Thousands of Iranians angry over rising food prices, government institutions’ scam and inflation protested in the country’s second-largest city and other areas Thursday, December 28, 2017.
The protests swiftly spread to 142 cities and turned into a nationwide uprising.
The slogans chanted by people combined economic dissatisfactions and political discontents, poverty, unemployment, corruption and total rejection of the regime.
Iranian authorities blocked access to social media tools that had become key sources of information to demonstrators. Telegram and Instagram had been blocked since Dec. 31, while internet access was sporadically cut off to several cities where protests have taken place.
The authorities also resorted to violence to disperse the demonstrators using firearms and water cannons.
Thousands of innocent young protesters, have been detained while dozens were shot dead or wounded by the State Security Force. Some of those arrested were tortured to make televised confessions. At least five protesters lost their lives under torture in custody. Iranian officials however claimed that they committed suicide.
In the first case activists reported on January 7 that 22-year-old Sina Ghanbari had died in prison of “unknown causes.”
Two Iranian lawmakers subsequently confirmed Ghanbari’s death and suggested that the young man had committed suicide while in detention but did not offer details.
Referring the “deaths of protesters in custody” lawyer and social activist Nasrin Sotudeh said in a call to Iran International TV that she was informed in a phone call with a political prisoner in Evin Prison that three people were killed in prison. After news on the death of Sina Ghanbari in Tehran and Vahid Heydari in Arak, there was news on the suicide of Mohsen Adelli. He was arrested on January 1 and his body was returned to his family two days later with the claim that he had committed suicide. (Peik-e Iran website – Jan. 8, 2018)
The signs of torture on the bodies of those killed in prisons expose the regime’s violence against the detainees.
The families of Iran protesters arrested in the past days, staged a sit-in outside the prisons of Evin, Isfahan and Ahwas demanding the release of their loved ones. The authorities however responded them violently, firing tear gas and arresting the families.
Iran uprising provoked international reactions including two statements issued by Amnesty International rising concern over the fate of detainees and demanding release of them all.
Four Special Rapporteurs also expressed extreme concern over the reported deaths of more than 20 people including children and hundreds of arrests across the country. The Special Rapporteurs said: “The Government’s instruction to the Revolutionary Guards to hit hard against the protesters, and the judiciary’s threats of harsh punishment, are unacceptable.”
- The number of people killed during nationwide uprising
The number of people killed in the recent popular uprising has risen to at least 50. Iranian officials however admitted to killing 27 demonstrators.
- Media cite officials admitting murder of protesters
- The representative of Izeh and Baghe Malek in the Majlis said that two people died in this town and some others wounded. (The state-run ILNA news agency, December 31, 2018)
- State TV reported that the number of deaths in the town of Dorud was announced as two in Sunday’s protests, with the explanation that two others were also shot dead in the protests on Saturday night in the same city… According to this report, six people were killed in the shootings of Tuyserkan while three people were killed in Isfahan’s Shahin Shahr. Therefore, according to state TV, a total of thirteen people were been killed in the unrest. (Isfahan Emrouz Website, the state-run Seda and Sima website – Jan. 1, 2018)
- Dorud Governor, Nemati, said that on the first day of the turmoil, two people were killed and six were wounded. “On the second day, a middle aged person and a boy who was between 12 to 15 years of age died when he was run over by a fire truck,” he added. (The state-run ISNA news agency – Jan. 1, 2018)
- The Governor Falavarjan, Asghar Hedayat, said that ccording to the latest numbers reported to us by the hospital, six rioters were killed in Ghahdarijan. (The state-run Fars news agency – Jan. 2, 2018)
- Mohammad Javad Abtahi who represents Khomeinishahr in the Parliamentof Iran said according to the official statics, four people in the city and another one in Shahinshahr were killed. (The state-run ILNA news agency – Jan. 8, 2018)
- Video clips document killing of protesters
- Videos posted on social media from the western town of Dorud showed two young men lying motionless on the ground, covered with blood, and a voiceover said they had been shot dead by The State Security Force firing on protesters.
