Following more than a week of anti-government rallies, Iran’s president has promised to retaliate against demonstrators.
With the demonstrations now present in the majority of Iran’s 31 provinces, President Ebrahim Raisi promised to “deal severely” with them.
Since protests erupted after the death of a lady in police custody, authorities report that 35 people have died.
Following her arrest for allegedly flouting the headscarf laws, Mahsa Amini passed away.
Police allegedly used a baton to strike Ms. Amini in the head and hit her head on a car. She experienced “sudden heart failure,” according to the police, who claim there is no proof of any abuse.
Although Mr. Raisi has stated that an investigation into her death would be conducted, his interior minister, Ahmad Vahidi, has maintained that Ms. Amini was not beaten.
“Reports from oversight bodies were received, witnesses were questioned, films were inspected, forensic opinions were acquired, and it was concluded that there had been no beating,” the man said.
Violent disturbance has been recorded on video in dozens of towns around the nation and has been making the rounds on social media. In some of the videos, security agents can be seen firing what appears to be live ammunition on protestors in the northwest cities of Piranshahr, Mahabad, and Urmia.
Amnesty International has expressed concern that the data it has obtained indicates “a horrific pattern of Iranian security personnel deliberately and unlawfully shooting live fire at protestors.”
It further stated that on Wednesday night alone, 19 individuals, including three children, were killed by gunfire by government forces. The BBC is unable to independently confirm this.
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Since Mr. Raisi has labeled the demonstrations as “riots,” CNN has canceled its interview with the Iranian president. He urged Iran to “deal forcefully with those who threaten the nation’s security and quiet.”
Security forces have taken custody of hundreds of individuals; the police commander in the northwestern province of Guilan announced on Saturday that 739 people, including 60 women, had been taken into custody in his area alone.
Some of those detained have provided testimony to the BBC claiming they were beaten. One said that he was “ruthlessly” beaten before being imprisoned with hundreds of others in a tiny cell without access to food, drink, or restrooms.
Additionally, activists and independent media are the targets of a campaign by government authorities. 11 journalists have reportedly been held since Monday, according to US-based media watchdog the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Oshnavieh, a border town in western Iran, was temporarily under the control of protestors, according to individuals who spoke to the BBC.
Locals claimed to have lost control overnight to protesters, who then reclaimed it on Saturday, according to reports to the BBC. Security officers and government officials had gone, they said. Videos that were uploaded from the area showed sizable throngs of people walking through the streets of the city without any police presence, while loud explosions could be heard.
According to state television, the Basji Organization, a militia linked to the government’s Revolutionary Guards, had three outposts seized by protestors.
With Secretary of State Antony Blinken promising to “assist make sure the Iranian people are not kept isolated and in the dark,” the US says it would relax internet restrictions on Iran in response to Tehran’s crackdown on the protesters.