US President Joe Biden on Wednesday reaffirmed the solidarity of the American people with Iranian women, while eight people were killed in Iran after protests erupted condemning the death of Mahsa Amini after she was detained by the “vice police”.
In his address to the UN General Assembly shortly after Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s speech, Biden welcomed the demonstrators and stressed his support for the renewal of the nuclear deal with Tehran.
“We support the brave people of Iran and the brave Iranian women who are demonstrating today in defense of their most basic rights,” he said from the UN podium.
Public anger erupted in the streets after authorities announced on Friday the death of a 22-year-old woman from Kurdistan Region in northwest Iran, who was arrested September 13 in Tehran under the pretext of wearing “obscene clothing.”
Activists claim that Mahsa, whose Kurdish name is Zina, received a blow to the head during her detention, which is denied by the Iranian authorities, who announced an investigation into the incident.
Videos widely circulated on social media show women among the protesters taking off headscarves and throwing them into a fire that lit the road, while others cut their hair symbolically short.
“No veil, no turban, but freedom and equality,” protesters chanted in Tehran.
Demonstrations took place in several cities, especially in northern Iran, on Wednesday night for the fifth consecutive night, with activists reporting clashes in cities such as Urmia and Sardasht.
In southern Iran, a video believed to be dated Wednesday shows protesters setting fire to a giant photo of a building wall of General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Revolutionary Guards who was killed in a US strike in Iraq in 2020.
Official Iranian media reported that the protests spread to 15 cities, noting that police fired tear gas and dispersed crowds that had gathered about a thousand people.
London-based human rights organization Article 19 said it was “deeply concerned about reports of illegal use of force by Iranian police and security forces,” including the use of live ammunition.
The IRNA news agency reported that the demonstrators blocked traffic in some areas, set fire to waste containers and police cars, threw stones at security forces and chanted anti-regime slogans. Protests last night engulfed Tehran and other cities, including Mashhad in the northeast of the country, Tabriz in the northwest, Isfahan in the center and Shiraz in the south, IRNA reported.
The demonstrators also chanted “Death to the Dictator” and “Women, Life, Freedom,” according to videos circulating on social media despite restrictions placed on the Internet, according to network monitoring observatory Netblox.
Double standarts. On Wednesday morning, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic delivered a speech in Tehran in which he did not address Amini’s death or the protests. But from the UN podium, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi referred to the deaths of indigenous women in Canada, Israel’s actions in the occupied Palestinian territories, and the “cruelty” of the Islamic State against women from religious minorities.
“As long as we have this double standard and when the focus is only on one side and not on the whole, we will not have true fairness and equality,” he said.
He also criticized Western terms for the revival of the 2015 nuclear deal, stressing that his country “does not seek to produce or possess nuclear weapons, and these weapons have no place in our faith.”
British Foreign Secretary James Cleverley told AFP in New York that “Iranian leaders need to be aware that the people are not satisfied with the course they have chosen,” adding: “They can give up their ambition to get nuclear weapons. They can stop the suppression of voices within their country, they can stop their destabilizing activities.
“In the end, Iranian leaders must rethink themselves. They should ask why so many Iranians are unhappy here, and if another way is possible. A path with a stronger economy and greater engagement with the international community,” he said. .
French President Emmanuel Macron said he asked Raisi to show “respect for women’s rights” at a meeting with him on Tuesday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
– “Important shake-up” – The protests in Iran are the most serious since the riots in November 2019 due to high fuel prices.
David Rigolet-Rose, an IRIS researcher specializing in Iranian affairs, said the demonstrations “represent serious unrest” in Iran, adding that “it is difficult to predict how they will end, but there is complete isolation between the authorities stuck in Islamic Revolution, and a more secular society.”
Demonstrations began on Friday in the Iranian province of Kurdistan, home of Amini, where governor Ismail Zari Kosha announced on Tuesday that three people had been killed under “suspicious circumstances” and as part of an “enemy plot.”
On Wednesday, Kurdistan Police Chief Ali Azadi announced the death of a fourth person, the Iranian news agency Tasnim reported.
Provincial prosecutor Shahram Karami said two demonstrators were killed “during riots” in Kermanshah province, blaming “counter-revolutionary elements” for it.
The Norwegian Kurdish human rights organization Henkau said on Wednesday that two protesters, aged 16 and 23, were killed overnight in West Azerbaijan province in northwestern Iran.
In addition, according to the organization, 450 people were injured and 500 were arrested. It was not possible to check the figures from independent sources.
In turn, Amnesty International reported that the total number of deaths during the protests has reached eight, including six men, a woman and a child.
The international human rights organization condemned the “brutal repression” and the “illegal use of bullets, steel balls, tear gas, water cannons and sticks to disperse demonstrators.”
On Wednesday evening, many Internet users in Iran encountered difficulties in communicating through social networks.