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Iran protesters march in mourning for executed men

18-02-2023

TEHRAN: Iran has seen its most widespread anti-government protests in weeks, after small crowds marched overnight in Tehran and a number of other cities.

Videos showed people chanting “Woman, life, freedom” and “Death to Khamenei” – a reference to the Supreme Leader.

It followed calls to mark the 40th day of mourning for two men executed on protest-related charges, Mohammad Mehdi Karami and Seyed Mohammad Hosseini.

The UN said they had faced unfair trials based on forced confessions.

Protests swept across the country in September following the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who was detained by morality police for allegedly not wearing her hijab properly.

Authorities have portrayed them as “riots” and responded with force.

So far, at least 529 protesters have been killed and almost 20,000 detained, according to the Human Rights Activists’ News Agency (HRANA). Four protesters have been hanged since December, while 107 others have reportedly been sentenced to death or charged with capital offences.

Footage posted on social media showed small protests took place on Thursday night in several parts of the capital, Tehran, as well as in nearby Karaj, the eastern city of Mashhad, the central city of Isfahan, the northern cities of Qazvin and Rasht, and the western cities of Arak, Izeh and Sanandaj.

In Karaj, a crowd chanted the names of Mohammad Mehdi Karami and Seyed Mohammad Hosseini, according to footage verified by BBC Persian. The two men were accused of killing a member of the paramilitary Basij force during a protest there in November.

Opposition activist collective 1500 Tasvir meanwhile shared a video from Mashhad in which a group of men and women are seen shouting: “My martyred brother, we shall avenge your blood.”

Crowds were also filmed shouting slogans against Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in the capital’s Tehranpars district and in Rasht.

Kurdish rights group Hengaw posted footage that it said showed protesters burning tyres to block a main road in Sanandaj, which has been one of the epicentres of the unrest.

Although the street protests have subsided recently, activists frequently share videos in which people are heard chanting anti-government slogans at night-time or are seen spray-painting graffiti. Women also continue to be pictured refusing to comply with the strict hijab laws in public places.

On the other side, female journalists in Iran have been targeted by security forces since anti-government protests began in September, activist groups say.

Figures vary, but at least 17 have been arrested, an international group for press freedom says. Another puts the number about three times that or more.

Iran has been gripped by some of the biggest protests it has seen since the Islamic Republic was founded in 1979.

Nearly 20,000 people are estimated to have been detained since September.

More than 520 protesters have been killed by security forces in that time, according to the Iranian Human Rights Activists’ News Agency (Hrana).

The most recent arrest of a female journalist was that of Elnaz Mohammadi, who works for the reformist newspaper Hammihan. She was released on bail on Sunday. (Int’l News Desk)

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