A wave of anti-government protests continued Thursday as security forces intensified arresting those who participated in the demonstrations and journalists reporting on them amid more planned protests for the weekend. The protests were sparked after the September 16 death of Mahsa Amini.
IranWire can also reveal that another protester lost his life while being in police custody.
Sources confirmed to IranWire that Emad Heydari, a well-known civil rights activist in Ahvaz, who was arrested during nationwide protests, died while in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
"Emad Heydari, like many civil rights and cultural activists in Khuzestan province, was summoned to the intelligence offices of the Ahvaz [IRGC] in September,” sources said.
“He went there fine and on his own feet, but 10 days later, his body was handed over to his family," the sources confirmed to IranWire.
Emad was a young family man and had married only two months ago. But in a recurring attempt to repress protesters, Emad’s mourning family was warned that they would only receive his remains for a burial procession and funeral if they made sure the arrangements were private and quiet.
Several civil rights and cultural activists in Ahvaz nevertheless attended the funeral after the warnings from the security forces became public.
Human rights groups raised concerns over the fate of detainees as the death toll exceeded 150, at least 9 of them under the age of 18. Activists have said the average age of those killed in the demonstrations is 20.
The death of one of them has also sparked international condemnation overnight. Nika Shakarami, 16, disappeared on September 20 during a street protest in Tehran. When she did not return home by midnight, her family spent days searching in prisons, detention centres, police offices and hospitals only to find her dead body in a morgue 10 days later.
In a video sent on Thursday to Radio Farda, Nasrin Shahkarami, Nika's mother, said she had been pressured to give a false statement about her daughter's death but refused to do so. Nika’s aunt and uncle had previously appeared on state television giving an account of the death that was widely seen as forced and inaccurate.
Hossein Fazeli Harikandi, the Chief Prosecutor of Alborz Province, announced the cause of Sarina Ismailzadeh's death as “falling from height,” which is how officials tried to explain Nika’s death.
Staff at the Sharif University of Technology in the capital Tehran, meanwhile, have planned a sit-in for Saturday to condemn the ambush of security forces on the university’s campus early this week.
The Council of Sharif University, its main administrative body, issued a statement Thursday condemning the raid of security forces on the university and the beating and arrest of students.
Sharif students held a sit-in last Sunday to condemn the ongoing crackdown on protesters. Riot police stormed and arrested a large number of students and took them to unknown locations. The Sharif council’s statement indicates that at least 30 to 40 students have been arrested and many of them are still missing.
And as fresh rounds of anti-government protests brought to the crisis to the end of its third week, footage shared on social media suggested protesters came out in several cities overnight.
Most of the demonstrators on Thursday night were schoolgirls who removed their headscarves and chanted "Death to the Dictator!”
Schoolgirls are the latest group to have joined the nationwide protests over the past few days. Staff and teachers at several schools have violently clashed with angry students, according to media reports.
The developments come as Amnesty International reported that Iranian security forces “unlawfully” killed at least 82 people, including children, and injured hundreds of others after firing live ammunition, metal pellets and teargas at protesters, bystanders and worshippers during a violent crackdown after Friday prayers on September 30 in Zahedan.
“The Iranian authorities have repeatedly shown utter disregard for the sanctity of human life and will stop at nothing to preserve power. The callous violence being unleashed by Iran’s security forces is not occurring in a vacuum,” Agnes Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary-General said Thursday. It is the result of systematic impunity and a lacklustre response by the international community.”
Callamard added: “It is particularly abhorrent that nearly three years after the November 2019 protests, in which hundreds of people were unlawfully killed, the Iranian authorities have shamelessly continued their ruthless assault on human life. The only way to break the impunity that empowers such actions is for UN member states to urgently establish an independent investigative and accountability mechanism for the most serious crimes under international law committed in Iran.”
In a response to the Iranian government’s repression of its citizens, the United States announced more sanctions on seven senior Iranian officials.
The White House also said that the US was going to take further action against Iran over their response to the protests. The US President Joe Biden issued a statement Monday promising further costs “on perpetrators of violence against peaceful protestors.”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the new US sanctions announced Thursday were imposed because Iran had continued to suppress “the right to freedom of expression and right of peaceful assembly, including by shutting down access to the internet” following the death of Mahsa Amini.
“Today’s action follows the September 22 designation of the Morality Police, its senior leadership, and other senior security officials, and the release of Iran-related General License D-2, which together demonstrate that the United States stands with the brave citizens and the brave women of Iran who right now are demonstrating to secure their basic rights,” Blinken said.
The new sanctions target Iran’s Minister of the Interior, Ahmad Vahidi, who oversees all the country’s Law Enforcement Forces that have been used to attempt a crackdown on protesters, their families and journalists.
The sanctions also target Eisa Zarepour, the Minister of Communications, who is “responsible for the shameful attempt to block the internet access of millions of Iranians in the hopes of slowing down the protests,” the US Treasury Department said in its statement announcing the sanctions.
IranWire previously published the names of 100 protesters who it has been able to confirm were killed in recent demonstrations across the country.