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Journalist arrested as Iran cracks down on protests

Sept. 29, 2022 Updated Thu., Sept. 29, 2022 at 8:43 p.m.

Iranian demonstrators take to the streets of the capital Tehran during a protest for Mahsa Amini, days after she died in police custody, on Sept. 21.  (-/AFP/Getty Images North America/TNS)
Iranian demonstrators take to the streets of the capital Tehran during a protest for Mahsa Amini, days after she died in police custody, on Sept. 21. (-/AFP/Getty Images North America/TNS)
By Axel Hofmann, Hans Dahne and Steffen Trumpf German Press Agency

Iranian authorities have arrested another journalist for reporting on the protests after nearly two weeks of demonstrations triggered by the death of a woman in custody.

The pro-reform Hamminewspaper reported Thursday on Telegram that Elahe Mohammadi had been summoned by the judicial authorities but was arrested on the way there.

The Iranian Journalists’ Association has repeatedly called for the immediate release of all reporters who have been detained for covering the protests. No figures have been released, but dozens may have been arrested.

Supporting the protests, or reporting on them, could incite further unrest and therefore can be seen as a crime, according to the Iranian judiciary.

The protests were triggered by the death of Mahsa Amini, 22, who fell into a coma and died in hospital after she was arrested Sept. 13 for not covering herself according to Iran’s strict Islamic dress code. It is unclear what caused her death.

Critics accuse the morality police of brutality. The police reject the accusations, and the country’s Interior Ministry has said they were not to blame, claiming the young woman died of heart failure at the police station.

The Amini family’s lawyer has filed a criminal complaint against the police officers who arrested and interrogated their daughter.

Lawyer Saleh Nikbakht has demanded access to files and police videos from the judicial authority, according to reports. The Amini family has not yet confirmed the lawyer’s statements.

Since her death, hundreds of thousands of people have been demonstrating across the country against the government. Eyewitnesses in the capital have said both security forces and protesters have become increasingly violent.

In response, the government has severely restricted internet access, making it difficult to establish what is happening on the ground.

The number of those arrested remains unclear. More than 1,000 arrests have been reported from the north of the country, and there are fears that thousands more have been detained nationwide.

In a television interview Wednesday evening, President Ebrahim Raisi struck a conciliatory note, although he also announced a renewed crackdown on demonstrators, warning the police would take consistent action against “rioters.”

Meanwhile the ongoing protests are forcing traders to close their shops down entirely or restrict their opening hours, while online business has been halted due to the internet blackout, further harming the Iranian economy.

Human rights organization Amnesty International has documented violence against demonstrators and called for an international investigation.

Security forces used live ammunition, shotgun pellets and other metal projectiles, Amnesty said. There were also reports of brutal beatings and gender-based and sexual violence against women, according to the organization.

Amnesty has also documented the deaths of dozens of women, men and children, but estimates the death toll is even higher.

State media have reported more than 40 deaths so far. Amnesty’s Secretary General Agnès Callamard called on the United Nations to investigate the deaths of demonstrators.

Abroad, lawmakers expressed their support for the Iranians taking to the streets.

In Germany, the Bundestag condemned the authorities’ violent crackdown. “The Iranian authorities must immediately stop their brutal actions on the demonstrators,” Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said Thursday.

In Norway, several demonstrators tried to enter the Iranian Embassy during a demonstration in Oslo.

Many people were violent and aggressive during the demonstration and several tried to enter the embassy, Norwegian police said. Two people suffered minor injuries and around 90 were taken into custody.

Some protesters threw stones, according to a reporter for the Verdens Gang newspaper. Police responded with tear gas.

Some of the protesters shouted “Long live Kurdistan,” according to videos shared online, while images showed many demonstrators carrying Kurdish flags.

Amini had Kurdish roots and lived in Kurdistan with her family for some time.

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