Ayatollahs under siege. Deaths of Iranian schoolgirls further stoke public fury

Lee Heidhues 10.21.2022

In America the outrage against the Iranian regime quickly dissipated after some photo op protests following the death of 22-year-old Jina Mahsa Amini.

The reality is that the Iranian government continues its violent crackdown targeting young people in a horrific effort to stifle dissent. The Iranian authorities would like to hold the West accountable for its crimes. It won’t work.

The Whole World’s Watching.

Excerpted from Deutsche Welle 10.21.2022

Security forces are increasingly raiding schools and targeting schoolgirls to put an end to the mass anti-regime protests roiling the country in recent weeks.

According to Amnesty International, at least 23 minors were killed by the unlawful use of force during the protests between September 20 and 30.

9 Iran protests 10.7.2022.jpg
Iranian schoolgirls protest the government’s dress code

Asra Panahi, 16, was a student from the city of Ardabil in northwestern Iran. Wider and fiercer protests erupted in the city following reports that the teenager from the Azeri ethnic minority died on Friday after she was beaten to death by security forces.  

Authorities denied the reports, saying she died because of a chronic heart problem and police did not hit her.

Nevertheless, her death further fueled the public anger that was sparked by the recent death of 22-year-old Jina Mahsa Amini after she was arrested by Iran’s so-called morality police in Tehran for violating the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code.

The Middle East nation has seen mass anti-regime protests nationwide in recent weeks.

It’s reported that Panahi died after security officials raided the Shahed girls high school in Ardabil on October 13 and ordered a group of girls to sing a song praising the Islamic Republic.

17 Iran Protests 10.21.2022.jpg
Iranian authorities say Asra Panahi died because of a chronic heart problem and police did not hit her

When some students refused to participate, they were severely beaten, leading to a number of them being taken to hospital. Panahi was also among them. On Friday, she reportedly died in hospital due to injuries sustained at the school.

Despite widespread internet outages in Iran, the news spread quickly on social media networks.

News agencies close to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, like Tasnim, quoted Panahi’s uncle as saying the high school student had died of a heart problem.

But shortly afterwards, a screenshot appeared on the internet, showing that Panahi was a competitive athlete. At the age of 12, she came third in a regional swimming competition in her province.

12 Iran Protests 10.21.2022.jpg
Across from the Iranian Consulate in Milan, Italy the political art has Marge Simpson cutting her hair in defiance of the Ayatollahs

This information has since been deleted from the swimming federation’s website.

“The truth is that she took her own life,” the mayor of Ardebil was quoted as saying by the news portal Entekhab. “She had taken pills because she had family problems.”

Former national soccer player Ali Daei slammed Iranian authorities on Instagram, saying: “You are not telling the truth.” Many Iranians share this view. Daei, who also played in the German Bundesliga for Arminia Bielefeld, Bayern Munich and Hertha Berlin, is from Ardebil. “I know what happened in my city,” the 53-year-old said. 

2 Iran SF Protest 10.1.2022.jpg
Protesters took to the streets of San Francisco in early October

This is not the first time authorities have tried to deny responsibility for the death of schoolgirls in the last four weeks.

“We have information showing that at least three more schoolgirls were killed by violent blows to their heads,” Raha Bahreini, Iran expert at Amnesty International, told DW.

Among those killed are 20 boys between 11 and 17 years old and three girls, one of whom was aged 17 and the other two were 16, Bahreini said. “Most of the boys died because the security forces shot at them unlawfully with live ammunition, often at close range. The three girls — Setareh Tajik, Sarina Esmailzadeh and Nika Shahkarami — had all suffered fatal blows to the head.”

16 Iran Protests 10.21.2022.jpg
Domino effect. Iranians are taking to the street demanding the ouster of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

The childrens’ families, however, have been pressured to say that their children died as a result of illness or suicide, she said.