Vehicular movement on Airport Road remained suspended for one hour on Monday as protestors blocked the road following the death of a university student in a road crash. Azizul Haque, officer-in-charge of Airport Police Station, said the students of Northern University took to the street around 1:05 pm to press home their four point demand, halting vehicular movement on the road. Earlier on Sunday, Nadia, 24, a 4th year student of the Pharmacy department of Northern University, died when a Victor Paribahan bus hit the motorcycle she was on near Jamuna Future Park in the city. The demands of the students are cancellation of the route permit of Victor Paribahan Classic; to provide compensation to the family members of Nadia; provide adequate evidence of arresting the driver and helper of the killer bus, and construction of a safe bus stoppage in Kawla area. Also Read: Northern University student killed in road crash A long tailback has been created from Airport to Khilkhet area which spread to Mohakhali, Badda, and Gulshan areas, following the road blockade, OC Haque said. On information, police rushed to the spot and assured the students of meeting their demands. Traffic on the road returned to normal around 2pm. Quoting witnesses, police said Nadia, riding on friend Mehedi’s motorcycle, was going to Narda area at noon. When the motorcycle reached near Jamuna Future Park area, a bus of Victor Paribahan hit the motorcycle at around 12:45 pm. Nadia fell on the street and died on the spot, while her friend Mehedi received minor injuries, said OC of Bhatara police station ABM Asaduzzaman.
Tens of thousands of Israelis gathered in Tel Aviv on Saturday night to protest plans by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new government to overhaul the judicial system, measures that opponents say imperil the country's democratic fundamentals. Israeli media, citing police, said some 100,000 people were out protesting. The protest followed another demonstration last week that also drew tens of thousands in an early challenge to Netanyahu and his ultranationalist and ultra-Orthodox government — the most right-wing in Israeli history. Read more: Israel troops kill 2 Palestinians during raid in occupied West Bank The government says a power imbalance has given judges and government legal advisers too much sway over lawmaking and governance. Netanyahu has pledged to press on with the changes despite the opposition. Protesters filled central streets in the seaside metropolis, raising Israeli flags and banners that read “Our Children will not Live in a Dictatorship” and “Israel, We Have A Problem.” “This is a protest to defend the country,” said opposition leader and former Prime Minister Yair Lapid, who joined the protest. “People came here today to protect their democracy.” “All generations are concerned. This is not a joke,” said Lior Student, a protester. "This is a complete redefinition of democracy.” Other protests took place in the cities of Jerusalem, Haifa and Beersheba. In addition to the protests, pressure has built up on Netanyahu’s government after the country’s attorney general asked Netanyahu to fire a key Cabinet ally following a Supreme Court ruling that disqualified him from holding a government post because of a conviction of tax offenses. While Netanyahu was expected to heed the court ruling, it only deepened the rift in the country over the judicial system and the power of the courts. Earlier this week, Netanyahu, who is on trial for corruption, vowed to continue with the judicial overhaul plans despite the protests. Opponents say the changes could help Netanyahu evade conviction in his corruption trial, or make the court case disappear altogether. Read more: Over 90 nations express ‘deep concern’ at Israeli punitive measure against Palestinians One protester said she thinks the judicial changes are meant to protect Netanyahu. “The aim is to save only one person and one only — this is Mr. Netanyahu, from his trial, and that’s why I’m here.” On Friday, Netanyahu's coalition was put for a new test after a disagreement between Cabinet members over the dismantling of an unauthorized settlement outpost in the West Bank. Defense Minister Yoav Galant, a member of Netanyahu's Likud party, ordered the removal of the outpost, upsetting a pro-settlement Cabinet member who had issued a directive to postpone the eviction pending further discussions.
