Iranian police have warned that they will confront "with all their might" women-led protests that erupted nearly two weeks ago over the death of Mahsa Amini in custody as the United Nations called on Tehran to refrain from using “unnecessary or disproportionate force” against protesters.
Officials say 60 people have died during the protests, but the group Iran Human Rights says at least 76 people have been killed since demonstrations erupted after the 22-year-old Kurdish woman died following her arrest in Tehran for allegedly breaching Iran's strict rules on hijab head scarves.
Officials said on September 26 that they had made more than 1,200 arrests, including the detention of activists, lawyers, and journalists.
Widespread protests took place for a 12th straight night on September 27, according to opposition media based outside Iran, despite Internet restrictions designed to impede gatherings and prevent images of the crackdown getting out.
Women have burned their scarves and symbolically cut their hair to protest Amini's death and the strict dress code in solidarity rallies from New York to Istanbul.
"Today, the enemies of the Islamic republic of Iran and some rioters seek to disrupt the order, security, and comfort of the nation using any pretext," the police command was quoted by the Fars news agency as saying. "Police officers will oppose with all their might the conspiracies of counterrevolutionaries and hostile elements, and deal firmly with those who disrupt public order and security anywhere in the country."
The statement came only hours after the UN said its secretary-general, Antonio Guterres, had called on Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi not to use "disproportionate force" against protesters.
In a meeting during last week's UN General Assembly, Guterres "stressed to President Raisi the need to respect human rights, including freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association," the UN chief's spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, said.
"We are increasingly concerned about reports of rising fatalities, including women and children, related to the protests," Dujarric said.
He said Guterres "calls on the security forces to refrain from using unnecessary or disproportionate force and appeals to all to exercise utmost restraint to avoid further escalation."
The son of Iran's late shah hailed the protests as a landmark revolution by women and urged the world to add to the pressure on the clerical leadership.
Reza Pahlavi, whose father was toppled in the Islamic Revolution of 1979, called for greater preparation for a future Iranian system that is secular and democratic.
"It is truly in modern times, in my opinion, the first revolution for the women, by the women -- with the support of the Iranian men, sons, brothers and fathers," Pahlavi, who lives in exile in the United States, told AFP.
"It has come to the point, as the Spaniards would say, basta -- we've had enough."
On September 27, authorities arrested the daughter of ex-president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani for "inciting rioters," the Tasnim news agency reported.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged Iran to "end its use of violence against women for exercising what should be a fundamental freedom".
"We stand with all those who are exercising the universal right to peaceful protest," he said.
On September 28, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) targeted the bases of an Iranian-Kurdish opposition group in northern Iraq with drone strikes, Kurdish officials said, amid the deadly protests in the country.
Separately, the Iranian state news agency IRNA reported that the IRGC launched missile and drone attacks on "terrorists" in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq on September 28.
Iran has blamed armed Iranian Kurdish dissidents for involvement in ongoing unrest in the country, particularly in the northwest where most of Iran's Kurdish population of up to 10 million lives.