Iran enters ‘critical’ phase as it tries to quell anti-regime protests | Iran
IRan’s crackdown on anti-regime protests appears to have entered a dangerous new phase, with activists accusing state forces of deploying heavy weapons and helicopters and a UN official describing the situation as “critical”.
A nationwide uprising has rocked the country since the September death of Mahsa Amini, 22, who was allegedly beaten into a coma by the Islamic Republic’s ‘morality police’ after they arrested her for wearing a headscarf deemed inappropriate .
Since then, hundreds have been killed in a bloody crackdown on a popular uprising calling for an end to the country’s decades-long authoritarian rule by the country’s top clerics.
Government attacks on rallies intensified over the weekend in predominantly Kurdish parts of Iran, with videos showing scenes reminiscent of a war zone.
Hengaw, a Norway-based rights group that monitors abuses, released footage on Monday of what it said were state forces moving into the towns of Bukan and Mahabad. The armed convoy included vans with mounted machine guns.
In another video, people tried to pull out the lifeless body of a man who had fallen on the street as others ran for cover from the sound of gunfire. “The intensity of the barrage is so severe that people are unable to even move the victim’s body,” Hengaw said. “This is the genocide of the Islamic Republic against Kurdistan.”
On Tuesday, the rights group released footage believed to be from the town of Javanrud in which gunmen believed to be security forces shout “God is great” as they fire assault rifles into deserted streets filled with debris and rubble. another video showed helicopters flying over urban areas.
The Guardian is unable to confirm the authenticity of the videos due to reporting restrictions inside Iran.
Faced with one of the boldest challenges to its absolute rule since the 1979 revolution that toppled the pro-Western Shah of Iran, Tehran has shut down internet access in many areas. He has repeatedly accused foreign enemies and their agents of orchestrating the protests and accuses “terrorists” of killing dozens of members of the security forces.
However, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said more than 300 people had been killed so far in the Iranian crackdown, including more than 40 children. These killings took place across the country, with deaths reported in 25 of the 31 provinces.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Turk, said on Tuesday that the rising death toll in protests in Iran, including those of two children this weekend, “and the hardening of the response of security forces, underline the critical situation in Iran”. the country”.
OHCHR spokesman Jeremy Laurence said reports coming mainly from Kurdish towns were particularly distressing, with accounts of more than 40 people killed by security forces in the past week.
“A significant number of security forces have also been deployed in recent days,” he said.
“We urge authorities to respond to demands for equality, dignity and human rights, instead of using unnecessary or disproportionate force to quell protests,” he added. “The lack of accountability for gross human rights violations in Iran remains persistent and contributes to growing grievances.
Authorities have arrested thousands of people and six people linked to the protests have been sentenced to death. In many cases, the police refuse to return the bodies of those killed to their families, preventing them from organizing a proper burial.
Later this week, the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva will hold a debate on the protests. It is expected to be attended by diplomats as well as witnesses and victims.
Iran’s ayatollahs have never allowed anti-regime critics to voice their opinions and helped Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad stifle a similar protest movement in his country a decade ago using lethal force at a scale such that they forced an armed uprising.
Iran’s government says armed militants fired on its forces, and on Tuesday the semi-official Tasnim news agency said Iran’s Revolutionary Guards had targeted ‘separatist terrorists’ in neighboring Iraq with missiles and drones.
Tehran accuses Iranian Kurdish groups of taking refuge in Iraqi Kurdistan. “During today’s operation, the base of a separatist terrorist group near Kirkuk, known as the Free Kurdistan Party, was targeted by missiles and suicide drones,” Tasnim said.