Iran Supreme Leader says peo­ple foiled ‘very dan­ger­ous’ plot

Muscat Daily - - WORLD -

Tehran, Iran - Iran’s Supreme Leader Ay­a­tol­lah Ali Khamenei on Wed­nes­day praised the coun­try’s peo­ple for foil­ing a ‘very dan­ger­ous" plot af­ter vi­o­lence erupted dur­ing protests this month against a fuel price hike.

New York-based Hu­man Rights Watch mean­while ac­cused the Is­lamic re­pub­lic of ‘de­lib­er­ately cov­er­ing up’ more than 100 deaths and thou­sands of ar­rests dur­ing the crack­down.

The demon­stra­tions first flared on Novem­ber 15, hours af­ter a mid­night shock an­nounce­ment that petrol prices would im­me­di­ately go up by as much as 200 per cent in the sanc­tions-hit coun­try.

The un­rest soon turned vi­o­lent and saw pro­test­ers at­tack po­lice sta­tions, torch petrol pumps and loot shops, be­fore be­ing quashed within a few days.

Ira­nian of­fi­cials have con­firmed five peo­ple were killed and so far an­nounced about 500 ar­rests, in­clud­ing of some 180 ‘ring­leaders’.

The ex­tent of the blood­shed re­mains un­clear, how­ever, mainly due to a near-to­tal in­ter­net black­out im­posed dur­ing the un­rest - a move Iran’s crit­ics say aims to curb the spread of videos of the vi­o­lence.

Lon­don-based Amnesty In­ter

national said on Mon­day that 143 peo­ple were killed and up to 7,000 ar­rested, cit­ing what it said were ‘cred­i­ble re­ports’.

Iran has blamed the street vi­o­lence on ‘thugs’ backed by its for­eign en­e­mies, in­clud­ing the United States, Is­rael and the Peo­ple’s Mu­ja­hedeen of Iran, an ex­iled op­po­si­tion group it con­sid­ers a ‘ter­ror­ist’ cult.

‘The peo­ple foiled a deep, vast and very dan­ger­ous con­spir­acy

on which a lot of money was spent for de­struc­tion, vi­cious­ness and the killing of peo­ple,’ Khamenei said, quoted by state tele­vi­sion.

The Ira­nian leader was speak­ing at a gath­er­ing of the Basij - a mili­tia loyal to the Is­lamic re­pub­lic’s es­tab­lish­ment.

On Twit­ter, Khamenei ex­pressed his ‘heart­felt grat­i­tude and ap­pre­ci­a­tion’ to the Ira­nian na­tion in a post that fea­tured pic

tures of a mas­sive pro-gov­ern­ment rally held in Tehran on Mon­day.

‘The peo­ple proved again that they are pow­er­ful and great, and de­feated the big con­spir­acy of the en­emy with their pres­ence on the scene,’ it said.

‘Po­lice and se­cu­rity forces ... per­formed their duty, but what the na­tion did dur­ing this week was more im­por­tant than any other mea­sure,’ said an­other tweet.

The tweets blamed the un­rest on the ‘#Glob­alAr­ro­gance and #Zion­ism’ - re­fer­ring to Iran’s arch-en­e­mies the US and Is­rael.

The United States said it had re­ceived thou­sands of mes­sages from Iran about protests af­ter ap­peal­ing to demon­stra­tors to defy re­stric­tions on the in­ter­net.

“We’ve re­ceived to date nearly 20,000 mes­sages, videos, pic­tures, notes of the regime’s abuses through Tele­gram mes­sag­ing ser­vices,” Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo said, re­fer­ring to the en­crypted app. Iran has yet to re­spond. Long-fraught links be­tween Tehran and Wash­ing­ton plunged to a new low in May last year when the US uni­lat­er­ally with­drew from an in­ter­na­tional ac­cord that gave Iran re­lief from sanc­tions in re­turn for curbs on its nu­clear pro­gramme.

In its re­port re­leased in Beirut, Hu­man Rights Watch ac­cused Iran of ‘de­lib­er­ately cov­er­ing up the scale of the mass crack­down against pro­test­ers’.

HRW called Ira­nian au­thor­i­ties to ‘im­me­di­ately an­nounce the num­ber of deaths, ar­rests, and de­ten­tions... and per­mit an in­de­pen­dent in­quiry into al­leged abuses’.

(AFP)

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ay­a­tol­lah Ali Khamenei at a meet­ing with the mem­bers of the Basij, a mili­tia loyal to the Is­lamic re­pub­lic’s es­tab­lish­ment, on the oc­ca­sion of the ‘Basij Week’ in the cap­i­tal Tehran on Wed­nes­day

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