Protests grip Iran as rights group claims 19 children were killed

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DUBAI, Oct 9 (Reuters) – Protests sparked by the death of a young woman in police custody continued across Iran on Sunday in defiance of a crackdown by authorities, as a human rights group the man said at least 185 people, including children, had been killed in protests.

Anti-government protests that began September 17 at the funeral of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in her Kurdish town of Saqez have become the biggest challenge to Iranian religious leaders in years, with protesters calling for the fall of the Supreme Leader. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

“At least 185 people, including at least 19 children, have been killed during the protests across Iran. The highest number of killings took place in Sistan and Balochistan province, with half the recorded number,” Norway-based Iran Human Rights said on Saturday. .

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Authorities described the protests as a plot by Iran’s enemies, including the United States. In particular, they accused armed dissidents of violence that would have killed at least 20 members of the security forces.

Videos shared on social media showed protests in dozens of cities across Iran early Sunday with hundreds of high school and university students taking part despite the use of tear gas, batons and, in many cases , live ammunition by security forces, rights groups said.

Iranian authorities have denied that live ammunition was used.

“DON’T HIT MY WIFE, SHE IS PREGNANT”

A video posted on Twitter by widely followed activist 1500tasvir showed club-wielding security forces attacking students at a Tehran high school.

A police motorcycle burns during a protest against the death of Mahsa Amini, a woman who died after being arrested by the Islamic republic’s ‘morality police’, in Tehran, Iran, September 19, 2022. WANA (Agence West Asia Press Release) via REUTERS//File Photo

In another video, a man shouted “don’t hit my wife, she’s pregnant” as he tried to protect her from riot police on Saturday in the town of Rafsanjan.

A video shared by the Mamlekate Twitter account, which has more than 150,000 followers, shows security forces chasing down dozens of schoolgirls in the town of Bandar Abbas. Social media posts said shops had been closed in several cities after activists called for a mass strike.

Reuters could not verify the videos and posts. Details of the victims have slowly been released, in part due to internet restrictions imposed by authorities.

Meanwhile, the semi-official Tasnim news agency quoted the deputy interior minister as warning of harsh penalties for those it called rioters.

Amini was arrested in Tehran on September 13 for wearing “inappropriate attire”. She died three days later in a hospital in Tehran.

A state coroner’s report on Saturday said Amini died of pre-existing medical conditions. Her father held the police responsible for her death and the family’s lawyer said ‘respectable doctors’ believed she had been beaten while in police custody.

While the United States and Canada have already imposed sanctions on Iranian authorities, the European Union was considering imposing asset freezes and travel bans on Iranian officials.

“Those who beat (Iranian) women and girls in the streets, who abduct, arbitrarily imprison and sentence to death people who want nothing more than to live free – they are on the wrong side of history,” said German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock. Bild am Sonntag newspaper on Sundays.

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Additional reporting by Birgit Mitwollen in Berlin Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle and Barbara Lewis

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