2 dead as protests around Iran enter 4th week

SULIMANIYAH, Iraq –

Anti-government protests erupted in multiple locations across Iran on Saturday as the most sustained protests in years against a deeply entrenched theocracy entered their fourth week. At least two people were killed.

The marchers chanted anti-government slogans and twirled scarves in a sign of rejection of coercive religious dress codes. In some areas, traders closed their shops in response to a call from activists for a trade strike or to protect their goods from damage.

The protests erupted on September 17, after the burial of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish woman who died in the custody of Iran’s fearsome morality police. Amini had been detained for an alleged violation of strict Islamic dress codes for women. Since then, protests have spread across the country and been met with a fierce crackdown, in which dozens of people have reportedly been killed and hundreds arrested.

In the town of Sanandaj in the Kurdish-majority northern region, a man was shot dead on Saturday as he drove a car down a main thoroughfare, rights monitors said. The France-based Kurdistan Human Rights Network and the Hengaw Organization for Human Rights said the man was shot after he honked his horn at security forces stationed in the street. The horn has become one of the ways activists express civil disobedience. Video circulating online showed the slain man slumped over the steering wheel, as distraught witnesses cried out for help.

The semi-official Fars news agency, seen as close to the elite paramilitary force, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards, said Kurdistan’s police chief denied reports of live ammunition being used against protesters.

Fars claimed that residents of Pasdaran Street in Sanandaj said the victim was shot from inside the car without giving details. But photos of the dead man indicate he was shot from his left side, which means he probably wasn’t shot from inside the car. Blood can be seen dripping inside the driver’s side door.

A second protester was killed after security forces fired shots to disperse crowds in the city and 10 protesters were injured, rights monitors said.

A general strike was observed in the main streets of the city amid a heavy security presence and protesters burned tires in some areas. Patrols deterred mass gatherings in Sanandaj, but isolated protests continued in densely populated areas of the city.

Protests were also reported in the capital Tehran on Saturday, including small ones near the Sharif University of Technology, one of Iran’s main centers of learning and the scene of a violent government crackdown last weekend. . Authorities have closed the campus until further notice.

Social media footage showed protests also took place in the northeastern city of Mashhad.

Other protests broke out at Azad University, in northern Tehran, in other areas of the capital and in the city’s bazaar. Many stores were closed in central Tehran and near Tehran University.

President Ebrahim Raisi, in a meeting with female students from the all-female Al-Zahra University in Tehran, again alleged that foreign enemies were responsible for fomenting the protests. He made the request without giving details or providing evidence.

“The enemy thought that he could pursue his desires in the universities without knowing that our students and our professors were aware of this and that they would not allow the vain plans of the enemy to be carried out,” he said. declared.

Meanwhile, thousands of people in The Hague, Netherlands, chanted and sang during a solidarity demonstration in support of protesters in Iran.

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