security forces fire on protesters after tribute to Mahsa Amini

Iranian security forces opened fire on Wednesday, according to an NGO, at protesters gathered in the hometown of Mahsa Amini, where thousands of people had attended a ceremony to pay tribute to the end of the traditional mourning of 40 days.

“Security forces fired tear gas and opened fire at people in Zindan Square in Saghez,” Hengaw, a Norwegian-based Iranian Kurdish rights group, announced on Twitter.

Defying a reinforced security device, shouting “Woman, life, freedom” or “Death to the dictator”, a crowd of men and women had gathered around the grave of the young woman in the Aichi cemetery in the city of Saghez, in the province of Kurdistan (west), according to videos posted on social networks.

This 22-year-old Iranian Kurd died on September 16, three days after her arrest in Tehran by the morality police who accused her of having violated the strict dress code of the Islamic Republic, imposing in particular the wearing of the veil for women.

His death sparked a wave of protests unprecedented for three years, which continues across Iran. Young women and schoolgirls took to the front line, many bareheaded, burning their veils and defying the security forces.

Iranian justice announced on Wednesday that it had charged more than 300 people, bringing the official number of charges linked to these demonstrations to more than a thousand.

As of Tuesday evening, the authorities had reinforced their device in Saghez, deploying forces in a central square. Access to the city would also have been blocked.

The Isna news agency reported that the Internet had been cut off in Saghez, “for security reasons, “following tensions and scattered clashes after the ceremony”.

According to human rights activists, the security forces had warned the young woman’s parents against organizing a tribute ceremony at her grave, going so far as to threaten “the life of their son”.

“The Year of Blood”

Worshipers nevertheless began early Wednesday to join the cemetery. According to the Iranian agency Fars, around 2,000 people gathered there.

Images posted online by activists and human rights defenders showed huge crowds, in cars and on motorbikes, walking through fields and along roads, or even crossing a river.

Clapping, shouting, honking, the crowd invaded the road linking Saghez to the cemetery, eight kilometers away, according to images posted online by Hengaw, which this NGO told AFP to have verified.

“This year is the year of blood, Seyed Ali will be overthrown,” shouted a group on a video authenticated by AFP, in reference to the Iranian Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

“Kurdistan, Kurdistan, the cemetery of the fascists”, chanted another group, on a video shared on Twitter, which AFP could not immediately authenticate.

In several cities of Kurdistan, “Sanandaj, Saghez, Divandarreh, Marivan and Kamyaran, strikes are widely followed”, according to Hengaw. Likewise in Javanrud and Ravansar, in the province of Kermanshah (west).

New events

According to Hengaw, two figures in Iranian football, legendary striker Ali Daei and goalkeeper Hamed Lak, traveled to Saghez on the 40th day following the death of Mahsa Amini, marking the end of the traditional period of mourning in Iran.

They stayed at the Kurd Hotel, according to Hengaw, but “were transferred to the government guesthouse (…) under the guard of the security forces”.

Ali Daei had previously been questioned for statements made online in support of the movement.

According to the daily Hammihan, the governor of Kurdistan Esmail Zarei Koosha assured that Ali Daei and other celebrities were in Tehran and that “everything was calm in Saghez”.

“The enemy and its media (…) are trying to use the 40th day of Mahsa Amini’s death as a pretext to provoke tension again, but fortunately the situation in the province is completely stable,” the governor said, quoted by the official agency Irna. He denied any blocking of roads.

According to Hengaw, most of the town was “empty” on Wednesday, with many residents heading to the cemetery.

New demonstrations were underway elsewhere in Iran, notably in universities in Tehran, Mashhad (northeast) and Ahvaz (southwest), according to the online media 1500tasvir, which lists human rights violations attributed to the security forces. .

The crackdown on protests triggered by the death of Mahsa Amini has left at least 141 people dead, including children, according to a new report revealed on Tuesday by the NGO Iran Human Rights (IHR), based in Oslo.

On Wednesday, Iran announced sanctions against individuals, institutions and media in the European Union, in response to punitive measures imposed by Brussels against Iranian leaders and morality police due to the crackdown.

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