More than 70 dead in a week as Iran steps up crackdown on Mahsa Amini protests: report
Iranian security forces have killed 72 people, including 56 in Kurdish-populated areas, in the past week alone in their crackdown on protests sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini, a rights group said on Tuesday.
The protests, which erupted in mid-September after the death of 22-year-old Amini in the custody of vice police, have become the biggest challenge for Iran’s religious leaders since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
As the wave of protests crosses ethnicities, social classes and provincial borders, authorities have responded with an intensified crackdown that has sparked an international outcry.
Iran has also launched repeated cross-border missile and drone strikes, most recently on Tuesday, against exiled Kurdish opposition groups it accuses of stoking protests from their bases in neighboring Iraq.
The Norwegian group Iran Human Rights (IHR) said in its latest report on violence in Iran that 416 people had been killed by security forces across the country, including 51 children and 21 women.
He said 72 people had lost their lives in the past week alone, including 56 in Kurdish-populated areas in the west where there has been an upsurge in protest activity in recent days.
Several cities in western Iran populated by Kurds, including Mahabad, Javanroud and Piranshahr, saw large protests, often beginning with the funerals of those who had already been killed in the protests.
The Norwegian-based rights group Hengaw, which focuses on Kurdish areas of Iran, accused Iranian security forces of firing machine guns directly at protesters and shelling residential areas.
– Internet outage –
Hengaw said five people were killed in Javanroud on Monday alone after thousands gathered for the funerals of crackdown victims who were killed over the weekend.
The group said it confirmed the killing of 42 Kurdish citizens of Iran in nine cities over the past week, nearly all killed by direct fire.
Monitors also accused Iran of imposing a nationwide mobile internet blackout on Monday at the height of protest activity.
Monitor Netblocks said on Tuesday that mobile internet has now been restored after a “3.5 hour cellular data outage” which also coincided with the Iranian football team’s refusal to sing the national anthem during the World Cup.
Free speech group Article 19 said it was alarmed that “reports of extreme state brutality continue outside Kurdistan alongside internet disruptions and shutdowns.” at national scale”.
Meanwhile, Hengaw posted a video of protesters trying to remove bird pellets from a protester’s body with a knife, saying people were afraid to go to hospital for fear of arrest.
– ‘Systematic murder’ –
The New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran on Monday urged the international community to act to prevent a massacre in the region.
“Unless the authorities of the Islamic Republic decide that the costs of slaughtering civilians to crush the ongoing protests in Iran are too high, they will continue to slaughter children, women and men with impunity in a desperate attempt to regain control,” CHRI Director Hadi Ghaemi said.
According to figures compiled by IHR, more than half of those killed by Iranian security forces in the crackdown died in provinces populated by ethnic minorities.
He said 126 people had been killed in the southeastern province of Sistan-Balochistan, largely populated by the Baloch Sunni minority, where protests had a distinct spark but fueled national anger.
Meanwhile, 48 people have been killed in Kurdistan, 45 in West Azerbaijan and 23 in areas of Kermanshah with a strong Kurdish presence, he added.
“The systematic killing of civilian protesters belonging to the Kurdish and Baloch minorities amounts to crimes against humanity,” said IHR director Mahmood Amiry Moghaddam.
The predominantly Sunni Kurds, often described as one of the largest stateless peoples in the world, constitute one of the largest non-Persian ethnic minority groups in Iran and also have significant minorities in neighboring Iraq and Turkey as well as in Syria.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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