Thousands of Iranian students protested across the country for the third weekend on Saturday, with footage posted online showing hundreds of women in black veils raising their middle fingers in a sign of contempt for the authorities, despite a deadly crackdown.
It came as security forces on Friday returned the body of another young woman to her family with suspicious injuries, nine days after she went missing during a protest in central Tehran.
The family of 17-year-old Nika Shakarami said she had last been heard of when she called a friend from a demonstration on September 20 to say: “I am running away from armed security forces.” Despite searching police stations and hospitals they were initially unable to find her.
They were eventually invited to identify her body on September 29, but her aunt told the BBC’s Persian service that the family was prevented from seeing her entire face.
“In the morning, when [the police] went to hand over the body, they saw that her nose was destroyed and her skull was broken and disintegrated from multiple blows of a hard object,” Atash Shakarami said.
Ms Shakarami said she had been told informally that her niece had been in the IRGC’s custody and briefly placed in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison.
Her story was reminiscent of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurd whose death after her arrest by the morality police for allegedly failing to wear her hijab properly sparked the current uprising.
In the capital on Saturday, thousands of people from the affluent north and working-class south districts of Tehran converged on the symbolic Revolution Square and called for the overthrow of the Islamic regime.
They were joined by thousands of students in universities across the country, including in Isfahan, where footage posted online suggested security forces were firing on demonstrators.
In a rare debate on Iran’s state television about why so many young people were participating in the protests, leading sociologist Dr. Mohammed Fazeli said it was because the Islamic regime was “denying the Iranian people the right to life, never mind the right to decide what to wear”.
“Our youth are on the streets because by their nature human beings live in the shadow of tomorrow. But our system of governance has failed to provide the young people of Iran with a hope to have a better future”, Dr Fazeli said.
The Iran Human Rights group says at least 83 people have been killed in the crackdown. Amnesty International says it has confirmed 52 fatalities, while Iran’s Fars agency has put the death toll at “around 60”.
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