Iranian Protesters Clash With Police Near Tehran
By VOA News November 03, 2022
Reports from Iran say protesters once again clashed with security forces Thursday in a town near the capital, reportedly killing or wounding members of the security forces.
Protests in Iran have erupted almost daily since September after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in custody of the country's morality police. Analysts say the daily demonstrations have become some of the most serious challenges to the Islamic Republic in its history.
Thursday's clashes came after thousands gathered in the town of Karaj, just outside Tehran, to mark the 40th day since the shooting death of 22-year-old Hadis Najafi, one of several young women to have been killed during the protests.
It is a custom in Shiite Islam to mark the 40th day after someone's death with public mourning. Commemorating protester deaths has given momentum to the ongoing demonstrations, just as it did during the 1979 revolution that overthrew a Western-backed monarchy.
The Associated Press is reporting that videos posted to social media show thousands gathered to mourn in Karaj, then later clashing with police. In one of them, a helicopter can be seen flying over the protesters dropping flash grenades in an attempt to disperse them before landing in the middle of a highway.
Government supporters on social media said the helicopter was sent to aid wounded policemen.
The clerical leadership, under 83-year-old Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has responded with a crackdown that, beyond killing dozens, has seen 1,000 people charged in Iran's opaque court system. Activists say many of those detained could face the death penalty.
In a report Thursday, New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Iranian authorities have escalated their assault against the widespread dissent and protests through dubious national security charges against detained activists and grossly unfair trials.
Citing an informal network of activists inside Iran, the HRW report said that as of October 30, in addition to mass arrests of protesters, intelligence agencies have arrested 130 human rights defenders, 38 women rights defenders, 36 political activists, 19 lawyers, and 38 journalists, the majority of whom remain in detention.
Among them were two journalists, Niloufar Hamedi and Elaheh Mohamadi, who had reported on Amini's death in morality police custody.
The Kurdish woman was detained in Tehran for allegedly wearing her hijab, or head scarf, "improperly." She died while in police custody three days later, with the police reporting Amini had a heart attack.
Amini's family says she had no history of heart trouble. Rights groups say more than 200 people have died during the protests, and hundreds, if not thousands, have been arrested.
VOA's Persian Service contributed background information for this report. Some information for this report came from the Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.
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