Protests continue in Iran despite repression, with oil strike

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Clashes between protesters and security forces continued across Iran on Tuesday, with videos on social media showing tanks being transported into Kurdish areas that have been at the center of the U.S. crackdown. protests following the death of Mahsa Amini in custody.

Protests calling for the fall of clerical power have spread across Iran since Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman, died on September 16 while in police custody for wearing “inappropriate clothing.”

Although observers do not believe the unrest is close to toppling the government, the protests pose one of the boldest challenges to the Islamic Republic since the 1979 revolution, with strikes reportedly spreading to the vital energy sector.

The authorities are carrying out a deadly crackdown. Videos posted on social media showed trucks moving dark green tanks into Kurdish areas, adding to the significance of the uprising. Reuters was unable to verify the images.

At least 185 people have been killed, including 19 children, hundreds have been injured and thousands have been detained by security forces, according to human rights groups. The Iranian government says more than 20 security forces have been killed.

Iranian authorities have said they will investigate the civilian deaths.

Tension has been especially high in the Kurdish regions, given Amini’s ethnic background. Human rights groups say Iran’s Kurdish minority of more than 10 million people has long been oppressed, a charge the Islamic Republic denies.

The Kurdistan Human Rights Network said the protests were continuing for a fourth week in those regions “despite the tense security environment and the militarization of these cities.”

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According to the organization, security forces have killed at least 30 protesters, injured 825 others and detained more than 2,000 in the predominantly Kurdish regions.

Reuters was unable to independently verify the report.

Iranian authorities have blamed a range of enemies, including armed Iranian Kurdish dissidents, for the violence, and the Revolutionary Guards have repeatedly attacked their bases in neighboring Iraq during the latest unrest.

Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi reiterated accusations that Iranian Kurdish dissident groups were supporting the protests, saying security forces would “neutralize the desperate anti-revolutionary effort.”


Unrest continued late on Monday and into the night, after demonstrations spread to the country’s vital energy sector, according to videos posted on social media that Reuters could not confirm.

Iran’s southwestern energy facilities were hit by strikes for the second day in a row, with workers protesting at the Abadan, Kangan oil refinery and Bushehr petrochemical plant, according to the Twitter account (NYSE: TWTR ) @Tavsir1500, which has a significant number of followers.

Videos posted to the account showed several dozen workers chanting “Death to the dictator,” a reference to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

A regional official said on Tuesday that workers at the Asaluyeh plant were angry over a wage dispute and were not protesting Amini’s death.

Gov. Ali Hashemi said some Iranians tried to take over the workers’ protests by chanting anti-government slogans, according to the Telegram account of the Young Journalists Club of Iran.

It was a combination of mass protests and strikes by oil workers and bazaar shopkeepers that helped propel the Shia clergy to power in the Iranian revolution four decades ago.

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Dozens of universities are also on strike, with students playing a key role in the protests.

Meanwhile, in the city of Fuladshahr in the central province of Isfahan, protesters set fire to the office of a prayer leader, according to a video posted by Tavsir1500.

The authorities’ crackdown on protesters has prompted some Western states to craft more sanctions against Iran, stoking diplomatic tensions at a time when talks to revive Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers are at an impasse.

France’s foreign minister said on Tuesday that five of its citizens were detained in Iran and that the European Union had agreed on the technical aspects of imposing sanctions on Tehran, which would take effect next week.

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