Iranian Kiwis 'worried' for loved ones as violent protests continue in Iran

Iranian Kiwis are fearing for their loved ones as protests descend into violence in Iran. 

There is unrest in Iran with thousands taking to the streets over the death of Mahsa Amini who was caught by the country's morality police for failing to correctly wear her hijab. 

The 22-year-old Kurdish woman had been detained by morality police enforcing strict hijab rules and died in custody in Tehran on September 16.

Clashes continued between security forces and protesters in several northwestern regions, according to sources in the cities of Tabriz, Urmia, Rasht and Hamedan. Activists said there were also protests in districts of the capital, Tehran, Reuters reported. 

Iran's state television said 41 people have been killed since the protests broke out following Amini's death. 

Iranian Women in New Zealand founder and chairperson Forough Amin told AM on Monday the chaos has made contacting friends and family near impossible. 

"I haven't heard from my family since last Tuesday because access to WhatsApp and Instagram has been very limited. Some people can have access to the internet, but it's just in a specific area, so most people no," she told AM co-host Ryan Bridge. 

"I'm worried but to tell you the truth, I'm more worried about what's going on in Iran, because it's not just my sister or my family, it's like the whole people … A young boy, just 16 years old, has been killed. We are just bursting into tears watching all these videos and it's like our sisters, our brothers, it doesn't matter."

Amin told AM about the brutal killings that are taking place in Iran. 

"So since the first day, they have been killing people, shooting directly at them. They have been even invading houses, so they just break the doors, shoot the windows and enter the house and arrest people and only God knows what happened to these people after they are arrested," she said. 

People around the world have been protesting Amini's death including a protest in Wellington on Saturday where more than 100 New Zealanders gathered. 

Several women, including Greens MP Golriz Ghahraman, cut their hair off - a Kurdish grieving tradition - which Amin said is a "symbolic display". 

People carry the coffin of Hossein Taghipour, a member of the paramilitary Basij force who was killed in ongoing protests.
People carry the coffin of Hossein Taghipour, a member of the paramilitary Basij force who was killed in ongoing protests. Photo credit: Getty Images

This "symbolic display" hasn't been limited to New Zealand, with women around the world also seen doing this to protest Amini's death. 

"That's a symbolic action, so it's been a tradition when someone is killed the women just cut their hair as a sign of mourning," she said.

"But this time, we have been doing that both as mourning for Mahsa's death and also for showing defiance for what's happening in Iran."

Amin said women in Iran are challenging the regime, which has turned the country into "chaos". 

"It's chaos now. You can never take off your scarf when you are in the street in Iran, it's not possible, but women are doing that now. So we are doing whatever we can just to challenge this regime and its brutality," she told AM. 

Iran's army warned they would "confront the enemies" to ensure security and peace in the country, according to a statement, as protests rage over the death of Amini.

The army said, "these desperate actions are part of the evil strategy of the enemy to weaken the Islamic regime".

Watch the full interview with Forough Amin above.