Iran protests: Death toll mounts amid global outrage over Mahsa Amini’s death| SBS News

At least 17 people have been killed in protests across Iran over the death in custody of Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini, but a rights group said the death toll is almost twice as high.
Ms Amini, 22, died last week after she was arrested by the Islamic Republic’s morality police for allegedly wearing a hijab headscarf in an “improper” way – news of her death sparked widespread outrage.

“Death to the dictator” and “woman, life, freedom”, protesters have been heard shouting in video footage shared widely online during the biggest wave of demonstrations to rock the country in almost three years.

The US Treasury Department has placed the morality police on its sanctions blacklist, holding it responsible for Ms Amini’s death and citing the “abuse and violence against Iranian women and the violation of the rights of peaceful Iranian protesters”.
Some Iranian women have burnt their scarves and symbolically cut their hair in protest at the strict dress code, in defiant actions echoed in solidarity protests from New York to Istanbul.

The official death toll rose to at least 17, including five security personnel, according to local media, but Iran Human Rights, an Oslo-based non-governmental organisation, said it had counted at least 31 civilian deaths.

CNN interview cancelled over headscarf requirement

CNN journalist Christiane Amanpour said she had been scheduled to conduct an interview with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, which was cancelled after she declined the president’s suggestion to wear a headscarf.
Amanpour recounted a conversation with an aide of Mr Raisi, who said the request was made due to it being the holy months of Muharram and Safar.
The veteran reporter, who has Iranian heritage and lived there as a child, said she politely declined the suggestion.
“We are in New York, where there is no law or tradition regarding headscarves. I pointed out that no previous Iranian president has required this when I have interviewed them outside Iran,” she wrote on Twitter.
“The aide made it clear that the interview would not happen if I did not wear a headscarf. He said it was ‘a matter of respect,’ and referred to ‘the situation in Iran’ – alluding to the protests sweeping the country.”

Amanpour said she could not agree with the “unprecedented and unexpected condition,” and as a result the interview was cancelled.

Iranians have rallied “to achieve their fundamental rights and human dignity … and the government is responding to their peaceful protest with bullets,” Iran Human Rights director Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam said.
Security forces have fired at crowds with birdshot and metal pellets, and also deployed tear gas and water cannons, Amnesty International and other human rights groups said.

Demonstrators have hurled stones at them, set fire to police cars and chanted anti-government slogans, the official IRNA news agency said.

Images have shown protesters defacing or burning images of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and late Revolutionary Guards commander Qasem Soleimani.

On Thursday, authorities arrested two female photographers, Niloufar Hamedi, of the reformist newspaper Shargh, and Yalda Moayeri, who works for the local press, as well as activist Mohammad-Reza Jalaipour, Iranian media said.

Dozens of people stage a demonstration to protest the death of a 22-year-old woman under custody in Tehran Iran on 21 September, 2022. Source: Getty / (Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

‘I’m frightened’

There were fears violence could escalate further after Iran restricted internet access and blocked messaging apps including WhatsApp and Instagram, as they have done during past crackdowns.
The two apps were the most widely used in Iran after authorities blocked other platforms in recent years, including Facebook and Twitter.

“People in Iran are being cut off from online apps and services,” Instagram chief Adam Mosseri tweeted, adding that “we hope their right to be online will be reinstated quickly”.

Activists have said that Ms Amini, whose Kurdish first name is Jhina, suffered a fatal blow to the head after her arrest in Tehran – a claim denied by officials.
Iranian women on the streets of Tehran told AFP they were now more careful about their dress to avoid run-ins with the morality police.
“I’m frightened,” said Nazanin, a 23-year-old nurse who asked to be identified by her first name only for safety reasons, adding she believed the morality police “shouldn’t confront people at all”.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi complained of a “double standard” and pointed to Israeli actions in the Palestinian territories and the deaths of indigenous women in Canada. Source: AFP / (Photo by ED JONES/AFP via Getty Images)

Iran complains of double standard over human rights

Iran’s ultra-conservative President Ebrahim Raisi, also speaking at the UN, complained of a “double standard” and pointed to Israeli actions in the Palestinian territories and the deaths of indigenous women in Canada, and the actions of US police.
But he later told reporters that Ms Amini’s death “will certainly be investigated”, confirming an earlier announcement by authorities.
Mr Raisi’s comments came as he turned the tables on the country he was visiting for the United Nations General Assembly and asked about all the people killed by US police.
“Did all these deaths get investigated?” Raisi said at a news conference held in New York on the sidelines of the annual meeting of the world’s leaders.
He said Ms Amini’s death “must certainly be investigated”.
“I contacted her family at the very first opportunity and I assured them we would continue steadfastly to investigate that incident. … Our utmost preoccupation is the safeguarding of the rights of every citizen.”

In a speech at the UN on Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid accused Tehran’s leadership of conducting an “orchestra of hate” against Jews, and said Iran’s ideologues “hate and kill Muslims who think differently, like Salman Rushdie and Mahsa Amini”.

The protests are among the most serious in Iran since November 2019 unrest sparked by a sharp rise in petrol prices. The crackdown then killed hundreds, according to Amnesty.
The unrest comes at a particularly sensitive time for the leadership, as the Iranian economy remains mired in a crisis largely caused by sanctions over its nuclear programme.

Iran’s powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps labelled the protests a “conspiracy of the enemy” and “a vain attempt doomed to failure”, while praising the “efforts and sacrifices of the police”.

It also denounced what it called “the psychological operation and the excessive media war” during the protests which it said had been started “under the pretext of the death of one of the compatriots”.
A rally in support of the hijab and a conservative dress code for women was announced for Friday by Iran’s Islamic Development Coordination Council, IRNA reported.

Demonstrations would be held across Iran, the news agency said, “to condemn the indecent actions” of those who had insulted Islam and the nation, destroyed public property, undermined public security and “desecrated the women’s hijab”.