Iran said it executed two men Saturday convicted of allegedly killing a paramilitary volunteer during a demonstration, the latest executions aimed at halting the nationwide protests now challenging the country's theocracy. Iran’s judiciary identified those executed as Mohammad Mehdi Karami and Mohammad Hosseini, making it four men known to have been executed since the demonstrations began in September over the death of Mahsa Amini. All have faced internationally criticized, rapid, closed-door trials. The judiciary's Mizan news agency said the men had been convicted of killing Ruhollah Ajamian, a member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's volunteer Basij Force, in the city of Karaj outside of Tehran on Nov. 3. The Basij have deployed in major cities, attacking and detaining protesters, who in many cases have fought back. Heavily edited footage aired on state television showed Karami speaking before a Revolutionary Court about the attack, which also showed a reenactment of the attack according to prosecutors' claims. Iran's Revolutionary Courts handed down the two other death sentences already carried out. Read more: Iran executes first known prisoner arrested in protests The tribunals don’t allow those on trial to pick their own lawyers or even see the evidence against them. Amnesty International has said the trials “bore no resemblance to a meaningful judicial proceeding.” State TV also aired footage of Karami and Hosseini talking about the attack, though the broadcaster for years has aired what activists describe as coerced confessions. The men were convicted of the killing, as well as “corruption on Earth,” a Quranic term and charge that has been levied against others in the decades since the 1979 Islamic Revolution and carries the death penalty. Activists say at least 16 people have been sentenced to death in closed-door hearings over charges linked to the protests. Death sentences in Iran are typically carried out by hanging. At least 517 protesters have been killed and over 19,200 people have been arrested, according to Human Rights Activists in Iran, a group that has closely monitored the unrest. Iranian authorities have not provided an official count of those killed or detained. Read more: Iran execution: Man publicly hanged from crane amid protests The protests began in mid-September, when 22-year-old Amini died after being arrested by Iran’s morality police for allegedly violating the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code. Women have played a leading role in the protests, with many publicly stripping off the compulsory Islamic headscarf, known as the hijab. The protests mark one of the biggest challenges to Iran's theocracy since the 1979 revolution. Security forces have used live ammunition, bird shot, tear gas and batons to disperse protesters, according to rights groups.
An Iranian lawmaker said Sunday that Iran's government is “paying attention to the people’s real demands,” state media reported, a day after a top official suggested that the country’s morality police whose conduct helped trigger months of protests has been shut down. The role of the morality police, which enforces veiling laws, came under scrutiny after a detainee, 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, died in its custody in mid-September. Amini had been held for allegedly violating the Islamic Republic’s strict dress codes. Her death unleashed a wave of unrest that has grown into calls for the downfall of Iran's clerical rulers. Iran's chief prosecutor Mohamed Jafar Montazeri said on Saturday the morality police “had been closed," the semi-official news agency ISNA reported. The agency did not provide details, and state media hasn't reported such a purported decision. In a report carried by ISNA on Sunday, lawmaker Nezamoddin Mousavi signaled a less confrontational approach toward the protests. Read more: Iran executes four people accused of working for Israel’s Mossad: State news “Both the administration and parliament insisted that paying attention to the people’s demand that is mainly economic is the best way for achieving stability and confronting the riots,” he said, following a closed meeting with several senior Iranian officials, including President Ebrahim Raisi. Mousavi did not address the reported closure of the morality police. The Associated Press has been unable to confirm the current status of the force, established in 2005 with the task of arresting people who violate the country’s Islamic dress code. Since September, there has been a reported decline in the number of morality police officers across Iranian cities and an increase in women walking in public without headscarves, contrary to Iranian law. Montazeri, the chief prosecutor, provided no further details about the future of the morality police or if its closure was nationwide and permanent. However he added that Iran’s judiciary will ‘‘continue to monitor behavior at the community level.’’ In a report by ISNA on Friday, Montazeri was quoted as saying that the government was reviewing the mandatory hijab law. “We are working fast on the issue of hijab and we are doing our best to come up with a thoughtful solution to deal with this phenomenon that hurts everyone’s heart,” said Montazeri, without offering details. Saturday's announcement could signal an attempt to appease the public and find a way to end the protests in which, according to rights groups, at least 470 people were killed. More than 18,000 people have been arrested in the protests and the violent security force crackdown that followed, according to Human Rights Activists in Iran, a group monitoring the demonstrations. Ali Alfoneh, a senior fellow at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, said Montazeri’s statement about closing the morality police could be an attempt to pacify domestic unrest without making real concessions to protesters. Read more: Iranian general acknowledges over 300 dead in unrest ‘‘The secular middle class loathes the organization (morality police) for restricting personal freedoms," said Alfoneh. On the other hand, the “underprivileged and socially conservative class resents how they conveniently keep away from enforcing the hijab legislation” in wealthier areas of Iran's cities. When asked about Montazeri's statement, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian gave no direct answer. ‘‘Be sure that in Iran, within the framework of democracy and freedom, which very clearly exists in Iran, everything is going very well,’’ Amirabdollahian said, speaking during a visit to Belgrade, Serbia. The anti-government demonstrations, now in their third month, have shown no sign of stopping despite a violent crackdown. Protesters say they are fed up after decades of social and political repression, including a strict dress code imposed on women. Young women continue to play a leading role in the protests, stripping off the mandatory Islamic headscarf to express their rejection of clerical rule. After the outbreak of the protests, the Iranian government hadn't appeared willing to heed the protesters' demands. It has continued to crack down on protesters, including sentencing at least seven arrested protesters to death. Authorities continue to blame the unrest on hostile foreign powers, without providing evidence. But in recent days, Iranian state media platforms seemed to be adopting a more conciliatory tone, expressing a desire to engage with the problems of the Iranian people.
