Protests spreading in Iran over high unemployment and inflation
Protests spreading in Iran over high unemployment and inflation
31 December, 2017, 17:05
Supporters of the Islamic government characterized the protests as small, scattered and largely focused on high unemployment and a scourge of corruption that Iranian PresidentHassan Rouhani is fighting himself.
Protesters have attacked banks and government buildings and burned police vehicles.
Meanwhile, authorities acknowledged the first fatalities in the protests in Doroud, a city some 325 kilometers (200 miles) southwest of Tehran in Iran's western Lorestan province.
On Sunday, Mehr news quoted Habibollah Khojastehpour, the deputy governor of Lorestan, as confirming the deaths but denying security forces were to blame.
"Unfortunately, in these clashes two citizens from Dorud were killed".
The reported deaths came as protests swept into the capital Tehran on Saturday.
Protests began in the northeastern city of Mashhad on Thursday and spread to other major cities on Friday.
The protests in the Iranian capital, as well as President Donald Trump tweeting about them, raised the stakes. It also apparently forced state television to break its silence, acknowledging it hadn't reported on them on orders from security officials.
Most of those arrested in the last two days had been released, state TV said. Officials and state media made a point Saturday of saying Iranians have the right to protest and have their voices heard on social issues.
Another video appeared to show security forces arresting demonstrators in another part of Tehran, with protesters shouting "Let him go!"
Social media video from Mashhad showed protesters overturning a riot police vehicle and police motorcycles set ablaze.
Critics of the regime say protesters from 2009's Green Revolution are returning to the streets with unfinished business - a reckoning for a theocratic dictatorship unable to deliver for its people. Takfiri is a term for extreme Sunni militants such as Islamic State.
"Iran's leaders have turned a wealthy country with a rich history and culture into an economically depleted rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed and chaos", the statement said.
State-sponsored mass rallies were scheduled in more than 1,200 cities and towns, state TV said - events held annually to commemorate the end of months of street protests that followed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's disputed re-election as President.
She also pointed out that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has told Congress he supports elements in Iran that would bring about a peaceful transition of government. The footage showed people waving flags and carrying banners bearing Mr Khamenei's image.
Women at a pro-government rally in Tehran.
Iran's economy has improved since Rouhani's government struck the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, which saw Iran limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the end of some of the worldwide sanctions that crippled its economy.
Rather than using Iran's vast oil profits to "improve Iranian lives", the regime wastes this wealth - "which rightly belongs to the Iranian people" - on foreign adventures, from "fund [ing] Hezbollah and other terrorists that kill innocent Muslims" to "shor [ing] up Bashar al-Assad's criminal dictatorship, fuel [ing] Yemen's civil war, and undermin [ing] peace throughout the Middle East". Unemployment remains high. Official inflation has crept up to 10 percent again. A recent increase in egg and poultry prices by as much as 40 percent, which a government spokesman has blamed on a cull over avian flu fears, appears to have been the spark for the economic protests.
Since the 2009 protests were ruthlessly put down by the Revolutionary Guards, many middle-class Iranians have abandoned hope of pressing for change from the streets.
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