(Photo credit: AP)
Protests in Iran have claimed the lives of at least 10 people, as citizens take to the streets for five days to demand answers for the death of 22-year old Mahsa Amini.
The Kurdish woman died in hospital three days after fainting in the public waiting room of a Tehran police station, after being called in for the alleged improper wearing of the hijab, a mandatory item of clothing for women in the Islamic Republic.
Four security officers were killed overnight on 21 September in different cities; furthermore, at least six civilians have lost their lives during the five days of mobilizations, which began after Amini’s funeral.
Authorities have denied that the security forces killed any protesters, suggesting instead they may have been shot by “armed dissidents.”
Internet access has reportedly been curbed in several cities, including access to social media applications Instagram and WhatsApp. At the same time, several government websites have come under cyber attack, allegedly by hacker collective Anonymous.
Protests took off in Iran following Amini’s funeral on Saturday.
While unverified eyewitness reports in Persian media claim Amini was “beaten” by officers inside a police van, officials released a video showing her entering the police station and sitting alongside dozens of other women.
Amini is later seen talking to a female officer before collapsing onto the floor. The footage further shows her being carried away on a stretcher into a waiting ambulance.
On Wednesday, the Director General of Forensic Medicine in Tehran, Mahdi Forosh, confirmed that there were no traces of physical violence or wounds on Amini’s head and face, and said “misleading information” had been spread about her.
Speaking with the state-run Tasnim News Agency, Amini’s father said his family wants “the perpetrators [to be] questioned in public as to why they did this and to be punished for their actions.”
Amjad Amini also denounced those “who seek to exploit the issue of Mahsa’s death,” saying the family has nothing to do with these groups.
On 22 September, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) issued a statement calling the protests “a conspiracy and an absurd attempt that is doomed to failure.”
“We expressed sympathy with the family and relatives of the late Mahsa Amini, and we have requested the judiciary to identify those who spread false news and rumors on social media as well as on the street and who endanger the psychological safety of society and to deal with them decisively,” the IRGC statement adds.
Speaking at the UN General Assembly on Wednesday, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said he promised Amini’s family that justice would be achieved for their daughter, adding that “judicial authorities will announce the outcome of the investigation into the incident once these are completed.”
Raisi also denounced western interference in the internal affairs of Iran.
“We have this double standard where attention is solely focused on one side,” Raisi said, questioning why similar attention is not afforded to the deaths of indigenous women in Canada, rampant police brutality in the US, and Israel’s human right violations in occupied Palestine.
Earlier in the week, Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Nasser Kanaani accused the US, EU, and other countries of meddling in Iran’s affairs and advised them to avoid “opportunistic behavior” and using the issue of human rights for political gain.
Kanaani also called the US “the biggest violator of the rights of the Iranian people” as a result of its “economic terrorism.”