Government Reportedly Ratcheting Up Pressure On Families Of Dead Iranian Protesters

Iranian authorities briefly detained the father of the 22-year-old woman whose death in custody exactly one year ago sparked a year of dramatic anti-regime protests that have persisted despite a brutal crackdown.

Amjad Amini, the late Mahsa Amini’s father, was detained outside his home on September 16 and taken to the Intelligence Ministry in his hometown of Saghez for interrogation, RFE/RL’s Radio Farda has learned.

Sources close to the matter later told Radio Farda that Amjad Amini had been sent home after questioning but has been told that he and other family members are not allowed to leave their house for the day.

He was told that he and his family are not allowed to leave their house today.

Their house has been surrounded by security forces who have blocked the street to ward off public signs of dissent.

Meanwhile, official Iranian media reported arrests of groups accused of plotting disruption or contributing to “hostile media” on the anniversary, and Iran’s president preceded the day by meeting with the families of troops reportedly killed since the unrest began.

IRNA news agency said authorities arrested an undisclosed number of people among groups “planning to create chaos” or contributing to reports for “hostile media,” AFP reported.

It identified three areas of Iran — the northwest, the south, and Amini’s home province, Kurdistan — where arrests were made.

IRNA reported on September 16 that a fire was started by female inmates burning their clothes in a prison ward at the Qarchak jail near Tehran. It said the blaze was quickly put out by guards, and it wasn’t immediately clear if the action was a protest related the anniversary of Amini’s death.

IRNA also said President Ebrahim Raisi met on September 15 in the northeastern city of Mashhad with “the families of security defenders” including two members of the Basij paramilitary force killed while trying to break up a protest in November.

Those two deaths were blamed on Majid Reza Rahnavard, who was among seven people Iranian authorities have officially executed over their alleged participation in the protests.

Security appeared tight in many cities around Iran on the first anniversary of Kurdish-Iranian Amini’s death, after a night of scattered protests condemning the supreme leader and demanding rights for women.

Areas of the capital, Tehran, and major cities like Mashhad in the northeast and Shiraz to the south saw demonstrators defy a clampdown late on September 15 to chant slogans including “Death to the dictator!” and “Woman, life, freedom!”

Amini’s death last year after eyewitnesses reported her being beaten as she was detained in Tehran by Iran’s morality police and signs of a cover-up ignited anger that represents the greatest public threat to the religious regime there in more than a decade.

Rights groups say the ensuing crackdown has killed upward of 500 people and landed many more in jail or with long prison sentences.

Police and security forces have conducted roundups and other shows of force in recent weeks and warned Amini’s family and others to avoid marking the anniversary or risk serious consequences.

Still, late on September 15 there were signs of protest in at least a dozen neighborhoods of the capital and at least a half-dozen cities.

The human rights website Hengav reported that armed troops of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) had been stationed around the home of Amini’s family in her northwestern hometown of Saghez, where she is also buried. It quoted an informed source saying the security presence included motorized IRGC forces and a large number of troops.

Amini’s family reportedly published a text announcing a “traditional and religious ceremony” at her gravesite but were threatened and pressured to rescind the call.

Amini died in a Tehran hospital on September 16, 2022 after falling into a coma following her detention by the Guidance Patrol that enforces morality laws including a strict dress code for women that has been the object of protest since the early days after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

An official report suggested she had died of heart failure connected to a previous condition, but eyewitnesses reported seeing her beaten and family said her body showed signs of violence.

The Kurdpa website published video that showed security forces all around the Amini family home.

Persian-language social media were filled with videos and images of purported protest actions around the country, many of them roadblocks or other forms of nighttime disruption.

Videos showed a group of cars blocking roads and honking horns in the city of Baneh, in Kurdistan Province.

The city of Marivan also witnessed scattered protests in parts of the city late on September 15 despite the widespread deployment of security forces. Protesters lit fires in some areas and chanted protest slogans.

In the city of Abdanan in Ilam Province, security forces failed to prevent a group of protesters lighting a fire in streets.

In the city of Piranshahr, in West Azerbaijan Province, a group of people blew car horns and created roadblocks.

In Mahabad, revolutionary songs could be heard playing from the loudspeakers of several mosques.

Hengav cited protest gatherings in a handful of other cities, including Abdanan, Kermanshah, Marivan, and Sanandaj.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) described Iranian authorities as creating a “chokehold on dissent” in recent weeks amid “ramped-up repression” to stifle peaceful expression ahead of the September 16 anniversary. The group cited “intimidation, arrests, prosecutions, and trials of activists, artists, dissidents, lawyers, academics, students, and family members of those who were killed during the 2022 protests.”

The United States introduced fresh sanctions against more than two dozen individuals and entities connected to Iran’s “violent suppression” of the Amini protests, the U.S. Treasury Department said on September 15.

Britain announced a similar move.

Protests marking the anniversary were also seen on September 16 in several foreign cities, including London, Vienna, Berlin, Rome, and Toronto.

Late on September 15, Iran lashed out at the United States over what a Foreign Ministry spokesman called an “illegal” decision to introduce the new sanctions.

Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani alleged in a statement “illegal and undiplomatic actions” and complained of “interventionist actions and statements and ridiculous and hypocritical” shows of international support for the protesters, AFP reported.

Addressing European leaders, he said “unconstructive behavior…does not serve their interests.”

Jailed Iranian rights activist Narges Mohammadi said in a message from Evin prison that the anniversary of Amini’s death symbolizes “the oppression of the theocratic authoritarian regime against Iranian women.”

She said the Woman, Life, Freedom movement that erupted nearly a year ago is a testament to the resilience of protesters and the waning authority of the “theocratic authoritarian regime.”

With reporting by AFP


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