Two Iranian actresses arrested as authorities tighten crackdown on anti-regime protesters



CNN

Two prominent Iranian actresses have been detained by security forces after showing their support for the protest movement sweeping the country as the authorities tighten their crackdown on dissidents.

According to the semi-official Tasnim news agency, Hengameh Ghaziani and Katayoun Riahi have been arrested on separate occasions for publicly supporting the nationwide protests.

Widespread demonstrations have erupted across the country since September, sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while in the custody of Iran’s Morality Police. Amini, a Kurdish Iranian woman, died after being arrested for allegedly not wearing her hijab properly.

Riahi was arrested by Iranian security forces on Sunday, Tasnim news agency reported. The actress, known for her roles in the TV series Joseph the Prophet and The Tenth Night, as well as films like The Last Supper, had posted a video of herself without a headscarf on her Instagram account on September 18 – two days after Amini’s death.

In another incident, Ghaziani, who is known in Iran for her appearances in films such as “As Simple as That” and “Days of Life,” posted a video on her Instagram account on Saturday showing the Iranian actress without a headscarf in public showed off by tying her loose hair into a ponytail.

“This could be my last post. From this moment on, if anything happens to me, know that I will always be with the people of Iran until my last breath,” she said in the caption.

According to Tasnim news agency, Ghaziani was arrested by security forces in possession of a court order just a day after the video was released.

She was then brought before prosecutors and charged with interfering with Iranian security and engaging in propaganda activities against the Iranian regime, according to the state-affiliated Fars news agency.

Ghaziani (left) and Riahi (right) were both arrested after showing public support for anti-government protests that were sweeping Iran.

On Sunday, Iran’s judiciary said it had sentenced to death a sixth person accused of taking part in recent protests, according to the Tasnim News Agency.

Citing Iran’s judiciary, the agency said a protester who blocked traffic and clashed with members of the Basij militia at a recent protest on Sattar Khan Street in Tehran had been sentenced to death.

All death sentences imposed are “provisional and open to appeal before Iran’s Court of Appeal,” Tasnim added.

A total of at least 378 people have been killed by Iranian security forces since September, including 47 children killed in the country, according to Iran Human Rights on Saturday

CNN cannot independently verify the death toll — no one outside the Iranian government can confirm an exact figure — and estimates have been mixed by opposition groups, international human rights organizations, and local journalists.

Four of Iran’s Kurdish cities have seen particularly intense clashes in recent days that have killed 13 people in the past 24 hours, activist Azhin Shekhi of the Norway-based Hengaw Human Rights Organization told CNN on Monday.

Hengaw said casualties were recorded in Kermanshah province, West Azerbaijan province and Kurdistan province — where the majority of Iran’s Kurdish population resides.

The death toll since Tuesday last week has risen to 41 people killed in Kurdish towns, Shekhi added.

Amini's death highlights the historical grievances of Iran's Kurdish minorities in Iran.

An Iranian lawmaker representing Mahabad, which in 1946 was the capital of a short-lived breakaway Kurdish republic in northwestern Iran, said at least 11 people had been killed in the city alone.

Jalal Mahmoodzadeh was quoted in a reformist media outlet as saying it was unclear whether the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) – Iran’s elite military wing – was part of the security forces cracking down on Mahabad, but he had a letter to senior officials written to the military asking them to de-escalate the situation.

The IRGC released a statement on Sunday saying they were “reinforced forces” at a base in northwest Iran to deal with “terrorists and separatists,” according to a statement released by state-aligned news outlets .

The reported death toll followed comments by Hengaw to CNN over the weekend that regime forces had “significantly increased” “brutality” against protesters in recent days.

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