The two men were sitting at a bar on Nov. 21, sipping drinks for relief from the scorching heat of Brazil’s Mato Grosso state, when police officers barged in and arrested them for allegedly torching trucks and an ambulance with Molotov cocktails. One man attempted to flee and ditch his illegal firearm. Inside their pickup truck, officers found jugs of gasoline, knives, a pistol, slingshots and hundreds of stones — as well as 9,999 reais (nearly $1,900) in cash. A federal judge ordered their preventive detention, noting that their apparent motive for the violence was “dissatisfaction with the result of the last presidential election and pursuit of its undemocratic reversal,” according to court documents reviewed by The Associated Press. For more than three weeks, supporters of incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro who refuse to accept his narrow defeat in October’s election have blocked roads and camped outside military buildings in Mato Grosso, Brazil’s soy-producing powerhouse. They also have protested in other states across the nation, while pleading for intervention from the armed forces or marching orders from their commander in chief. Since his election loss, Bolsonaro has only addressed the nation twice, to say that the protests are legitimate and encourage them to continue, as long as they don’t prevent people from coming and going. Bolsonaro has not disavowed the recent emergence of violence, either. He has, however, challenged the election results — which the electoral authority’s president said appears aimed at stoking protests. While most demonstrations are peaceful, tactics deployed by hardcore participants have begun concerning authorities. José Antônio Borges, chief state prosecutor in Mato Grosso, compared their actions to that of guerrilla fighters, militia groups and domestic terrorists. Mato Grosso is one of the nation’s hotbeds for unrest. The chief targets, Borges says, are soy trucks from Grupo Maggi, owned by a tycoon who declared support for President-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. There are also indications that people and companies from the state may be fueling protests elsewhere. Road blockades and acts of violence have been reported in the states of Rondonia, Para, Parana and Santa Catarina. In the latter, federal highway police said protesters blocking highways have employed “terrorist” methods including homemade bombs, fireworks, nails, stones and barricades made of burnt tires. Read more: Security agencies will act, if vandalism is there in the name of protests, says Home Minister Police also noted that roadblocks over the weekend were different from those carried out immediately after the Oct. 30 runoff election, when truckers blocked more than 1,000 roads and highways across the country, with only isolated incidents. Now, most acts of resistance are taking place at night, carried out by “extremely violent and coordinated hooded men,” acting in different regions of the state at the same time, federal highway police said. “The situation is getting very critical” in Mato Grosso state, chief state prosecutor Borges told the AP. Among other examples, he noted that protesters in Sinop, the state’s second most populous city, this week ordered shops and businesses to close in support of the movement. “Whoever doesn’t shut down suffers reprisals,” he said. Since the vote, Bolsonaro has dropped out of public view and his daily agenda has been largely vacant, prompting speculation as to whether he is stewing or scheming. Government transition duties have been led by his chief of staff, while Vice President Hamilton Mourão has stepped in to preside over official ceremonies. In an interview with newspaper O Globo, Mourão chalked up Bolsonaro’s absence to erysipelas, a skin infection on his legs that he said prevents the president from wearing pants. But even Bolsonaro’s social media accounts have gone silent – aside from generic posts about his administration, apparently from his communications team. And the live social media broadcasts that, with rare exception, he conducted every Thursday night during his administration have ceased. The silence marks an abrupt about-face for the bombastic Brazilian leader whose legions of supporters hang on his every word. Still, demonstrators, who have camped outside military barracks across Brazil for weeks, are certain they have his tacit support. “We understand perfectly well why he doesn’t want to talk: They (the news media) distort his words,” said a 49-year-old woman who identified herself only as Joelma during a protest outside the monumental regional military command center in Rio de Janeiro. She declined to give her full name, claiming the protest had been infiltrated by informants. Joelma and others say they are outraged with Bolsonaro’s loss and claim the election was rigged, echoing the incumbent president’s claims — made without evidence — that the electronic voting system is prone to fraud. Scenes of large barbecues with free food and portable bathrooms at several protests, plus reports of free bus rides bringing demonstrators to the capital, Brasilia, have prompted investigations into the people and companies financing and organizing the gatherings and roadblocks. The Supreme Court has frozen at least 43 bank accounts for suspicion of involvement, news site G1 reported, saying most are from Mato Grosso. Borges cited the involvement of agribusiness players in the protests, many of whom support Bolsonaro’s push for development of the Amazon rainforest and his authorization of previously banned pesticides. By contrast, President-elect da Silva has pledged to rebuild environmental protections. Most recently, protesters have been emboldened by the president’s decision to officially contest the election results. Read more: Brazil election body rejects Bolsonaro's push to void votes On Tuesday, Bolsonaro and his party filed a request for the electoral authority to annul votes cast on nearly 60% of electronic voting machines, citing a software bug in older models. Independent experts have said the bug, while newly discovered, doesn’t affect the results and the electoral authority’s president, Alexandre de Moraes swiftly rejected the “bizarre and illicit” request. De Moraes, who is also a Supreme Court justice, called it “an attack on the Democratic Rule of Law ... with the purpose of encouraging criminal and anti-democratic movements.” On Nov. 21, Prosecutor-general Augusto Aras summoned federal prosecutors from states where roadblocks and violence have become more intense for a crisis meeting. Aras, who is widely seen as a Bolsonaro stalwart, said he received intelligence reports from local prosecutors and instructed Mato Grosso’s governor to request federal backup to clear its blocked highways. Ultimately that wasn’t necessary, as local law enforcement managed to break up demonstrations and, by Monday night, roads in Mato Grosso and elsewhere were all liberated, according to the federal highway police. It was unclear how long this would last, however, amid Bolsonaro’s continued silence, said Guilherme Casarões, a political science professor at the Getulio Vargas Foundation university. “With his silence, he keeps people in the streets,” Casarões said. “This is the great advantage he has today: a very mobilized, and very radical base.”
