Iranian Kurds rioted in the city of Mahabad last week after a 25-year-old woman fell to her death in an incident in which foul play was suspected. In the ensuing skirmishes, police killed at least two demonstrators, Kurdish media reported.
The demonstrations were held Thursday after Farinaz Khosravani, 25, a chambermaid in the city’s Tara Hotel, fell to her death Monday from the fourth floor of the hotel.
Unconfirmed reports indicated that an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps soldier threatened or attempted to rape her, according to Kurdish media accounts quoted in the Israeli press.
Mahabad is a city located in northwestern Iran, the majority whose roughly 280,000 inhabitants are ethnic Kurds.
On Thursday, demonstrators clashed with police after setting the hotel ablaze, throwing furniture from its rooms. Activists told the Kurdish ARA News that at least two protesters died and over 50 injured after Iranian riot police fired bullets at the crowd to disperse them.
Footage of the riots outside the hotel showed demonstrators chanting “death to the regime.”
Smaller demonstrations against the repression of Kurds took place in ethnically Kurdish areas of Iraq and Syria, Israel’s Channel 2 reported.
Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency reported Sunday that authorities have arrested multiple suspects after several days of unrest in the Kurdish city of Mahabad over Khosravani’s death.
A Channel 2 report called the outbreak of violent demonstrations a “Kurdish intifada” and posited that the protests might break out into a “Kurdish Spring” akin to the Arab Spring which began after a Tunisian man lit himself on fire in 2011.
“The people must wait until the investigation results are out to find out the reason behind Khosrawani’s death,” Mahabad Mayor Jaafar Katani told the Iraqi Kurdish Rudaw news agency.
The Sunday Fars news report quotes Ebrahim Raisi, Iran’s General Prosecutor, as saying the arrests came following a “crisis” instigated by foreign-based media “over the death of an individual in a hotel.”
AP contributed to this report.