Wed, 06 Dec 2023

Iran Detains Amini's Father After Scattered Overnight Protests

Voice of America
16 Sep 2023, 20:36 GMT+10

Iranian authorities have detained the father of the 22-year-old woman whose death in police custody exactly one year ago sparked a year of dramatic anti-regime protests that have persisted despite a brutal crackdown.

Amjad Amini, the late Mahsa Amini's father, was detained outside his home on Saturday and taken to the Intelligence Ministry in his hometown of Saghez for interrogation, RFE/RL's Radio Farda has learned.

He was told that he and his family are not allowed to leave their house.

Their house has been surrounded by security forces who have blocked the street to ward off public signs of dissent.

Security appeared tight in many cities around Iran on the first anniversary of Kurdish-Iranian Amini's death, after a night of scattered protests condemning the supreme leader and demanding rights for women.

Areas of the capital, Tehran, and major cities like Mashhad in the northeast and Shiraz to the south saw demonstrators defy a clampdown late Friday to chant slogans including 'Death to the dictator!' and 'Woman, life, freedom!'

Amini died last year after eyewitnesses reported accounts of her being beaten as she was detained in Tehran by Iran's morality police for allegedly violating the country's mandatory headscarf law. Signs of a cover-up ignited anger that represents the greatest public threat to the religious regime there in more than a decade.

Rights groups say the ensuing crackdown has killed upward of 500 people and landed many more in jail or with long prison sentences.

Police and security forces have conducted roundups and other shows of force in recent weeks and warned Amini's family and others to avoid marking the anniversary or risk serious consequences.

Still, late Friday there were signs of protest in at least a dozen neighborhoods of the capital and at least a half-dozen cities.

The human rights website Hengav reported that armed troops of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) had been stationed around the home of Amini's family in her northwestern hometown of Saghez, where she is also buried. It quoted an informed source saying the security presence included motorized IRGC forces and a large number of troops.

FILE - Protesters call on the United Nations to take action against the treatment of women in Iran, following the death of Mahsa Amini FILE - Protesters call on the United Nations to take action against the treatment of women in Iran, following the death of Mahsa Amini

Amini's family reportedly published a text announcing a 'traditional and religious ceremony' at her gravesite but were threatened and pressured to rescind the call.

Amini died in a Tehran hospital on Sept. 16, 2022, after falling into a coma following her detention by the Guidance Patrol that enforces morality laws, including a strict dress code for women that has been the object of protest since the early days after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

An official report suggested she had died of heart failure connected to a previous condition, but eyewitnesses reported seeing her beaten and family said her body showed signs of violence.

The Kurdpa website published footage that showed security forces all around the Amini family home.

Persian-language social media were filled with videos and images of purported protest actions around the country, many of them roadblocks or other restricted areas.

Videos showed a group of cars blocking roads and honking horns in the city of Baneh, in Kurdistan Province.

The city of Marivan also witnessed scattered protests in parts of the city late Friday despite the widespread deployment of security forces. Protesters lit fires in some areas and chanted protest slogans.

In the city of Abdanan in Ilam Province, security forces failed to prevent a group of protesters lighting a fire in the street.

In the city of Piranshahr, in West Azerbaijan Province, a group of people blew car horns and created roadblocks.

In Mahabad, revolutionary songs could be heard playing from the loudspeakers of several mosques.

Hengav cited protest gatherings in a handful of other cities, including Abdanan, Kermanshah, Marivan, and Sanandaj.

U.S.-based Human Rights Watch described Iranian authorities as creating a 'chokehold on dissent' in recent weeks amid 'ramped-up repression' to stifle peaceful expression ahead of the September 16 anniversary. The group cited 'intimidation, arrests, prosecutions, and trials of activists, artists, dissidents, lawyers, academics, students, and family members of those who were killed during the 2022 protests.'

The United States introduced fresh sanctions against more than two dozen individuals and entities connected to Iran's 'violent suppression' of the Amini protests, the U.S. Treasury Department said Friday.

Britain announced a similar move.

Late Friday, Iran lashed out at the United States over what a Foreign Ministry spokesperson called an 'illegal' decision to introduce the new sanctions.

Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanani alleged in a statement 'illegal and undiplomatic actions' and complained of 'interventionist actions and statements and ridiculous and hypocritical' shows of international support for the protesters, Agence France-Presse reported.

Addressing European leaders, he said 'unconstructive behavior ... does not serve their interests.'

Jailed Iranian rights activist Narges Mohammadi said in a message from Evin prison that the anniversary of Amini's death symbolizes 'the oppression of the theocratic authoritarian regime against Iranian women.'

She said the Woman, Life, Freedom movement that erupted nearly a year ago is a testament to the resilience of protesters and the waning authority of the 'theocratic authoritarian regime.'

Some information is from Agence France-Presse.

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