Iranian lawmakers chanted ‘thank you police’ despite growing public anger over woman’s death

Iranian lawmakers chanted 'thank you police' despite growing public anger over woman's death
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DUBAI, October 2 (Reuters) – Iranian lawmakers chanted “thank you police” during Sunday’s parliamentary session in support of the crackdown on widespread anti-government protests against the death of a young woman in police custody.

The protests, sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini from Iranian Kurdistan, have turned into the biggest protest against Iranian authorities in years, many calling for an end to the rule of Islamic clerics, which has been in existence for more than four decades.

In a video shared in Iranian state media, deputies pledging allegiance to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the highest authority of the Islamic Republic, chanted “The blood in our veins is a gift to our leader”.

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Iran Human Rights, a Norway-based group, said in a statement that “133 people have been killed so far across Iran”, including more than 40. killed in clashes in Zahedan last weekcapital of the southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchistan.

Iranian officials said that many members of the security forces were killed by “rebels and bandits supported by foreign enemies”, but did not give a death toll. Last week, state television said 41 people were killed, including members of the security forces.

Khamenei did not comment on the nationwide protests that began at Amini’s funeral in September. It spread rapidly to 17 and 31 provinces of Iran, joining all strata of society, including ethnic and religious minorities.

Many famous football players who are stars in Iran and Asia, including the former captain of the Iranian national team Ali Daei, have criticized the crackdown on the protesters. Some social media posts suggested that Daei was banned from leaving Iran. Reuters could not confirm the news.

The protests did not subside despite rising death toll and pressure from security forces using tear gas, clubs and in some cases real ammunition, according to videos on social media and rights groups.

Videos on social media showed students protesting at multiple universities in several cities including Tehran, Yazd, Kermanshah, Sanandaj, Shiraz and Mashhad on Sunday, with participants chanting “independence, freedom, death to Khamenei”.

Activist Twitter account 1500tasvir, which has more than 160,000 followers, posted a video of protesters calling for a nationwide strike in the central city of Isfahan and barricades to attract truck drivers to their ranks.

Reuters was unable to verify the videos. Protests over Amini’s death continued in many cities around the world on Sunday.

Iranian state media shared a video of pro-government students gathered at Ferdowsi University in Mashhad chanting “The Islamic Republic is our red line”.


Amini was arrested that September 13 people in Tehran for “inappropriate dress” by the morality police, which enforces the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code. He died in hospital three days later after falling into a coma.

Amini’s family’s lawyer, Saleh Nikbakht, told the semi-official news site Etemadonline that “respectable doctors” believe he was shot in custody. Amini’s autopsy report and other medical details were not released, but her father said he saw bruises on his leg and that other women detained with him had been beaten.

Iranian police officials said he denied that Amini died of a heart attack and was beaten to death in custody.

The country’s radical President Ebrahim Raisi has ordered an investigation into Amini’s death. He said last week that the forensic report would be available “in the coming days”.

On Friday, Amnesty International reported that hundreds of people were injured and thousands were arrested during the protests.

State media stated that at least 20 people were killed in the clashes in Zahedan and accused a separatist group from the Baluchi minority of starting the conflict in the city.

Amini’s death and repressions sparked international criticism of Iran’s rulers, accusing the United States and some European countries of exploiting the unrest to try to destabilize the Islamic Republic.

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The writing of Parisa Hafezi; Editing Kirsten Donovan and Frank Jack Daniel

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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