Thousands of Sharif University alumni power Iran’s most sensitive industries, including nuclear energy and aerospace. One of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s closest advisors has taught there for decades. But as demonstrations erupt across Iran — first sparked by the death in September of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of the country’s morality police — the scientific powerhouse known as “Iran’s M.I.T.” has emerged as an unexpected hub for protest, fueling Iran’s biggest antigovernment movement in over a decade. “We’ve become politically active because there is nothing to lose,” said an electrical engineering major and activist in Sharif University’s student association who spoke on condition of anonymity. Like others who insisted their identities be shielded, he feared of reprisals. “The way things are now in Iran, you have to emigrate and leave your family and friends or stay and fight for your rights.” Across the country and despite a violent crackdown, Iranians have taken to the streets, venting their outrage over social repression, economic despair and global isolation — crises that have clipped the ambitions of Iran’s young and educated generation. Over the last few weeks, university campuses have become a hotbed of opposition after years of dormancy, as students take up the mantle of activism they haven’t held in years. “Students have come to the realization they will not achieve their rights in this framework,” said Mohammad Ali Kadivar, an Iran scholar at Boston College. “They are demanding the end of the Islamic Republic.” Protests have flared nearly every day for the past month at Sharif University — and escalated after security forces cracked down violently on Oct. 2, resulting in an hourslong standoff between students and police that prompted an international outcry and shocked the country. “Whether it’s true or not, people have this feeling that it’s safer to protest on campus,” said Moeen, a Sharif University alum who has observed the protests and spoke on condition that only his first name be used. “It’s easier than orchestrating something at a random square in Tehran. There are student syndicates. There’s leadership.” University campuses have been pivotal to Iran’s opposition movements before. After the U.S.-backed 1953 coup, University of Tehran students revolted over then-Vice President Richard Nixon’s visit to the capital. The shah’s security forces stormed the campus and shot three students dead. Sharif University, among other campuses, was wracked by protests two decades later, when Marxist and Islamist student groups lit the fuse of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, which ushered in the clerical establishment that still rules Iran. Once in power, the young theocracy worked to ensure universities would no longer be breeding grounds for opposition: The clerics purged professors, arrested dissident students and set up their own powerful student associations. Political issues occasionally galvanized students despite the risks. Pro-reformist students protested at the University of Tehran in 1999, prompting a fearsome raid by security forces who fatally shot a student and flung others out of windows. But broadly over the decades, Tehran’s campuses became subdued, students and experts said, particularly Sharif University — a competitive, high-tech hub considered less liberal and activist than others in the capital. Amid American sanctions and raging inflation, some students joked the university was essentially an airport, as the best and brightest students rushed to leave for Europe and the U.S. after graduation. A turning point came in 2018, students said. Former President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of Tehran’s landmark nuclear deal that year and reimposed harsh sanctions. Deepening global isolation and frustration over lagging political reforms convinced many students that nothing would come of engaging with the system. A year later, in the fall of 2019, a fuel price hike set off the deadliest nationwide unrest since the Islamic Revolution. The Sharif Islamic Association, a misnomer for the students’ largely secular representative body, jumped into action, organizing demonstrations on campus. In 2020, the student group boycotted classes and held a protest vigil after the Iranian military’s downing of a Ukrainian passenger plane killed 176 people, including over a dozen Sharif University graduates. Later that year, authorities arrested two top students on widely disputed security charges, stoking outrage. “We have no industry, we are in a bad economic situation, the environment is ruined,” said the student association activist, listing the reasons for protest. “But the biggest reason is freedom. We just want basic things that you have all over the world.” When news spread of Amini’s death after her arrest for allegedly violating Iran’s strict rules on women’s dress, students buzzed. Iran’s government insists Amini was not mistreated in police custody, but her family says her body showed bruises and other signs of beating after she was detained. “Even my conservative friends said, ‘If we don’t take to the streets now, we never will’,” Moeen said. Sharif University authorities denied the student association a protest permit, members said. Crowds demonstrated anyway, pumping their fists and chanting “Death to the dictator!” — a slogan that protesters have used around the country. On Oct. 2, the protests devolved into violent mayhem, according to statements from the association. As hundreds of students chanted against Khamenei, plainclothes security forces stormed campus. Professors formed a human shield so students could flee. But security forces beat the professors, ripped through their interlocked hands and chased protesters into the parking garage. They unleashed paintballs, tear gas and metal pellets on shrieking students. Several were wounded and some 40 were arrested, most of whom have now been released. Tensions were further inflamed when the minister for higher education, Mohammad Ali Zolfigol, visited the campus and, instead of reassuring students, accused them of “lawlessness” and warned they’d be held responsible, according to a computer engineering student who attended the meeting and videos posted online. In an attempt to defuse the resentment, the university created a forum, billed as a safe space for students to voice their complaints. The university president, the U.S.