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Iranian Forces Extend Crackdown as Protests Enter Fifth Week

2 minute read

Security forces in Iran extended their crackdown against protesters across the country as demonstrations aimed at bringing down the government enter a fifth week with little sign of abating.

Social media footage showed violent clashes in the northwestern city of Ardabil, which have gained in intensity since unconfirmed reports that a young girl was killed Thursday after plainclothes officers stormed her school. The state-run Islamic Republic News Agency denied reports of the killing in Ardabil on Thursday, citing a police statement. Bloomberg couldn’t substantiate the reports or verify the footage of Saturday’s protest.

In another unverified video from the city of Karaj, west of Iran’s capital Tehran, a woman is seen being forced into a passenger car by plainclothes guards as they point their guns to disperse a jeering crowd.

A plethora of clips showed gatherings across Iranian universities, where protesters continued their call for the release of detained students.

Growing Threat

The protests were triggered by the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a young woman who was detained by police for allegedly wearing improper clothes. The growing unrest is posing the biggest threat in years to the foundations of the Islamic Republic. At least 201 people, including 23 children, have been killed in the unrest since Sept. 16, according to Oslo-based group Iran Human Rights.

The demonstrations have been widespread on university campuses, but younger school children are also getting involved and being targeted by security forces. In an interview with the Shargh daily newspaper published on Tuesday, Iran’s minister of education, Yousef Nouri, said an unspecified number of students had been taken to “psychiatric facilities” for “behavioral correction” after being arrested.

The government is also punishing public personalities for speaking out over Amini’s death, or expressing solidarity with the protests.

On Friday, authorities seized the passport of Iranian filmmaker Mani Haghighi and barred him from boarding a flight to attend the screening of his new film in London. In a video he shared on his Instagram account, Haghighi described his experience as and “exile in reverse.”

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