Students defy Iran protest ultimatum, unrest enters more dangerous phase

  • The protests show no signs of abating amid strict government warnings
  • University students clashed with security forces
  • Journalists are demanding the release of their imprisoned comrades
  • Human rights groups report arrests of activists and students

DUBAI, Oct 30 (Reuters) – Week-long protests in Iran took a more violent turn on Sunday, with students rejecting remarks by the Revolutionary Guards and social media depictions of tear gas, beatings and gunfire by police. is

Clashes at dozens of universities have threatened to crack down on protests in the seventh week since the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was arrested by morality police for wearing inappropriate clothing.

Since Amini’s death, Iranians have been protesting against people from all walks of life.

The outrage, which began after Amini’s death on September 16, has turned into the worst challenge to the religious leaders since the 1979 revolution, with some protesters calling for the death of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The supreme commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards has told protesters that Saturday will be the last day they will take to the streets in the strongest warning from Iranian authorities.

However, videos on social media, which Reuters could not verify, showed clashes between students and riot police and Basij forces at all Iranian universities on Sunday.

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One of the videos shows a member of the Basij firing a rifle at close range at protesting students at a branch of Azad University in Tehran. A video shared by rights group HENGAW shows gunshots during protests at Kurdistan University in Sanandaj.

Video footage from other universities in the city showed Basij soldiers opening fire on students.

Across the country, security forces barricaded students inside university buildings, fired tear gas and attempted to beat protesters with sticks. The seemingly unarmed students retreated, chanting “lost the dishonorable Basij” and “death to Khamenei”.

USAGE HISTORY

Social media reported the arrest of at least a dozen doctors, journalists and artists since Saturday.

As of Saturday, 283 protesters had been killed in the unrest, including 44 children, according to activist HRANA. About 34 security forces personnel were also killed.

More than 14,000 people were arrested during the protests in 132 cities and towns, 122 universities, including 253 students.

The Guards and its subordinate Basij forces have suppressed dissidents in the past. On Sunday, they said they were harassing “servants” in universities and on the streets, and warned they could use more force if anti-government unrest continues.

“So far, the Basij have been patient and persevering,” state news agency IRNA reported.

“But if this continues, it will be out of our control.”

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JOURNALISTS ARE WORSE

More than 300 Iranian journalists, in a statement published in Iran’s Etemad and other newspapers on Sunday, demanded the release of two colleagues jailed for their coverage of Amini.

Nilufar Hamedi photographed Amini’s parents hugging each other at a Tehran hospital where their daughter lay unconscious.

The photo, which Hamedi posted on Twitter, was the first sign that all was not well for Amini, who was detained by Iran’s morality police three days ago for wearing inappropriate clothing.

Elahe Mohammadi covered Amini’s funeral in his Kurdish hometown of Sakez, where the protests began. A joint statement issued by Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and the Revolutionary Guards intelligence agency on Friday accused Hamedi and Mohammadi of being foreign agents of the Central Intelligence Agency.

The arrests match the official narrative that Iran’s main enemies, the United States, Israel and other Western powers and their local proxies, are behind the chaos and are determined to destabilize the country.

According to human rights organizations, at least 40 journalists have been arrested in the past six weeks, and the number is still rising.

Students and women have played a prominent role in the unrest, burning their veils while calling for the end of the Islamic Republic, which came to power in 1979.

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The official said on Sunday that the agency had no plans to back down from mandatory cover-ups, but had to be “prudential” about enforcement.

“Removing the veil is against our law and this center will not back down from its position,” Ali Khanmohammadi, a spokesman for Iran’s Center for Promoting Virtue and Preventing Evil, told the Khabaronline website.

“However, our actions must be prudent to avoid giving our adversaries an excuse to use against us.”

Overt hints of compromise are unlikely to appease the protesters, whose demands range from a change in dress code to an end to bureaucratic rule.

In an effort to defuse the situation, Parliament Speaker Mohammad Bakar Kalibaf said it was right for people to distance themselves from the “criminals” on the streets and call for change and their demands would be met.

“Not only do we see the protests as a right and progressive cause, but we also believe that these social movements will change their policies and decisions if they are separated from the violent, criminal and separatists,” the official said. often used by opponents.

Written by: Michael Georgi; Edited by Nick McPhee, Philippa Fletcher and Angus McSwan

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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