Iran is on a bad start this year as protests start to build momentum even during the holiday season. On top of the government clashes with protesters, there was an explosion in Semnan Province.

In an interview with the local publication ISNA, Morteza Moradipour told the reporters that he contacted the emergency agency in Iran because of an explosion at an iron smelting furnace. The accident happened in the industrial town of Garmsar, and the Red Crescent rescuers were sent to the location after the report was filed.

According to the rescuers, they are still investigating the cause of the explosion and would not want to link any protest-related cause to the accident for now. Because of this, one person was killed, while five others were sent to the hospital for treatment and monitoring.

Meanwhile, the clash with protesters continues.

Multiple “umbrella organizations” have now come together to organize protest efforts in Iran and to fight the silencing of social media efforts to expose police brutality in the region. These organizations include the Neighborhood Youth Union (NYU) and the Iranian Neighborhood United Front (INUF). According to ISW, these groups claim that some are affiliated with umbrella organizations while others are not. This has caused a divide in their entire cause.

“This apparent disunity may indicate that different protest leaders are vying for influence within the movement. This possibly internal struggle is a somewhat natural consequence of the growing cohesion within the protest movement. It does not mean that the protest movement is irrevocably divided but is a challenge protest leaders must overcome.”

As for the Iranian Supreme Court, they have recently revoked the death sentence handed over to three defendants who allegedly played a role in the murder of a security officer. According to Supreme Court’s Public Relations Director Amir Hashemi, the court is revoking death sentences for Hossein Mohammadi, Reza Aria, and Hamid Qarahasanlou because of a reported flaw in the investigation. However, they are still moving forward with the death sentence for Mohammad Mahdi Karmi and Seyed Mohammad Hosseini because of more substantial proof of their participation in the crime.

The police have accused 16 protesters of the death of a member of the Basij paramilitary police force in one of the public demonstration events. The accused denied the claims saying they were being “targeted” by the government. Eleven of them, including three minors, were given jail terms.

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However, human rights organizations call out Iranian courts for this ruling, saying the accused underwent severe torture. Mohammad Hosseini’s lawyer said that his client was tortured until he confessed to playing a part in killing the officer.

“He was tortured with his eyes closed and his hands and feet tied. They kicked his head until he fainted and injured different parts of his body with an iron rod and an electroshock weapon,” Ardakani said.

According to the latest reports, more than 430 protesters have been killed during riots, including 68 minors, as Iranian police confront them during these events. Another Oslo-based Iran Human Rights Organization reports executions now exceeded 500 in 2022.