Iranian protesters torch police stations

·3-min read

Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guards have called on the Islamic Republic's judiciary to prosecute "those who spread false news and rumours" about a young woman whose death in police custody triggered nationwide protests.

Protesters in Tehran and other Iranian cities torched police stations and vehicles on Thursday as public outrage over the death showed no signs of easing, with reports of security forces coming under attack.

Mahsa Amini, 22, died last week after being arrested in Tehran for wearing "unsuitable attire". She fell into a coma while in detention. The authorities have said they would launch an investigation into the cause of her death.

In a statement, the Guards expressed sympathy with the family and relatives of Amini.

"We have requested the judiciary to identify those who spread false news and rumours on social media as well as on the street and who endanger the psychological safety of society and to deal with them decisively," the Guards said.

Pro-government protests are planned for Friday, Iranian media said.

"The will of the Iranian people is this: do not spare the criminals," said an editorial in the influential hardline Kayhan newspaper.

The protests over Amini's death are the biggest 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 nationwide, with police using force to disperse protesters.

A group of United Nations experts, including Javaid Rehman, special rapporteur on human rights in Iran and Mary Lawlor, special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, demanded accountability for Amini's death.

"We are shocked and deeply saddened by the death of Ms Amini. She is another victim of Iran's sustained repression and systematic discrimination against women and the imposition of discriminatory dress codes that deprive women of bodily autonomy and the freedoms of opinion, expression and belief," the experts said in a statement.

A member of an Iranian pro-government paramilitary organisation, the Basij, was stabbed to death in the northeastern city of Mashhad on Wednesday, two semi-official Iranian news agencies reported on Thursday.

The Tasnim and Fars news agencies reported on the stabbing. There was no official confirmation of the death.

Tasnim also said another member of the Basij was killed on Wednesday in the city of Qazvin as a result of a gunshot wound inflicted by "rioters and gangs".

Nour news, a media outlet affiliated with a top security body, shared a video of an army officer confirming the death of a soldier in the unrest, bringing the total reported number of security force members killed in the unrest to five.

A police station was set ablaze in Tehran as the unrest spread from Kurdistan, the home province of Amini and where she was buried on Saturday.

Amini's death has reignited anger over issues including restrictions on personal freedoms in Iran - including strict dress codes for women - and an economy reeling from sanctions.

Iran's clerical rulers fear a revival of the 2019 protests that erupted over fuel price rises, the bloodiest in the Islamic Republic's history. Reuters reported 1500 were killed.

Reports by Kurdish rights group Hengaw said the death toll in Kurdish areas had climbed to 15 and the number of injured rose to 733. Iranian officials have denied that security forces have killed protesters.

With no sign of the protests easing, authorities restricted access to the internet.