- The commander of the elite force issues one of the harshest warnings yet
- Rights groups report new demonstrations, bloodshed
- The Revolutionary Guards have not been deployed since the protests began
DUBAI, Oct 29 (Reuters) – The head of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard Corps has warned protesters that Saturday will be their last day on the streets, the clearest sign yet that security forces may step up their already fierce crackdown on widespread unrest.
Protests continue in Iran after the death of a 22-year-old Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini is under the control of moral police Last month, he made one of the boldest calls for spiritual leadership since the 1979 revolution.
“Don’t take to the streets! Today is the last day of unrest,” Guard commander Hossein Salami said in the harshest language used in the crisis, which Iran’s leaders blamed on foreign enemies, including Israel and the United States.
“This evil plan is a plan prepared by the White House and the Zionist regime,” said Salami. “Don’t sell your honor to America and slap the security forces that protect you.”
Iranians ignored such warnings throughout the popular uprising, in which women played an important role. On Saturday, there were reports of more bloodshed and renewed protests.
Human rights group Hengaw said security forces shot students at a girls’ school in the city of Saghez. In another post, he said security forces opened fire on students at a medical university in Sanandaj, the capital of Kurdistan province.
Hengaw said that several students were injured, one of them was shot in the head. Reuters could not confirm the news.
More protests erupted Saturday evening in the Kurdish-populated town of Marivan, according to social media videos showing demonstrators shooting in the streets as gunshots were heard. Reuters could not verify the videos.
The Twitter account @1500tasvir, which has nearly 300,000 followers, released videos showing demonstrators lighting bonfires with debris and motorcycles seized from the police in the northwestern city of Astara.
Meanwhile, @1500tasvir and other Twitter accounts said security forces surrounded some campuses, including Mashhad Azad University and Tehran University’s Technical Faculty, to arrest student activists.
According to a video on @1500tasvir, in another show of defiance, protesters in the small northern town of Lasht-e Nesha chanted “Clergy must be lost!” they held a loud street march shouting slogans.
Reuters could not confirm the authenticity of the images.
OBJECTIONS WHERE JUDGMENT
The Revolutionary Guards, an elite force that reports directly to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and has experience crushing opposition, has not been deployed since the protests began last month.
But Salami’s warning suggests that Khamenei may release them now in the face of brutal demonstrations aimed at toppling the Islamic Republic.
In the videos published earlier on social media by the activist groups, it is claimed that protests were held in several universities of the country in the cities of Kerman, Mashhad, Qazvin, Ahvaz, Arak, Kermanshah, Yazd, Bushehr and dozens of campuses in the capital Tehran.
The activist HRANA news agency said 272 protesters, including 39 minors, had been killed in the unrest as of Friday. About 34 members of the security forces were also killed. About 14,000 people were arrested during protests held in 129 towns and cities and 115 universities.
The hardline Revolutionary Court has begun trials of some of the 315 protesters so far indicted in Tehran, including at least five on capital charges, official news agency IRNA reported.
According to IRNA, among the defendants is the person accused of hitting and killing a police officer with his car and injuring five others. He is accused of “spreading corruption on earth”, which is punishable by death under Iranian Islamic law.
Another man is accused of attacking police with a knife and helping to set fire to a government building, IRNA added, for the crime of “mohrabah,” an Islamic term that means fighting against God.
The court is chaired by Judge Abolghasem Salavati, whom the United States imposed sanctions against in 2019, accusing it of punishing Iranian nationals and dual nationals for exercising their freedoms of speech and free assembly.
Salami warned the protesters while speaking at the funeral of those killed in the incident attack this week It was claimed by the Islamic State.
The man the militant group says carried out the attack at the Shah Cheragh shrine in the city of Shiraz that killed 15 worshipers pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in a video posted on his Telegram account on Saturday. Iranian officials said he died of injuries sustained during his arrest.
Report from the Dubai newsroom; Additional reporting by Moaz Abd-Alziz in Cairo; Written by Michael Georgie, edited by Frances Currie, Christina Fincher, and Chris Reese
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