Iranian general acknowledges more than 300 dead in unrest
Dubai, United Arab Emirates –
An Iranian general acknowledged on Monday that more than 300 people had been killed in unrest surrounding nationwide protests, giving the first official word on casualties in two months.
This estimate is considerably lower than the toll reported by Human Rights Activists in Iran, a US-based group that has closely followed protests since they erupted after the September 16 death of a young woman in police custody. country’s morality police.
The activist group says 451 protesters and 60 members of the security forces have been killed since the unrest began and more than 18,000 people have been arrested.
Nationwide protests were sparked by the woman’s death but quickly turned into calls for the overthrow of the Islamic theocracy that has ruled Iran since its 1979 revolution.
General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the paramilitary Revolutionary Guards’ Aerospace Division, was quoted by a website close to the Guards as saying that more than 300 people had been killed, including « martyrs », an apparent reference to the security forces. He also suggested that many of those killed were ordinary Iranians not involved in the protests.
He did not provide an exact figure or say where his estimate came from.
Hajizadeh reiterated the official claim that the protests were fomented by Iran’s enemies, including Western countries and Saudi Arabia, without providing evidence. Protesters say they have had enough after decades of social and political repression and deny having a foreign agenda.
The protests have spread across the country and have drawn support from artists, athletes and other public figures.
The niece of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei recently called on people to pressure their governments to cut ties with Tehran over its violent crackdown on protests.
In a video uploaded by her France-based brother, Farideh Moradkhani urged « conscientious people of the world » to support the Iranian protesters. The video was shared online this week after Moradkhani’s reported arrest on November 23, according to the activist group.
Moradkhani is a lifelong activist whose late father was an opposition figure married to Khamenei’s sister and is the closest member of the paramount leader’s family to be arrested. The branch of the family has opposed Khamenei for decades and Moradkhani has been imprisoned several times for her activism.
“I ask conscientious people of the world to stand with us and ask their governments not to react with empty words and slogans but with real actions and to cease all relations with this regime,” he said. she said in her video statement.
The protests, now in their third month, have been brutally suppressed by Iranian security forces using live ammunition, rubber bullets and tear gas to quell protests.
Despite the repression, the demonstrations continue and are dispersed in the cities.
The unrest was sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody in Tehran for violating the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code. It quickly turned into one of the most serious challenges to the establishment of Iran in more than four decades.
Iran refuses to cooperate with a fact-finding mission that the UN Human Rights Council recently voted to establish.
« The Islamic Republic of Iran will not engage in any cooperation whatsoever with the political committee, » Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said.