Iran firms up response to protests

People walk near a burnt bank, after protests against increased fuel prices, in Tehran, Iran on November 20, 2019.

People walk near a burnt bank, after protests against increased fuel prices, in Tehran, Iran on November 20, 2019.   | Photo Credit: Reuters

Six suspects arrested, Iranian journalists overseas penalised

The authorities in Iran strengthened their reprisals on Tuesday over the protests that engulfed the country last week, arresting “six main elements” accused of rioting in Tehran and penalising Iranian journalists overseas who publicised the mayhem.

Although internet service that had been suspended in Iran after the protests erupted has been partly restored, it may be curtailed indefinitely, officials warned. Mobile phone access to the internet remains blocked.

The intensified response to the protests, reported in official Iranian media, came as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the U.S. government had received nearly 20,000 messages, videos, photographs and notes from Iranians after his call last week for evidence that the protests had been violently suppressed during the internet blackout.

Mr. Pompeo’s appeal to Iranians has enraged the Tehran leadership.

Police said they have “arrested six main elements behind violent riots that recently hit Tehran,” and that “the suspects had confessed to their acts of sabotage.”

The protests began peacefully over the government’s abrupt announcement November 15 that it was raising petrol prices by as much as 200% and imposing a rationing system, with the proceeds from the higher prices going, it said, to needy Iranians in the form of cash subsidies.

Mounting death toll

The changes took many Iranians by surprise and their protests soon turned into violent demonstrations about a litany of grievances in the country of 80 million, where unemployment and inflation have been growing worse.

Amnesty International has said more than 140 people were killed, mostly by firearms. Two journalists contacted inside the country said they believed that the death toll was at least 218, based on coroners’ reports, with more than 1,900 people injured and at least 7,000 arrested. NY Times

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Printable version | Feb 17, 2020 2:46:34 AM |

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