London: Violent street protests erupted outside the Iranian embassy in London on Sunday, with rocks thrown at police and five protesters arrested.
Large crowds have been gathering all week outside the Knightsbridge compound in protest against the death in Iranian police custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in Iran. She had been arrested by Iran’s morality police for allegedly breaking headscarf rules and died on September 16.
London’s Metropolitan Police said that “a substantial group” of the large crowd were “intent on causing disorder” and confirmed that reinforcements had been called in when protesters tried to break police lines and storm towards the embassy compound.
Police stand guard outside the Iranian Embassy in London after a small group of protesters threw paint at the building.Credit:AP
A number of police officers were injured in the skirmishes though none seriously, and some arrests were made for violent disorder.
The London street protest comes at a time of growing hostility between Britain and Iran over the death in custody of Amini. The Iranian police said she died of a heart attack and was not mistreated, but her family has cast doubt on that account.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry’s website said it summoned Simon Shercliff, Britain’s ambassador to Iran, on Saturday and protested the hosting of critical Farsi-language media outlets. The ministry alleges the news outlets have provoked disturbances and the spread of riots in Iran at the top of their programs. Protests over Amini’s death have spread across at least 46 cities, towns and villages in Iran.
Demonstrators hold placards outside the Iranian Embassy in London, Sunday.Credit:AP
Iran said it considers the news agencies’ reporting to be interference in Iran’s internal affairs and acts against its sovereignty.
The beefed-up police operation in the vicinity of the Iranian Embassy in London’s Princes Gate will remain in place.
Clashes continued between security forces and protesters in several northwestern regions, according to sources in the cities of Tabriz, Urmia, Rasht and Hamedan. Activists said there were also protests in districts of the capital, Tehran.
A main teachers union, in a statement posted on social media on Sunday, called for teachers and students to stage the first national strike since the unrest began, on Monday and Wednesday.
It urged teachers, trade unions, military veterans and artists to “stand with pupils, students and people seeking justice in these difficult but hopeful days”.
Details of casualties have trickled out slowly, partly because of the restrictions on communication.
The sister of a 20-year-old woman identified as Hadis Najafi told a US-based activist that she died on Wednesday after being shot by security forces. Videos of Najafi had been shared on Twitter, showing her without hijab and protesting in Karaj, 30 km northwest of Tehran.
European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Iran should “immediately stop the violent crackdown on protests and ensure internet access”. He also called for information on the number of people killed and arrested, and an investigation into “the killing of Mahsa Amini”.
President Ebrahim Raisi has said Iran ensures freedom of expression and that he has ordered an investigation into Amini’s death. He also said that “acts of chaos” were unacceptable and that Iran must deal decisively with the unrest. At the United Nations, he said extensive coverage of Amini’s case was “double standards”, pointing to deaths in U.S. police custody.
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