Iran: Iranian lawmakers fervently chanted “thank you, thank you, police” during a parliament session on Sunday, amid weeks of anti-government protests across Iran following the grizzly death of a young woman in police custody due to ‘inappropriate’ clothing, Iranian state media reported.
The mass demonstrations, fuelled by the unfortunate demise of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini from Iranian Kurdistan, have spiralled into the biggest show of opposition to Iran’s staunch and conservative authorities in years, with many demanding an end to more than four decades of Islamic clerical rule.
Pledging allegiance to the Islamic Republic’s top authority Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the lawmakers chanted: “The blood in our veins is a gift to our leader“, a video shared on Iranian state media showed.
Khamenei has not commented on the protests, which began following Amini’s funeral on September 17, and eventually spread to Iran’s 31 provinces, with protesters hailing from different walks of life, including gender, ethnic and religious minorities.
The Iranian battle spirit is so intense that the mass demonstrations have continued despite persistent threats of deaths, security crackdown using tear gas, clubs and in some cases, live ammunition, to dispel the crowd.
Videos on social media showed demonstrations in several cities such as Kermanshah, Shiraz and Mashhad on Sunday, with participants chanting “independence, freedom, death to Khamenei“.
Activist Twitter account 1500tasvir, which has more than 160,000 followers, posted a video of protesters in the central city of Isfahan calling for a nationwide strike and setting up a roadblock to bring truck drivers to their ranks.
Amini was arrested in Tehran for “unsuitable attire” by the country’s notorious morality police, who enforce the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code and died in hospital after falling into a coma.
Iran’s police authorities claim that the reports of her death caused by police brutality are false and that Amini died of a heart attack.
The country’s hardline President Ebrahim Raisi, who ordered an investigation into Amini’s death, said last week that forensics would present a report in “coming days”.
Human rights watchdog Amnesty International said in a statement on Friday that the government crackdown on demonstrations had backfired and led to the death of at least 52 people, with hundreds wounded and thousands arrested. Iranian authorities say many members of the security forces have been killed by “rioters and thugs backed by foreign foes”.
Amini’s death and the crackdown have drawn international criticism of Iran’s rulers, which has, in turn, accused the West, especially the United States and some European countries of inciting the civil unrest, to debilitate the Islamic Republic.
Iran said last week it had arrested nine people from Germany, Poland, Italy, France, the Netherlands, Sweden and other countries for their role in the protests.