IRAN: Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guards called on the judiciary today to prosecute “those who spread false news and rumours”, in an apparent bid to quell nationwide protests over the death of Masha Amini in police custody.
The warning was a clear sign that elite forces were ready to step up their crackdown on demonstrations.
Protesters in Tehran and other Iranian cities set fire to police stations and vehicles earlier on Thursday as public outrage over the deaths showed no signs of abating and reports of an attack by security forces.
Mahsa Amini, 22, died last week after being arrested in Tehran for wearing “inappropriate clothes”. She fell into a coma in custody. Authorities announced they would open an investigation into the cause of her death.
In a statement, Gardaí extended their sympathies to the family and relatives of Amini. “We have asked the judiciary to identify those who spread false news and rumours on social networks and the street and threaten the psychological safety of society, and to deal with them vigorously,” said the Garda, who has intervened against protests in the past, he said.
Women played a prominent role in the protests, waving and burning their veils and cutting their hair in public. Pro-government protests are planned for Friday and some protesters have already taken to the streets, Iranian media reported.
Chief Justice Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei ordered swift action on the rioters to “maintain the security and peace of citizens,” Tasnim reports said.
The United States imposed sanctions on Iran’s morality police, accusing them of abuse and violence against Iranian women and violating the rights of peaceful Iranian protesters, the US Treasury Department said.
The protests against Amini’s death are the largest in the Islamic Republic since 2019. Most have been concentrated in Iran’s Kurdish-populated northwest, but have spread to the capital and at least 50 cities and towns across the country, with police using force to disperse protesters. Amini came from the province of Kurdistan.
New mobile internet outages have been registered in the country, internet monitoring group Netblocks tweeted, in a possible sign that authorities fear the protests will intensify.
A member of Iran’s pro-government Basij paramilitary organization was stabbed to death in the northeastern city of Mashhad on Wednesday, two semi-official Iranian news agencies reported on Thursday. Though there is no official confirmation of the death.
Tasnim also said another Basij member was killed on Wednesday in the city of Qazvin from a gunshot wound caused by “rioters and gangs”.
An official from Mazandaran said 76 members of the security forces were injured in the province during the unrest, while the Kurdistan Police Commander said more than 100 security forces were injured.
In the northeast, protesters shouted “We will die, we will die, but we will get Iran back” near a police station that was set on fire, a video posted on the 1500tasvir Twitter account showed. The account focuses on the protests in Iran and has around 100,000 followers.
Iran’s clerical rulers fear a resurgence of protests in 2019 over rising gasoline prices, the bloodiest in the Islamic republic’s history. According to Reuters, 1,500 people were killed.
Protesters this week also expressed anger at Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. “My father, may you die and not become the supreme leader,” chanted a crowd in Tehran, referring to Khamenei’s son, whom some believe could succeed his father at the top of Iran’s political establishment.