Death toll in Iran protests rises to 92: Rights group

Death toll in Iran protests rises to 92: Rights group

Iranian cities have been rocked by protests over death of 22-year-old woman in police custody

By Syed Zafar Mehdi

TEHRAN, Iran (AA) – The death toll in the weeks-long protests in Iran over the death of a 22-year-old woman in police custody on Sept. 16, has surged to 92, according to a Norway-based human rights group.

In a statement on Sunday, Iran Human Rights (IHR), a non-profit NGO founded by Iranian expats, said 41 protesters were killed in the southeastern city of Zahedan on Friday following fierce clashes between angry protesters and police.

“The international community has a duty to investigate this crime and prevent further crimes from being committed by the Islamic Republic,” the statement quoted IHR director Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam as saying.

Iranian authorities have not yet released the exact figure of casualties from violent protests that first broke out in Mahsa Amini's hometown in western Iran last month and then quickly spread to other cities, including the capital Tehran.

Amini was detained by the country’s morality police for violating rules on the dress code.

According to police, she fainted in a police station and was later pronounced dead at a hospital. Her family disputes that version, claiming she was beaten in police custody.

Her death has sparked massive outrage and drawn condemnation from many Western governments, as well as the United Nations, which termed the incident "tragic" and demanded impartial investigations into it.

Iran has accused Western powers of "instigating riots" in the country, summoning the envoys of the United Kingdom, France, and the Netherlands in recent weeks to lodge protests.

On Friday, violent clashes erupted in the city of Zahedan in Iran's southeastern Sistan-Baluchestan province after some armed protesters stormed a police station.

The incident took place after the weekly Friday prayers in the Sunni-majority city bordering Pakistan, with at least five members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) among those dead.

Videos circulating online showed many government offices, banks, petrol pumps, and police cars set ablaze by angry mobs protesting the death of Amini and the sexual harassment of a teenage girl in the neighboring city of Chabahar, allegedly by a police officer.

The incident, which was reported earlier last month, has drawn widespread anger and outrage in the province with people calling for justice and accountability.

Meanwhile, protests continued across Iran over the weekend, with rallies organized by students at universities in the cities of Tehran, Tabriz, and Kermanshah as classes resume after two-month summer vacations.

Mobile internet remains blocked, including popular applications such as Whatsapp and Instagram.

On Sunday, Iran's Parliament Speaker Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf stressed the need for introducing reforms in the modus operandi of the morality police amid growing discontent.

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