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Iran gathers activists and relatives of killed protesters ahead of Mahsa Amini’s birthday

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Iran is taking steps to prevent a possible repeat of unrest ahead of the first anniversary of Mahsa Amini’s death. It is arresting women’s rights activists and relatives of people killed during last year’s nationwide protests, local and international human rights organizations said Wednesday.

Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman, died last September after being detained by the regime’s notorious vice squad and taken to a “re-education center” for allegedly breaking the country’s conservative dress code.

Protests sparked by the death of Amini, the largest Iran has seen in years, have been met with brutal crackdowns by Iran’s security forces.

The protests killed more than 300 people, including more than 40 children, the UN said in November last year. The US-based Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) put the number at over 500 in January, including 70 children.

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Thousands were arrested during months of protests across the country, the UN said in a June report, citing research released last year by its Human Rights Committee.

Iran has executed seven protesters for their involvement in the unrest, according to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

A group of volunteer lawyers defending rights activists claimed in a post on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, that Iran had arrested the father of one of the executed protesters and the family’s legal adviser on Tuesday.

CNN has contacted Iran’s foreign ministry for comment.

In a separate case, Shermin Habibi, the wife of Fereydoon Mahmoodi, a protester killed by security forces during the demonstrations, was arrested Tuesday and transported to an undisclosed location, according to a report from HRANA.

In ten provinces, families of 33 people who died during the protests have been victims of “human rights violations” in recent months, and the families of two people executed in connection with the protests have been harassed and intimidated, Amnesty International said this week in a report. .

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Meanwhile, Bidarzani, an independent women’s rights group, claims in social media posts that 11 women’s rights activists and one man were arrested in Gilan province in the past week.

State media reported that 12 people have been arrested for “preparing unrest and insecurity” in the province, which is located northwest of Tehran on the Caspian Sea. Prosecutors in Gilan declined to give details about which security entity was behind the arrests, Bidarzani said.

“Iranian authorities are using their playbook of choice to exert maximum pressure on peaceful dissidents ahead of the anniversary of Mahsa Amini’s death,” a senior Iran researcher at Human Rights Watch, Tara Sepehri Far, said in a press release.

“The arbitrary arrests of a dozen activists aim to quell popular discontent with continued impunity and rights violations.”

It is unclear if more protests are planned to coincide with the anniversary of the death of Mahsa Amini, who was arrested by Iran’s vice squad for not wearing her hijab properly.

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Ten months after her death, Iran’s vice squad resumed headscarf patrols and now Iranian authorities are considering a draconian new law on the wearing of hijabs, which experts say would enshrine unprecedentedly harsh punitive measures.

The 70-article bill contains a range of proposals, including much longer prison sentences for women who refuse to wear the veil, stiff new sentences for celebrities and companies who flout the rules, and the use of artificial intelligence to identify women who breaking the rules. of the dress code.

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