Ayatollah Khamenei. Image Credit: Tasnim News, CC BY 4.0.

More than 75 people have been killed in Iran as the hardline regime launches a crackdown against protests sparked by the death of a Kurdish woman in a detention centre.

Amnesty International said on Monday that at least four children had been killed by the security forces since the beginning of the protests. It described a “harrowing pattern” of “deliberate and unlawful firing of live ammunition at protesters”, as Tehran attempted to draw a veil of secrecy over its action by shutting down the internet.

“The rising death toll is an alarming indication of just how ruthless the authorities’ assault on human life has been under the darkness of the internet shutdown,” Amnesty said.

The death toll provided by human rights groups is nearly double that admitted to by the authorities in 10 days of growing unrest in the country following 22 year-old Masha Amini’s arrest. Amini was detained by “morality police” for allegedly breaching the country’s rules surrounding the wearing of hijab headscarves.

Over 1,200 people have been arrested as President Ebhrahim Raisi – who gained notoriety for his role overseeing the execution of thousands of political prisoners in 1988 – pledged on Sunday to “deal decisively” with “those who oppose the country’s security and tranquility”.

The European Union this week condemned Tehran’s “widespread and disproportionate use of force against nonviolent protesters” and, along with the US, threatened further sanctions. Since the introduction of a new post-Brexit sanctions regime, the UK has failed to punish any Iranian human rights abusers, LFI research published earlier this summer found.