Some oil workers reportedly join protests as Iran intensifies crackdown

  • Large numbers of security personnel in some Kurdish cities – Hengaw
  • Fierce clashes erupt in Iranian Kurdistan
  • Death of Iranian Kurdish woman sparks protests
  • Police detain Mahsa Amini for ‘improper attire’
  • Rights groups say at least 185 people were killed in the riots

DUBAI, Oct 10 (Reuters) – Iranian security forces stepped up their crackdown on anti-government protests in several Kurdish cities on Monday as demonstrations elsewhere in Iran spread to the country’s vital energy sector.

Protests have engulfed Iran since the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in Iran’s Kurdish region on September 9. The 16th was jailed for “improperly dressed” in one of the most daring challenges to the Islamic Republic since the 1979 revolution.

While college students played a key role in protests at dozens of universities, unconfirmed reports on social media showed workers at the Abadan and Kangan refineries and the Bushehr petrochemical project joined in.

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Iran’s oil ministry was not immediately reached for comment.

A combination of mass protests and strikes by oil workers and bazaars helped the clergy take power in the Iranian revolution 40 years ago.

However, analysts say Iran’s religious rulers are likely to keep the unrest under control for now, and prospects for a new political order are more

A video on Twitter showed dozens of workers blocking the road to the Bushehr petrochemical plant in Asaluyeh, on Iran’s Gulf coast, chanting “death to the dictator”.

Tensions are particularly high between the authorities and the Kurdish minority, which human rights groups say have long been oppressed — a charge the Islamic Republic denies.

Human rights group Hengaw reported Monday that armed security forces have a large presence in the Kurdish cities of Sanandaj, Saqez and Divandareh. At least five Kurdish residents have been killed and more than 150 injured in protests since Saturday, it said.

Videos shared on social media showed protests in dozens of Iranian cities early on Monday, with protesters clashing violently with riot police in towns in Amini’s home province of Kurdistan. Iranian social media posts urged mass protests on Wednesday.

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

“Prepare to Die”

Iran has a record of quelling unrest among more than 10 million Kurds, part of the Kurdish minority whose desire for autonomy has also led to clashes with Turkish, Iraqi and Syrian authorities.

Heavy gunfire can be heard in several videos shared by activist 1500tasvir on Twitter. A video showed several explosions near the capital of Kurdistan province, Sanandaj, producing a dazzling flash of light.

Several people, including two teenagers, were killed by security forces in the province, activists said on social media. Reuters was unable to verify the videos and posts.

Unaffected by tear gas, clubs and, in many cases, live ammunition used by security forces, protesters across Iran insisted that demonstrators burn Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, according to human rights groups Khamenei), calling for the overthrow of civilian institutions.

At least 185 people, including 19 minors, were killed, hundreds injured and thousands arrested by security forces, according to human rights groups. Authorities blamed Iran’s foreign enemies for the protests, saying “thugs” had killed at least 20 members of the security forces.

Videos on social media showed schoolgirls joining the protests across Iran.

“Hey, world, listen to me: I want a revolution. I want to live free, and I’m ready to die for it,” said a 17-year-old protester in the central Iranian city, whose name and location could not be disclosed. Reuters for security reasons.

“Rather than dying every minute under the regime’s repression, I would rather die under their (security forces) bullets to protest freedom.”

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Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Tom Perry, William McLean and David Evans

Our Standard: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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