-sanctioned Rasool Jalili, who served on Iran’s Supreme Council of Cyberspace, presided over the program. Women boldly took the stage without the mandatory hijab, according to videos shared by members of the association. Students lashed out at the university for its failure to protect them. And there were consequences to speaking out. On Sunday, the university announced it would temporarily ban over two dozen students who contributed to the “unstable environment.” That prompted more demonstrations, as students raged against both university authorities and the ruling clerics. Most recently this week, female students streamed into the male-only section of the dining hall in protest over campus gender segregation as male students cheered them on. The university closed the cafeteria on Tuesday, hoping to end the demonstrations. Instead, the students moved their lunch to the campus yard, videos showed. A professor joined in solidarity. Young women and men picnicked side by side on the pavement, chanting: “Woman! Life! Freedom!”
Iran’s parliamentary speaker warned Sunday that protests over the death of a young woman in police custody could destabilize the country and urged security forces to deal harshly with those he claimed endanger public order, as countrywide unrest entered its third week. Posts on social media showed there were scattered anti-government protests in Tehran and running clashes with security forces in other towns Sunday, even as the government has moved to block, partly or entirely, internet connectivity in Iran. Parliament Speaker Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf told lawmakers that unlike the current protests, which he said aim to topple the government, previous demonstrations by teachers and retirees over pay were aimed at reforms, according to the legislative body's website. “The important point of the (past) protests was that they were reform-seeking and not aimed at overthrowing" the system, said Qalibaf. “I ask all who have any (reasons to) protest not to allow their protest to turn into destabilizing and toppling" of institutions. Thousands of Iranians have taken to the streets to protest the death of Mahsa Amini, 22, who had been detained by Iran's morality police in the capital Tehran for allegedly not adhering to Iran's strict Islamic dress code. The protesters have vented their anger over the treatment of women and wider repression in the Islamic Republic. The nationwide demonstrations rapidly escalated into calls for the overthrow of the clerical establishment that has ruled Iran since its 1979 Islamic revolution. Iranian state TV has reported that at least 41 protesters and police have been killed since the demonstrations began Sept. 17. An Associated Press count of official statements by authorities tallied at least 14 dead, with more than 1,500 demonstrators arrested. Qalibaf, the parliamentary speaker, is a former influential commander in the paramilitary Islamic Revolutionary Guard. Along with the president and the head of the judiciary, he is one of three ranking officials who deal with all important issues of the nation. The three meet regularly and sometimes meet with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has final say on all state matters. Qalibaf said he believes many of those taking part in recent protests had no intention of seeking to overthrow the government in the beginning and claimed foreign-based opposition groups were fomenting protests aimed at tearing down the system. Iranian authorities have not presented evidence for their allegations of foreign involvement in the protests. “Creating chaos in the streets will weaken social integrity, jeopardizing the economy while increasing pressure and sanctions by the enemy,” he said, referring to longstanding crippling U.S. sanctions on Iran. Qalibaf promised to “amend the structures and methods of the morality police” to prevent a recurrence of what happened to Amini. She died in the custody of the morality police. Her family alleged she was beaten, while officials claim she died of a heart attack. His remarks came after a closed meeting of Parliament and a brief rally by lawmakers to voice support for Khamenei and the police, chanting “death to hypocrites,” a reference to Iranian opposition groups. The statement by Qalibaf is seen as an appeal to Iranians to stop their protests while supporting police and the security apparatus. Meanwhile, the hard-line Kayhan daily said Sunday that knife-carrying protesters attacked the newspaper building Saturday and shattered windows with rocks. It said they left when Guard members were deployed to the site. On Saturday, protests continued on the Tehran University campus and in nearby neighborhoods and witnesses said they saw many girls waving their head scarves above their heads in a gesture of defiance. Social media carried videos purportedly showing similar protests at the Mashhad and Shiraz universities but The Associated Press could not independently verify their authenticity. A protester near Tehran University, 19-year-old Fatemeh who only gave her first name for