Sunday, September 24

Iran police investigate video of officer’s alleged sexual assault of protester | Iran

Iranian police have said they are investigating footage allegedly showing a member of their riot squad sexually assaulting a female protester in Tehran after widespread outrage over the video.

the footage, recorded during a protest in the capital’s Argentina Square on Wednesday, shows a woman being violently detained and taken towards a motorbike in a street crowded with protesters and riot police. She is surrounded by four armed members of the riot force, and one of them appears to grab her inappropriately from behind her. She then slumps to the ground.

A female voice behind the camera could be heard saying: “They are pulling her hair.”

Tehran’s police said they were aware of the incident and an investigation had been launched.

Officials claimed the woman, who managed to escape after passing motorists started honking their horns at the police, was “encouraging riots”.

The police did not give details of what happened to the officer but said that “enemies using psychological warfare tried to cause public anxiety and incite violence”.

Iran has been experiencing its largest anti-government protests in years after Mahsa Amini, 22, died while in the custody of the morality police.

A female protester from Tehran said the alleged behavior of the officers on Wednesday was “very normal for riot police. They would not acknowledge that but I have seen lots of such scenes on the streets.

“They grabbed my friend from her neck and pushed her to a police car a few nights ago.”

She said she was not shocked by the footage. “It is one of many on a daily basis here. This time it was filmed only.”

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Riot police had been sexually abusive words to try to disperse the female protesters, she said. “They once told me: ‘You’re a whore’ because I was chanting for freedom of how I want to appear on the streets. They have told us lots of sexually abusive things over the past few weeks.”

Five weeks into the anti-government protests across Iran, authorities seem concerned by the scale and determination of the uprising, and increasingly ruthless in their attempts to crush it.

The security forces have used brutal force and live ammunition on protesters, and have flooded Tehran and western Kurdish towns with riot police. More than 200 people, including 23 children, have been killed, according to the Oslo-based group Iran Human Rights.

Another protester from the central city of Karaj said the footage was “disgusting” and she could not watch it again. “They are doing it intentionally, so women stop coming out, but they will not succeed,” she said. “The more brutality we witness, the more we will come out. Women no longer want to live under the regime of suppression.

“Women have been facing such abuses every day from the regime forces. This is why we are out on the streets these days. It is an all-out war against women going on in Iran and we have to fight for our daughters’ freedom. They [authorities] they are very scared this time because most of the protesters are women; something they have never faced before.”

The movement has been nurtured online, where Iranian and foreign celebrities use social media to show their support, and powerful images carry protesters’ messages beyond Iran’s borders.

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Despite authorities blocking access to popular apps, such as Instagram and WhatsApp, protesters called for mass protests on Saturday under the slogan: “The beginning of the end!”.

Footage from Tehran on Saturday showed predominantly female protesters gathered in several locations and chanting “death to the dictator”.

There have been solidarity rallies and some western countries have imposed sanctions abroad on Iranian officials and institutions accused of involvement in the crackdown.

Joe Biden said on Friday he was “stunned” by the mass protests and that the US stood with the country’s “brave women”.

Speaking to a rally at a college in Irvine, California, where demonstrators held “Free Iran” signs, Biden said: “I want you to know that we stand with the citizens, the brave women of Iran.

“Women should be able to wear in God’s name what they want to wear. Iran has to end the violence against its own citizens simply exercising their fundamental rights.”

On Friday, Tehran condemned comments by the French president, Emmanuel Macron, who expressed his “admiration” for the “women [and] young people” protesting and said that France “condemns the repression” by the regime.

In Washington, the secretary of state, Antony Blinken, met activists from Iran on Friday and praised the “courage” of the protesters who “continue to stand up for the basic rights the Iranian regime continues to deny them”.

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