1 dead as Iran forces fire on crowd at slain protesters’ memorial, says rights group

Security forces gunfire toward mourners also wounds 8, two of them critically, says Norway-based organization; activists call for further demonstrations

In this photo taken by an individual not employed by the Associated Press and obtained by the AP outside Iran, Iranians protests the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini after she was detained by the morality police while in custody, in Tehran, October 27, 2022. (Middle East Images/AP)
In this photo taken by an individual not employed by the Associated Press and obtained by the AP outside Iran, Iranians protests the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini after she was detained by the morality police while in custody, in Tehran, October 27, 2022. (Middle East Images/AP)

PARIS — Iran’s security forces fired on a crowd in the Kurdish-populated west on Saturday, killing a 22-year-old, a rights group said, more than 100 days after the death of Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini sparked nationwide protests.

The Islamic Republic has been rocked by demonstrations since Amini died in custody on September 16 following her arrest for an alleged breach of the country’s strict dress code for women.

Norway-based human rights group Hengaw said the man was killed in a cemetery in the city of Javanroud as residents marked the end of a 40-day mourning period for slain protesters.

Security forces fired live ammunition and tear gas, killing Borhan Eliasi and wounding eight others, Hengaw said, in a report that could not be independently verified.

Two of those wounded were said to be in critical condition.

Activists have used social media to call for gatherings in Tehran and other cities to protest the worsening economic situation.

Iranians protest the death of Mahsa Amini in Tehran, October 27, 2022. (This photo was taken by an individual not employed by The Associated Press and obtained by the AP outside Iran)

The sanctions-hit country replaced its central bank chief on Thursday, state media said, after the rial shed nearly a third of its value on the parallel market in the past two months.

US-based Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) reported small gatherings in the capital and the central cities of Isfahan and Najafabad, sharing videos of protesters chanting anti-regime slogans. AFP was unable to immediately verify the footage.

On Friday, hundreds took to the streets of the southeastern city of Zahedan, which has seen weekly protests since the security forces killed more than 90 people in the city on September 30, in what has been dubbed “Bloody Friday.”

Footage shared by protest monitor 1500tasvir and verified by AFP shows the crowd in the Sistan-Baluchistan provincial capital chanting “Death to the dictator,” taking aim at Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Sistan-Baluchistan, an impoverished province on Iran’s border with Afghanistan and Pakistan, had been the site of often deadly violence even before protests erupted over Amini’s death.

At least 14,000 people have been arrested since the nationwide unrest began, the United Nations said last month. HRANA has put the figure at 19,000.

Retrial for death row inmate

Iranian officials say hundreds of people have been killed in the unrest, including members of the security forces, and thousands arrested.

In an updated death toll issued Tuesday, Oslo-based group Iran Human Rights (IHR) said 476 protesters have been killed so far.

Earlier in December, Iran executed two people in connection with the protests.

The judiciary’s Mizan Online news website reported that the supreme court has ordered the retrial of a third death row inmate sentenced over the nationwide protests.

Foreign-based rights groups had reported Sahand Nourmohammad-Zadeh was sentenced to death for tearing down street railings and setting fire to garbage cans and tires.

People gather outside of an Iranian diplomat’s residence to denounce the Iranian government and the recent execution of a protester on December 10, 2022 in New York City. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP)

Mizan said the 26-year-old had been granted a retrial.

“The appeal against the decision issued by a Tehran Revolutionary Court was upheld in the Supreme Court,” a statement said, adding that Nourmohammad-Zadeh’s case had been referred to a different court to be tried again.

His lawyer, Hamed Ahmadi, told the ILNA news agency on December 21 that Nourmohammad-Zadeh had been sentenced to death after being convicted of the Islamic sharia law offense of “moharebeh,” or “enmity against God.”

Nourmohammad-Zadeh is the third person reportedly on death row to be granted a retrial after Kurdish rapper Saman Seydi, also known as Saman Yasin, and Mahan Sadrat.

Majidreza Rahnavard, 23, was hanged in public on December 12 after being sentenced to death by a court in Iran’s second city Mashhad for killing two members of the security forces with a knife.

Four days earlier, Mohsen Shekari, also 23, was executed for wounding a member of the security forces.

The judiciary has said nine others have been sentenced to death, while IHR said this week that dozens of protesters face charges that can carry the death penalty.

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