Tehran: At least 31 civilians have been killed in a crackdown by the Iranian security forces on protests that erupted after the death of Mahsa Amini who had been arrested by the morality police, according to the Oslo-based Iran Human Rights NGO. Violent clashes erupted between Iranian security forces and protesters angry over the death of a 22-year-old woman in police custody over the weekend, according to The Associated Press. The scope of Iran’s ongoing unrest, the worst in several years, still remains unclear as protesters in at least a dozen cities venting anger over social repression and the country’s mounting crises continue to encounter security and paramilitary forces.
Widespread outages of Instagram and WhatsApp, which protesters use to share information about the government’s rolling crackdown on dissent, continued on Thursday. Authorities also appeared to disrupt internet access to the outside world, a tactic that rights activists say the government often employs in times of unrest.
In a country where radio and television stations already are state-controlled and journalists regularly face the threat of arrest, the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard urged the judiciary on Thursday to prosecute anyone who spreads fake news and rumours” on social media about the unrest.
The demonstrations in Iran began as an emotional outpouring over the death of Mahsa Amini, a young woman held by the country’s morality police for allegedly violating its strictly enforced dress code. Her death has sparked sharp condemnation from the United States, the European Union and the United Nations.
The police say she died of a heart attack and was not mistreated, but her family has cast doubt on that account. Independent experts affiliated with the U.N. Said Thursday that reports suggested she was severely beaten by the morality police, without offering evidence. They called for an impartial investigation to hold perpetrators accountable. The protests have grown in the last four days into an open challenge to the government, with women removing and burning their state-mandated headscarves in the streets and Iranians setting trash bins ablaze and calling for the downfall of the Islamic Republic itself.