- Another shocking social media video from Tuyserkan, in Hamedan Province showed a number of protesters being shot possibly dead and other people are carrying their bodies. Local media reports said that of those who were killed, six were shot dead by Iran’s Security Force in Tuyserkan, in Hamedan Province, including 11 year-old Armin Sadeghi.
- Two school boys were also killedduring the protests in Marivan, Iranian Kurdistan, when attacked by a grenade lobbed by the State Security forces. One of the victims is identified as Arman Zomi.
- Arrest of protesters
Although Iranian authorities tried to conceal the extent of arrests, the figures are so high that some Iranian officials had to admit the crackdown.
According to official figures at least 3,700 people have been arrested during the protests. National Council of Resistance however announced that the number of arrests is at least 8,000 and more than 50 protesters killed.
- The number of people arrested during nationwide uprising
- A senior official in Arak (Markazi Province) announced the arrest of at least 80 people following a protest rally in the city on Saturday. (The state-run ILNA news agency – Jan. 1, 2018)
- The Security Deputy of the Tehran Governorate Ali Asghar Naserbakht said that around 200 people were arrested in yesterday’s gathering in Enghelab and Valiasr Squares. “These people are now in the hands of the Judiciary,” he said. Tehran’s Security Deputy said that 40 leaders were arrested in the illegal rally yesterday adding that “the situation was now under control.” (The state-run ILNA news agency – Dec. 31, 2017)
- The Robate Karim Chief of Police, Abdullah Zadeh Pashaki, said 11 people were arrested last night in Parand, including three women and seven men, some of whom were leaders of the turmoil. He also announced the arrest of a person identified by his initials as R.A who had published a call for protests in Robate Karim in his Instagram channel encouraging people to riot. (The state-run ILNA news agency – Jan. 1, 2018)
- The Security Assistant of the Interior Ministry said that more than 90% of those arrested at the scene of the unrest were young and adolescents, and that their average age was under 25. “Most of them have not had any previous arrests,” Hossein Zolfaghari added. He also said that from tonight (Monday) they would more seriously control the current conditions in the capital and a number of other cities that were involved in the unrest. (The state-run RONKA website – Jan. 1, 2018)
- The Political and Security Deputy to the Governorate of Western Azarbaijan Province said that 10 people who intended to incite people were arrested. “Those who incite people to break the norms will be legally dealt with,” Alireza Radfar added. (Asre Iran state-run Website – Jan. 1, 2018)
- The Governor of Markazi Province said 100 seditionists were arrested in Arak. “We arrested more than 100 people last night and we think that in the next few days, with the information we will receive and after reviewing recordings from CCTV cameras, including in banks and the entrance to the Arak Governorate which was attacked, more assailants will be identified and arrested. (The state-run Tasnim news agency – Dec. 31, 2017)
- Mohammad Takbirgo, Kashan Prosecutor, said that any kind of illegal gathering or arrogant activists in Kashan will be treated in a lawful and serious manner. He added that according to the law, those who intend to fight against the regime are considered a corruptor on earth (MOHAREB), and necessary legal proceedings will be carried out. Kashan’s prosecutor also said that in the past days during gatherings, about 50 to 60 people were arrested. (The state-run Mehr news agency – Jan. 1, 2017)
- Hamedan Governor Ali Ta’ali said that more than 150 people were arrested in the course of the unrest in the past few days in Hamedan. “Most of the detainees are between the ages of 17 and 25, and some of them are not native to Hamedan,” he added. (Tasnim state-run News Agency, Fars state-run News Agency – Jan. 2, 2018)
- Mashhad Assistant Prosecutor Hasan Heidari, said that 138 people were arrested in Mashhad’s illegal gatherings.”Overall, during the gatherings in Mashhad, 52 people were arrested on the first night, and in the next two nights, 74 and 12 people, who were planning to do damage, were arrested,” he added. (The state-run Mehr news agency – Jan. 2, 2018)
- Ardebil Prosecutor Nasser Atabati, said that at a sit-in on Saturday, a number of people were arrested due of the slogans they chanted and criminal actions.
