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Iran Activists Honoring Dead Protestor Shot


FILE: This Oct. 7, 2022 image shows a fountain in Park Daneshjoo or Student Park in Tehran, where an artist allegedly colored the water red in protest of the death of Mahsa Amin, which sparked weeks of protests sparked against Iran's regime.

SECOND UPDATE TO INCLUDE SHOOTINGS, MORE DETAILS, INTERNET SHUTOFF: Reports say Iranian mourners were shot at as they gathered Wednesday at the grave of Mahsa Amini to mark 40 days since her death, defying heightened security measures as part of a bloody crackdown on women-led protests.

Iranian security forces opened fire at mourners who gathered in Mahsa Amini's Kurdish home town of Saqez to mark 40 days since she died in police custody, a witness said on Wednesday, while state media said people at the cemetery had clashed with riot police.

"The riot police shot mourners who gathered at the cemetery for Mahsa's memorial ceremony ... dozens have been arrested," the witness said. Iranian authorities were not available to comment.

Iran's semi-official ISNA news agency said about 10,000 people had gathered at the cemetery, adding that internet was cut off after clashes between security forces and people there.

"Woman, life, freedom" and "Death to the dictator," dozens of men and women chanted at the Aichi cemetery in Saqez, Amini's home town in the western province of Kurdistan, in videos shared online.

Mourners massed at her gravesite on Wednesday morning even though the security services had warned her family not to hold the ceremony, threatening that otherwise "they should worry for their son's life," according to activists.

Despite that, dozens of people were seen streaming into the city in cars and on motorcycles, as well as on foot along roads and across open fields, in footage posted online by the Hengaw rights group.

Hengaw, which monitors rights violations in Kurdistan, said Iranian football stars Ali Daei and Hamed Lak had travelled to Saqez "to take part in the 40th day funeral" and were staying at the Kurd Hotel.

But they "had been taken to the government guesthouse... under guard by the security forces", Hengaw said.

"Following the tensions and scattered confrontations that occurred after the ceremony, the internet connection was cut in the town of Saqez for security reasons," the ISNA news agency said.

Iran's judiciary said Wednesday it has pressed charges against over 300 people over demonstrations in the northwestern provinces of Zanjan and West Azerbaijan and northeastern Semnan, the judiciary's Mizan Online website said.

This new wave brings the total to more than 1,000 indictments.

However, the governor of Kurdistan Zarei Kusha denied any state limitation for holding a memorial service, adding that "it was the decision of her family not to hold a gathering", according to state media.

Wednesday marks 40 days since Amini's death and the end of the traditional mourning period in Iran.

Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian, died on September 16, three days after her arrest by the notorious morality police while visiting Tehran with her younger brother.

Anger flared at her funeral last month and quickly sparked the biggest wave of protests to rock the Islamic republic in almost three years. Young women and schoolgirls have led the charge, removing and burning their headscarves and confronting security forces on the street.

Oslo-based group Iran Human Rights (IHR) said the security forces' crackdown on the Amini protests has cost the lives of at least 141 demonstrators, in an updated death toll Tuesday.

Amnesty International says the crackdown has killed at least 23 children, while IHR said on Tuesday that at least 29 children have been slain.

This report includes information sourced from Agence France-Presse and Reuters.