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Source: RFE/RL

Mar 16, 2023

The death of a man while in the custody of security forces has sparked fresh anti-government protests in the northwestern Iranian city of Bukan.

According to local sources, including the website of the rights group Hengaw, people took to the streets on March 15 chanting anti-government slogans, as well as "The martyr will never die" in Kurdish after 41-year-old Shirzad Ahmadinejad, a resident of Bukan, died while being held at an IRGC Intelligence Detention Center in the nearby city of Urmia.

It is unclear why Ahmadinejad was detained, but Hengaw, citing "informed sources," said he was supposed to be temporarily released on bail but then his family was informed that he had died of a heart attack.

"However, we have learned from our sources that Ahmadinejad died under torture, and the security forces have not yet handed over his body to the family," Hengaw said, quoting sources close to Ahmadinejad's family.

Bukan, located in West Azerbaijan Province, was one of the cities that saw numerous protests following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini during her detention by the Islamic republic's morality police in Tehran last September.

Amini's death, which officials blamed on a heart attack, touched off a wave of anti-government protests that authorities have met with a harsh crackdown that rights groups say has killed more than 500 people, including 71 children.

Officials, who have blamed -- without providing evidence -- the West for the demonstrations, have vowed to crack down even harder on protesters, with the judiciary leading the way after the unrest entered a fourth month.

The protests pose the biggest threat to the Islamic government since the 1979 revolution.Several thousand people have been arrested, including many protesters, as well as journalists, lawyers, activists, digital rights defenders, and others.

Written by Ardeshir Tayebi based on an original story in Persian by RFE/RL's Radio Farda
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