- The protests show no signs of abating amid dire state warnings
- University students clash with security forces
- The journalists demanded the release of their jailed colleagues
- Rights groups reported arrests of activists, students
DUBAI, Oct 30 (Reuters) – Protests in Iran entered a more violent phase on Sunday as students, who defied an ultimatum from the Revolutionary Guards and a warning from the president, were met with tear gas and gunfire from security forces, according to social media videos. showed
A tougher crackdown was threatened by clashes at dozens of universities in the seventh week of protests after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was arrested for what ethics police deemed inappropriate.
“Security is the red line of the Islamic Republic, and we will not allow the enemy to carry out their plans to damage this precious national resource in any way,” hardline President Ibrahim Raisi said, according to state media.
Since Amini’s death, Iranians from all walks of life have taken to the streets to protest what the cleric said threatened the Islamic Republic’s security.
Authorities blamed the unrest on Islamic Iran’s arch-enemies, the United States and Israel, and their local agents for destabilizing the country.
Amini’s death in September sparked outrage. 16 In what has developed as one of the toughest challenges to the clerical regime since the 1979 revolution, some protesters have called for the death of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The top commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards told protesters that Saturday would be their last day on the streets, the toughest warning yet from Iranian authorities.
However, videos on social media, which could not be verified by Reuters, showed clashes between students and riot police and Basij forces on Sunday at universities across Iran.
In a video, a member of the Basij forces fires a gun at protesting students at a branch of Azad University in Tehran. Gunshots can also be heard in a video shared by the rights group Hengao from the Kurdistan University protests in Sanandaj.
Videos from universities in several other cities also showed Basij forces firing on students.
Across the country, security forces tried to block students inside university buildings, firing tear gas and beating protesters with batons. The students, who appeared to be unarmed, pushed back with some chanting “Get lost disgraced Basij” and “Khamenei die”.
History of the crackdown
At least a dozen doctors, journalists and artists have been arrested since Saturday on social media. Activist HRANA news agency reported that 283 protesters, including 44 minors, had been killed in the unrest as of Saturday. 34 members of the security forces were also killed.
More than 14,000 people, including 253 students, were arrested in protests in 132 cities and towns and 122 universities, it said.
The Guards and its allied Basij forces have crushed dissent in the past. They said on Sunday that “rebels” were insulting them in universities and on the streets and warned that they could use more force if the anti-government unrest continued.
“So far the Basijis have shown restraint and they have been patient,” state news agency IRNA quoted Brigadier General Mohammadreza Mahdavi, head of the Revolutionary Guards in Khorasan Junubi province, as saying.
“But if the situation continues, it will be beyond our control.”
Application of journalists
More than 300 Iranian journalists demanded the release of two colleagues jailed for Amini’s coverage in a statement published by Irani Itemad and other newspapers on Sunday.
Niloufar Hamedi took a photo of Amini’s parents hugging each other at a hospital in Tehran where their daughter lay in a coma.
The photo Hamedi posted on Twitter was the first signal to the world that all was not well with Amini, who was detained by Iran’s morality police three days earlier for what they deemed inappropriate clothing.
Elahe Mohammadi covered Amini’s funeral in his Kurdish town of Sakej, where protests broke out. A joint statement by Iran’s Intelligence Ministry and Revolutionary Guard intelligence agency on Friday accused Hamedi and Mohammadi of being CIA foreign agents.
Students and women have played a prominent role in the unrest, burning their veils to call for the fall of the Islamic Republic, which came to power in 1979.
An official on Sunday said the institution has no plans to move away from mandatory cover but should be “judicious” about enforcement.
“Removing the veil is against our law and this headquarters will not back down from its position,” Ali Khanmohammadi, spokesman for Iran’s vice headquarters for promoting morality and resistance, told the Khabarline website.
“However, our actions should be prudent to avoid giving the enemy an excuse to use against us.”
In another apparent attempt to defuse the situation, Parliament Speaker Mohamed Bakr Kalibaf said the people were right to call for reforms and their demands would be met if they distanced themselves from “criminals” taking to the streets.
“We consider the protests not only right and a cause of progress, but we also believe that these social movements will change policies and decisions, provided that they are separated from violent people, criminals and separatists,” he said, using the officials’ terms. . Commonly used for protestors.
Written by Michael Giorgi and Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Nick McPhee, Philippa Fletcher, Angus McSwan and Barbara Lewis
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