At least 185 people – including 19 children – have been killed in Iran amid protests that have continued for weeks over the death of a young woman in police custody, a human rights group has said.
Mahsa Amini died in hospital on 16 September three days after she was arrested for wearing “inappropriate attire”.
Protests have erupted across Iran, and the world, since her funeral in the Kurdish town of Saqez on the day after her death.
Her family’s lawyer says she was beaten in custody, while a state coroner claimed in a report on Saturday that she died due to pre-existing medical conditions.
Protesters have been calling for the downfall of clerical leader ayatollah Ali Khamenei at rallies that have sparked a violent police crackdown.
“At least 185 people, including at least 19 children, have been killed in the nationwide protests across Iran,” said the Norway-based group Iran Human Rights.
“The highest number of killings occurred in Sistan and Baluchistan province with half the recorded number.”
One of the victims was 16-year-old Nika Shakarami. Her mother Nasreen told the media this week that authorities refused to notify Nika’s family of her death until 10 days after she died, and that they took her from the morgue to bury her in a remote village without the family’s consent.
Nasreen added that severe damage to Nika’s skull suggests she was struck repeatedly on her head, while authorities have claimed she died after falling from a building.
Another child reportedly killed by security forces was YouTuber and student Sarina Esmailzadeh, 16, who was allegedly beaten with batons at a protest in Gohardasht in Alborz province on 23 September, according to Amnesty International.
The girls were just two out of hundreds of people who died amid protests attended by about 2,500 people, mainly teenage girls and women, and policed by security forces using tear gas, clubs, and live ammunition – rights groups said.
On Sunday, videos on social media showed that protests continued in dozens of cities across Iran.
A video tweeted by an activist using the Twitter handle @1500tasvir shows a man shouting “don’t hit my wife, she is pregnant” while trying to protect her from a dozen riot police that were beating them both in the city of Rafsanjan.
Another video posted by the account’s English version – @1500tasvir_en – shows several guards beating someone lying on the ground. The caption, which tags the UN’s children’s agency Unicef, says: “Armed agents beat a minor in the middle of a street in broad daylight and @Unicef is still silent?”
Reuters news agency said it could not verify videos and posts that have been posted because of Iranian authorities’ restrictions on the internet.
On Saturday, videos emerged that seem to show female students at a university in Tehran chanting “get lost” during a visit by president Ebrahim Raisi.
One of the people killed that same day was a man in the Kurdish city of Sanandaj, who was reportedly shot in his car after he sounded his horn in support of protesters.
A police official in Sanandaj said a man had been killed by “counter-revolutionaries”, Iranian state-run news agency IRNA reported.
Iranian authorities have denied that security forces officers – of which 20 have reportedly been killed – have used live bullets and described the protests as a plot to destabilise and discredit Iran by its opponents, such as the US.