Provinces

Live Updates: Protests Ongoing in Iran as Police Chief Denies Responsibility for Mahsa Amini's Death

September 19, 2022
OstanWire
8 min read
Businesses in a number of cities closed down on Monday as part of a day of mourning for 22-year-old Mahsa Amini
Businesses in a number of cities closed down on Monday as part of a day of mourning for 22-year-old Mahsa Amini
The young woman from Saqqez was detained by the Tehran "morality patrol" and rushed to hospital in a coma just two hours later. She died on Friday
The young woman from Saqqez was detained by the Tehran "morality patrol" and rushed to hospital in a coma just two hours later. She died on Friday
More rallies by students and women's rights activists are expected to take place in Tehran on Monday afternoon
More rallies by students and women's rights activists are expected to take place in Tehran on Monday afternoon
Women-led protests in central Tehran were met with heavy push-back from security forces and several arrests
Women-led protests in central Tehran were met with heavy push-back from security forces and several arrests
Officers also used live ammunition to break up protests in the city of Divandarreh in Mahsa's home province, Kurdistan
Officers also used live ammunition to break up protests in the city of Divandarreh in Mahsa's home province, Kurdistan
Police also fired water cannons on protesters in Tehran's Valiasr Square
Police also fired water cannons on protesters in Tehran's Valiasr Square

A general strike has been declared in several cities in Iran’s West Azerbaijan and Kurdistan provinces in reaction to the death of Mahsa Amini while protests continued in Tehran and other cities into Monday night.

The nationwide Free Workers' Union has published videos of shuttered stores and offices in Marivan, Mahabad, Sanandaj, Urmia, Bukan, Baneh, Oshnavieh, Piranshahr and Saqqez, the 22-year-old’s hometown.

Some business owners in Kermanshah and Javanrood have also joined in the day of mourning. As in previous days, people have also taken to the streets in some cities, chanting “Woman, life, freedom” and “Don’t be afraid, we are all together”.

Mahsa, known as Zhina to her loved ones, was rushed to hospital in a coma two hours after she was abducted off the street and taken for “re-education” by Tehran’s “morality patrol”. She was on holiday in the capital at the time, and was wearing a headscarf.

The young woman’s death on Friday sparked horror and outrage across Iranian society, with several remarking that Mahsa had in effect been killed by fanatics for her hair.

Protests have taken place every day since then, while a campaign to abolish the regime’s mandatory hijab rule is gathering pace. Some online firms that design, produce and sell shawls and scarves have announced a temporary half to business. The Cooperation Center of Iranian Kurdistan's Political Parties announced the general strike on Monday and asked citizens all over Iran to join in.

 

Protest Continue Despite Suppression

Monday’s protest actions come after scattered threats to business owners from security agencies, and a near-total internet shutdown in Saqqez and Sanandaj, where a number of people have been arrested. On Sunday night, as well as tear gas and live ammunition, security forces turned water cannons on the protesters in both cities.

Student activists at some universities in Tehran, including Sharif University of Technology and Amir Kabir University, also held rallies this afternoon. Students at the Tehran University of Art also held a candlelit vigil.

Live Updates: Protests Ongoing in Iran as Police Chief Denies Responsibility for Mahsa Amini's Death

Part of the statement shared by Amir Kabir students read: "When the morality patrol, as one of the government's most violent forces, commits heinous, inhuman acts and are endorsed by corrupt leaders, this is the result. People are covered up with a black shroud - again." Mahsa Amini, they further said, was "a symbol of 43 years of repression and brutality".

Students at Allameh Tabatabai University sang the popular song "Join Me Dear" to encourage their peers to protest, and chanted slogans against mandatory hijab.

Protests in central Tehran continued into the evening after numerous reports of clashes between citizens and security forces (more below).

 

Live Shots Fired on Protesters in Divandarreh

Police and security forces used shotguns to disperse protesters in Divandarreh in Mahsa's home province of Kurdistan. Videos shared online show people marching through the streets, chanting "Woman, life, freedom" and "Don't be afraid, we are all together".

The Kurdish human rights organization Hengaw reports that two people were killed during the protests in Divandarreh on Monday: Mohsen Mohammadi, and Fouad Ghadadi. At least 15 others were reportedly injured.

 

Tehran Morality Police Chief Fired

The head of the morality patrols - full name the Moral Security Police - in Tehran has been dismissed, according to the newspaper Hamamihan. Named only as Colonel Mirzaei, he was said to have been away on Arbaeen pilgrimage in Iraq at the time of Mahsa Amini's arrest.

In a press conference around the same time as the news broke, Chief Justice Gholamhossein Mohseni Ajei said the government would "not give a free pass to  the mistakes of government officials and agents, including the police force" in its "investigation" into Mahsa Amini's death. "Whatever the outcome is, action will be taken without hesitation," he said.

 

Police Chief: No Body Camera Footage Available After Mahsa's Arrest

The chief of police for Tehran province has given the state’s version of events surrounding Mahsa’s death, in which he claimed the 22-year-old was dressed differently at the time of her arrest to how she appeared in CCTV footage shared by the IRIB.

