The dissident protests in iran escalate. At least ten demonstrators had died by monday, according to state television.
They died in protests in central, western and southwestern iran. Two other people – an old man and a small child – were killed in an accident during the protests in dorud, western iran. According to state television, armed protesters allegedly attacked state facilities in several cities. Attacks on police stations and military barracks, however, were thwarted by police and security forces, state television reported, without giving specific details.
A crisis meeting was held monday in parliament in the capital, tehran, attended by president hassan ruhani and members of the security commission. Ruhani said in the meeting that it would be a mistake to classify the protests only as a foreign conspiracy. "Also, the people's problems are not only economic, but they also demand more freedoms," the president said. He indirectly criticized the hardliners who are blocking the implementation of his political and cultural reforms.
"But the government does not have everything under its control," said ruhani, who as president does not always have the final say on many strategic matters and must defer to the archconservative clergy. In his opinion, therefore, the protests should not be seen as a danger, but as an opportunity.
Also, in his initial response on sunday evening, ruhani had approached the critics and protesters. In a speech, he called protests their legitimate right, but at the same time warned against riots that could endanger the country's security. Like his interior minister before him, ruhani called on critics of the regime to apply for protests through legal channels. Then, according to him, there will be no violent riots and police intervention. Ruhani also criticized the hardliners, whom the government blames as complicit in the protests. In iran, reformers and hardliners have long battled for leadership of the country.
Since thursday, violent protests have erupted in several cities in iran. The rallies were initially directed against the government's economic and political policies, but became increasingly critical of the system. On saturday, the protests spread to the capital city of tehran.
Protests continued despite ruhani's appeal, according to iranian media and social network reports. Thousands again protested against the islamic regime in tehran and other cities on monday night. According to eyewitnesses, police intervened in various parts of tehran with water cannons and tear gas to break up the protests. Protests were expected to continue on monday evening.
An iranian deputy spoke of two protesters killed monday night in the city of iseh in southwestern iran. There have also been injuries and arrests, hodjatollah chademi told the ilna news agency. Some of those arrested were also found to have weapons, ammunition and explosives. According to unconfirmed reports on social networks, iseh was briefly even occupied by opponents of the regime.
Ruhani's suggestion to request demonstrations was dismissed as rhetoric on social networks. The interior ministry, according to many iranians, would never approve requests for protest rallies that were even remotely critical of the establishment. In fact, the ministry of interior only allows protests approved by the system, which are usually directed against the political archenemies USA or israel.
On monday morning, the internet in iran initially functioned normally again. Since the iranian media hardly reports on the protests themselves, many reports and videos are spread via social networks and dubious news portals. Neutral verification of the events is therefore almost impossible. According to reports on these networks, between 100 and 800 protesters were arrested across the country.
Ruhani was also critical of U.S. President donald trump's tweets about the demonstrations in his speech on sunday evening. Someone who is against iran "from head to toe" should not pretend to be concerned, ruhani said.
Trump tweeted on sunday morning (local time) that the people of iran had finally understood "how their money and wealth is being stolen and wasted for the benefit of terrorism. It looks like they won't put up with it for long". In a statement on new year's eve, the U.S. Government stressed the right of the iranian people to peaceful expression of opinion.
The federal government is following the reports on the demonstrations in iran very closely, as the foreign office announced on sunday in response to a query from the deutsche presse agency. "We call on the government of president ruhani to respect the rights of the protesters and act prudently. At the same time, we appeal to all parties involved to express their concerns peacefully," the aubenamt emphasized.