Pro-government marchers call for executions, as protests continue in Iran

Iran has been rocked by street violence that has claimed the lives of dozens people since the death last week of Mahsa Amini, who had been detained for wearing the hijab headscarf in an “improper” way. (AFP)
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Updated 25 September 2022

Pro-government marchers call for executions, as protests continue in Iran

  • Angry protests flared and spread to major cities, including Isfahan, Mashhad, Shiraz and Tabriz as well as Tehran
  • Security forces fired “semi-heavy weapons” at demonstrators during overnight clashes

TEHRAN: Thousands demonstrated across Iran on Friday at government-backed pro-hijab counter rallies, after a week of bloody protests over the death of a woman arrested for wearing the Islamic headscarf “improperly.”
At least 50 people have been killed by security forces in the anti-government protests, Iran Human Rights, an Oslo-based organization, said on Friday.

Meanwhile, state media has reported that at least 35 have been killed in more than a week of protests that erupted in Iran after the death of a young woman in police custody.
“The number of people who died in recent riots in the country has risen to 35 people,” the Borna news agency, which is affiliated to the sports ministry, said late Friday, citing state television.

The street violence, which IHR says has spread to 80 towns and cities, was triggered by the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurd who had spent three days in a coma after being detained by the morality police in Tehran.
As part of the crackdown, Iran has imposed tough restrictions on the use of the Internet in a bid to hamper protesters gathering and stop the flow of images of the backlash from reaching the outside world.
The US announced Friday it was easing export restrictions on Iran to expand Internet services, days after SpaceX owner Elon Musk said he would seek an exemption from sanctions to offer his company’s Starlink satellite service in the Islamic republic.
The new measure will allow technology companies to “expand the range of Internet services available to Iranians,” Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo said.
On Friday, thousands took to the streets in support of the hijab and a conservative dress code at government-backed counter rallies in Tehran and other cities including Ahvaz, Isfahan, Qom and Tabriz.
“The great demonstration of the Iranian people condemning the conspirators and the sacrileges against religion took place today,” Iran’s Mehr news agency said.
State television broadcast footage of pro-hijab demonstrators in central Tehran, many of them men but also women dressed in black chadors.
Amini died on September 16, three days after she was hospitalized following her arrest by the morality police, the unit responsible for enforcing the Islamic republic’s strict dress code for women.
Activists said she suffered a blow to the head in custody but this has not been confirmed by the Iranian authorities, who have opened an investigation.
After she was pronounced dead, angry protests flared and spread to major cities, including Isfahan, Mashhad, Shiraz and Tabriz as well as the capital.
In the latest violence, security forces fired “semi-heavy weapons” at demonstrators during overnight clashes in the northern city of Oshnaviyeh, the Oslo-based Kurdish rights group Hengaw said on Friday. The report could not be independently verified.
In nearby Babol, demonstrators were seen setting ablaze a large billboard bearing the image of Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in videos shared online.
Iran Human Rights said that its updated toll of 50 dead included six people who were killed by fire from security forces in the town of Rezvanshahr in the northern Gilan province on Thursday night, while the other deaths were recorded in Babol and Amol.
A previous toll from the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) put the death toll at 36.
Some women demonstrators have defiantly taken off their hijabs and burned them in bonfires or symbolically cut their hair before cheering crowds, video footage spread virally on social media has shown.
Security forces have arrested activists including Majid Tavakoli, who has been repeatedly imprisoned in recent years, including after disputed 2009 elections.
Demonstrators have hurled stones at them, set fire to police cars and chanted anti-government slogans, IRNA reported.
“The government has responded with live ammunition, pellet guns and tear gas, according to videos shared on social media that have also shown protesters bleeding profusely,” the CHRI said.
Internet access has been restricted in what web monitor NetBlocks has called a “curfew-style pattern of disruptions” amid the angry protests sparked by Amini’s death.
“Online platforms remained restricted and connectivity is intermittent for many users and mobile Internet was disrupted for a third day on Friday,” NetBlocks said.
Access to social media services, Instagram and WhatsApp have been blocked since Wednesday night, and connections were still largely disrupted on Friday.
The measure was taken in response to “the actions carried out via these social networks by counter-revolutionaries against national security,” Iran’s Fars news agency said.
President Ebrahim Raisi, at a news conference in New York where he attended the UN General Assembly, said: “We must differentiate between demonstrators and vandalism.”
The unrest comes at a particularly sensitive time for the leadership, as the Iranian economy remains mired in a crisis largely caused by sanctions over its nuclear program.


