Iran protests escalate as death toll rises to nine in the wake of woman's death in custody

22 September 2022, 10:31 | Updated: 24 November 2022, 18:58

Iran protests over women's rights
Iran protests over women's rights. Picture: Getty

By StephenRigley

At least nine people have been killed at protests in Iran that erupted over the death of a woman who allegedly broke the country’s strict hijab laws.

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Iran’s security forces opened fire on protesters and used teargas in a scramble to clamp down on the uprisings. The unrest has spread across the country to over 50 major towns and cities, including the capital Tehran.

Among those killed are a 16-year-old boy, an Iranian police officer, and a member of the pro-government militia.

Over 450 people have been injured and a further 500 have been arrested.

Many women have removed and even burned their headscarves in protest against the morality police. “No to the headscarf, yes to freedom and equality”, protesters were heard shouting.

Laws over women wearing headscarves and loose-fitting clothing that covers their arms and legs have become even stricter following a decree from the new president, Ebrahim Raisi.

To suppress the protests, the Iranian government have now restricted access to the internet.

Access to Instagram has been curbed in the country, one of the few available social media platforms in Iran with millions of users. The app had been used to spread awareness and circulate footage of the protests.

There were reports of internet blackouts, largely centred around Tehran and the Kurdistan province where the protests have been most prominent.

WhatsApp users in Iran have also reported that they have only been able to send messages, not images or videos.

The telecoms minister, Issa Zarepour, admitted to Iran’s Irna news agency that there had been “temporary restrictions in some places and at some hours”.

Mahsa Amini's death has lead to protests in over 50 major towns and cities in Iran
Mahsa Amini's death has lead to protests in over 50 major towns and cities in Iran. Picture: Alamy

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Iran’s government took similar measures to restrict internet communication in the 2019 fuel price protests. Around 1,500 people were killed in the 2019 uprisings.

Mahsa Amini, the 22-year-old from Iranian Kurdistan, died in detention last week, after spending three days in a coma.

Amini was visiting Tehran with her family when she was arrested by the country’s morality police. They accused her of violating Iran's laws on what women can wear.

There were reports that police that arrested Amini beat her with a baton and then smashed her head against a car.

Iran's police denied this and said that Amani's death was a result of "sudden heart failure". Her family say she was fit and healthy.

US President Joe Biden addressed the protests in Iran in his speech to the United Nations on Wednesday. He said America stood in solidarity with "the brave women of Iran who right now are demonstrating to secure their basic rights".

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