In Iran, schoolgirls demonstrate and defy repression

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En Iran, schoolgirls demonstrate and defy repression

This screenshot shows dozens of young women protesting near a school against a speech given by a representative of the Basij paramilitary force, in Shiraz, Fars province, Iran, on 4 October 2022.

Iranian schoolgirls have dared to remove their headscarves and stage rallies to protest the death of Mahsa Amini for the past few days, defying the deadly crackdown on protests that have been taking place for nearly three weeks in Iran.

The 22-year-old Iranian Kurd died on September 16, three days after she was arrested by morality police for violating the Islamic Republic's strict dress code, which notably requires women to wear the veil.

Anger erupted during his burial and spread across the country. The protests have become the largest in Iran since those in 2019 against rising gas prices.

At least 92 people have been killed since September 16, according to the NGO Iran Human Rights, based in Oslo, Norway, while authorities put the death toll at around 60, including 12 members of the security forces. . More than a thousand people have been arrested and more than 620 released in Tehran province alone, authorities say.

Students gathered last weekend , but they were confronted by riot police, who cornered them in an underground parking lot at the Sharif University of Technology in Tehran, before arresting them.

Since then, schoolgirls across the country have taken over, adopting a variety of tactics, including removing their veils and shouting anti-conservative slogans.

In video verified by the #x27;AFP, young girls, their heads unveiled, chant Death to the dictator, in reference to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, Monday in a school in Karaj, west of Tehran. Another group of girls chant Woman, life, freedom while parading in a street.

“These are truly extraordinary scenes. If these demonstrations are to lead to anything, it will be thanks to the schoolgirls. »

— Esfandyar Batmanghelidj, from the Bourse&Bazaar information and analysis site

Other videos posted online show schoolgirls leaving classrooms to march through various locations around the city in flash protests to avoid detection. AFP was unable to independently verify these images.

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But Iranian Attorney General Mohammad Jafar Montazeri admitted on Wednesday that young people were involved in the protests, denouncing the influence of social networks. The fact that 16-year-olds are present in these events is caused by social networks, they are trapped, he said, quoted by the agency ISNA.

Education Minister Yousef Nouri, quoted by the IRNA agency, told him that the enemy's attacks were targeting universities as well as the worlds of science and education .

Since the beginning of the protest, the Iranian regime has intensified its repression by arresting notorious supporters of the movement and imposing severe restrictions on access to social networks.

On Wednesday, the NGO Human Rights Watch said it had verified 16 videos posted on social media, which it said showed police and other security forces using excessive and lethal force against protesters in Tehran and in other cities.

These images show law enforcement officers using firearms, such as handguns or Kalashnikov-style assault rifles, HRW said in a statement. The crackdown demonstrates concerted action by the government to crush dissent in a cruel disregard for life, NGO researcher Tara Sepehri Far said in the statement.

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Meanwhile, Iranian judicial authorities on Wednesday denied any link between the death of a teenage girl and the protests sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini.

Social networks had reported during the day that teenager Nika Shahkarami had been killed by security forces during the protests.

Separately, according to Iran Human Rights, at least 63 people were killed last week in Zahedan, in southeastern Iran, a Shiite-majority country, in the crackdown on protests sparked by accusations that a local police chief had raped a 15-year-old girl from the Baloch Sunni minority.

The violent crackdown on protests in Iran has sparked a wave of condemnations around the world. /p>

Following the announcement of sanctions by the United States and Canada, the European Union (EU) announced on Tuesday its intention to in turn sanction the Iran with restrictive measures to protest the way Iranian security forces reacted to the demonstrations.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian warned Iran on Wednesday #x27;UE that she could expect reciprocal action.

L' ;Iran has repeatedly accused outside forces of stoking protests.

On Wednesday, Tehran said it had summoned UK Ambassador Simon Shercliff to to protest his country's interference in the unrest following the death of Mahsa Amini.

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