fear of repercussions, said she joined the demonstration “to stop this behavior by police against younger people especially girls.” Abdolali, a 63-year-old teacher who also declined to give his last name, said he was shot twice in the foot by police. He said: “I am here to accompany and support my daughter. I once participated in the 1979 Islamic Revolution that promised justice and freedom; it is time to materialize them.” Protests resumed on Sunday in several cities including Mashhad, according to social media reports, and Tehran’s Sharif Industrial University, according to the semiofficial Tasnim news agency. Witnesses said security was tight in the areas nearby Tehran University and its neighborhoods downtown as hundreds of anti-riot police and plain clothes with their cars and motorbikes were stationed on junctions and squares. The AP could not immediately verify the authenticity of the reports. Also on Sunday, media outlets reported the death of another Revolutionary Guard member in the southeastern city of Zahedan. That brought to five the number of IRG members killed in an attack on a police station by gunmen that, according to state media, left 19 people dead. It wasn't clear if the attack, which Iranian authorities said was carried out by separatists, was related to the anti-government protests. Local media said a police officer also had died in the Kurdish city of Marivan, following injuries during clashes with protesters. The protests have drawn supporters from various ethnic groups, including Kurdish opposition movements in the northwest of Iran that operate along the border with neighboring Iraq. Amini was an Iranian Kurd and the protests first erupted in Kurdish areas.
Protesters across Iran continued to clash violently with security forces early Friday following the death of a young woman in police custody, as Iranian state TV suggested the death toll from the unrest could be as high as 26, without offering details. Although the scope of the protests across some dozen Iranian cities and towns remains unclear, the movement represents the widest unrest since 2019, when rights groups said hundreds of people were killed in a violent crackdown. Iran has also disrupted internet access to the outside world, according to internet traffic monitor Netblocks, and tightened restrictions on popular platforms used to organize rallies like Instagram and WhatsApp. An anchor on state TV said late Thursday that 26 protesters and policemen had been killed since the protests erupted last Saturday after the funeral of the 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, without elaborating on how authorities reached that figure. He said official statistics would be released later, but in past times of turmoil the Iranian government has not offered official death tolls. The unrest has killed at least 11 people according to a tally by The Associated Press, based on statements from state-run and semiofficial media. Most recently, the deputy governor of Qazvin, Abolhasan Kabiri, said that a citizen and paramilitary officer had been killed in unrest that rocked two cities in the northwestern province. The crisis unfolding in Iran began as a public outpouring over the the death of Amini, a young woman from a northwestern Kurdish town who was arrested by the country’s morality police in Tehran last week for allegedly violating its strictly-enforced dress code. The police said she died of a heart attack and was not mistreated, but her family has cast doubt on that account. Amini's death has sparked sharp condemnation from Western countries and the United Nations, and touched a national nerve. Hundreds of Iranians across at least 13 cities from the capital, Tehran, to Amini's northwest Kurdish hometown of Saqez have poured into the streets, voicing pent-up anger over social and political repression. Authorities have alleged that unnamed foreign countries and opposition groups are trying to foment unrest. “The death has tapped into broader antigovernment sentiment in the Islamic Republic and especially the frustration of women,” wrote political risk firm Eurasia Group, noting that Iran’s hardliners have intensified their crackdown on women’s clothing over the past year since former judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi became president. “In the cold calculus of Iranian leaders ... a more forceful response is required to quell the unrest,” the group added. Videos on social media show protesters in Tehran torching a police car and confronting officers at close range. Elsewhere in the capital, videos show gunfire sounding out as protesters bolt from riot police shouting, “They are shooting at people! Oh my God they're killing people!” In the northwest city of Neyshabur, protesters cheered over an overturned police car. Footage from Tehran and Mashhad shows women waving their obligatory hijab head coverings in the air like flags while chanting, “Freedom!" The scenes of women cutting their hair and burning their hijabs feed into a broader political debate over the role of religious strictures in a modern-day republic — questions that have plagued the Islamic Republic since its founding in 1979. But the protests have also grown into an open challenge to the government. The chants have been scathing, with some calling for the downfall of the ruling clerics. The protesters cry, “Death to the dictator!” and “Mullahs must be gone!” In a sign of the test that the protest movement posed to the government, hardline groups organized a counter-demonstration in Tehran on Friday. Thousands of women in traditional black chadors and men dressed in the style of the Basij, a volunteer force under the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, poured into the streets after Friday prayers to vent their anger