- They were 41 people (who were arrested) six of them were under the age of 18,” he added.
- Four cybercriminals, who provoked people to take part in the riots, were also arrested,” the Ardebil Prosecutor said. (The state-run Tasnim news agency – Jan. 7, 2018)
- Karaj prosecutor Haji Reza Shakarami said that in a number of people were arrested in relation to the recent unrest in Karaj. “We will not announce the numbers as yet,” he added. “Among the detainees, there were 20 of them who were leaders and led the unrests in a way,” the Karaj Prosecutor added. (The state-run ISNA news agency – Jan. 2, 2018)
- The Political and Security Deputy of the Tehran Governorate, Ali Asghar Naserbakht, said that about 200 people were arrested on Saturday, 150 on Sunday and that about 100 people were arrested yesterday (Monday). “This is a matter for the judiciary and they must have thought about the necessary conditions,” he added in response to whether they had taken measures to hold the detainees. (The state-run ILNA news agency – Jan. 2, 2018)
- The Political and Security Assistant to the Golestan Governor, Ali Asghar Tahmasebi, said that with the arrest of about 150 of Gorgan’s rioters, peace returned to the city. “In the last few days, enemies hired a number of people with their money using social networks and exploited a number of young people,” he added. (The state-run ISNA news agency – Jan. 3, 2018)
- Prosecutor, Hassan Mozafari, said a number of the heads of groups of the recent gatherings were arrested in Zanjan, Abhar and Khoramdareh. “Their cases are under preliminary investigation,” he added. (The state-run Fars news agency – Jan. 3, 2018)
- Chief of Police Hussein Ashtari said more than 70 percent of the arrests by police during gatherings were targeted. “Despite the (protests) not being a good incident, the State Security Forces gained experience and we saw that they did not give any excuses to foreigners so that they would be able to strike out against the system,” Ashtari added. (The state-run Fars news agency – Jan. 3, 2018)
- Gorgan Prosecutor Mostafa Haghi said that in the recent riots in the country, 12 leaders of the unrest were arrested and taken to prison in Gorgan. (The state-run Mizan news agency – Jan. 3, 2018)
- The Governor of Birjand, said that 28 people, who were influenced by social media, were arrested by the police and were handed over to judicial authorities. (The state-run Tasnim news agency – Jan. 3, 2018)
- Ardebil Public and Revolutionary Prosecutor Nasser Atabati, said that three main elements (of the protests) in Ardebil were identified and arrested. “During the interrogations, the defendants stated that they were completely influenced by cyberspace to take these measures,” he added…Atabati said that several individuals who had been chanting slogans that broke the structures (of the regime) were identified and arrested… “During technical examination and close intelligence observations, a number of the main leaders who had called on and instigated people to create chaos and riot were identified and a number of them were arrested,” the prosecutor added. (The state-run Mizan news agency – Jan. 3, 2018)
- Ghasem Abdullahi, the Chief Justice of Markazi Province, said that 294 rioters were transferred to prison. “On December 30, there were protests in Arak, Saveh and Delijan. Seventy-one men, nine women and 14 youngsters under the age of 18 were arrested in Arak, 15 men and one woman were arrested in Saveh and four others were arrested in Delijan. In these arrests, four leaders of the protests who were non-native to the region were also arrested,” he said. “(On December 31) seventy-nine people and 17 youngsters under the age of 18 were arrested in Saveh city. 145 men, five women and 30 young people under the age of 18 years were arrested in Arak, while six people were arrested in Delijan.” He announced the number of arrests on December 30 and 31 in Markazi Province as a total of 396 people and said that 294 people had been imprisoned, three of whom were under 18 years of age. The prisoners include 116 people from Saveh, 164 from Arak, nine from Delijan, two from Khomein and also three women. (The state-run ISNA news agency – Jan. 4, 2018)
- The Tehran Representative in Majlis referred to a list that was given to her on the number of detained students and said that around 90 students had been arrested throughout Iran. “These numbers might be higher but currently we are certain about 90 arrests,” Parvaneh Salahshouri said. (The state-run Jame’e No website – Jan. 5, 2018)