Kuwait goes to polls, yet again, as opposition groups return

Updated 29 sec ago

Kuwait goes to polls, yet again, as opposition groups return

  • Kuwait has held 18 elections since the parliamentary system was adopted in 1962
  • Parliament has been all-male since the only woman MP lost her seat in December 2020
KUWAIT CITY: Kuwait will hold its most inclusive elections in a decade Thursday with some opposition groups ending a boycott after the oil-rich country’s royal rulers pledged not to interfere with parliament.
The polls are the sixth in 10 years, reflecting the repeated political crises that have gripped the only Gulf Arab state with a fully elected parliament.
The elections come after Crown Prince Sheikh Meshal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah announced the dissolution of parliament in June following disputes between lawmakers and the government, the fourth to be named in two years.
Several opposition MPs had been on strike in protest at delays to parliamentary sessions and the failure to form a new government. A core source of friction is MPs’ demand for ministers from the royal family to be held accountable for corruption.
Kuwait, which borders Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Iran and is one of the world’s biggest oil exporters, has held 18 elections since the parliamentary system was adopted in 1962.
But when he dissolved parliament, Sheikh Meshal promised there would be no interference by authorities in the election or the new parliament.
“We will not interfere in the people’s choices for their representatives, nor will we interfere with the choices of the next National Assembly in choosing its speaker or its committees,” the crown prince said.
“Parliament will be the master of its decisions, and we will not be supporting one faction at the expense of another. We will stand at the same distance from everyone.”
Opposition figures have stayed out of elections over the past 10 years, accusing executive authorities of meddling in the workings of parliament.
One of them, People’s Action Movement candidate Mohammad Musaed Al-Dossari, said he had been persuaded to stand again by the crown prince’s promises.
Sheikh Meshal’s speech “reassured” Kuwaitis and “encouraged the political groups and MPs who had been boycotting to return to run in the elections,” Al-Dossari said.
Thursday’s vote also comes after the country’s emir issued an amnesty last year for political opponents who had been tried on various charges.
Some 305 candidates, including 22 women, are competing for 50 seats in five constituencies. Parliament has been all-male since the only woman MP lost her seat in December 2020.
Women represent 51.2 percent of the 795,920 voters. About 70 percent of the population of around 4.2 million is made up of expatriates.
While the last elections were affected by anti-coronavirus measures, this time candidates have been able to open electoral offices and hold live hustings. Security services have stepped up their monitoring of vote-buying.
The election results are expected to be announced on Friday. The opposition, mostly Islamist politicians, won 24 seats out of 50 in the last polls.

Cleric’s supporters again storm Baghdad’s government zone

Updated 25 min 41 sec ago

Cleric’s supporters again storm Baghdad’s government zone

  • Al-Sadr’s bloc won the most votes in parliamentary elections last October but he has been unable to form a majority government

BAGHDAD: Supporters of Iraq’s influential Shiite cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr again stormed Baghdad’s Green Zone government area Wednesday as the Iraqi parliament holds session on the resignation of its speaker.
Associated Press journalists saw those supporting Sadr waving flags as security forces gathered around them.
Al-Sadr’s bloc won the most votes in parliamentary elections last October but he has been unable to form a majority government. His followers stormed the parliament in late July to prevent their rivals from Iran-backed Shiite groups from forming the government.
With ensuing rallies, clashes with security forces, counter-rallies and a sit-in outside parliament, the government formation process has stalled.
Al-Sadr has now been calling for the dissolution of parliament and early elections and has been in a power struggle with his Iran-backed rivals since the vote.


