Iran vows to crush women-led protests with ‘no leniency’ as unrest enters 10th day

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The massive anti-government demonstrations in Iran over the death of Mahsa Amini continued unabated for the 10th day on Monday, despite authorities warning of intensified “action without leniency”.

The number of dead during clashes between protesters and security forces increased to 41 people, including some members of the security forces, according to state TV. However, the real figure is believed to be much higher.

Iran’s foreign ministry criticised the US and UK governments on Monday for their alleged support of the protesters, accusing the countries of destabilising Tehran.

Foreign ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani told Nour that the US’s attempts to “weaken Iran’s stability and security” will not go unanswered.

Iran also summoned Britain’s ambassador to protest what it described as a hostile atmosphere created by London-based Farsi language media outlets.

The state-run IRNA news agency reported that the ministry also summoned Norway’s ambassador to Iran and strongly protested recent remarks by the president of the Norwegian parliament, Masud Gharahkhani.

“If my parents had not made the choice to flee in 1987, I would have been one of those fighting in the streets with my life on the line,” Mr Gharahkhani tweeted on Sunday.

Iran’s judiciary chief Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ejei on Sunday “emphasised the need for decisive action without leniency” against the core instigators of the “riots”, the judiciary’s Mizan Online website said.

The comments were in line with president Ebrahim Raisi’s statement that said the country must “deal decisively with those who oppose the country’s security and tranquillity.”

The outpouring of anger that began with dissatisfaction directed towards Iran’s morality police has now spread to least 46 cities, towns and villages. More than 1,200 demonstrators have been arrested.

At least 18 journalists have been arrested during the protests as of Sunday, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

A fifth member of an Iranian volunteer paramilitary group died on Sunday, succumbing to injuries sustained on Thursday in Urmia city, northwest of Iran, IRNA said.

State media said the person died clashing with “rioters and thugs”. Other deaths of personnel belonging to Basij, a paramilitary organisation connected to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), were reported in Qazvin, Tabriz, Mashhad and Qouchan.

Visuals showed protesters chanting slogans against the government and also Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, shouting “death to dictator,” Freedom, freedom, freedom!” and “We will fight, we will die, we will take back Iran!”

An emotional video showed the sister of an alleged victim of the police’s crackdown on protesters, Javad Heydari, cutting off her hair on the grave of her brother. The gesture of women chopping off their hair across Iran has become a symbol of resistance in the country.

The protests have also spread to other countries, with Iranian demonstrators and activists raising slogans outside Iranian embassies in London, Athens, Berlin, Brussels, Istanbul, Madrid, New York and Paris, among other cities.

Twelve people were arrested and at least five officers “seriously injured” in clashes outside the Iranian embassy in London over the weekend, the Metropolitan Police said.

Iran’s Oscar-winning director Asghar Farhadi called on activists and artists around the world to stand in solidarity with Iranian women.

He said in an Instagram post that they were “looking for simple and yet fundamental rights that the state has denied them for years”.

“I deeply respect their struggle for freedom and the right to choose their own destiny despite all the brutality they are subjected to,” Mr Farhadi added.