Students defy Iran protest ultimatum, unrest enters more dangerous phase

  • The protests show no signs of slowing down as states issue warnings
  • University students clashed with security forces
  • Journalists demand the release of their imprisoned colleagues
  • Rights groups report arrests of activists, students

DUBAI, October 30 (Reuters) – Weeks of protests in Iran took a more violent turn on Sunday as students defied an ultimatum from the Revolutionary Guards and were met with tear gas, beatings and gunfire from riot police and militia, videos on social media showed.

Clashes at dozens of universities prompted threats to crack down on the seventh week of demonstrations after 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died after being arrested by morality police for inappropriate clothing.

Iranians from all walks of life have been protesting since Amini’s death.

What began as an outcry over Amini’s death on September 16 turned into one of the most difficult challenges for clerical rulers since 1979. revolution, some protesters 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 strongest warning from Iranian authorities.

Nevertheless, videos on social media, which Reuters has not confirmed, showed clashes between students and riot police and Basij forces at universities across Iran on Sunday.

One video showed a member of the Basij force shooting at close range at students protesting outside a branch of Azad University in Tehran. Gunshots were also heard in a video shared by rights group HENGAW of protests at Kurdistan University in Sananda.

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Videos from universities in some other cities also showed Basij forces opening fire on students.

Across the country, security forces tried to block students from university buildings, firing tear gas and beating protesters with batons. The students, who appeared to be unarmed, retreated, some chanting “dishonorable Basij get lost” and “Death to Khamenei”.

HISTORY OF SOLUTIONS

At least a dozen doctors, journalists and artists have been arrested on social media since Saturday.

Activist HRANA reported that 283 protesters, including 44 minors, were killed in Saturday’s unrest. 34 members of the security forces were also killed.

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

The Guard and its affiliated Basij forces have crushed dissent in the past. They said “rioters” insulted them on campuses and in the streets on Sunday and warned they could use more force if the anti-government unrest continued.

“So far, the Basidis have shown restraint and been patient,” Brigadier General Mohammadreza Mahdavi, head of the Revolutionary Guards in Khorasan Junubi province, was quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA.

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“However, we will no longer control her if the situation continues.”

JOURNALISTS FLY

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

Niloofar Hamedi photographed Amini’s parents embracing in a Tehran hospital where their daughter lay in a coma.

The image, which 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 ago for what they deemed inappropriate clothing.

Elaheh Mohammadi covered Amini’s funeral in her Kurdish hometown of Sakes, where the protests began. In a joint statement issued Friday by Iran’s intelligence ministry and the Revolutionary Guards, Hamedi and Mohammadi were accused of being foreign agents of the CIA.

The arrests are in line with the official narrative that Iran’s arch-enemy the US, Israel and other Western powers and their domestic agents are behind the unrest and are bent on destabilizing the country.

Rights groups say at least 40 journalists have been detained in the past six weeks, and the number is rising.

Students and women have played a major role in the unrest, burning their veils as crowds call for the fall of the Islamic Republic, which came to power in 1979.

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The official said Sunday that the agency has no plans to back away from mandatory coverage, but should be “judicious” in its enforcement.

“Removing the veil is against our laws and this headquarters will not back down from its position,” Ali Khanmohammadi, a spokesman for Iran’s Headquarters for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, told Khabaronline.

“However, our actions should be wise so as not to give our enemies an excuse to use it against us.”

The apparent hint of compromise is unlikely to appease the protesters, most of whose demands have not been limited to changing the dress code and calling for an end to clerical rule.

In an attempt to further defuse the situation, Parliament Speaker Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf said the people were right to demand change and their demands would be met if they stayed away from the “criminals” who took to the streets.

“We believe that protests are not only just and a cause of progress, but we believe that these social movements will change policies and decisions if they are separated from violent people, criminals and separatists,” he said, using the terms officials. usually used for protestors.

By Michael Georgijs; Edited by Nick Macfie, Philippa Fletcher and Angus MacSwan

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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