over the unrest, state-run IRNA news agency reported. “Death to America!”, “Death to Israel!" and “America’s mercenaries are at war with religion!", they chanted. Iran's intelligence ministry warned citizens against joining “illegal” street rallies on Friday, threatening prosecution. Local officials have announced the arrest of dozens of protesters. Hasan Hosseinpour, deputy police chief in the northern Gilan province, reported 211 people detained on Friday. The government of the western Hamadan province said 58 demonstrators had been arrested. Tehran University announced that it would move classes online for the next week amid the unrest, the semiofficial Fars news agency reported. London-based watchdog Amnesty International has accused security forces of beating protesters with batons and firing metal pellets at close range. Videos show police and paramilitary officers using live fire, tear gas and water cannons to disperse the demonstrations. Iran has grappled with waves of protests in the recent past, mainly over a long-running economic crisis exacerbated by American sanctions linked to its nuclear program. In November 2019, the country saw the deadliest violence since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, as protests erupted over a rise in the state-controlled price of gasoline. Economic hardship remains a major source of anger today as the prices of basic necessities soar and the Iranian currency declines in value. The Biden administration and European allies have been working to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear accord, in which Iran curbed its nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief, but the talks have stalled for months.
Sri Lankan lawmakers on Wednesday elected the unpopular prime minister as their new president, a choice that risked reigniting turmoil in the South Asian nation reeling from economic collapse and months of round-the-clock protests. The crisis has already forced out one leader, and a few hundred protesters quickly gathered after the vote to express their outrage that Ranil Wickremesinghe — a six-time prime minister whom they see as part of the problematic political establishment — would stay in power. While the choice invited more protests, lawmakers apparently considered Wickremesinghe a safe pair of hands, a politician with deep experience who could lead Sri Lanka out of the crisis. He has spent 45 years in Parliament and led recent talks seeking a bailout for the bankrupt island nation. Sri Lankans have taken to the street for months to demand their top leaders step down as the country spiraled into economic chaos that left its 22 million people struggling with shortages of essentials, including medicine, fuel and food. After demonstrators stormed the presidential palace and several other government buildings last week, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled and then resigned. Much of the protesters' ire is focused on Rajapaksa and his family’s political dynasty, which ruled Sri Lanka for most of the past two decades. But many also blame Wickremesinghe for protecting Rajapaksa. During demonstrations last week, crowds set his personal residence on fire and occupied his office. Wednesday's vote means Wickremesinghe — who was also Rajapaksa’s finance minister and became acting president after the leader fled — will finish the presidential term ending in 2024. He can now also appoint a new prime minister. “I need not tell you what state our country is in," Wickremesinghe, 73, told fellow lawmakers after his victory was announced. "People are not expecting the old politics from us. They expect us to work together.” He pleaded for the country to move on: “Now that the election is over, we have to end this division.” Read: Wickremesinghe elected president in crisis-hit Sri Lanka But protesters flocked to the presidential residence instead, chanting, “Ranil, go home.” “We are very sad, very disappointed with the 225 parliament members who we elected to speak for us, which they have not done,” said Visaka Jayawware, a performance artist in the crowd. “We will keep fighting for the people of Sri Lanka. We have to ask for a general election.” Wickremesinghe has wide experience in diplomatic and international affairs and oversaw the bailout talks with the International Monetary Fund. But many voters view him with suspicion since he was appointed prime minister by Rajapaksa in May, in hopes he would restore stability. The protesters accuse Rajapaksa and his powerful family of siphoning money from government coffers and of hastening the country’s collapse by mismanaging the economy. The family has denied the corruption allegations, but the former president acknowledged that some of his policies contributed to Sri Lanka’s meltdown. “The struggle will continue until our demands are met. Wickremesinghe "doesn’t have a mandate to rule the country,” said Nemel Jayaweera, a human resources professional. “We will oppose him.” Still, the ruling party's majority in Parliament swept Wickremesinghe to victory with 134 votes. Populist Dullas Alahapperuma, a longtime ally of Rajapaksa and also a minister in his government, secured 82 votes. A Marxist candidate netted three votes. The vote, shown on national television, was a decorous, solemn affair. While the balloting was secret, as the results were announced, lawmakers thumped their tables in support of their candidates. After the vote, some supporters celebrated Wickremesinghe’s win in the streets. He will be sworn in Thursday. Only a few lawmakers had publicly said they would vote for Wickremesinghe given the widespread hostility against him. But dozens loyal to Rajapaksa had been expected to back him because he had assured them he would severely punish protesters who burned