Sardar Hossein Rahimi told a press conference on Monday: “We leave those who made unjust accusations against the police to the other world. The police provide and maintain the security of the community.”

Live Updates: Protests Ongoing in Iran as Police Chief Denies Responsibility for Mahsa Amini's Death

In contrast to her brother Kiarash’s account of what happened, Rahimi claimed: “Last Tuesday this lady, along with three other ladies and two gentlemen, were strolling in Taleghani Park.

“My colleagues [in the morality police] warned the other three women and they complied. But this lady did not.”

Mahsa, he claimed, was “guided” to the detention center and her family were asked to bring “suitable clothes” for her to wear during the training class.

Earlier the family had said they were not able to see her while inside. Kiarash had also published a photo of Mahsa reportedly taken on public transport an hour before her arrest, in which she wore the same headscarf as she was seen wearing on CCTV.

Asked if there was a record of what happened between Mahsa’s arrest and her arrival at the Vezara Street police station, Rahimi said: “The morality patrol officers are equipped with body cameras, but in this case, they didn’t have them on.” He added: "There were five other girls in the van who testify that nothing happened."

This, too, stands in contrast with what Mahsa’s father Amjad Amini has said. He told Mizan News Agency that multiple women who were in the same van as Mahsa had reached out to him and said she was severely beaten. Iran International has also published hospital scans reportedly of Mahsa’s skull and lungs, showing fractures and damage to brain tissue.

Sardar Rahimi concluded by saying that Mahsa had committed a crime: namely, “disobeying the rules on public roads”. He added: “Police officers are responsible for dealing with this crime."

 

Women Stage Fresh Protest in Central Tehran

A large number of women have gathered in Tehran's Keshavarz Boulevard to decry the killing of Mahsa Amini. Chants of "Death to the dictator" and "Mullahs get lost" were heard in published footage amid a heavy security presence.

Live Updates: Protests Ongoing in Iran as Police Chief Denies Responsibility for Mahsa Amini's Death

Eyewitnesses report that as was the case during mass demonstrations in November 2019, an ambulance crew deployed to the scene appears to have been working in conjunction with armed police.

One of those arrested was Mahnaz Mohammadi, a documentary filmmaker. Security agents forced her and her companions into a van in which a number of other women were also being held, together with one genuinely sick patient.

Live Updates: Protests Ongoing in Iran as Police Chief Denies Responsibility for Mahsa Amini's Death

Footage shared with IranWire shows chaos at the intersection with the city's Hejab Street. Protesters can be seen hurling rocks at a police van and overturning a car.

Police have also attempted to use water cannons to disperse protesters in Valiasr Square. Videos shared on social media show large crowds of people seemingly from all walks of life making their way down Valiasr Street, with some women holding up their headscarves in defiance.

Protests in Tehran continued into the evening. The Twitter account 1500tasvir, which monitors ongoing protests in Iran, shared video footage of people apparently lighting fires to block the roads and stop traffic in the city center.

Senior Doctor in Hormozgan: Show Us the Evidence

The head of Bandar Abbas Medical Organization has published an open letter to the country's Forensic Medical Organization, demanding "total candour and courage" around the circumstances of Mahsa Amini's death.

In his letter, Hossein Karampour rejected outright an earlier claim by police that Mahsa had suffered a heart attack. Bleeding around her ear and the bruises visible in photos taken from her hospital bedside, he said, were not compatible with this diagnoseis.

Instead, he wrote, "Most of the symptoms visible in the photos of the lady in hospital are consistent with symptoms related to a head injury and resultant bleeding." He asked colleagues to "take steps, with total candour and courage, to reveal the truth. Our people will consider us [doctors] among their own when we stand by them to the best of our ability."

Scans published by Iran International on Monday showed a fracture to the right side of Mahsa's head. This, the agency was told, was linked to complications caused by a direct blow to the skull. The scans also showed a buildup of fluid in the lungs from after Mahsa fell into the coma.

 

Clashes Ongoing in Kurdistan and West Azerbaijan

Hengaw reports protests continued in several cities in Kurdistan on Monday evening. Videos published by the human rights group showed incendiary projectiles apparently being fired on citizens in the city of Kamyaran after dark.

In Sanandaj, protesters reportedly blocked all the roads leading to the city's Ighbal Square, the locus of demonstrations on previous nights. Hengaw's update on Monday night counted at least 38 people injured from direct fire and baton strikes in Saqqez and Sanandaj alone, and 13 known arrests.

Large crowds were also seen at dusk in the cities of Mahabad and Dehgolan. Elsewhere in the city of Bukan, Hengaw reported, a 10-year-old girl was shot in the head and left in a critical condition, and a six-year-old child was also injured by live fire. The organization described the level of indiscriminate shooting on unarmed protesters in the region as "unprecedented".

 

Protests Reach Mashhad, Seat of the Iranian Clergy

Crowds also formed in the city of Mashhad, Iran's second most populous metropolis and home to the tomb and shrine of Islam's eighth Shia Imam. on Monday. In this holy city for Shia Muslims, women walked through the streets on Monday chanting "We don't want hijab".

A large number of people gathered in the city's Mellat Park before sundown to protest over the death of Mahsa Amini.

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