Iranians are risking it all to protest. Their families say some aren't coming home

3 days ago 67

(CNN)The past clip Farnaz heard her brother's dependable was implicit the phone, connected an chartless number.

"He called maine and said lone 1 sentence: 'I was caught' ... I instantly understood what my beloved member meant and went to the morality constabulary section (to look for him)," the 22-year-old, who asked to usage a pseudonym for information reasons, told CNN.

Farnaz said her older brother, an accountant, had joined demonstrations successful Iran's southeastern metropolis of Kerman connected Monday against what helium calls the "oppressive authorities of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Ebrahim Raisi" erstwhile "officers successful plain clothes" infiltrated the assemblage and "forced radical into morality constabulary vans."

    The choler successful Kerman is reflective of scenes playing retired crossed Iran -- arsenic radical instrumentality to the streets amid chants of "death to the dictator," successful a melodramatic amusement of defiance against the authorities pursuing the decease of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died past week successful the custody of Iran's alleged 'morality police,' a notorious portion which enforces compulsory caput scarf laws.

      Amini's suspicious decease has go a awesome of the convulsive oppression women person faced successful Iran for decades -- and protesters accidental that, erstwhile again, the authorities has humor connected its hands.

      Since past week, semi-official quality agencies are reporting astatine slightest 17 radical person died successful convulsive clashes betwixt protestors and information forces. CNN cannot independently verify the decease toll. In summation to protesters, 2 members of Iran's paramilitary radical person besides been killed.

      Demonstrations successful  Tehran pursuing  the decease  of Mahsa Amini connected  September 21.

      In the frantic hours that followed her brother's disappearance, Farnaz and her parents traveled to the Kerman subdivision of the morality constabulary to request answers.

        Instead, they accidental they encountered a oversea of different families besides searching for loved ones -- galore of whom said they were threatened by police.

        It's been implicit 4 days since Farnaz has seen her brother, and she's disquieted he's ne'er coming home.

        "My member is being held captive by these cruel radical and we can't adjacent find retired astir his condition," she said.

        CNN has verified video that shows equipped constabulary clashing with protesters connected Monday successful Kerman's Azadi quadrate -- wherever Farnaz says her member was taken.

        On Thursday, the US sanctioned respective morality constabulary and information officials it believes are liable for Amini's death.

        'Brutalizing Iranians into submission'

        Amini's household past saw her live connected September 13, erstwhile she was being "punched successful the head" by Tehran's morality constabulary successful the backmost of a car earlier being driven away, her relative Diako Aili, told CNN.

        CCTV footage released by Iran's authorities media showed Amini collapsing astatine a "re-education" halfway aboriginal that time successful Tehran, wherever she had been taken by morality constabulary officers to person "guidance" implicit however she was dressed.

        Two hours aboriginal she was transferred to Kasra infirmary successful Tehran.

        According to Aili, doctors astatine Kasra infirmary wherever Amini was treated told her contiguous household she'd been admitted with "brain harm connected arrival" due to the fact that "the injuries to her caput were truthful severe."

        Aili lives successful Norway and hadn't spoken to Amini since July but is successful predominant interaction with her parents. He said nary of his relatives had been allowed into the infirmary country to presumption her body.

        "She died successful a coma 3 days aft that ... a young 22-year-old pistillate with nary bosom illness oregon anything... she was a blessed miss surviving successful a not truthful bully country, with dreams that I'll ne'er cognize about," Aili said.

        CNN could not independently verify Aili's relationship with infirmary officials.

        Iranian authorities support Amini died of a bosom onslaught and person denied immoderate wrongdoing.

        Last weekend, the authorities said an autopsy had been completed, but was inactive being reviewed.

        A household  photograph  of Mahsa Amini arsenic  a child.

        An authoritative probe into the circumstances surrounding her decease is "ongoing," but it's done small to quell the unrest connected the streets -- arsenic scenes of protests, striking successful their geographical spread, ferocity and symbolism, flood societal media, successful what appears to beryllium the largest show of nationalist choler successful Iran since demonstrations implicit soaring nutrient and substance prices successful 2019.

        For Shima Babaei, who fled Iran successful 2020 aft serving clip successful Tehran's infamous Evin situation for not wearing a headscarf, Amini's decease is peculiarly unnerving.

        "Her decease reminds maine of the savagery of the police, not lone against me, but thousands of Iranian women who person had these experiences. At the precise aforesaid gathering successful the morality constabulary office they treated maine arsenic a criminal, enactment maine successful handcuffs and disgraced me," the women's rights activist, who present lives successful Belgium, told CNN.

        Babaei -- who has a ample societal media beingness successful Iran -- knows what it's similar to go an accidental awesome for protest. Her sanction became synonymous with the "Girls of Revolution Street" anti-hijab demonstrations that took spot crossed Iran from 2017 to 2019.

        But she says the temper this clip seems different.

        "I deliberation this is the opening of something. Women are mounting their scarves connected occurrence and eradicating immoderate symbols of the authorities from the streets ... sooner oregon aboriginal Iranian radical volition execute state and we volition retrieve those who basal beside us."

        An net blackout authorities introduced connected Thursday successful an effort to quell the unrest appears to person had small effect. Human rights organizations are present acrophobic astir what Iran's authorities could bash adjacent nether the screen of darkness.

        After the November 2019 protests, hundreds of Iranians were arrested, tortured, imprisoned and adjacent sentenced to decease successful immoderate cases nether nationalist information laws, according to Amnesty International.

        Mansoureh Mills, who works successful the organization's Iran team, describes the concern contiguous arsenic a "crisis of impunity," enabled by planetary inaction.

        "We're receiving reports of young radical being intentionally changeable with metallic pellets and different munitions, causing decease oregon horrific injuries. This is the authorities' hopeless effort to brutalize Iranians into submission," Mills told CNN.

        For Aili -- who is watching the protests from afar -- the fearfulness helium present has for his relatives successful Iran who spoke retired astir Amini's decease is crippling.

        He said the authorities had offered to instrumentality attraction of his household financially if they kept quiescent astir his cousin's lawsuit but they decided to get her communicative out.

          "Why did you termination a 22-year-old miss who is innocent?"

          "No 1 deserves to dice conscionable due to the fact that they're showing immoderate hairsbreadth oregon saying what they deliberation ... it's a discarded of life," Aili told CNN.

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