Protests spread across Iran following Mahsa Amini’s death after the young woman was arrested by police for wearing the veil “improperly”. The official death toll has risen from nine to seventeen, although the human rights group believes more than 30 civilians have been killed.
Public anger has exploded since Iranian authorities announced on Friday the death of 22-year-old Amini, who had been detained for wearing a hijab veil “improperly”.
Activists said the woman, whose Kurdish name is Jhina, suffered a fatal blow to the head, a claim denied by Islamic Republic officials who said they had launched an investigation.
Some female protesters defiantly took off their hijabs and burned them in bonfires or symbolically cut their hair, she showed footage spread virally on social media.
17 people are said to have been killed during the protests. Among the declared victims is a 16-year-old boy, shot when the security forces opened fire on the demonstrators.
The unrest has spread to more than 20 major cities, including the capital Tehran.
Police used tear gas and made arrests in an attempt to disperse crowds of up to 1,000 people.
Protesters threw stones at security forces, set fire to police vehicles and garbage cans and chanted anti-government slogans, the official news agency IRNA said.
In another message, Irna reported that Kazem Gharibabadi, secretary of the Iranian headquarters for human rights, met with the Danish ambassador to Iran, Jesper Vahr, and criticized the statement by the EU foreign services on the circumstances of the death of Amini.
Gharibabadi said that following the “painful event” involving “the Iranian girl”, the inspection teams began “working on various aspects of the event”.
Article 19 of the human rights group said he was “deeply concerned about the reports of the illegal use of force by the Iranian police and security forces”, including the firing of live bullets.
Night demonstrations took place in Tehran and other cities, including Mashhad in the northeast, Tabriz in the northwest, Rasht in the north, Isfahan in the center and Shiraz in the south, IRNA reported.
“Death to the dictator” and “Woman, life, freedom,” protesters could be heard shouting in footage that spread beyond Iran, despite online restrictions reported by the Netblocks Internet access monitor.
In Iran, the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, spoke publicly on Wednesday, but without mentioning the rampant unrest.
Iranian President Brahim Raisi has accused the West of hypocrisy in his criticisms of Tehran.
President Raisi issued a note of defiance during a visit to the United Nations, with protesters also following him through the streets of New York and dissidents filing a human rights lawsuit against the uncompromising cleric Khamenei.
Ismail Zarei Koosha, governor of the Kurdistan province, where Amini lived and where the protests began, said on Tuesday that three people were killed during the protests.
He insisted that they had been “killed in a suspicious manner” as part of “an enemy plot,” the Fars news agency reported.
Norway-based Kurdish human rights group Hengaw – which first reported those three dead – said Wednesday that two more protesters were killed overnight.
The two, aged 16 and 23, died in the cities of Piranshahr, where there were bitter clashes, and Urmia, both in Western Azerbaijan province, Hengaw said.
Another male protester who was injured in Divandareh on Sept. 17 died from injuries sustained in hospital, the human rights group said.
Video circulated online showing security forces opening fire on protesters in the southern city of Shiraz, where the riots continued into the early hours of the morning.
Amini’s death and Iran’s response to the protests sparked condemnation from the United Nations, the United States, France and other countries.
The protests are among the most serious in Iran since November 2019 riots over rising fuel prices.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani on Tuesday condemned what he called “foreign interventionist positions”.