The Iranian government warned protesters that they “will pay the price” of the anti-government demonstrations. Two people were killed, and a few others are injured.
Iranian Interior Minister Rahmani Fazli issued the warning after the demonstrations throughout the nation turned deadly. He highlighted the misuse of social networks and said they were causing violence. Minister Fazli noted that behavior would be “smashed.”
“The events and occurrences of the last few days have preoccupied, saddened and hurt our beloved people,” semi-official news agency ILNA quoted Fazli as saying, before adding “those who destroy public properties, create chaos, lawlessness and insecurity in our society, will be held legally responsible and must answer for their behaviors and pay the price for it.”
Two people killed during the protests
It all started as a protest over the rising prices and other economic issues last Thursday. However, the dissatisfaction and anger of the people around the country quickly turned the demonstration into a nation-wide protest against the government of President Hassan Rouhani.
Demonstrations began in the northeastern city of Mashhad, and they have spread to cities such as Tehran, Kermanshah, Arak, Qazvin, Khorramabad, Karaj and Sabzevar according to First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri.
On Saturday night, the protests continued, and several people got hurt. Two were dead in Doroud, a city located in the Lorestan province of western Iran. Habibollah Khojastehpour, the deputy governor of Lorestan, has confirmed the deaths but denied that the security forces were to blame.
“Clashes occurred with individuals who had taken to the streets, heeding calls by the enemies of the system,” Khojastehpour is quoted as saying. “The objective was to conclude this gathering peacefully but given the presence of the aforementioned individuals and groups, this tragedy, unfortunately, occurred that resulted in the killing of two individuals who were present at the clashes.”
News and description of the protests appeared on social media, such as Twitter and Telegram. Several videos also circulated on the social media showing injured people on the ground. Gunshots primary in those videos.
Semi-official Iranian news outlets have shown protesters attacking buildings such as banks and municipal institutions all over Iran, including a local government building in its capital, Teheran. Apparently, 80 people were arrested during Saturday night in Arak, a city that located southwest of the capital.
However, the media coverage of the protests from inside Iran has been mostly limited; only the official media outlets have provided a few details of the demonstrations.
“The spreading of violence, fear, and terror will definitely be confronted,” Interior Minister Rahmani Fazli said. “The vigilance and intelligence of people have always led any plot to fail.”
Fazli said social networks had been misused by some individuals to spread violence and fear. He said protesters would pay the price of the riots.
Protesters chant ‘Death to the dictator’
Some of the protesters directed their hate towards Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, as seen in some videos posted on Twitter. Some chant “we don’t want an Islamic Republic”, and “Death to the Dictator”. Others also chant “death to the Revolutionary Guards.”
The Revolutionary Guards were created shortly after the 1979 Iranian revolution to defend the country’s Islamic system. They became an essential component of the social, political, military and economic life of Iran. It controls a volunteer militia of tens of thousands of people. According to the statute of the Revolutionary Guards, they must cooperate with law enforcement forces “when necessary,” but some controversy emerged over their scope when dealing with civilians.
The world is watching
These protests have been the most massive public display of hate and discontent in Iran since the 2009 Green Movement. Several leaders around the world have shared their opinion regarding the protests in Iran. One of them was U.S president Donald Trump. He supported the anti-government protesters through several tweets this weekend. He warned the Iranian government that “the world is watching.”
“Many reports of peaceful protests by Iranian citizens fed up with regime’s corruption & its squandering of the nation’s wealth to fund terrorism abroad. Iranian govt should respect their people’s rights, including right to express themselves.” Trump added via Twitter.
Trump also quoted a segment of his speech he gave during this year’s General Assembly of the United Nations, back in September, saying that oppressive regimes cannot endure forever, and added that it will come the day when Iranians can choose.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi rejected Trump’s commentaries calling them “opportunistic” remarks. He also stated on the foreign ministry website that Trump’s administration was the main source of ill will towards Iran. Relations between Iran and Teheran are tense.