Protests over women’s deaths continue in Iran despite crackdown

Protests over women's deaths continue in Iran despite crackdown
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  • Protesters are calling for an end to clerical rule
  • Tanks are being moved into the Kurdish region on social media
  • Iran blames some of the unrest on Iranian Kurdish dissidents
  • The protests spilled over into the vital energy sector

DUBAI, Oct 11 (Reuters) – Clashes between protesters and security forces continued across Iran on Tuesday, with social media videos showing tanks being transported into Kurdish territory, a focus of a crackdown over the death of Mahsa Amini in custody.

Since the death of Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman, in September, protests calling for the downfall of clerical institutions have spread across Iran. 16 Tehran’s morality police while detaining for “inappropriate clothing”.

While observers do not believe the unrest is close to toppling the government, the protests mark one of the boldest challenges to the Islamic Republic since its 1979 revolution, with reports of strikes in the vital energy sector.

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The authorities are carrying out severe repression. Videos on social media show trucks carrying dark green tanks into Kurdish areas, raising the risk of an insurgency. Reuters could not verify the video footage.

At least 185 people, including 19 minors, have been killed, hundreds injured and thousands arrested by security forces, according to rights groups. The government says more than 20 members of the security forces have been killed.

Iranian authorities said they would investigate the civilian deaths.

Tensions are high in Amini’s ethnic background, particularly in the Kurdish region. Human rights groups say Iran’s Kurdish minority of more than 10 million have long been oppressed – a charge the Islamic Republic denies.

The Kurdistan Human Rights Network said protests continued for a fourth week in these areas “despite the tense security environment and militarization of these cities”.

It said security forces killed at least 30 protesters, wounded another 825 and arrested more than 2,000 in predominantly Kurdish areas.

Reuters could not independently verify the report.

The Hengao human rights group said security forces opened fire on residences in the Kurdish town of Sanandaz on Monday.

Iranian authorities have blamed a range of enemies, including armed Iranian Kurdish dissidents, for the violence, with the Revolutionary Guards attacking their bases in neighboring Iraq several times during the recent unrest.

Interior Minister Ahmed Vahidi reiterated accusations that Iranian Kurdish dissident groups were supporting the protests and said security forces would “neutralize desperate counter-revolutionary efforts”.

Energy sector

Elsewhere unrest continued overnight after protests broke out in Iran’s vital energy sector, according to videos on social media that Reuters could not confirm.

According to the widely followed Tavsir1500 Twitter account, energy installations in southwest Iran were struck for a second day on Tuesday, with workers protesting at the Abadan oil refinery, Kangan and Bushehr petrochemical plants.

In videos posted to the account, dozens of activists were seen chanting “death to the dictator”, referring to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

A regional official said on Tuesday that workers at the Assalouye plant were angry over a dispute over wages and were not protesting Amini’s death.

Governor Ali Hashemi said some Iranians tried to hijack the workers’ protest with anti-government slogans, according to the Young Journalists Club News (YJC) Telegram account.

It was a combination of mass protests and strikes by oil workers and market traders that helped bring Shiite clerics to power in Iran’s revolution four decades ago.

Dozens of universities are also currently on strike, with students playing a key role in the protests.

Meanwhile, protesters set fire to a prayer leader’s office in Fuladshahr city in the central province of Isfahan, according to a video posted by Tawsir 1500.

Authorities’ crackdown on protesters has prompted some Western nations to impose more sanctions on Iran, stoking diplomatic tensions at a time when talks to revive Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers have stalled.

French Foreign Minister Dr Tuesday said Five of its citizens have been imprisoned in Iran and the European Union has agreed on the technical aspects of imposing sanctions on Tehran, which will take effect next week.

France expressed anger against Iran On October 6 accused it of “practicing dictatorship” and holding its citizens hostage after a video aired showing a French couple confessing to espionage.

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Reporting by John Irish in the Paris and Dubai newsrooms: Writing by Michael Giorgi/Tom Perry; Editing by Raisa Kasolowski and Gareth Jones

Our values: Thomson Reuters Trust Policy.

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