By World Israel News Staff
Iranian authorities have vowed to crack down on anti-regime protesters nearly two weeks after a young woman’s death sparked mass demonstrations against the government.
Riot police clashed with protesters at dozens of anti-regime rallies across Iran Tuesday as civil unrest over the country’s modesty police continues.
The demonstrations began on September 16, in response to the death that day of a 22-year-old Kurdish woman, Mahsa Amini. She had been arrested two days earlier by state modesty police for wearing an “improper hijab.”
Police beat Amini, leaving her with a severe head injury which ultimately led to her death.
The United Nations human rights office has claimed that the “morality police” have stepped up operations in recent months and resorted to more violent methods, including slapping women, beating them with batons and shoving them into police vehicles.
Amini’s death sparked spontaneous protests, which were violently subdued by Iranian police.
Despite the violent suppression of the initial demonstrations, the rallies spread across the country, inspiring regional strikes and other forms of protest.
Fueled further by allegations that a police officer raped a girl from the Baluch ethnic group, the protests intensified, leading to violent clashes between demonstrators and riot police.
Three people were killed when Iranian riot police clashed with demonstrators last Wednesday, while a cyberattack temporarily shut down internet operations for Iran’s Central Bank. One of the three fatalities was an Iranian police officer.
Videos of the clashes uploaded to social media showed Iranian riot police opening fire on protesters, prompting condemnations from NGOs that accused the Tehran regime of human rights violations.
Amnesty International said Iranian police have used “unlawful force, including by using live ammunition, birdshot and other metal pellets, killing dozens of people and injuring hundreds of others.”
Iran Human Rights, a watchdog group based in Oslo, claims that 76 people have died thus far in the crackdown, while Iranian state media claims that as of September 24, 41 people have died.
An estimated 3,000 demonstrators have been arrested, though the official figure quoted by state media over the weekend was closer to 1,200.
“For the Islamic Republic, the murder of Mahsa Amini is becoming a tipping point because compulsory hijab is not just a small piece of cloth,” Masih Alinejad, a U.S.-based Iranian journalist, told Reuters.
“It’s like the Berlin Wall. And if Iranian women manage to tear this wall down, the Islamic Republic won’t exist.”
Iran’s top prosecutor, Mohammad Jafar Montazeri, vowed to act “decisively” with protesters, threatening those arrested with “maximum punishment.”
“Those who have killed or wounded security agents, or destroyed public and private property, those who have attacked military and police centers, those with a record of taking part in previous unrest, thugs and criminals who have encouraged rioters, and foreigners who have been involved in protests should be held in prison until the court convenes and maximum punishment should be requested for them if there is evidence about what they did.”
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