Iran’s president on Wednesday accused the West of hypocrisy in its criticism of Tehran as eight people were reported dead in growing protests over the death of a young woman arrested by morality police.
President Ebrahim Raisi struck a defiant tone on a visit to the United Nations, with demonstrators also trailing him on the streets of New York and dissidents filing a human rights lawsuit against the hardline cleric.
Activists said the woman, whose Kurdish first name is Jhina, had suffered a fatal blow to the head, a claim denied by officials, who have announced an investigation.
“No to the headscarf, no to the turban, yes to freedom and equality!” protesters in Tehran were heard chanting in a rally that has been echoed by solidarity protests abroad.
London-based rights group Article 19 said it was “deeply concerned by reports of the unlawful use of force by Iranian police and security forces,” including the use of live ammunition.
“Death to the dictator” and “Woman, life, freedom,” protesters could be heard shouting in video footage that spread beyond Iran, despite online restrictions reported by internet access monitor Netblocks.
“They could abandon their nuclear weapons aspirations. They could stop the repression of voices within their own country. They could stop their destabilizing activities,” he said.
– ‘Double standards’ –
“So long as we have this double standard, where attention is solely focused on one side and not all equally, we will not have true justice and fairness,” Raisi said.
But attention has quickly shifted to the protests, which are among the most serious in Iran since November 2019 unrest over fuel price rises.
– ‘Significant shock’ –
“It is difficult to know the outcome but there is a disconnect between the authorities with their DNA of the Islamic revolution of 1979 and an increasingly secularized society,” he said.
Protests first erupted Friday in Amini’s home province of Kurdistan, where governor Ismail Zarei Koosha said Tuesday three people had been killed in “a plot by the enemy.”
Two more protesters “were killed during the riots” in Kermanshah province, the region’s prosecutor Shahram Karami was quoted as saying by Fars news agency, blaming “counter-revolutionary agents.”
An additional 450 people had been wounded and 500 arrested, the group said — figures that could not be independently verified.