Tehran: Iranian police have arrested a number of activists and journalists amid protests that have engulfed the country following the death of Mahsa Amini, who was arrested by Iran’s Morality Police.
Mahsa Amini, 22, fell into a coma and died while in the custody of Iran’s morality police for wearing the hijab in an “improper manner”, meaning she did not fully cover her hair.
Amini fell into a coma shortly after collapsing in a detention center before being pronounced dead on Friday, September 16.
The protests began on Saturday, September 17, during Amini’s funeral in the Kurdish region and are still ongoing across most of the country, sparking confrontations as security forces attempted to quell the demonstrations.
For eight nights, protesters confronted security forces, burned police vehicles and chanted anti-regime slogans in dozens of Iranian cities.
From remote villages to the buildings of Tehran University in the capital, Iranian women are leading anti-regime protests, frontline demonstrations and crowds, burning their mandatory headscarves, cutting their hair and dancing in public.
hundreds of prisoners
There were reports of mass arrests and General Azizullah Maliki, chief of police for Gilan province, announced that 739 rioters, including 60 women, were arrested in the province, according to the Tasnim news agency.
Security forces arrested a number of activists and journalists, and Sherif Mansour of the United States-based Committee to Protect Journalists reported the arrest of 11 journalists since Monday, including Niloofar Hamedi of the reformist newspaper Sharq, who reported on Amini’s death.
Reportedly, journalist Niloofar’s Twitter account was also suspended prior to his arrest. It is not yet clear whether Niloofer’s grip was suspended at the request of the Iranian government or for other reasons. With the arrest of Niloofer, Iranian security forces have also begun a crackdown on other protesters across the country.
Award-winning photographer Yalda Moayeri was arrested in Tehran on September 20 and transferred to Qarchak prison in the south of the capital.
Mukrian News Agency editor Masoud Kordpur and his brother Khosro were also arrested after covering the death of Mahsa Amini and their coverage of the protests in Iran.
Hengaw human rights organizations also reported the arrests of reporters Marzieh Talaee and Khatibzadeh.
Conflicting numbers of dead
As for the number of victims, the authorities have not yet released the death toll and there are conflicting unofficial figures ranging from 35 to 50 people.
State television reported the death toll had risen to 41. The number could be higher, however, as the Oslo-based opposition NGO Iran Human Rights reported that at least 50 people were killed in the crackdown on the demonstrations.
NetBlocks, an NGO that oversees network security and internet freedom, said Skype is now restricted in Iran as part of a crackdown on communications targeting other platforms including Instagram, WhatsApp and LinkedIn.
More repression after internet lockdown
Amnesty International late Friday warned of “the risk of further bloodshed amid a deliberate internet shutdown”.
Amnesty said the evidence it collected in 20 cities across Iran “reveals a horrifying pattern of repeated and unlawful direct shootings of protesters.”
Iran has severely restricted internet use to disrupt the gathering of protesters and prevent images of the crackdown from reaching the outside world.
The United States announced on Friday that it has eased restrictions on exports of technology imposed on Iran to expand access to internet services.
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said the new measures “will help counteract efforts by the Iranian government and oversight of its citizens.”