Iran vows ‘no leniency’ against wave of women-led protests

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Iran’s judiciary chief vowed no leniency Sunday against the wave of unrest that has rocked the country since the death of young Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini in the custody of the morality police.

The warning by the head of the Judiciary, Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei, came after nine nights of protests and street clashes and echoed earlier comments by ultra-conservative President Ebrahim Raisi.

The judiciary chief “emphasised the need for decisive action without leniency” against the core instigators of the “riots”, the judiciary’s Mizan Online website said.

Security forces have fired live rounds and bird shot, rights groups charge, while protesters have hurled rocks, torched police cars, set ablaze state buildings, and shouted “death to the dictator”.

Amini, whose Kurdish first name was Jhina, was arrested on September 13 for allegedly breaching the rules that mandate tightly-fitted hijab head coverings and which ban, among other things, ripped jeans and brightly coloured clothes.

– ‘Outrage and hope’ –

“I saw outrage and hope in their faces and in the way they marched in the streets,” he said in a video message on Instagram. “I deeply respect their struggle for freedom and the right to choose their own destiny despite all the brutality they are subjected to.”

WhatsApp, Instagram and Skype have been blocked and internet access restricted according to web monitor NetBlocks, following older bans on Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and Telegram.

Protests abroad have been held in solidarity with Iranian women in Athens, Berlin, Brussels, Istanbul, Madrid, New York, Paris, Santiago, Stockholm, The Hague, Toronto and Washington, among other cities. 

Iran — which is ruled by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, 83, and which has been hit with tough economic sanctions over its nuclear programme — has blamed “foreign plots” for the unrest.

Iran has also organised large rallies in defence of the hijab and conservative values, and another pro-government rally was set to be held Sunday in Enghelab (Revolution) Square in central Tehran.

The party — led by former aides to ex-president Mohammad Khatami, who oversaw a 1997-2005 thaw with the West — also called on the government to “authorise peaceful demonstrations” and release those arrested.

Oslo-based group Iran Human Rights has put the death toll at 54, excluding security personnel. 

Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi has said Amini was not beaten and that “we must wait for the final opinion of the medical examiner, which takes time”.

Originally published as Iran vows ‘no leniency’ against wave of women-led protests


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