Thousands of people in Iran clash as they mourn Mahsa Amini’s death 40 days later

ISNA, Iran’s semi-official state news agency, said fighting broke out across Iran on Wednesday as thousands of people went to Mahsa Amini’s grave in Sakkez, a city in Kurdistan province, to mark 40 days since her death.

After a 22-year-old Kurdish woman from Iran died on September 16 after being taken to a “re-education center” by “morality police” for allegedly not following the country’s strict dress code, protests erupted across the Islamic Republic.

On Wednesday, Iran held nationwide protests to mark 40 days since Amini’s death. It is an important day of mourning in both Iranian and Islamic culture.

According to state news IRNA, the unrest came on the same day that at least 15 people were killed and 10 others wounded in a “terrorist attack” at the Shahcheragh shrine in the southern Iranian city of Shiraz. It is unclear whether Wednesday’s attack had anything to do with the protests.

ISNA reported that security forces “did not prevent” protesters from going to Amini’s grave in Sakez, where she was born. But after people left the site, clashes broke out.

“There were no clashes between the mourners and the police at the funeral site, most chanted Kurdish slogans, some moved towards the city with the intention of clashes, one of them raised the Kurdish flag,” ISNA said.

Large groups of people and long lines of cars can be seen in videos shared on social media making their way to the Sakeza Cemetery in Aichi, where Amini is buried. People in the videos can be heard chanting “women, life, freedom” and “death to this child-killing regime”.

Other videos show smoke rising from several fires in the streets of a nearby neighborhood. As people march through the streets, gunshots are heard in the background.

CNN confirmed that a video released by the Kurdish rights group Hengaw showed a large number of security forces in Saqqez on Tuesday evening. It comes after activists called for nationwide protests to mark 40 days since Amini’s death.

Netblocks, an organization that monitors the internet, said on Twitter that the internet in Iran’s Kurdistan province and Sanandaj was almost completely down as of Wednesday morning. ISNA, the state-run news source, said that after “flares and sporadic clashes”, internet had been cut in the city of Saqqez for security reasons.

There is no law in Iran that says the government cannot stop religious ceremonies if it deems them dangerous. The government has banned and attacked religious ceremonies, citing safety concerns in the past. In other cases, the government has approached families to ask them not to hold public funerals.

IRNA, Iran’s state news agency, said Amini’s family said in a statement that they would do nothing to mark her death on Wednesday.

The Kurdish rights group Hengaw said security forces had put heavy pressure on the Amini family to write the statement. They also said they threatened to arrest Amini’s brother if the march continued.

The protests continue

There were large protests in Tehran on Wednesday over Amini’s death and security forces fired tear gas at the crowds.

A video shared on social media shows protesters throwing stones and setting garbage cans on fire. In response, security forces were seen firing machine guns.

In another video shared on social media, a group of protesters in Tehran, said to be doctors and dentists, were seen chanting “Freedom, freedom, freedom!” In another video, tear gas was fired at them.

Anti-riot units from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) were seen marching in Tehran on Wednesday as protests deepened. This can be seen from a video shared on social networks.

The person who shot the video says that earlier in the day, similar units fired on a group of doctors protesting in Tehran, dispersing the crowd. In the video, it is not clear what is being filmed.

Protests were also held at universities across the country, such as Ferdowsi University in Mashhad, Azad University in Karaj, the Research Branch of Islamic Azad University in Tehran, and Azad University in Kerman.

IRNA reported on Wednesday that Tehran’s Sharif University of Technology said classes for new students “will continue to be held virtually until further notice” due to “the persistence of some problems and the lack of a peaceful environment.”

As protests continue, world leaders have spoken out against Iran’s use of force against peaceful protesters. On Wednesday, the United States imposed a raft of new sanctions on Iranian officials involved in the ongoing crackdown.

Sanctions will be imposed on the commander of the IRGC’s intelligence organization and the IRGC’s deputy commander of operations, as well as two officials in Sistan and Baluchistan province, which the Treasury Department said was “the location of some of the worst violence in the latest round of protests.

White House officials say the US is concerned that Russia may be advising Iran on how to quell public protests. This is because there were fights in Iran to mark 40 days since the death of Mahsa Amini.

“We are concerned that Moscow may be advising Tehran on best practices, drawing on Russia’s extensive experience in suppressing open demonstrations,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said during a briefing on Wednesday.

“The evidence that Iran is helping Russia wage war against Ukraine is clear and public. And Iran and Russia are getting closer the more isolated they become. Our message to Iran is very, very clear – stop killing your own people and stop sending weapons to Russia to help kill Ukrainians.

UN experts have called for an independent international investigation into the crackdown.

In a statement released on Wednesday, experts said “a huge number of protesters have already been detained and killed, many of them children, women and the elderly”. They demanded the government tell the police to stop using excessive and deadly force.

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