The shrine attack has claimed so far 15 lives and 19 wounded. Some groups say the Iranian regime is behind the attack to justify further repression. At least 10,000 people gathered at the Saghez cemetery to honour the slain young Kurdish woman. Local sources say security forces fired live rounds and tear gas against protesters. The country's prisons can no longer accommodate inmates.
Tehran (AsiaNews) – Yesterday’s attack on a famous Shia shrine in Shiraz, southern Iran, has left so far 15 people dead and 19 wounded. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility, while a man was arrested in connection with the incident.
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian blamed "terrorists and foreigners meddlers” who pretend to defend human rights, something that Iranian authorities have used to smear the protests that followed the killing of Mahsa Amini.
Protesters marked the 40th day since her death, with fresh new violence and arrests by the security forces.
According to dissident groups, including the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), the Islamic State was not responsible for the attack in Shiraz, which was carried out instead by the regime to justify further repression.
According to the local Governor Mohammad-Hadi Imanieh, a lone gunman "fired indiscriminately on worshippers” in Shāh Chérāgh mausoleum in Shiraz during evening prayers, said. He was arrested soon after.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has promised a "severe response" against the Islamic State, which has struck in Iran in the past. In 2017 for example, the Iranian parliament and the tomb of the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ruhollah Khomeini, were attacked.
The incident at the Shia shrine coincides a fresh crackdown on the protests sparked by the death in mid-September of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman detained by Iran’s morality police allegedly for wearing the hijab incorrectly.
The headcovering women must wear has become the symbol of Iran’s oppressive clerical regime.
Following the traditional 40 days of mourning, students and women led protests in several cities. One of the focal points was the Aichi cemetery in Saghez, where Mahsa Amini is buried.
In one of the most impressive and moving moments since the foundation of the Islamic Republic in 1979, about 10,000 people – men and women, young and old – gathered at the cemetery.
Chanting slogans in favour of freedom and rights, they demanded justice for the slain young woman.
Iran’s theocratic regime has not, however, hesitated to use force to stop the protest movement. So far, more than 200 people have reportedly died (240 according to some sources) in just over a month, including 27 children, in clashes with the security forces.
In Saghez, security forces allegedly used live ammunition and tear gas against protesters.
Meanwhile, the authorities have blocked communications, including the Internet, to stop images and videos of the violence from being posted on social media and shared among activist groups.
“Security forces have shot tear gas and opened fire on people in Zindan Square, Saghez City," tweeted Hengaw, a Norway-based NGO, which monitors human rights violations in Iran’s Kurdish region. However, the group did specify whether there were any dead or wounded.
Despite the dangers, Iranians are speaking out on the 40th day since Mahsa Amini’s death, a symbolic number that marks the end of the mourning period. According to Islamic tradition, this is the time when the soul separates from the body and prepares for paradise.
In light of the situation, the authorities have set up checkpoints, boosted censorship, deployed more police, and closed schools and universities in the Kurdish region, citing “health” reasons.
Local sources say that Mahsa Amini's family was warned by phone not to organise vigils or ceremonies in her memory.
So far, the regime has failed to stem the revolt; in fact, for the first time, it has been forced to release protesters because the country's prisons have reached their limit. Some protesters are being released just after a few hours.
According to a report prepared for Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, the regime arrested 20,445 people in the first two weeks of protests, 42 per cent under the age of 20.
For the first time in recent memory, Iran’s Chief Justice Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Eje'i said that the government was willing to talk to protesters, but Iranians are sceptical and don’t expect any overtures from the authorities.