DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iran said Friday it has arrested nine foreigners linked to the nationwide antigovernment protests that have gripped the country, which authorities have blamed on hostile foreign entities, without providing evidence.
Thousands of Iranians have taken to the streets over the last two weeks in what they say are spontaneous protests over the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who had been detained by the morality police for allegedly wearing her mandatory headscarf too loosely.
The protesters have vented anger over the treatment of women and wider repression in the Islamic Republic. The nationwide demonstrations rapidly escalated into calls for the overthrow of the clerical establishment that has ruled Iran since its 1979 Islamic revolution.
Iran’s Intelligence Ministry said the nine foreigners arrested include citizens of Germany, Poland, Italy, France, the Netherlands and Sweden, state news agency IRNA reported. It was not immediately clear if they were Iranians with dual citizenship.
The ministry did not provide evidence for any of its claims.
Iran has detained a number of Iranians with dual citizenship over the years, accusing them of spying or otherwise undermining national security. Critics accuse Iran of using such detainees as bargaining chips to secure concessions from the international community.
A number of Europeans were detained in Iran in recent months, including a Swedish tourist, a Polish scientist and others. Two French citizens arrested in June are accused of meeting with protesting teachers and taking part in an antigovernment rally.
Earlier Friday, the London-based rights group Amnesty International said it had acquired leaked government documents showing that Iran had ordered its security forces to “severely confront” the protesters.
The London-based rights group said security forces have killed at least 52 people since protests over the Amini’s death began nearly two weeks ago, including by firing live ammunition into crowds and beating protesters with batons.
It says security forces have also beaten and groped female protesters who remove their headscarves to protest the treatment of women by Iran’s theocracy.
IRNA meanwhile reported renewed violence in the city of Zahedan, near the borders with Pakistan and Afghanistan. It said gunmen opened fire and hurled firebombs at a police station, setting off a battle with police.
It said police and passersby were wounded, without elaborating, and did not say whether the violence was related to the antigovernment protests. The region has seen previous attacks on security forces claimed by militant and separatist groups.
Videos circulating on social media showed gunfire and a police vehicle on fire. Others showed crowds chanting against the government. Video from elsewhere in Iran showed protests in Ahvaz, in the southwest, and Ardabil in the northwest.
Amnesty said it obtained a leaked copy of an official document saying that the General Headquarters of the Armed Forces ordered commanders on Sept. 21 to “severely confront troublemakers and anti-revolutionaries.” The rights group says the use of lethal force escalated later that evening, with at least 34 people killed that night alone.
It said another leaked document shows that, two days later, the commander in Mazandran province ordered security forces to “confront mercilessly, going as far as causing deaths, any unrest by rioters and anti-Revolutionaries,” referring to those opposed to Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, which brought the clerics to power.
Amnesty did not say how it acquired the documents. There was no immediate comment from Iranian authorities.
Iranian state TV has reported that at least 41 protesters and police have been killed since the demonstrations began Sept. 17. An Associated Press count of official statements by authorities tallied at least 14 dead, with more than 1,500 demonstrators arrested.
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said Thursday that at least 28 reporters have been arrested.
Iranian authorities have severely restricted internet access and blocked access to Instagram and WhatsApp, popular social media applications that are also used by the protesters to organize and share information.
That makes it difficult to gauge the extent of the protests, particularly outside the capital, Tehran. Iranian media have only sporadically covered the demonstrations.
Iranians have long used virtual private networks and proxies to get around the government’s internet restrictions.
Shervin Hajipour, an amateur singer in Iran, recently posted a song on Instagram based on tweets about Amini that received more than 40 million views in less than 48 hours before it was taken down. Iran Human Rights Organization, a group based in Norway, said that Hajipour has reportedly been arrested. There was no official confirmation.
Original News : https://news.yahoo.com/amnesty-iran-ordered-forces-severely-125826612.html
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