Death toll from prison fires in Iran rises as some EU countries call for sanctions

  • Death toll from Evin prison fire rises to 8
  • Judiciary says prisoners shot after quarrel
  • Relatives of prisoners say they fear for their safety
  • The protests sparked by the killing of Mohasa Amini continued
  • Protesters demand the overthrow of the Islamic Republic – social media

DUBAI (Reuters) – The Iranian judiciary said on Monday that eight prisoners died as a result of a fire in Tehran’s Evin prison at the weekend, doubling the death toll from a fire that has added to pressure on the government, which is struggling to contain it. mass protests.

The fate of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian-Kurdish woman who died in custody on September 16 after being arrested by Iran’s morality police for “improper clothing”, unleashed a wave of protests that quickly spread and shaped all strata of society. the society.

The unrest has turned into one of the boldest challenges facing Iran’s clerical rulers since the 1979 revolution, as demonstrators called for the overthrow of the Islamic Republic, even if the protests did not appear close to toppling the regime.

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The Iranian judiciary said that the fire started on Saturday evening by prisoners in a workshop after a quarrel, and that the dead died due to smoke inhalation. It added that all of them belonged to a section of the prison for prisoners imprisoned for theft-related crimes.

Tehran’s crackdown on the protests, which includes members of all strata of society, has drawn sharp international criticism from the United States and other Western powers.

It seems that opening a new channel for external pressure, several countries in the European Union called, on Monday, to impose sanctions on Iran over the transfer of Iranian drones to Russia.

Ukraine has reported a series of Russian attacks with Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones in recent weeks, and Russia on Monday attacked Ukrainian cities with drones, killing at least four people in an apartment building in downtown Kyiv during the morning rush hour.

Ukraine said the attacks were carried out by Iranian-made “suicide” planes, and said Tehran was responsible for the “killing of Ukrainians”.

Iran denies providing Russia with drones since it invaded Ukraine. The Kremlin did not comment.

Iran’s protests have seen Iranians call for the overthrow of the Islamic Republic, even if the demonstrations are not close to toppling the regime.

The Iranian judiciary said, on Monday, that eight prisoners died as a result of a fire in Tehran’s Evin prison at the end of the week.

The Iranian judiciary said that the fire started on Saturday evening by prisoners in a workshop after a quarrel, and that the dead died due to smoke inhalation.

Evin, who was blacklisted by the US government in 2018 for “gross violations of human rights,” holds political prisoners and several detainees facing security charges, including Iranian dual nationals.

Iranian Chief Justice Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei blamed the fire on “agents of Iran’s enemy,” while the foreign ministry said such an event could have happened in any country.

Iran has accused countries that have expressed support for the protests of interfering in its internal affairs, including President Ebrahim Raisi, who on Sunday blamed his US counterpart for fomenting “chaos, terrorism and destruction” in Iran.

A traffic police officer was killed on Monday in Saravan in southeastern Iran by what the provincial police chief described as “terrorists” armed with AK-47 assault rifles.

The sounds of gunfire were heard frequently in the Kurdish city of Sanandaj, according to audio files received by the human rights organization Hengaw.

Dozens of young people demonstrated in one of the main historic streets in the city of Isfahan on Monday, chanting “Death to the dictator,” a popular slogan referring to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

A video clip circulated on social media, at Mazandaran University in northern Iran, showed dozens of female students, on Monday, calling on their professors to support the protests.

Kurdish region

The protests, which began at Amini’s funeral in her Kurdish hometown of Saqqaz, quickly spread to cities and provinces across Iran, a country of more than 80 million people.

Demonstrations resumed early Monday morning in the central city of Yazd and several other cities, including Piranshahr in the northwest and Tehran.

Activist Tasvir1500’s Twitter account posted a video showing people burning tires in the streets and calling for Khamenei’s death.

Reuters was unable to verify the authenticity of the videos.

Much of the crackdown by security forces has focused on the northwest, where most of Iran’s estimated 10 million Kurds live, but protests have swept through other regions that include ethnic minorities with long-standing grievances against the state.

Religious leaders in Iran have said the unrest is part of a separatist uprising by the Kurdish minority, threatening the nation’s unity rather than its religious rule.

Iran deployed the Basij militia, a volunteer military force that was at the forefront of quelling popular unrest, but failed to control.

Elite Revolutionary Guards, who were not involved in the campaign, began military exercises on Monday.

Rights groups said at least 240 protesters were killed, including 32 minors. Today, Saturday, an activist Iranian news agency said that more than 8,000 people have been arrested in 111 cities and towns. The authorities have not released the death toll.

Iran, which has blamed the violence on enemies at home and abroad, denies that security forces have killed protesters. On Saturday, state media said at least 26 members of the security forces had been killed by “rioters”.

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Additional reporting by Sabine Siebold, Maren Strauss, Gabriela Baczynska; Writing by Michael Georgi Editing by Raisa Kasulowski, William MacLean

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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