Iranian protests escalate

ByMalik Nasir Mahmood Aslam

Seasoned social activist


October 10, 2022

Malik Nasir Mahmood Aslam describes the deteriorating situation

Iran is in the grip of ferocious street Iranian protests escalate that have refused to abate, instead, they are increasing in size and level of vehemence. The incumbent clerical regime known to be strongly entrenched in power appears to have failed in quelling the rioting that has spread to almost the entire country. So far the exact death toll is not confirmed as the authorities are prone to hide them and there are very few independent sources to confirm them but there are unconfirmed reports that massive unarmed civilians have died.

Iran’s bold protests stretching across an unsettled nation for more than two weeks have been marked by defiant acts and daring slogans that challenge the country’s clerical leadership and its stifling restrictions on all aspects of social life and the government crackdown has been focused on three key tactics— the apparent use of live ammunition by security forces, targeted arrests and the throttling of internet service. It was reported from seven cities that security forces were shooting at protesters indiscriminately but the protestors have so far refused to budge.

Security forces have been firing indiscriminately at demonstrators since the start of the protests. Many videos show protesters marching through the center of the city on the same day as the dead woman Mahsa Amini’s funeral took place. They were quickly dispersed by government personnel on motorcycles firing in the direction of the crowd. Two young men were killed in the barrage of bullets and one was shot in the stomach, another in the throat.

The protester in Balo recounted members of the dreaded Basij brigade making arrests in the middle of the night and using tear gas to force civilians out of their homes. Security forces had arrested at least 50 people in Balo and the majority is still in custody.

Iranian authorities

Prisoners in Iran are routinely subjected to torture and other inhuman treatment with families often struggling to get information about loved ones who have been detained. Despite the violence by security forces — and the daily blackouts — protesters are still in the streets. To some, the crackdown has only made them more determined.

Since the outbreak of the protests, Iranian authorities have heavily disrupted internet access across the country. They have blocked several social media platforms, including WhatsApp messaging application and Instagram, since 21 September by an order of Iran’s National Security Council. Over the past four years, Iranian authorities have used partial or total internet shutdowns during widespread protests to restrict access to information and prohibit the dissemination of information, in particular videos of the protests.

Internet shutdowns violate multiple rights, including the rights to freedom of expression and access to information, and the rights to peaceful assembly and association. Under international human rights law, Iran has an obligation to ensure that internet-based restrictions are provided by law and are a necessary and proportionate response to a specific security concern. Officials should not use broad, indiscriminate shutdowns to curtail the flow of information, nor to harm civilians’ ability to freely assemble and express political views.

Over the past four years, Iran has experienced several waves of widespread protests. Authorities have responded to these widespread protests across the country with excessive and lethal force and the arbitrary arrests of thousands of protesters. In one of the most brutal crackdowns, in November 2019, security forces unlawfully used excessive and unlawful lethal force against massive protests across the country. Amnesty International estimated that at least 340 people were killed during the 2019 protests. Iranian authorities have failed to conduct any credible and transparent investigations into the security forces’ serious abuses.

Iranian protesters

Protests crop up sporadically in various parts of the capital throughout each day. At night, a chant that has become a staple of the protests — “death to the dictator” — sounds from the rooftops of buildings. It’s a reference to Khamenei, who was once considered beyond reproach because of his elevated clerical status. The 83-year-old Khamenei, who commented on the protests for the first time on Monday, blamed – without evidence – the United States and Israel for fueling the protests. He also made clear that the regime would block the protesters’ desire for change.

Amnesty International said it had obtained a leaked document that appeared to instruct commanders of armed forces in all provinces to “mercilessly confront” protesters, deploying riot police as well as some members of the military’s elite Revolutionary Guards, the Basij paramilitary force and plainclothes security agents. The threat posed by these protests, analysts say, is existential to the regime, and is one of the biggest challenges the Islamic Republic has faced in years.

The United States issued sanctions on seven senior Iranian officials over the Iranian government’s violent crackdown on mass protests and restrictions on internet access in the country. The White House signaled the US was going to take further action against Iran over their response to the protests earlier this week. President Joe Biden issued a statement Monday promising further costs “on perpetrators of violence against peaceful protestors.” The Weekender


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