Nine more people have died in overnight clashes between protesters and security forces in Iran, state television has reported, as unrest in the country entered the sixth day, The Guardian reports.
State TV said six protesters were killed as they tried to storm a police station in the town of Qahderijan in the central Isfahan region. It also said an 11-year-old boy and a 20-year-old man were killed in the town of Khomeinishahr, while a member of Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard was killed in the town of Kahriz Sang. All three were shot by hunting rifles, which are common in the Iranian countryside, the report said. None of the reports could be confirmed independently.
Monday marked the first night to see a fatality among Iran’s security forces. It is estimated that 21 people have now died nationwide in unrest linked to the demonstrations, the largest in Iran since its disputed 2009 presidential election. Around 100 people were arrested overnight in the same region, Iranian state television reported.
Videos posted on social networks on Monday appeared to show riot police becoming more confrontational. Protesters were seen attacking government buildings and shattering windows in an escalation of the unrest. Observers reported riot police riding on motorbikes and wielding batons on the streets of Tehran. Similar scenes were reported in other cities.
A leaked report has revealed how riots have panicked Iran’s regime as the death toll from unrest in the country climbed. The document shows Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei met with top political leaders and security chiefs to discuss a clamp down on protests taking place across the country. A report of the meeting states:
“God help us, this is a very complex situation and is different from previous occasions.”
According to Fox News, the leaked report was given to the National Council of Resistance of Iran from senior government sources. It suggested the protests have hit the country’s economy and ‘threatens the regime’s security’.
“The first step, therefore, is to find a way out of this situation. Religious leaders and the leadership must come to the scene as soon as possible and prevent the situation (from) deteriorating further. God help us, this is a very complex situation and is different from previous occasions,”’ it added.
The report covered several meetings up to December 31 and was provided to the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) from what it said were high-level sources from within the regime. The meeting notes, which have been translated into English from Farsi, said the unrest has hurt every sector of the country’s economy and “threatens the regime’s security. The first step, therefore, is to find a way out of this situation.”
The report added: “Religious leaders and the leadership must come to the scene as soon as possible and prevent the situation (from) deteriorating further.” It continued, “God help us, this is a very complex situation and is different from previous occasions.”
The meeting notes that the leader of the NCRI, Maryam Rajavi, and the “Infidels,” which the translation says refers to “the West,” “are united for the first time.” It continued:
“Maryam Rajavi is hoping for regime change,” saying the protests are “definitely organized,” and “the security forces report that the MEK is very active and is leading and directing them.”
The notes also warn that all those affiliated with leadership “must be on alert and monitor the situation constantly,” continuing, “the security and intelligence forces must constantly monitor the situation on the scene and conduct surveillance and subsequently report to the office of the leadership.”
Despite the unrest, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani yesterday dismissed the protests as ‘nothing’ .
“Our great nation has witnessed a number of similar incidents in the past and has comfortably dealt with them. This is nothing,” Rouhani said in a meeting with Iranian members of parliament on Monday, CNN reported.
Rouhani has acknowledged the public’s anger over the Islamic Republic’s flagging economy, though he and others warned that the government wouldn’t hesitate to crack down on those it considers lawbreakers. All the protest rallies so far haven’t received prior permission from the Interior Ministry, making them illegal under Iranian law.
That was echoed Monday by judiciary chief Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani, who urged authorities to confront rioters, state TV reported.
“I demand all prosecutors across the country to get involved and the approach should be strong,” he said.
The head of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court also reportedly warned Tuesday that arrested protesters could potentially face death penalty cases when they come to trial. Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency quoted Mousa Ghazanfarabadi as saying: “Obviously one of their charges can be Moharebeh,” or waging war against God. That’s a death penalty offense in Iran.
Ghazanfarabadi also was quoted as saying some protesters will come to trial soon on charges of acting against national security and damaging public properties. Iran’s Revolutionary Court handles cases involving alleged attempts to overthrow the government.
According to NCRI sources and reports from within Iran, at least 40 cities across Iran witnessed protests Monday, including in the capital city of Tehran. These reports state that slogans heard included “Death to the dictator,” and “the leader lives like God while the people live like beggars.”
The regime’s notes claimed protesters “started chanting the ultimate slogans from day one. In Tehran today, people were chanting slogans against Khamenei and the slogans used yesterday were all against Khamenei.” The notes added that the intelligence division of the feared Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is “monitoring the situation” and “working all in coordination to prevent protests.”
It says that a “red alert” has not yet been declared, which would lead to direct military intervention in the protests. But it then predicted that sending IRGC or the Bassij forces would “backfire” and would further “antagonize the protesters.”