March 20, 2018

Death Toll Jumps In Iran As Antigovernment Protests, Arrests Continue

02 January 2018, 11:07 | Marta Robbins

Debris is seen during a protest in Tuyserkan Iran in this still image taken from video

Debris is seen during a protest in Tuyserkan Iran in this still image taken from video

Rowhani has tried to play down the unrest, which began over economic grievances in second city Mashhad last Thursday but quickly turned against the Islamic regime as a whole with chants of "Death to the dictator". Also in Najafabad, one policeman was killed and three others wounded.

Iranian opposition said two demonstrators have been killed by police, but a government official blamed "foreign agents" for the deaths.

"Iran is failing at every level despite the bad deal made with them by the Obama Administration", he wrote, adding that the Iranian people were "hungry for food & for freedom".

In a separate report, Iranian lawmaker Hojatollah Khademi told the Ilna news agency that there had been two deaths in Iseh overnight.

In remarks broadcast on state television Sunday, Rouhani said, "According to the constitution and citizens' rights, people are free to express their criticism and to protest".

"Those who have rightful demands must be guided in lawful ways and those who riot and commit sabotage and chaos and set fire to public property.must be confronted decisively", said judiciary chief Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani on state TV, adding that "the country must have discipline".

On Sunday, Iran blocked access to Instagram and the popular messaging app Telegram used by activists to organize. "They're also demanding more freedoms", said Rowhani, in an indirect slam on regime hardliners who oppose his attempts to push through political and cultural reforms, during an emergency security summit.

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US President Donald Trump tweeted his support for the protestors, saying "the people are finally getting wise as to how their money and weath is being stolen and squandered on terrorism".

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani has acknowledged the public's anger over the flagging economy, but he has also warned that rioters and looters will be arrested.

Trump has refused to re-certify a 2015 deal between Tehran and world powers that curbed Iran's disputed nuclear program in return for a lifting of most global sanctions.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, calling the protesters "brave" and "heroic", said in a video posted to YouTube on Monday that the protesters sought freedom, justice and 'the basic liberties that have been denied to them for decades'. Iranians were hoping for improved living conditions following the nuclear deal and the lifting of some worldwide sanctions.

'We regret the loss of life that has occurred in the protests in Iran, and call on all concerned to refrain from violence and for worldwide obligations on human rights to be observed, ' he said.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson called for a meaningful debate about the protesters' issues and said on Facebook that "the United Kingdom is watching events in Iran closely".

Tehran now sells its oil on the global market and has signed deals to purchase tens of billions of dollars' worth of Western aircraft. Unemployment remains high, and official inflation has crept up to 10% again.

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