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Iran warns protesters against unrest, holds counter-protests

Iran’s military on Friday warned anti-government protesters against further unrest, vowing to confront “plots” by enemy forces as protesters, angry over the recent death of a woman in police custody, clashed with security forces across the country.

“These desperate actions are part of the enemy’s perverse strategy to weaken the Islamic regime,” the army said on Friday, Reuters reported. He went on to say that the army would “confront the various plots of the enemies in order to bring safety and peace to the people who are being unjustly attacked.”

At several state-sponsored rallies on Friday, protesters called for the execution of alleged perpetrators of violence against security forces. Iranian state television reported Friday that 35 protesters and police have been killed since the protests began a week ago, the Associated Press reported.

The unrest was sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish woman who was detained by Iran’s “morality police” while visiting the capital, Tehran. She was reportedly detained for breaking the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code for women – a charge her family denied in interviews with local media. An initial police report claimed Amini fell into a coma while in police custody, but her family and other activists said she appeared to have been beaten.

As the protests spread, Amini became a symbol for many Iranians struggling with poverty, unemployment, political repression and daily indignities in a country ruled by religiously conservatives.

The Iranian government has throttled internet and cellular services and blocked WhatsApp and Instagram. But images and footage of extraordinary scenes – such as women defiantly removing their veils, burning headscarves and cutting their hair – have emerged on social media, captivating audiences in Iran and abroad.

Other videos showed men and women demonstrating together, chanting “bread, work and freedom!” Some burnt images of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei shouting “Death to the dictator!”

“What particularly stands out is how it’s run by women and young people, especially Iran’s Gen Z,” said Holly Dagres, an Iranian analyst and non-resident member of the Atlantic Council-based think tank. Washington. “They have the same needs and desires as young people everywhere, the freedom to express themselves and be themselves, and have little in common with the geriatric leaders of the Islamic Republic.”

The Treasury Department issued new guidelines on Friday saying it would expand internet access and cloud-sharing technologies in Iran, some of which are subject to US sanctions.

The move aims to “advance internet freedom and the free flow of information for the people of Iran, to provide them with greater access to digital communications to counter Iranian government censorship,” the secretary said. Antony Blinken state in a tweet.

“The escalating crackdown requires a coordinated international response, both to pressure Iran to refrain from using excessive force and to explore avenues for accountability,” said Tara Sepehri Far. , Iran researcher at Human Rights Watch, based in New York.

Rights groups say they have documented hundreds of arrests and injuries, as well as violence inflicted by authorities on women detainees. The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said at least 11 Iranian journalists had been arrested, including one of the first to report on Amini’s hospitalization.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi told the United Nations in New York this week that his death should be investigated “resolutely”, the AP reported. During a press conference on the sidelines of the opening of the United Nations General Assembly, Raisi said he contacted Amini’s family.

“Only a credible investigation” by the government could ease tensions, Far said. But, she said, “judging by the long history of non-transparency and non-investigation of abuses,” there is little hope among Iranians for government accountability.

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