Iran says it arrested nine foreigners over anti-hijab protests

Iran’s Intelligence Ministry said it arrested nine foreigners during recent anti-hijab protests that swept the country.

In a statement released by the official IRNA news agency, the ministry said on Friday that those arrested include German, Polish, Italian, French, Dutch and Swedish citizens.

The death in police custody of Mahsa Amini, detained for allegedly wearing the compulsory Islamic headscarf too loosely, has sparked a wave of anger against Iran’s ruling clerics.

Her family say they were told she had been beaten to death in custody. Police say Amini, 22, died of a heart attack and deny abusing her, and Iranian officials say her death is being investigated.

Iran has claimed that the daily protests that have swept the country for the past two weeks were started by foreigners. Protesters have denied the allegations, describing their actions as a spontaneous uprising against the country’s strict dress code, including compulsory hijab for women in public.

Iran has detained foreigners in the past, often on the pretext that they were spies without providing evidence.

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

Earlier in June, Iran arrested two French citizens, Cécile Kohler, 37, and Chuck Paris, 69, for meeting protesting teachers and participating in an anti-government rally.

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

The arrests come as leaked government documents show Iran has ordered its security forces to come down hard on anti-government protests 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 Amini’s death began nearly two weeks ago, including firing live ammunition into crowds and beating protesters with batons.

It says security forces have also beaten and groped women protesters who remove their headscarves to protest Iran’s theocracy’s treatment of women.

The state-run IRNA news agency reported renewed violence in the town of Zahedan, near the borders with Pakistan and Afghanistan. He said gunmen opened fire and threw firebombs at a police station, sparking a battle with police.

He said police and bystanders were injured, without giving further details, and did not say whether the violence was linked to anti-government protests. The region has already seen attacks on security forces claimed by militant and separatist groups.

Videos circulating on social media showed gunfire and a burning police vehicle. 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 obtained a leaked copy of an official document stating that the Armed Forces Headquarters had ordered commanders on September 21 to sternly confront troublemakers and anti-revolutionaries. The rights group says the use of lethal force escalated later that evening, with at least 34 people killed that night alone.

He said another leaked document shows that two days later, the Mazandran province commander ordered the security forces to confront without mercy, going so far as to cause deaths, disturbances by rioters and anti-revolutionaries,” referring to those who oppose the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran. , who brought the clerics to power.

The Iranian authorities have knowingly decided to harm or kill people who have taken to the streets to express their anger at decades of repression and injustice,” said Agnès Callamard, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

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

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

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

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

Iranian authorities have severely restricted internet access and blocked access to Instagram and WhatsApp, popular social media apps that are also used by protesters to organize and share information.

It is therefore difficult to assess the scale of the protests, especially outside the capital, Tehran. Iranian media only sporadically covered the protests.

Iranians have long used virtual private networks and proxies to circumvent government-imposed internet restrictions.

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

The Iranian non-governmental human rights organization said Hajipour was reportedly arrested.

(Only the title and image of this report may have been edited by Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

Comments are closed.