Iran protests Western stance on mass protests over woman’s death

Sept 26, 2022: According to a report by Reuters, Iran summoned the British and Norwegian ambassadors over what it called interference and hostile media coverage of the nationwide unrest triggered by the death of a woman detained by morality police.

Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian also criticised U.S. support for “rioters” – the label Tehran has used for many who have joined the protests which have swept the country, prompting a security crackdown and curbs on internet and phones.

Demonstrations which erupted more than a week ago at the funeral of a 22-year-old Kurdish woman named Mahsa Amini, who died in detention after being arrested by police enforcing the Islamic Republic’s strict restrictions on women’s dress, have turned into the biggest protests in years.

Clashes continued between security forces and protesters in several northwestern regions, according to sources in the cities of Tabriz, Urmia, Rasht and Hamedan. Activists said there were also protests in districts of the capital, Tehran.

A main teachers union, in a statement posted on social media on Sunday, called for teachers and students to stage the first national strike since the unrest began, on Monday and Wednesday.

It urged teachers, trade unions, military veterans and artists to “stand with pupils, students and people seeking justice in these difficult but hopeful days”.

Details of casualties have trickled out slowly, partly because of the restrictions on communication.

The sister of a 20-year-old woman identified as Hadis Najafi told a US-based activist that she died on Wednesday after being shot by security forces. Videos of Najafi had been shared on Twitter, showing her without hijab and protesting in Karaj, 30 km (20 miles) northwest of Tehran.

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Iran should “immediately stop the violent crackdown on protests and ensure internet access”. He also called for information on the number of people killed and arrested, and an investigation into “the killing of Mahsa Amini”.

President Ebrahim Raisi has said Iran ensures freedom of expression and that he has ordered an investigation into Amini’s death. He also said that “acts of chaos” were unacceptable and that Iran must deal decisively with the unrest. At the United Nations, he said extensive coverage of Amini’s case was “double standards”, pointing to deaths in US police custody.

Amirabdollahian said the United States was supporting ‘rioters’ and seeking to destabilise Iran, a stance he said contradicted American calls for stability in the region and for a nuclear deal with Tehran.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry summoned Britain’s ambassador in response to the “hostile character” of London-based Persian language media. Britain’s foreign ministry said it championed media freedom and condemned Iran’s “crackdown on protesters, journalists and internet freedom”.

Norway’s envoy was also summoned to explain the “interventionist stance” of its parliament speaker Masud Gharahkhani, who has expressed support for the protesters.

Iran’s state television said 41 people have been killed since the protests broke out following Amini’s death on Sept 16. The semi-official Mehr news agency said on Sunday eight members of the Basij, a militia under the umbrella of the Revolutionary Guards, were among the dead.

State media said 12 bank branches were destroyed in the unrest in recent days, and 219 ATMs have been damaged.

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