Earlier today, Amnesty International reported that at least 115 protesters had been killed in clashes with security forces in Iran, while according to an investigation by Radio Farda, at least 138 demonstrators and ten security personnel had been killed.

Amnesty International cautioned that this number may well be a lower bound. “We believe the real number is much higher and are continuing to investigate,” said a spokesman, as reported in Asharq al-Awsat.

Meanwhile, according to Radio Farda’s investigation, “Iranian security forces have killed at least 138 demonstrators during the past week after protests started on Friday November 15. Some 10 members of the security forces have also been killed in clashes with protesters.”

Videos from across Iran have been appearing on Twitter as the country has gradually been reconnected to the internet. Two videos from Amnesty International appear to show police using live ammunition against crowds.

A tweet from Masih Alinejad contests the idea that the protests are merely about fuel prices.

Another from Alireza Jafarzadeh pointed to the Iranian authorities’ use of Basij plainclothes police officers to round up and intimidate protesters on the streets.

In another video, a woman is seeing looking across the street to where a body is lying motionless on the pavement.

Videos also showed crowds taking revenge on isolated police officers and militia members.

Official Responses

Iranian officials are convinced that the riots, which started in response to rising fuel costs, are being orchestrated from outside the country.

Iranian First Vice President, Eshaq warned countries meddling in Iranian affairs that there would be repercussions for their actions.

“Some countries of the region must know that if clues are found that they have been involved in provoking riots inside Iran, then their goose is cooked in the region because Iran is not a country to be joked in this way or to tolerate such behaviors,” he reprimanded foreign governments involved in insecurities in Iran.

“They have to behave with utmost respect towards Iran. They will receive a crushing blow if it is found that foreigners have intervened in domestic affairs of Iran and have inflicted costs and damages on the Iranian nation,” Jahangiri stated.1

Meanwhile, Ayatollah Khatami claimed during Friday prayers that certain foreign countries had spent up to three years preparing agents to initiate the insurrection against the regime. 2

In a statement to the press, when challenged on whether US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo laid the blame for the protests squarely with the Iranian regime.

“You have to remember that the reason for the challenges to the Islamic Republic of Iran’s economy aren’t the American sanctions. This long predates any of that. This is massive mismanagement of the Iranian economy. It’s the fact they’ve sent young Iranian kids off to fight in wars and die. It’s the fact that they don’t permit companies to engage in activities that would promote wealth for the Iranian people. Instead, the kleptocrats, the government-owned enterprises, the Qods Force operated companies steal money from the Iranian people. The reason that the economy is struggling, and the reason that you see these protests all across the country are because the Iranian leadership has failed the Iranian people. They haven’t allowed the economy to grow; they haven’t created opportunity. Instead, they’ve behaved like kleptocrats, stealing the wealth of the Iranian people for their own personal enrichment.”3

Sanctions were announced by the Department of Treasury against Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi, Iran’s Minister of Information and Communications Technology, “who is supposed to be responsible for ensuring internet connectivity inside Iran”, according to a press statement given by Mike Pompeo. 4

Picture by Fars News Agency [CC BY 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Footnotes

  1. http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980902000750
  2. ibid
  3. https://www.state.gov/secretary-michael-r-pompeo-with-arash-aalaei-of-iran-international/
  4. https://www.state.gov/the-united-states-holds-iranian-officials-accountable-for-crackdown-on-protestors/
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