Three dead in Iran protests after morality police accused of killing Mahsa Amini

Hundreds of people have been arrested after the security forces attacked demonstrations in several cities

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Protests in Iran have continued amid growing anger at the country’s morality police, known as Guidance Patrols.

Tensions exploded into public demonstrations on Friday when it was announced that Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old who was arrested for not wearing a headscarf, had died in police custody. Amini spent three days in a coma in hospital before she died.

Hundreds of people have been arrested and dozens injured, some hit by shotgun pellets fired by police. Rights groups said five people had died, but later revised the toll down to three.

On Tuesday, students at Shahid Beheshti University in Tajrish, northern Tehran, shouted slogans against the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, holding him responsible for Amini’s death. Anger grew following viral pictures on social media that showed Amiri in a coma.

In the nationwide condemnation of Amini's death, the Farsi hashtag #MahsaAmini reached more than three million Twitter mentions.

Videos posted on social media showed demonstrations in numerous cities, with women waving their headscarves and protesters facing off against the security forces.

Jalal Rashidi Koochi, a member of parliament, told the ISNA news agency that Gasht-e Ershad or the Guidance Patrols, were wrong because they produced no results except "loss and damage for the country", adding that "the main problem is that some people resist accepting the truth".

Mr Koochi is known as a moderate voice in Iran, having voted against a bill in February that would have handed control of the country’s internet to the military. In July, he also appeared to criticise Iran's morality laws, saying that they had not been successful in persuading more women to wear the hijab.

The MP again questioned if the current policy of punishing those breaking dress codes was effective. "Do the people who are taken to these explanatory classes by the Guidance Patrols become conscious and repent when they come out?" Mr Koochi said, ISNA reported.

On Sunday, police made arrests and fired tear gas in the dead woman's home province of Kurdistan, where about 500 people had protested, some smashing car windows and torching rubbish bins, reports said.

On Monday, demonstrations were held in Tehran, including in several universities, and the second city Mashhad, according to the Fars and Tasnim news agencies.

Protesters in Tehran were dispersed by "police using batons and tear gas", according to Fars news agency.

"Several hundred people chanted slogans against the authorities, some of them took off their hijab," Fars added.

Tehran Governor Mohsen Mansouri on Tuesday said the protests in the capital were "fully organised with the agenda to create unrest".

"Burning the flag, pouring fuel on the roads, throwing stones, attacking the police, setting fire to motorcycles and garbage cans, destroying public property ... is not the work of ordinary people," he tweeted.

State news agency IRNA reported protests on Monday in other provinces of the country including Kermanshah in the west, Gilan in the north, Razavi Khorasan in the north-east and Yazd in the centre.

Updated: September 20, 2022, 10:48 AM
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