Iranians took to the streets for the tenth night in a row to protest the death of Mahsa Amini, despite a warning from the judiciary.
Officially, at least 41 people have been killed since the unrest began, mostly protesters but including members of the security forces, but sources say the real number is higher.
Norway’s Iran Human Rights Organization (IHR) put the death toll at at least 57 on Sunday night, but noted that continued internet outages made it difficult to confirm deaths in a context where women-led protests have spread to dozens of cities.
Images distributed by IHR showed protesters on the streets of Tehran chanting “death to the dictator”, allegedly after Sunday night.
Echoing the president’s warning the previous day, Ebrahim Raisi, the head of the judiciary, Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei, on Sunday “stressed the need for decisive action without leniency” against the main instigators of the “disorder”, according to the justice website Mizan Online.
Hundreds of protesters, reformist activists and journalists have been arrested amid mostly nighttime demonstrations since unrest first erupted following the death of 22-year-old Amini in police custody on September 16. Amini was detained by the morale police for not wearing the hijab properly.
Iran’s biggest protests in nearly three years have seen security forces open fire, while protesters have thrown stones, torched police cars and torched government buildings.
Some protestors took off and burned their hijabs at rallies and cut their hair, some danced next to large bonfires to the applause of crowds chanting “zan, zendegi, azadi” or “woman, life, freedom.”
Web monitor NetBlocks noted “persistent shutdowns” and “widespread internet platform restrictions”, with WhatsApp, Instagram and Skype already blocked. This follows earlier bans on Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and Telegram.
Speaking on behalf of the European Union, its High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, said the “widespread and disproportionate use of force against non-violent protesters is unjustified and unacceptable.” He condemned the restrictions on the Internet as “a clear violation of freedom of expression.”
Iran summoned the British and Norwegian ambassadors over what it said were interference and hostile media coverage, while Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian also criticized US support for “rioters”.
On Sunday, US national security adviser Jake Sullivan said the US had taken “tangible steps” to sanction morale police.
The UK has been blamed for the “hostile character” of London’s Farsi media. The UK Foreign Office said it stood up for media freedom and condemned Iran’s “crackdown on protesters, journalists and internet freedom”.
Norway’s envoy was called to explain the “interventionist stance” of its parliament speaker, Tehran-born Massoud Gharahkhani, who has expressed support for the protesters.
“If my parents had not decided to flee in 1987, I would have been one of those fighting in the streets with my life on the line,” Gharahkhani tweeted on Sunday.
Pro-government rallies were also held on Sunday, with the main event taking place in central Tehran.
But one of the main teachers’ unions on Sunday called on teachers and students to start a national strike on Monday and Wednesday.
Protests abroad were held in solidarity with Iranian women in Athens, Berlin, Brussels, Istanbul, Madrid, New York and Paris, among other cities.
Iranian Oscar-winning director Asghar Farhadi called on activists and artists around the world to support the protesters, who he said were “demanding simple yet basic rights that the state has denied them for years.”
“I deeply respect their fight for freedom and the right to choose their destiny despite all the brutality they are exposed to,” Farhadi said in an Instagram post.
With Agence France Presse and Reuters