politicians’ homes in the unrest. On Monday, in his role as acting president, Wickremesinghe declared a state of emergency that gave him broad authority to act in the interest of public security and order. Authorities can carry out searches and detain people, and Wickremesinghe can also change or suspend any law. The political turmoil in Sri Lanka has only worsened the economic disaster. But Wickremesinghe said Monday that negotiations with the IMF were drawing close to a conclusion, and talks on help from other countries had also progressed. He also said the government has taken steps to resolve shortages of fuel and cooking gas. Hours before Wednesday's vote, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva told financial magazine Nikkei Asia that the organization hoped to complete the rescue talks “as quickly as possible.” As prime minister, Wickremesinghe delivered weekly addresses in Parliament cautioning that the path out of the crisis would be difficult, while also pledging to overhaul a government that increasingly has concentrated power under the presidency. Presidents in Sri Lanka are normally elected by the public. The responsibility falls to Parliament only if the presidency becomes vacant before the term officially ends. That has happened only once before in Sri Lanka, in 1993, when then-Prime Minister Dingiri Banda Wijetunga was chosen by Parliament uncontested after former President Ranasinghe Premadasa, father of the current opposition leader, was assassinated.
One person has died and 84 others injured after protests rocked the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo on Wednesday, hospital officials have said. The 26-year-old man died from breathing difficulties after police forces lobbied tear gas at protesters, reports BBC. Sri Lanka's Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was appointed acting president after President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled the country. But the decision triggered further protests demanding that he also resign. A military spokesperson told the BBC said that a soldier and police officer were amongst the injured, and alleged that an assault rifle with ammunition had been stolen by a protester and had not yet been recovered. Early on Thursday, Sri Lanka imposed a new curfew, which would be in place from 12:00 on Thursday till 05:00 on Friday, said the government in a statement. The protests come as Sri Lanka has been suffering from its worst economic crisis in decades. Many blame the Rajapaksa administration for the crisis and see Mr Wickremesinghe, who became prime minister in May, as part of the problem. Hospital officials at the Colombo National Hospital said the injuries came from protesters who were outside the prime minister's office as well as those who were outside parliament later in the evening. Police had fired tear gas at protesters who attempted to break down the gates of the prime minister's office in Colombo, before finally making their way in. They later made their way towards parliament. In a television address late on Wednesday, Mr Wickremesinghe had called on protesters to leave his occupied office and other state buildings and co-operate with authorities. Read: Sri Lanka waits in confusion, anger for president to resign He also told the military to do "whatever is necessary" to restore order. His statement came hours after Mr Rajapaksa had fled to the Maldives - days after his official residence was stormed. Mr Rajapaksa had pledged to resign by Wednesday, but is still yet to submit a formal letter of resignation. The leader, who has enjoyed immunity from prosecution as president, is believed to have wanted to flee abroad before stepping down to avoid the possibility of arrest by the new administration. The president's departure threatens a potential power vacuum in Sri Lanka, which needs a functioning government to help dig it out of financial ruin. Politicians from other parties have been talking about forming a new unity government but there is no sign they are near agreement yet. It's also not clear if the public will accept what they come up with. In a press statement on Wednesday, Mr Wickremesinghe's team said he had asked the speaker of parliament to nominate a new prime minister "who is acceptable to both the government and opposition". Earlier on Monday, the main opposition leader Sajith Premadasa told the BBC he would be tilting for the presidency. But he - like Mr Wickremesinghe - lacks public support. There is also deep public suspicion of politicians in general. The protest movement which has brought Sri Lanka to the brink of change also does not have an obvious contender for the country's leadership. Sri Lanka: The basics Sri Lanka is an island nation off southern India: It won independence from British rule in 1948. Three ethnic groups - Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslim - make up 99% of the country's 22 million population. One family of brothers has dominated for years: Mahinda Rajapaksa became a hero among the majority Sinhalese in 2009 when his government defeated Tamil separatist rebels after years of bitter and bloody civil war. His brother Gotabaya, who was defence secretary at the time, is the current president but says he is standing down. Presidential powers: The president is the head of state, government and the military in Sri Lanka but does share a lot of executive responsibilities with the prime minister, who heads up the ruling party in parliament. Now an economic crisis has led to fury on the streets: Soaring inflation has meant some foods, medication and fuel are in short supply, there are rolling blackouts and ordinary people have taken to the streets in anger with many blaming the Rajapaksa family and their government for the situation.