- After the popular protests in Iran, at least 90 university and school students were arrested. Mahmoud Sadeghi, a member of the Education and Research Committee in the Majlis said that most of the detainees were not involved in the protests. “The vast majority of them were arrested outside of universities and a number were arrested in their homes,” he added. Farid Mousavi, a Tehran representative in the Majlis wrote in his twitter page in this regard. “It was said that most of the arrests were for prevention,” he tweeted. (The state-run Roydad website – Jan. 7, 2018)
- Qazvin Prosecutor Sadeq Niaraki said that the detainees in this province were between the ages of 20 to 30 years old. “We are looking to arrest 50 other rioters,” he added. (Mizan state-run Website – Jan. 8, 2018)
- The Cultural Assistant of Tehran University, said that they had a meeting with the caretaker of the detainees in Evin Prison. “We examined the state of detained students,” he added. “Twenty-three students from Tehran University are still in detention,” he said. (Asre Iran State-run Website – Jan. 10, 2018)
- Majlis Representative and member of the Education Commission Mahmoud Sadeghi said that around 3,700 people were arrested in the recent (protests). “The specifications of a number of people who have been arrested by unknown institutions have been provided to the ministries of Intelligence, Interior and Science in the form of a list so that it becomes clear which organization arrested them,” he added. (The state-run Entekhab website – Jan. 9, 2018)
- Inhuman treatment and gross violation of people’s rights
Iranian regime shut down mobile internet access and blocked apps including Telegram and Instagram after days of protests to prevent people from publishing the news of demonstrations in cyberspace. It also made threats against the protesters. Iranian officials claimed that many peaceful protesters intended to disrupt the national security, calling them as “rioters.” Based on such accusations, the authorities have justified killing of defenseless and unarmed people and taking strict measures against them as well as hasty trials.
Below are some of the inhuman statements and official orders to public crackdown:
- A member of the Assembly of Lorestan Representative said that there was no way except for the police to deal with and shoot those who broke the norms and came to the streets last night. “Two people were killed last night in Lorestan Province. There is a time when protests are in the framework of the law… But when they (protesters) break the norms and vandalize public property, it is natural that it has to be dealt with,” Hamidreza Kazemi, a member of the Lorestan delegation said. The head of the Judiciary, Ardeshir Larijani, ordered prosecutors across the country to deal decisively and seriously with the destruction of public and private property, and the violation of the rights of individuals.
“Breaking bank windows, attacking mosques and prayer halls and attacking places like prosecutor’s offices and governorates is not something that judicial officials tolerate,” he said. “Accordingly, I strongly want prosecutors all over the country to deal decisively and seriously with those who destroy or burn public property or destroy people’s property and violate the rights of individuals”. (The state-run ISNA news agency – Jan. 1, 2018)
- The Ministry of Intelligence issued a statement on the recent gatherings in Tehran and other cities. The statement reads in part: “Thanks to intelligence measures, a number of elements and dissident rioters and the instigators of the unrest were identified and a number were arrested… Other elements are wanted (under pursuit) and will soon be seriously dealt with. The Ministry of Intelligence asks the various strata of the community to introduce the dissidents, rioters and those who destroy public property by calling 113.” (The state-run Fars news agency – Jan. 1, 2018)
- The Public Relations Department of Cyber Security Command Center announced in a statement: “Gerdab (website) asks all the people to identify the elements of the sedition so that they are decisively dealt with… If you have any information or any news about the people in these pictures including images, video, news, emails, internet addresses or complaints about the rioting movements from any group who instigate and encourage destructive activities via the internet, you can send a report to Gerdab Website through the contact us link. In upcoming days, other images of the elements of the unrest and riot will be published.” (The state-run Mehr news agency – Jan. 1, 2018)