Kurdish officials: Iran launches new drone bombings in Iraq

Updated 44 min 49 sec ago

Kurdish officials: Iran launches new drone bombings in Iraq

  • The Iranian drone strikes targeted a military camp, homes, offices and other areas around Koya
  • Tehran did not immediately acknowledge the attack

KOYA, Iraq: Iran launched a new drone bombing campaign Wednesday targeting the bases of an Iranian-Kurdish opposition group in northern Iraq amid demonstrations engulfing the Islamic Republic, Kurdish officials said.
The strikes early Wednesday focused on Koya, some 60 kilometers (35 miles) east of Irbil, said Soran Nuri, a member of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan. The group, known by the acronym KDPI, is a leftist armed opposition force banned in Iran.
The Iranian drone strikes targeted a military camp, homes, offices and other areas around Koya, Nuri said. Nuri described the attack as ongoing.
An Associated Press journalist saw ambulances racing through Koya after the strikes.
Tehran did not immediately acknowledge the attack. On Saturday and Monday, Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard unleashed a wave of drone and artillery strikes targeting Kurdish positions.
The attacks appear to be a response to the ongoing protests roiling Iran over the death of a 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman who was detained by the nation’s morality police.
The United Nations Secretary-General called on Iran early Wednesday to refrain from using “unnecessary or disproportionate force” against protesters as unrest over a young woman’s death in police custody spread across the country.
Antonio Guterres said through a spokesman that authorities should swiftly conduct an impartial investigation of the death of Mahsa Amini, which has sparked unrest across Iran’s provinces and the capital of Tehran.
“We are increasingly concerned about reports of rising fatalities, including women and children, related to the protests,” UN spokesman Stéphane Dujarric in a statement. “We underline the need for prompt, impartial and effective investigation into Ms. Mahsa Amini’s death by an independent competent authority.”
Protests have spread across at least 46 cities, towns and villages in Iran. State TV reported that at least 41 protesters and police have been killed since the protests began Sept. 17.
An Associated Press count of official statements by authorities tallied at least 14 dead, with more than 1,500 demonstrators arrested.
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, meanwhile, said it documented the arrests of at least 23 journalists as the clashes between security forces and protesters heated up.
CPJ in a Wednesday statement called on Iranian authorities to “immediately” release arrested journalists who covered Amini’s death and protests.
Dujarric added that Guterres stressed the need to respect human rights, including freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and association during the meeting with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on September 22nd.


Three killed in Israel Jenin raid: Palestinian ministry

Updated 41 min 6 sec ago

Three killed in Israel Jenin raid: Palestinian ministry

  • The Israeli army confirmed in a tweet that troops were “operating in Jenin”
  • The raids have sparked clashes that have killed dozens of Palestinians, including fighters

RAMALLAH: Three Palestinians were killed Wednesday during an Israeli West Bank raid targeting alleged militants, including the brother of a man blamed for a deadly attack in Tel Aviv, the Palestinian health ministry said.
The Palestinian health ministry recorded three deaths during the raid in Jenin, including Abed Hazem, brother of Raad Hazem, named as the killer of three Israelis in a Tel Aviv shooting spree on April 7.
The Israeli army confirmed troops had shot dead “two suspects involved in a number of recent shooting attacks.”
The Israeli army confirmed in a tweet that troops were “operating in Jenin,” a militant stronghold that has suffered near daily violence. It did not immediately provide further details of the raid.
Since March, Israel has launched hundreds of operations in the northern West Bank, including Jenin and nearby Nablus, in pursuit of individuals it accuses of involvement in deadly attacks targeting Israelis.
The raids have sparked clashes that have killed dozens of Palestinians, including fighters.

 


 


Iranians outraged after TikToker shot dead in protests

Updated 28 September 2022

Iranians outraged after TikToker shot dead in protests

  • Funeral held for Hadis Najafi, young Iranian woman who was shot dead by security forces during protests near Tehran
  • Najafi was shot six times in the city of Karaj, and was hit by bullets in the face and neck, according to report by Radio Farda

DUBAI: A funeral has been held for Hadis Najafi, a young Iranian woman who was shot dead by security forces during protests near Tehran.

Najafi was shot six times in the city of Karaj, and was hit by bullets in the face and neck, according to a report by Radio Farda.

Videos of Najafi's funeral has been circulated on social media as online users paid tribute to the 20-year-old.

She had earlier gone viral in a TikTok video where she was seen tying her hair and preparing to join the anti-government protests, which were sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of the ‘morality police’ for breaching the strict Hijab rules.

At least 41 people have been killed as Iran continues to crack down on the nationwide demonstrations.