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‘Freedom for Iran’ protest refrain from Tehran to Turlock
Iran protest 1
Anti-government protesters in Turlock on Sunday showed their support for the Iranians fighting for freedom halfway across the world (CANDY PADILLA/The Journal).

A sea of Iranian and American flags could be seen on the corner of Countryside Drive and Monte Vista Avenue on Sunday afternoon as a group of local residents gathered to protest the recent violent actions in Iran and raise awareness to the situation.

Iran has been convulsed by anti-government protests since the Sept. 16 death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish woman who died in the custody of the country's morality police in the capital, Tehran. The protests, which were initially concentrated in the western, Kurdish region of Iran where Amini was from, have spread across the country and escalated into calls for the overthrow of Iran's ruling clerics.

Iran protest 2
Around 50 to 60 local community members gathered to rally for human rights in Turlock on Sunday in reaction to the violence happening in Iran right now (KRISTINA HACKER/The Journal).

Hengaw, a Kurdish human rights group, said Iranian security forces unleashed heavy gunfire on protesters in the town of Javanrud, where a funeral was held for two protesters killed the day before. It cited witnesses as saying that Iranian forces used heavy machine guns.

Hengaw said seven people were killed on Monday, while another group, the Kurdistan Human Rights Network, put the toll at five. 

Iranian authorities heavily restrict media coverage of the protests and have periodically shut off internet access, making it difficult to confirm details of the unrest.

At least 426 people have been killed and more than 17,400 arrested, according to Human Rights Activists in Iran, a group monitoring the unrest. It says at least 55 members of the security forces have been killed.

Turlock resident Robert David helped organize Sunday’s protest in town.

“I want everyone to know that the Iran regime is not following human rights and killing people for no reason,” he said.

He said there are videos circulating of Iranian police shooting children and it needs to stop.

David is hoping the United States will intervene and push for a regime change.

“Hopefully that will happen soon and they’ll be free.”

Among the 50 to 60 protesters that gathered on Sunday was Turlock City Council member Andrew Nosrati.

Nosrati said that as the son of two Iranian parents who were forced to leave that country due to religious persecution and a totalitarian regime, he felt it was important to protest recent actions.

“I wanted to show support for the struggles the current Iranian generation is going through,” Nosrati said.

The councilman said that due to the amount of news happening all the time, that sometimes it takes a group of people who feel passionate about an issue to get out there and let others know what is going on.

“We all have family, extended family or friends who are [in Iran] so it’s very much in the consciousness of our community,” said Nosrati about the local Iranian-American community.

On Monday, the unrest cast a shadow over the World Cup, where the Iranian national team faced off against England. Iran's players did not sing along to their national anthem, and some fans chanted Amini's name at the 22nd minute of the match.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.