Iran has sent police to the streets in hopes of ending protests that have spread to at least 15 cities, as local media and rights groups have reported that a minimum of six people had been killed in crackdowns.
Over the last five days, protests have engulfed the country after the death-in-custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was arrested by the morality police after she was deemed not to have been wearing the hijab appropriately.
There have been reports of several internet blackouts in parts of the country in a supposed attempt to help subversive growing anger. Issa Zarepour, the telecommunications minister, told the official Irna news agency there had been “temporary restrictions in some places and at some hours.”
According to state media, police used teargas and hoses and made a number of arrests to disperse crowds of up to 1,000 people on Tuesday evening. Irna had reported that demonstrators had thrown stones at security and set fire to police vehicles.
Irna said a “police assistant” died of injuries on Tuesday in the city of Shiraz. Hengaw, a Kurdish human rights group, claimed two more people had been killed by police, raising the death toll since Amini’s death to six. Additionally, a further 450 people have been wounded and 500 arrested, the group said, although those figures are not independently verified.
Since Amini’s death, protests have rocked the country. Social media has shown women being cornered and beaten by helmeted men on motorbikes. Many women have refused to wear their hijabs in protest against the morality police, who have been enforcing them in line with a decree issued by the president, Ebrahim Raisi.
Per the NY Times, Raisi spoke at the UN general assembly in New York on Wednesday and did not mention the demonstrations or Amini by name but criticised western countries for their reactions to “an incident under investigation in Iran.” Despite Iranian officials claiming they’re conducting an inquiry into Amini’s cause of death, protesters have little faith in an internal investigation and are calling for the abolishment of the morality police.
Iran’s supreme leader gave a televised speech on Wednesday in which he didn’t mention the protests but warned young people that they should not “fall for western powers’ deception.” Tehran’s governor Mohsen Mansouri tweeted on Tuesday that the protests were “fully organised with the agenda to create unrest.” Meanwhile, state TV alleged that Amini’s death was being used as an “excuse” by Kurdish separatists and critics of the establishment.