- Commander of elite force issues one of harshest warnings yet
- Human rights groups report new demonstrations and bloodshed
- The Revolutionary Guard has not been deployed since the protests began
Oct 29 (Reuters) – The head of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guards warned protesters that Saturday would be their last day on the streets, in a sign that security forces could step up their already fierce crackdown on unrest raging in Iran. the country.
Iran has been rocked by protests since the death of a 22-year-old Kurdish woman. mahsa amini in the custody of morality police last month, posing one of the boldest challenges to clerical leadership since the 1979 revolution.
“Don’t take to the streets! Today is the last day of the riots,” Guards commander Hossein Salami said in some of the harshest language used in the crisis, which Iran’s leaders blame on their foreign enemies, including Israel and the United States.
“This sinister plan is a plan hatched … in the White House and the Zionist regime,” Salami said. “Do not sell your honor to the United States and do not slap the security forces that defend you.”
Iranians have defied such warnings throughout the popular uprising in which women have played a prominent role. There were more reports of new bloodshed and renewed protests on Saturday.
The human rights group Hengaw reported that security forces fired on students at a girls’ school in the city of Saqez. In another post, he said that security forces opened fire on students at the Kurdistan University of Medical Sciences, in Kurdistan’s provincial capital, Sanandaj.
Several students were injured, one of them shot in the head, Hengaw said. Reuters was unable to verify this report.
PROTESTERS ON TRIAL
The feared Revolutionary Guards, an elite force with a history of crushing dissent that reports directly to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has not been deployed since the demonstrations began last month.
But the warning from Salami, who was speaking at a funeral for victims killed in a attack this week claimed by the Islamic State, suggests Khamenei could unleash them in the face of relentless demonstrations now focused on toppling the Islamic Republic.
Videos posted on social media by activist groups purported to show protests at various universities across the country in cities including Kerman, Mashhad, Qazvin, Ahvaz, Arak, Kermanshah, Yazd and a dozen campuses in the capital Tehran.
The activist news agency HRANA published a video it said showed protesters at a university holding hands in a large circle and chanting: “If we don’t unite, they will kill us one by one.”
HRANA said 272 protesters had been killed in the unrest as of Friday, including 39 minors and 34 members of the security forces. Nearly 14,000 people have been arrested in protests in 129 towns and cities and some 115 universities.
A hardline Revolutionary Court has launched the trials of some of the 315 protesters indicted so far in Tehran, of whom at least five are charged with capital offences, the official IRNA news agency reported.
The defendants include a man accused of hitting and killing a police officer with his car and injuring five others, IRNA said. He is charged with “spreading corruption on earth,” a crime punishable by death under Iran’s Islamic law.
Another man is charged with the capital offense of “moharebeh”, an Islamic term meaning war against God, for allegedly attacking police with a knife and helping burn down a government building in a city near Tehran, IRNA added.
The court is chaired by Abolghassem Salavati, a judge whom the United States imposed sanctions in 2019 after accusing him of having punished Iranian citizens and dual nationals for exercising their freedoms of expression and assembly.
firstname.lastname@example.org; Edited by Andrew Cawthorne, Helen Popper and Frances Kerry
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