Rights group says Iran protest death toll tops 75 as crackdown intensifies

More than 75 people have died in Iran’s crackdown on 11 nights of unrest sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini, a rights group said, as Western nations pile pressure on the Islamic republic to end the violence.

The Iranian authorities’ official death toll has remained at 41 since Saturday (Sep 24), including several members of the security forces, as the country is rocked by its biggest wave of protests in almost three years.

Demonstrators took to the streets again on Monday night, as they have every night since Amini’s death on Sep 16 following her arrest for allegedly breaching the country’s strict rules on hijab headscarves and modest clothing, witnesses told AFP.

In Sanandaj, the capital of Amini’s western home province of Kurdistan, women climbed onto the roofs of cars to tear off their headscarves in front of cheering crowds, images published by Oslo-based group Iran Human Rights (IHR) showed, with police nowhere to be seen.

Tehran crowds have shouted “death to the dictator”, calling for the end of the more than three-decade rule of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, 83.

Video shot from several floors above street level, purportedly in the city of Tabriz, showed people protesting to the sound of tear gas canisters being fired by security forces.

IHR said at least 76 people have been killed in the crackdown that has seen sweeping restrictions imposed on the internet, including blocks on Instagram and WhatsApp.

Officials said Monday they had made more than 1,200 arrests. Those taken into custody have included activists, lawyers and journalists as well as protesters.

In Semnan province, east of Tehran, 26 women were among 155 people arrested, Iran’s Fars news agency reported.

In Gilan province, a hotspot of the recent protests on the Caspian Sea coast, the intelligence arm of the Revolutionary Guards detained 12 people, the Tasnim news agency said Tuesday.

US think-tank Freedom House on Tuesday condemned Iran’s “repression of its people” and called on “other governments to stand with these courageous protesters and hold Iranian officials to account for their abuses”.