Nine foreigners arrested over anti-hijab protests: Iran govt

Tehran: Iran’s intelligence ministry says it has arrested nine foreigners over the recent anti-hijab protests that have swept the country.

In a statement by state news agency IRNA on Friday, the ministry said those arrested included citizens from Germany, Poland, Italy, France, the Netherlands and Sweden.

The death in custody of Mahsa Amini, who was imprisoned for allegedly wearing the obligatory Islamic headscarf too loosely, has sparked an outburst of anger at Iran’s ruling clergy.

MS Education Academy

According to her family, she was told that she was beaten to death while in detention. Police say 22-year-old Amini died of a heart attack and deny mistreating her, and Iranian officials say her death is under investigation.

Iran has claimed that the daily protests that have gripped the country over the past two weeks were instigated by foreigners. Protesters have dismissed such claims, portraying their actions as a spontaneous uprising against the country’s strict dress code, including compulsory hijab for women in public.

Iran has a history of arresting individual foreigners, often claiming they were spies, without providing any evidence.

Critics have denounced the practice as an attempt by Iran to use detained foreigners as a bargaining chip for concessions from the international community.

In early June, Iran arrested two French men, Cecile Kohler, 37, and Chuck Paris, 69, for meeting with protesting teachers and attending an anti-government rally.

Also Read :  Senate review on free internet, distance learning laws sought

A number of Europeans have been arrested in Iran in recent months, including a Swedish tourist, two Frenchmen, a Polish scientist and others.

The arrests come as leaked government documents show Iran has ordered its security forces to seriously crack down on anti-government demonstrations that erupted earlier this month, Amnesty International said on Friday.

The London-based rights group said security forces had killed at least 52 people since protests over the death of Amini began nearly two weeks ago, including by firing live ammunition into crowds and beating protesters with batons.

Security forces are also said to have beaten and groped female protesters who removed their headscarves to protest the Iranian theocracy’s treatment of women.

The state news agency IRNA meanwhile reported renewed violence in the town of Zahedan near the border with Pakistan and Afghanistan. Gunmen were said to have opened fire and hurled incendiary bombs at a police station, sparking a scuffle with police.

It said police and bystanders were wounded, without elaborating, and didn’t say whether the violence was linked to the anti-government protests. The region has seen previous attacks on security forces, alleged by militant and separatist groups.

Also Read :  Iran protests: why the death of Mahsa Amini has reignited protests

Videos circulating on social media showed gunshots and a police vehicle on fire. Others showed crowds chanting against the government. Videos from elsewhere in Iran showed protests in Ahvaz in the southwest and Ardabil in the northwest.

Amnesty said it received a leaked copy of an official document saying that on September 21 the armed forces headquarters ordered commanders to seriously confront troublemakers and anti-revolutionaries. The rights group says the use of deadly force escalated later in the evening, with at least 34 people killed that night alone.

It said another leaked document showed that two days later, the commander of Mazandran province ordered the security forces to crack down mercilessly on riots by rioters and anti-revolutionaries, even causing deaths,” referring to those opposed to the Islamic Revolution in Iran of 1979 that brought the clergy to power.

The Iranian authorities knowingly chose to injure or kill people who took to the streets to express their anger at decades of oppression and injustice,” said Agnes Callamard, Secretary-General of Amnesty International.

Amid an epidemic of systematic impunity that has long reigned in Iran, dozens of men, women and children have been unlawfully killed in the latest round of bloodshed.

Amnesty did not say how they obtained the documents. There was no immediate comment from the Iranian authorities.

Also Read :  Committed Partnerships Are the Best Way to Ensure all Africans Have Access to Life-Saving Surgical Procedures

Iranian state television has reported that at least 41 protesters and police officers have been killed since the demonstrations began on September 17. An Associated Press tally of official statements by authorities put at least 14 dead, with more than 1,500 protesters arrested.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said Thursday that at least 28 reporters have been arrested.

Iranian authorities have severely restricted internet access, blocking access to Instagram and WhatsApp, popular social media applications also used by protesters to organize and share information.

That makes it difficult to gauge the scale of the protests, especially outside of the capital, Tehran. Iranian media have reported only sporadically on the demonstrations.

Iranians have long used virtual private networks and proxies to bypass government internet restrictions.

Shervin Hajipour, an amateur singer in Iran, recently posted a song on Instagram based on tweets about Amini, which received more than 40 million views in less than 48 hours before it was removed.

The Iranian human rights NGO said Hajipour had reportedly been arrested.

(Except for the headline, the story was not edited by Siasat staff and was published by a syndicated feed.)