Iran protests show no sign of slowing as anger over ‘morality police’ grows

Iran on Monday accused the United States and Europe of directly fueling the deadly popular uprising that has engulfed the country over the past 10 days, while the West threatened to impose new economic sanctions on Tehran and called for an immediate end to the “barbaric practices” of the Iranians. Security forces are treating protesters.

The theocratic regime’s aging leader has shut out repeated domestic challenges to its four-year rule, but the recent persistence of protests – and their swift links to economic and other grievances – may prove to be a slap in the face of the mullahs’ power. the most serious threat.

The death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of the country’s Islamic “morality police” earlier this month sparked mass demonstrations across Iran, according to Iran’s anti-regime. Hundreds of lives and resulting in thousands of arrests. Dissent organization. Monday marked the 10th consecutive day of protests since the death of Amini, who was arrested on suspicion of wearing a hijab too loose in an incident that touched a nerve across Iranian society and led to stricter versions of the country. Islam’s near-unprecedented outcry against the law.

It was the first major wave of protests to hit Iran since hardline President Ibrahim Raisi took office last year and the largest since a nationwide uprising in 2019 triggered by a sharp rise in fuel prices. Raisi’s government is already dealing with an economic crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic that has hit Iran particularly hard, and uncertainty over the health of Supreme Leader Ayatollah ali Khamenei, the country’s ultimate political and Religious authority, also following the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini who led the 1979 Iranian Revolution.

Anti-regime activists said the Iranian government appeared to have been caught off guard by the speed and intensity of the recent demonstrations, but it was unclear whether there was any real threat to the survival of Lacey’s government.

Mr Raisi has promised a full investigation into the circumstances behind Amini’s death, which officials claim was due to pre-existing heart problems in custody – a story that was widely questioned before photos showed the victim’s apparently abusive face listed.

The protests have also deepened the rift between Iran and the West, even as the two sides are negotiating to revive a 2015 deal to limit Iran’s nuclear program. Those talks have been overshadowed in recent days as the United States and Europe have publicly attacked the Iranian government’s handling of the protests.

Meanwhile, leading Iranian officials claimed on Monday that the United States and Europe were directly involved in the demonstrations to destabilize the country and overthrow the country’s Islamic government.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said in an Instagram post on Monday: “Political leaders in the United States and Europe, their media, exploited the tragic events under investigation and used slogans in support of the rights of the Iranian nation. .” The media reported his remarks.

“They did everything they could to support the riots,” he said. “Attempts to violate Iran’s sovereignty will not go unanswered.”

In what may be a related incident, Iranian government forces launched a wave of drone and artillery attacks on what the government said were bases of Iranian Kurdish separatists in northern Iraq, the Associated Press reported, citing official Iranian sources. A semi-official news agency reported. Mahsa Amini was of Iranian-Kurdish descent, and her death sparked particular outrage in Kurdish-dominated lands.

Diplomatic sparring

The diplomatic debate over who is responsible for the uprising has intensified in recent days. On Sunday, Iran summoned the British ambassador to Tehran to protest British media coverage of the demonstrations. On Monday, Germany summoned the Iranian ambassador to demand that Tehran stop its crackdown on protesters.

“We call on the Iranian authorities to allow peaceful protests and refrain from further violence – especially lethal violence – against protesters,” Germany’s foreign ministry said after the meeting, according to Reuters. “We also communicated directly to the Iranian ambassador in Berlin today. to that.”

German officials reportedly opened the door to more economic sanctions on Tehran in response to the crackdown on protesters, and a foreign ministry spokesman told reporters that “we will consider all options” as the situation develops.

The Biden administration on Friday imposed economic sanctions on Iran’s ethics police and key officials of numerous Iranian security services and government agencies. The U.S. Treasury Department said in a statement that the move was in direct response to “the recent death of Mahsa Amini, 22, who was recently arrested and detained on suspicion of improperly wearing a headscarf.” The government has also taken steps to provide more internet access to Iranian citizens who have found their ability to communicate limited amid a nationwide crackdown on social media.

“We are doing everything we can to enable the Iranian people to exercise these universal rights,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters on Monday.

Price also condemned Iran’s treatment of protesters.

“Iran’s leaders should listen to the protesters and not shoot at them,” he said.

Private rights groups have also sharply criticized Iran’s crackdown and shut down popular social media networks to prevent demonstrators from coordinating their tactics.

Amnesty International has accused the government of a “harrowing pattern” of “deliberately and illegally firing live ammunition at protesters”.

“The rising death toll is a shocking demonstration of how relentless the authorities’ attack on human life is in the darkness of the internet shutdown,” Heba Morayev, the London-based group’s Middle East director, said in a statement. Say.

While it is widely believed that security forces have killed the demonstrators, the exact death toll remains unclear. At least 41 protesters and police have been killed since the uprising began on Sept. 17, the Associated Press quoted Iranian state television as saying Sunday night.

But other sources say the death toll is much higher. Information released Monday by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) — an umbrella group for Iranian dissidents opposed to the theocracy in Tehran — estimates that 200 people have died so far. The group said 59 of them had been identified.

Citing sources inside Iran linked to Iran’s main opposition group Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK), the NCRI said the protests had spread to 154 cities. About 10,000 Iranians have been detained so far, the group said.

For the Lacey regime, the ongoing protests have drawn attention to the disconnect between the Tehran government and the Iranian population, analysts said. The rift deepened after the country’s strict adherence to Islamic law appeared to have led directly to Amini’s death.

“Amini’s tragic death is yet another reminder of how Tehran’s Islamic rulers turn a deaf ear to the demands of the Iranian people. Opposition to mandatory veils or headscarves is a long list of public discontent,” said Alex Wa, director of the Iran Program at the Middle East Institute Tanka said.

“The violence that led to Amini’s death was no accident,” he wrote in a recent analysis for the journal Foreign Policy. “This is an important part of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s approach to any political dissent. He remains convinced that violent repression will drive protesters to retreat. But his policy choices have only deepened public anger against the Islamic Republic. Khamenei Not only is Iraq inciting the Iranian people against the regime, but his insistence on the mandatory wearing of the hijab is dividing the Islamic cleric class.”

This article is based in part on the Cable Services report.

Source link