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Security forces fire tear gas at students defying ultimatum of anti-Iran protests

Security forces fire tear gas at students defying ultimatum of anti-Iran protests
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  • Protests show no signs of abating amid fierce state warnings
  • University students clash with security forces
  • Journalists demand the release of their imprisoned colleagues
  • Rights groups denounce arrests of activists and students

DUBAI, Oct 30 (Reuters) – Protests in Iran entered a more violent phase on Sunday as students, who defied an ultimatum from the Revolutionary Guards and a warning from the president, were greeted with tear gas and gunfire from security forces. , social media videos. He showed.

Clashes at dozens of universities raised the threat of a harsher crackdown in a seventh week of demonstrations sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini after she was arrested by morality police for clothing deemed inappropriate.

“Security is the red line of the Islamic Republic, and we will not allow the enemy to in any way implement his plans to undermine this valuable national asset,” hardline President Ebrahim Raisi said, according to state media.

Iranians from all walks of life have taken to the streets since Amini’s death in protests that the clerical rulers said were endangering the security of the Islamic Republic.

Authorities have accused Islamic Iran’s archenemies, the United States and Israel, and their local proxies of being behind the riots to destabilize the country.

What began as outrage over Amini’s death on September 1. September 16 has become one of the toughest challenges for clerical rulers since the 1979 revolution, with some protesters calling for the death of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The top commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards told protesters that Saturday would be their last day on the streets, the harshest warning yet from Iranian authorities.

However, videos on social media, not verifiable by Reuters, showed clashes between students and riot police and Basij forces on Sunday at universities across Iran.

A video showed a member of the Basij forces firing a weapon at point-blank range at students protesting at a branch of Azad University in Tehran. Gunshots were also heard in a video shared by the rights group HENGAW of the protests at Kurdistan University in Sanandaj.

Videos from universities in some other cities also showed Basij forces opening fire on students.

Across the country, security forces attempted to block students inside university buildings, firing tear gas and beating protesters with sticks. The students, who appeared to be unarmed, backed away, some chanting “Dishonored Basij, get lost” and “Death to Khamenei.”

HISTORY OF THE AGGRESSIONS

Social media reported arrests of at least a dozen doctors, journalists and artists since Saturday. The activist news agency HRANA said 283 protesters had been killed in the unrest as of Saturday, including 44 minors. Some 34 members of the security forces were also killed.

More than 14,000 people have been arrested, including 253 students, in protests in 132 cities and towns and 122 universities, it said.

A police motorcycle burns during a protest over the death of Mahsa Amini, a woman who died after being arrested by the Islamic republic’s “morality police,” in Tehran, Iran, on September 19, 2022. WANA (Western Asian News Agency) via REUTERS

The Guard and its affiliated Basij force have crushed dissent in the past. They said on Sunday that “seditionists” were insulting them at universities and in the streets, and warned they could use more force if anti-government unrest continued.

“Until now, the Basijis have shown restraint and have been patient,” the head of the Revolutionary Guard in Khorasan Junubi province, Brigadier General Mohammadreza Mahdavi, was quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA.

“But it will be out of our control if the situation continues.”

CALL FOR JOURNALISTS

More than 300 Iranian journalists demanded the release of two colleagues jailed for their coverage of Amini in a statement published by Iran’s Etemad and other newspapers on Sunday.

Niloofar Hamedi took a photo of Amini’s parents hugging each other in a Tehran hospital where their daughter lay in a coma.

The image, which Hamedi posted on Twitter, was the first signal to the world that all was not well with Amini, who had been detained three days earlier by Iran’s morality police for what they deemed inappropriate dress.

Elaheh Mohammadi covered Amini’s funeral in his Kurdish hometown of Saqez, where the protests began. A joint statement issued by Iran’s Intelligence Ministry and the Revolutionary Guards intelligence organization on Friday accused Hamedi and Mohammadi of being foreign CIA agents.

Students and women have played a prominent role in the riots, burning their veils as crowds call for the fall of the Islamic Republic, which came to power in 1979.

An official said on Sunday that the establishment had no plans to withdraw from the mandatory veil, but that it should be “wise” about enforcing it.

“Removing the veil is against our law and this headquarters will not withdraw from its position,” Ali Khanmohammadi, spokesman for the Iran headquarters for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, told the Khabaronline website.

“However, our actions must be wise to avoid giving enemies a pretext to use against us.”

In another apparent effort to defuse the situation, Parliament Speaker Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf said the people were right to call for reforms and their demands would be met if they distanced themselves from “criminals” taking to the streets.

“We believe that the protests are not only correct and the cause of progress, but we also believe that these social movements are going to change policies and decisions, as long as they separate themselves from the violent, criminal and separatist ones,” he said in official terms. typically used for protesters.

Written by Michael Georgy and Parisa Hafezi; Edited by Nick Macfie, Philippa Fletcher, Angus MacSwan and Barbara Lewis

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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