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Iran braces for new demos after Mahsa Amini death

#Iran #braces #demos #Mahsa #Amini #death

Demonstrators are expected to take to streets across Iran again Saturday over Mahsa Amini despite internet cuts, as the protest movement sparked by outrage over her death in custody enters a fifth week.

Amini’s death on September 16, three days after she was arrested by Iran’s notorious morality police, has fuelled the biggest wave of street protests and violence seen in the country for years.

Young women have been at the forefront of the demonstrations, shouting anti-government slogans, removing and burning their headscarves, and standing up to security forces on the streets.

Online monitor NetBlocks on Saturday reported a “new major disruption to internet traffic in #Iran” from around 10:00 am (0630 GMT).

Despite blocked access to the internet, including platforms like Instagram and WhatsApp, activists issued an online appeal for a huge turnout for protests on Saturday under the catchcry “The beginning of the end!”

They have called on people across Iran to show up at spots where the security forces are not present and to chant “Death to the dictator” — a reference to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

“We have to be present in the squares, because the best VPN these days is the street,” they declared, referring to virtual private networks used to skirt internet restrictions.

In response to the call for fresh protests, one of Iran’s main revolutionary bodies, the Islamic Development Coordination Council, has urged people to “express their revolutionary anger against sedition and rioters”.

A call also went out this week for “retirees” of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to gather on Saturday given “the current sensitive situation”, according to a journalist at the Shargh newspaper.

– ‘Brave women of Iran’ –

The women-led protests have won support from the US president.

“I want you to know that we stand with the citizens, the brave women of Iran,” Joe Biden said late Friday.

“It stunned me what it awakened in Iran. It awakened something that I don’t think will be quieted for a long, long time,” he said.

“Women all over the world are being persecuted in various ways, but they should be able to wear in God’s name what they want to wear.”

Iran “has to end the violence against its own citizens simply exercising their fundamental rights”, he added.

At least 108 people have been killed in the Amini protests, and at least 93 more have died in separate clashes in Zahedan, capital of the southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchestan, according to Oslo-based group Iran Human Rights.

The unrest has continued despite what Amnesty International called an “unrelenting brutal crackdown” that included an “all-out attack on child protesters” — leading to the deaths of at least 23 minors.

The crackdown has drawn international condemnation and sanctions on Iran from Britain, Canada and the United States.

Iran’s supreme leader has accused the country’s enemies, including the United States and Israel, of fomenting the “riots”.

– ‘Great moment in history’ –

His foreign minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, has called on the European Union to adopt a “realistic approach” over the Amini protests as the bloc prepares to impose new sanctions on the Islamic republic.

“Who would believe that the death of one girl is so important to Westerners?” he said in a statement on Friday.

“If it is so, what did they do regarding the hundreds of thousands of martyrs and deaths in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Lebanon?” he added.

EU countries agreed this week to level new sanctions, and the move is due to be endorsed at the bloc’s foreign ministers’ meeting in Luxembourg on Monday.

In response to the protests, the clerical state’s security forces have also launched a campaign of mass arrests of artists, dissidents, journalists and sports stars.

An Iranian filmmaker said the authorities barred him from travelling to the London Film Festival over his support for the protests.

The British Film Institute said Mani Haghighi had been due to attend the festival for his latest film “Subtraction”, but the Iranian authorities “confiscated his passport”.

“Let me tell you that being here in Tehran right now is one of the greatest joys of my life,” said Haghighi.

“I cannot put into words the joy and the honour of being able to witness first-hand this great moment in history.

“So if this is a punishment for what I’ve done, then by all means, bring it on.”

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#Iran #braces #demos #Mahsa #Amini #death

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