New Iranian protests break out at universities in the Kurdish region

New Iranian protests break out at universities in the Kurdish region


In Iran, fresh protests erupted at universities and in the largely Kurdish northwest on Sunday, keeping a seven-week anti-regime movement going despite a crackdown.

The protests, sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini in mid-September after she was arrested for allegedly flouting strict dress codes for women, have become the biggest challenge to clerical leadership since the 1979 revolution.

Unlike the November 2019 demonstrations, they have been nationwide, spread across social classes, universities, streets and even schools, and have shown no sign of abating even as the death toll nears 200, according to a rights group.

Another rights group, Norway-based Hengaw, said security forces opened fire on Sunday at a protest in Marivan, a town in Kurdistan province, injuring 35 people.

It was not possible to check the toll immediately.

The latest protest was sparked by the death of a Kurdish student from Marivan, Nasrin Ghadri, in Tehran, who died on Saturday after being hit on the head by police, Hengaw said.

The Iranian authorities have not yet commented on the cause of death.

Hengaw said she was buried at dawn without a burial ceremony at the urging of authorities, who feared the event could become a flashpoint for protests.

Authorities then sent reinforcements to the area, she added.

– ‘Basic changes’ –

Since the death of Amini, herself a Kurd from the city of Saqez in the province of Kurdistan, Kurdish-populated regions have been the scene of protests.

Universities have also become important hotbeds of protest. Iran Human Rights (IHR), a Norway-based organization, said students at Tehran’s Sharif University were staging sit-ins in support of arrested colleagues on Sunday.

Students at the University of Babol in northern Iran have since removed the gender segregation barriers in their dining hall that were erected by law, she added.

The protests have been sustained by a myriad of different tactics, with observers noting a relatively recent trend of young people stripping off clergymen’s turbans in the streets.

IHR said Saturday that at least 186 people were killed in the crackdown on Mahsa Amini protests, 10 more than Wednesday.

Another 118 people have died since September 30 in various protests in Sistan-Baluchistan, a mainly Sunni Muslim province in the southeast, causing another major headache for the regime.

According to IHR, security forces killed at least 16 people with live ammunition as protests erupted after prayers in the Sistan-Baluchistan town of Khash on Friday.

Amnesty International, meanwhile, said up to 10 people were killed in Friday’s violence in Khash and accused security forces of shooting at protesters from rooftops.

“Iranians continue to take to the streets and are more determined than ever to bring about fundamental change,” said IHR Director Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam. “The Islamic Republic’s answer is more violence.”

The crackdown on protests has also sidelined efforts to revive the 2015 deal on Iran’s nuclear program and increased focus on Tehran’s ties with Russia — particularly the delivery to Moscow of drones used in the Ukraine war.

– violent action –

The protests were fueled by anger at the restrictive dress code for women, for which Amini was arrested. But they have now grown into a broad movement against the theocracy that has ruled Iran since the Shah was overthrown.

Meanwhile, in Sistan-Baluchistan – where the alleged rape of a girl in police custody sparked protests – Sunnis have long felt discriminated against by the country’s Shia leadership.

The IHR also warned that “dozens” of arrested protesters have been charged with alleged crimes that could sentence them to death — by just a handful who previously reported may have faced that fate.

In addition to thousands of ordinary citizens, prominent activists, journalists and artists such as influential rapper Toomaj Salehi were arrested in the raid.

There are also growing concerns about the well-being of Wall Street Journal contributor and free speech activist Hossein Ronaghi, who was arrested in September and whose family is on a hunger strike in Evin prison.

In a new blow, his father Ahmad is now in intensive care after suffering a heart attack while conducting a vigil outside of Evin, Hossein Ronaghi’s brother Hassan wrote on Twitter.

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