| 24 February 2024, Saturday |

Iran state body reports 200 dead in protests, Raisi hails ‘freedoms’

On Saturday, President Ebrahim Raisi praised the Islamic Republic of Iran as a defender of freedoms and rights while defending the current political order amid a crackdown on anti-government demonstrations that the UN estimates has claimed more than 300 lives.

While this was going on, a leading state security organization reported that 200 people, including security force members, had died in the unrest—a much lower number than that reported by the international organization and rights organizations.

The protests, in their third month, were ignited by the death of 22-year-old Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini in the custody of morality police enforcing strict mandatory hijab rules.

The demonstrations have turned into a popular revolt by furious Iranians from all layers of society, posing one of the boldest challenges to the clerical leadership since the 1979 revolution.

Unfazed by the brutal crackdown, protesters have raised slogans against Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and repeatedly demanded an end to the Islamic government.

The authorities blame the revolt on foreign enemies, including the United States, Saudi Arabia and Israel.

The judiciary’s Mizan news agency quoted the interior ministry’s state security council as saying 200 people lost their lives in the recent “riots”.

Amirali Hajizadeh, a senior Revolutionary Guards commander was quoted as saying on Monday that 300 people, including security force members, had been killed in the recent unrest.

More than 300 people, including more than 40 children, have died in the protests, according to Javaid Rehman, a U.N.-appointed independent expert on Iran.

According to the rights organization HRANA, 469 protestors had been slain as of Friday, including 64 juveniles. It said 61 members of the government’s security forces had also died. Up to 18,210 demonstrators are thought to have been detained.

Molavi Abdolhamid, a well-known Baluch Sunni Muslim imam, has called for a stop to the arresting and killing protestors as well as a referendum on altering Iran’s political structure.

He stated in late November that “the people’s protest has proven that the policies of the last 43 years have reached a dead end.”

  • Reuters