DUBAI: Protesters rallied across Iran and strikes were reported throughout the country’s Kurdish region on Saturday (Oct 1) as demonstrations ignited by the death of a woman in police custody entered their third week.
The protests, sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old from Iranian Kurdistan, have spiralled into the biggest show of opposition to Iran’s clerical authorities since 2019, with dozens killed in unrest across the country.
People also demonstrated in London, Rome, Madrid and other Western cities in solidarity with Iranian protesters, holding pictures of Amini, who died three days after being arrested by the Islamic Republic’s morality police for “unsuitable attire”.
In Iran, social media posts showed rallies in large cities including Tehran, Isfahan, Rasht and Shiraz.
In Tehran’s traditional business district of Bazaar, anti-government protesters chanted “We will be killed one by one if we don’t unite”, while elsewhere they blocked a main road with a fence torn from the central reservation, videos shared by the widely followed Tavsir1500 Twitter account showed.
Students also demonstrated at numerous universities. At Tehran University, dozens were detained, Tavsir1500 said. The semi-official Fars news agency said some protesters were arrested in a square near the university.
A video posted on social media appeared to show protesters giving flowers to members of the riot police in Tehran, a recreation of Iranians winning over the military to their side in the 1979 Islamic revolution.
Reuters could not verify the social media reports.
The protests began at Amini’s funeral on Sep 17 and spread to Iran’s 31 provinces, with all layers of society, including ethnic and religious minorities, taking part and many demanding Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s downfall.
Amnesty International has said a government crackdown on demonstrations has so far led to the death of at least 52 people, with hundreds injured. Rights groups say dozens of activists, students and artists have been detained.
In London, about 2,500 people, many of them Iranians, staged a noisy protest in Trafalgar Square. In Paris, a crowd of several dozen people held Iranian flags and pictures of victims who have died in the protests. In Madrid, an Iranian woman cut her hair during a protest attended by dozens of people, echoing demonstrations in Iran where women have also been waving and burning their veils during demonstrations.
Iran’s currency neared historic lows reached in June as desperate Iranians bought dollars to protect their savings, amid little hope Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers would be revived and concerns over the economic consequences of the unrest.
The rial fell to 331,200 per US dollar, compared with 321,200 on Friday, according to the foreign exchange site Bonbast.com. The currency had plummeted to an all-time low of 332,000 per dollar on Jun 12.
Iranian authorities say many members of the security forces have been killed, accusing the United States of exploiting the unrest to try to destabilise Iran.
The Revolutionary Guards said four members of its forces and the volunteer Basij militia were killed on Friday in attacks in Zahedan, capital of the southeastern Sistan-Baluchistan province.