Students defy Iran protest ultimatum, unrest enters more dangerous phase

  • Protests show no signs of abating amid strong state warnings
  • University students clash with security forces
  • The journalists demand the release of their imprisoned colleagues
  • Rights groups report arrests of activists, students

DUBAI, Oct 30 (Reuters) – Weeks of protests in Iran entered a more violent phase on Sunday as students defied an ultimatum from the Revolutionary Guards and were tear gassed, beaten and shot by riot police and the militia, they showed videos from social networks.

Clashes at dozens of universities led to the threat of a tougher crackdown in the seventh week of protests since Mahsa Amini, 22, died after being arrested by moral police for wearing what was deemed inappropriate.

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

What began as outrage over Amini’s death on September 16 has turned into one of the toughest challenges to the clerical rulers since the 1979 revolution, with some protesters calling for the death of the supreme leader ayatollah. there Ali Khamenei.

The top commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards told protesters that Saturday would be their last day to take to the streets, the harshest warning yet from Iranian authorities.

However, videos on social media, which could not be verified by Reuters, showed clashes between students and riot police and Basij forces on Sunday at universities across Iran.

A video showed a member of the Basij forces firing a pistol at close range at protesting students at a branch of Tehran’s Azad University. Gunshots were also heard in a video shared by rights group HENGAW of the protests at Kurdistan University in Sanandaj.

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

Across the country, security forces tried to block students inside university buildings, firing tear gas and beating protesters with sticks. The students, who appeared to be unarmed, backed away, with some chanting “The disgraced Basij perish” and “Death to Khamenei”.


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

The activist news agency HRANA said 283 protesters had been killed in the unrest as of Saturday, including 44 minors. 34 members of the security forces were also killed.

More than 14,000 people have been arrested, including 253 students, in protests in 132 cities and towns and 122 universities, he said.

The Guards and their affiliated Basij force have crushed dissent in the past. They said on Sunday that “seditionists” were insulting them in universities and in the streets, and warned that they could use more force if anti-government unrest continued.

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

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“But it will be out of our control if the situation continues.”


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

Niloofar Hamedi took a picture of Amini’s parents hugging in a Tehran hospital where their daughter lay in a coma.

The image, which Hamedi posted on Twitter, was the first sign to the world that all was not well with Amini, who had been detained three days earlier by Iran’s morality police for what they considered inappropriate attire.

Elaheh Mohammadi covered Amini’s funeral in his Kurdish hometown of Saqez, where the protests began. A joint statement released Friday by Iran’s intelligence ministry and the Revolutionary Guards intelligence organization had accused Hamedi and Mohammadi of being foreign CIA agents.

The arrests match an official narrative that Iran’s archenemy, the United States, Israel and other Western powers and their local agents are behind the unrest and are bent on destabilizing the country.

At least 40 journalists have been detained in the past six weeks, according to rights groups, and the number is growing.

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

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An official said on Sunday that the establishment had no plans to withdraw from the veil requirement, but would have to be “wise” about enforcement.

“Removing the veil is against our law and this headquarters will not withdraw from its position,” Ali Khanmohammadi, a spokesman for Iran’s headquarters for the promotion of virtue and prevention of vice, told the Khabaronline website.

“However, our actions should be wise to avoid giving enemies a pretext to use it against us.”

The apparent hint of compromise is unlikely to quell the protesters, most of whose demands have gone beyond dress code changes to an end to clerical rule.

In another apparent attempt to defuse the situation, Parliament Speaker Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf said people were right to call for change and their demands would be met if they distanced themselves from the “criminals” on the streets.

“We believe that protests are not only right and the cause of progress, but we also believe that these social movements will change policies and decisions, as long as they are separated from violent people, criminals and separatists,” he said, using official terms . commonly used for protesters.

Written by Michael Georgy; Editing by Nick Macfie, Philippa Fletcher and Angus MacSwan

Our standards: the Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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