Memorials for 2 Young Women Killed in Iran Galvanize Protests

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For the second day in a row, tens of thousands of Iranians took to the streets across the country on Thursday to remember a young woman killed by security forces in a protest movement calling for an end to clerical rule that shows no sign of abating, and once again security forces fired on the crowds, according to witnesses and videos.

Videos showed anti-riot police attack and open fire during a memorial service in a rural cemetery near the northwestern town of Visian for Nika Shakarami, 16, whose killing at a street protest in Tehran last month where women were burning their hijabs catapulted her into a national symbol of defiance.

“We are all Nika, fight and we will fight back,” chanted the attendees at the service as they threw rocks at the security forces firing at them, videos showed. Women standing around her grave, which was covered in flowers and a black cloth, cut their hair and burned their head scarves, another video showed.

“My dear Nika, I am grief stricken by your loss and heartbroken for your dreams,” her mother Nassrin Shakarami said in a speech at the memorial service, calling her daughter a martyr. Others cried, clutching photos of Nika, and sang an ode for war.

As the protests aimed at ending Iran’s authoritarian clerical rule entered a sixth week, back-to-back memorial services took place, marking a 40-day mourning period for those killed.

On Wednesday, tens of thousands of Iranians commemorated Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old whose death in September first set off the protests. She died after being detained in Tehran by the morality police for allegedly violating the country’s hijab law requiring covered hair and loosefitting robes for women.

On Thursday, crowds marked 40 days since the death of Nika. If Ms. Amini’s death ignited the uprising, the killings of Nika and others have fueled it.

The ceremonies appear to be galvanizing protesters anew and breathing fresh momentum into a movement, led by women and young people.

The government’s heavy-handed crackdown — at least 28 children and adolescents have been killed, according to Iran’s Committee to Protect Children’s Rights — has not stopped the protests.

But Iranian officials have so far shown no sign of giving in to protester’s demands for change and have blamed the unrest on foreign enemies, and the death toll is continuing to rise.

In northwestern Kurdistan Province on Thursday, thousands attended the funeral of a young man, Ismail Mowloudi, killed by security forces a day earlier during protests in the city of Mahabad. They clapped, sang and chanted, “Kurdistan will bury fascists,” videos showed.

After his funeral, protesters and security forces clashed outside the governor’s office, according to videos and Iran’s official media, which reported that security forces had stopped the crowd trying to take over the government building.

Videos posted on social media and Kurdish and Persian news outlets showed the entrance to the governor’s office on fire, a bank ablaze and windows of nearby businesses smashed.

At least three protesters were killed in Mahabad on Thursday, according to an activist who works with the Kurdistan Human Rights Network, Rebin Rahmani, with the situation in the city remaining tense into the evening.

“There are many government troops in the city. There is no internet in the city. Some government places are burned by the protesters,” Mr. Rahmani said.

Heavy gunfire could be heard on several of the videos showing security forces assaulting protesters in the streets.

Across Iranian cities on Thursday, including in the capital, Tehran, demonstrators chanted “freedom” and “death to the dictator,” and security forces beat them, threw tear gas and opened fire at them, videos and media reports showed.

Clashes also broke out in the city of Baneh in northwestern Iran, where two protesters were killed, according to Hengaw, the Kurdish rights group based in Norway.

In Tehran, a group of young women with their hair uncovered sat on the sidewalk facing off against a line of anti-riot police. In a metro station, dozens of women chanted “Women, Life, Freedom,” videos showed.

In Tehran and the city of Isfahan, doctors were staging peaceful protests outside provincial government medical offices when security forces attacked them and beat them with batons, according to media reports and videos. Fifteen doctors were arrested in Tehran.

Officials blamed protesters for destabilizing the country and paving the way for a shooting attack on Wednesday in a mosque in the central city of Shiraz that killed 15 people, including two children, and was claimed by the Islamic State terrorist group.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei sent his condolences to those who died in the mosque attack.

“Every one of us has a responsibility to confront the enemy who is igniting fire and the traitors including those who are ignorant and manipulated,” he said.

In a message to his Iranian counterpart after the Shiraz attack, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia offered to bolster security cooperation with Iran and help with counterterrorism efforts, according to Russian media reports.

Sangar Khaleel contributed reporting.



Sumber: www.nytimes.com

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