Defiant Iranians Continue Protests As New Death Sentences Handed Down

Iranian protestors staged fresh demonstrations with shopkeepers and businesses striking for the second consecutive day as the judiciary issued three more death sentences to follow through on government pledges to deal harshly with the unrest sparked by the death of a young woman while in police custody for allegedly wearing a head scarf improperly.

The Norway-based Hengaw rights group said on November 16 that there was a "widespread strike" in Mahsa Amini's hometown of Saqez, as well as in Baneh, Sanandaj, Kermanshah, Marivan, and Bukan in Iran's Kurdistan province.

Reports received by RFERL’s Radio Farda showed that workers at the Esfahan Steel Company, Iran's third-largest steel producer, were also on strike for a second consecutive day.

In Tehran, there were reports of a fierce clash -- including gunshots -- in a market in Tehran's Shadabad neighborhood as security forces tried to keep shopkeepers in a steel market from striking.

Amini died on September 16 after being arrested by Iran's notorious morality police for “improperly" wearing a mandatory Islamic head scarf, or hijab.

Her death, which officials blamed on a heart attack, touched off a wave of anti-government protests in cities across the country. Authorities have met the unrest with a harsh crackdown that the Oslo-based group Iran Human Rights says has killed at least 300 people, including 40 children.

Officials, who have blamed the West for the demonstrations, have vowed to crack down even harder on protesters, with the judiciary leading the way after the unrest entered a third month.

The judiciary said on November 16 that a court had handed down three more death sentences to people for their participation in what it called "riots."

Five Iranian protesters have now been sentenced to death in the past three days.

While court officials have pointed out that the sentences can be appealed, the group Iran Human Rights called on the international community to "strongly warn" of the consequences of executing protesters.

"Underlining the Islamic Republic's history of using the death penalty to create societal fear, Iran Human Rights warns of the possibility of hasty executions without any prewarning," the group said.

The protests, which are demanding more freedoms and women's rights, pose the biggest threat to the Islamic government since the 1979 revolution.

Several thousand have been arrested, including many protesters, as well as journalists, lawyers, activists, digital rights defenders, and others.

Written by Ardeshir Tayebi based on an original story in Persian by RFE/RL's Radio Farda