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Iranian mourners flock to Mahsa Amini’s grave despite crackdown

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Paris (AFP)- Iranian mourners gathered at the grave of Mahsa Amini on Wednesday to mark 40 days since her death, defying tightened security measures amid a bloody crackdown on protests led by women.

“Woman, life, freedom” and “Death to the dictator”, hundreds of men and women chanted at the Aichi cemetery in Saqez, Amini’s hometown in the western province of Kurdistan, in videos shared in line.

Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian of Kurdish origin, died on September 16, three days after her arrest by the notorious vice squad for allegedly breaking the Islamic dress code for women while visiting Tehran with her younger brother. .

Anger erupted at his funeral last month and quickly sparked the biggest wave of protests to rock the Islamic republic in nearly three years. Young women and schoolgirls led the charge, burning their hijab headscarves and confronting security forces in the street.

Overnight, authorities tightened security measures in Saqez, deploying personnel to a central square and reportedly closing entrances to the town.

Despite this, mourners made their way to his grave early Wednesday to mark 40 days since his death – the end of the traditional mourning period in Iran.

Motorists block a street in Tehran during the Amini protests – AFP/Dossier

They made their way by car, motorbike and on foot along a highway, across fields and even across a river, in videos shared online by activists and human rights groups.

Hundreds of mourners had gathered at the cemetery eight kilometers (five miles) outside Saqez, in footage the rights group Hengaw told AFP it had verified.

year of blood

“This year is the year of blood, Seyed Ali will be overthrown,” chanted a group of them in an AFP-verified video, referring to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

“Kurdistan, Kurdistan, the graveyard of the fascists,” others heard chanting in another video shared by activists on Twitter. AFP was unable to immediately verify the footage.

Hengaw, which monitors rights abuses in Kurdistan, said strikes were underway in Saqez, Divandarreh, Marivan, Kamyaran and Sanandaj, as well as Javanrud and Ravansar in the western province of Kermanshah.

The Norway-based rights group said Iranian soccer stars Ali Daei and Hamed Lak traveled to Saqez “to attend the 40th day funeral”.

Women around the world cut their hair in solidarity with protesters
Women around the world cut their hair in solidarity with protesters Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD AFP/File

They had stayed at the Kurd Hotel but were “taken to the government guest house…under the guard of the security forces”, he added.

Daei has previously run into trouble with authorities for its online support of the Amini protests.

Unverified footage released by the Oslo-based group Iran Human Rights (IHR) shows people gathering outside the Kurd Hotel in Saqez to demonstrate overnight.

Kurdistan Governor Esmail Zarei-Kousha said the situation in Saqez was calm on Wednesday morning and called reports that roads to the town had been closed “completely false”.

“The enemy and its media (…) are trying to use the 40th anniversary of the death of Mahsa Amini as a pretext to provoke new tensions, but fortunately the situation in the province is completely stable,” he said. he said, quoted by the official news agency. IRNA.

New student gatherings

Iran’s ISNA news agency said the ceremony took place in a “calm atmosphere” and people marched to his grave, including from nearby towns, without any tension.

Hengaw said most of Saqez was “empty” Wednesday morning because so many people had left town to join Amini’s memorial ceremony.

Social media channel 1500tasvir, which chronicles rights abuses by Iranian security forces, said further protests were taking place elsewhere on Wednesday, including at universities in Tehran, Mashhad in northeastern Iran and Ahvaz. , in the southwest.

Pro-government protesters hold the Iranian national flag during a rally in Tehran
Pro-government protesters hold the Iranian national flag during a rally in Tehran – AFP/Dossier

IHR said security forces’ crackdown on Amini protests claimed the lives of at least 141 protesters, down from 122 previously, in a tally updated Tuesday.

Amnesty International says the crackdown killed at least 23 children, while IHR said on Tuesday that at least 29 children were killed.

More than five weeks after Amini’s death, the protests show no sign of ending. They were fueled by public outrage at the crackdown that claimed the lives of other young women and girls.

Iran’s forensic organization said in a report released this month that Amini’s death “was not caused by blows to the head, vital organs and body limbs.”

But lawyers for Amini’s family rejected the findings and called for a review of his death by another commission.