- Hojatoleslam Musa Ghazanfarabadi, head of the Tehran Revolutionary Court, said that those who were arrested from the third day of the unrest would receive a heavy sentence. “Given the Ministry of the Interior’s announcement that the gatherings are illegal, they (protesters) have deliberately and knowingly gathered, rioted and broken the norms,” he said. “The charges of some of the arrested persons may be Moharebeh (enmity with God which could carry the death sentence), acting against national security, destroying public property, destroying people’s property, beatings and other charges… Many of these people were arrested in Tehran and other places and will soon be tried,” Ghazanfarabadi added. “The videos of the defendants will be broadcasted in court for them and there will be no way out; therefore, families should be watchful of their children and if they are given heavy sentences, expressing regret might not be effective.” (The state-run Tasnim news agency – Jan. 2, 2018)
- “We will not allow insecurity to continue in any way in Tehran.” This was announced by Ismail Kowsari, deputy Commander of the Sarallah Garrison of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). He added, “If insecurity continues in Tehran, officials would certainly adopt decisions, putting an end to the affair.” )The state-run ISNA news agency – January 12, 2018 (
- The Assistant Head of the Judiciary, Hamid Shahriari, said that those who had managed the recent riots would be dealt with and severely punished. I still do not have the exact figures on the detained rioters, but all the people who were the heads of the rioting groups have been identified and arrested.” (The state-run Mehr news agency – Jan. 8, 2018)
Video clips document inhuman treatment of protesters
- An appalling footage shows Iran’s anti-riot units rushing into peaceful protesters and ran over them.
- A footage shows Iran’s State Security Force motorcyclists charging into protesters in Karaj and beating them with batons.
- A video shows Iranian authorities are transferring tanks
- Tanks stationed in Valiasr Square of Tehran to intimidate the public can be seen in photos.
- The State Security Force used pepper gas against protesters on December 29, 2017, in the northern city of Rasht to disperse the crowd.
- The State Security Force on December 30, 2017, attacked and beat people with batons in Enghelab Square in Tehran.
- Basij forces closed the entrance door of the Tehran University to students and attacked them, firing tear gas.
- Intelligence agencies in western city of Sanandaj, filmed the demonstration using UAV while intelligence agents used cameras to film protesters in the ground.
- Intelligence agents in western city of Sanandaj, filmed the demonstration using UAV while while intelligence agents use cameras to film protesters on the ground. The Sanandaj Intelligence Agency has also threatened Kurd journalists and activists via telephone not to publish any material in support of popular protests in the media
- Freedom of expression
- Access to the internet
Free Internet access is the basic right of every citizen. Iranian authorities however blocked the Instagram, Telegram and mobile data and suppressed digital communication to prevent leaking news of nationwide uprising.
Among the admissions made by officials and the state media, the following can be mentioned:
- Telegram and Instagram services were interrupted on all platforms of internet like fixed mobile and Irancell lines. According to the ILNA reporter, after telegram and Instagram interruptions on mobile Internet and Irancell networks, fixed-line DSL internet was disconnected as well. An informed source announced a few days ago: According to the recent events in the past few days, it was ordered in the event of gatherings to disconnect the internet connection for mobile and landlines.
- Ismail Jabarzadeh, deputy political minister of the interior, said at the news conference that was held at the Interior Ministry today that the government does not have any plans to stop the social networks, but when there is a disruption in public order, it’s natural that we restrict this access for a period of time. (The state-run ILNA website – Dec.31, 2017)
- Attorney General Montazeri said that prosecutors around the country are on the scene around the clock and were taking the necessary precautions… “The arrestees are made up of two groups. There are those who were arrested on the scene, who are not major players and effective in the unrest… But those who are destructive, the intelligence and judicial apparatus will certainly deal with them”, he added. “(Having) a free cyberspace is harmful for all aspects of our lives … The people should know that the freedom of this space is harmful to the country and families and should be organized,” he said. (The state-run Mizan news agency – Jan. 2, 2018)
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