’s 31 provinces, with all levels of society participating, including ethnic and religious minorities.

A number of prominent soccer players from Iran and around Asia, including former Iranian national team captain Ali Dai, have criticized the crackdown on protesters. Some social media posts suggested Dai had been banned from leaving Iran. Reuters could not confirm the report.

The protests have not subsided despite the mounting death toll and the use of tear gas, clubs and, in some cases, live ammunition by security forces, according to videos on social media and rights groups.

Videos on social media showed students protesting at several universities and on Sunday in cities such as Tehran, Yazd, Kermanshah, Sanandaz, Shiraz and Mashhad, with participants chanting “Freedom, freedom, death to Khamenei”.

The activist Twitter account 1500Tasvir, which has more than 160,000 followers, posted videos of protesters in the central city of Isfahan calling for a nationwide strike and blocking roads to bring truck drivers to their posts.

Reuters could not verify the videos. Protests continued in many cities around the world on Sunday over Amini’s death.

Iranian state media shared a video of pro-government students gathering at Ferdowsi University in Mashhad, chanting “Islamic Republic is our red line”.

Death in a coma

Amini was arrested 13 in Tehran on September 13 for “inappropriate clothing” by morality police who enforce the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code. He fell into a coma and died in hospital three days later.

Saleh Nikbakht, a lawyer for Amini’s family, told the semi-official Etemadonline news website that “respected doctors” believed he had been beaten in custody. Amini’s autopsy report and other medical details have not been released, but her father said he saw bruises on her legs and other women detained with her said she had been beaten.

Iranian police authorities said Amini died of a heart attack and denied he was beaten to death in custody.

The country’s hardline president, Ibrahim Raisi, has ordered an investigation into Amini’s death. He said last week that a forensic report would be presented “in the coming days”.

Amnesty International reported on Friday that hundreds were injured and thousands arrested in the protests.

State media reported that at least 20 people were killed in the Jahedan clashes, blaming a separatist group from the Baluchi minority for starting the gunfight in the city.

Amini’s death and crackdown have drawn international criticism from Iran’s rulers, who have accused the United States and some European countries of exploiting the unrest to try to destabilize the Islamic republic.

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Written by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Frank Jack Daniel

Our values: Thomson Reuters Trust Policy.

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