by WorldTribune Staff, January 5, 2018
Iranian hard-line cleric Ahmad Khatami said he supports the government’s blocking of social media to stop the spread of information about anti-government protests that began on Dec. 28.
“The nation does not support a social network whose key is in the hand of the United States,” Khatami said on Jan. 5, adding that the judiciary should have compassion for those who have been “tricked” into protesting, but those who continue to speak out “are Americans.”
“Have no mercy on Americans,” he said.
The Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI), part of a global project collecting evidence of Internet censorship, said on Jan. 5 that its data confirm the Iranian government has blocked Telegram, Instagram, and Facebook Messenger during the protests.
Related: Twitter silences protest videos from Teheran, sides with Obama backers of regime, Jan. 4, 2018
Reports on anti-government demonstrations in Iran in Western media have decreased since Teheran blocked the social-media sites, which are used by the protesters to spread information of their efforts.
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported it obtained credible reports on Jan. 5 from sources in Iran about ongoing demonstrations against Iran’s clerical rulers in Teheran, Shiraz, Dezful, Sanandaj, Tabriz, Ahvaz, Nowshahr, and Aligudarz.
Video footage from the city of Mashhad showed hundreds of protesters chanting “Mullahs get lost” in response to claims on Jan. 3 by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) that the demonstrations were over.
Iran’s army chief claimed on Jan. 4 that local police forces had mostly quelled the unrest, but he said army troops remain ready to intervene if needed.
“This blind sedition was so small that a portion of the police force was able to nip it in the bud [but] you can rest assured that your comrades in the Islamic republic’s army would be ready to confront the dupes of the Great Satan [United States],” Maj. Gen. Abdolrahim Musavi said.
Amnesty International called on Iranian authorities to investigate reports that security forces have “unlawfully” used firearms against unarmed protesters and called on the Teheran regime to protect hundreds of detainees from torture and other ill-treatment.
“The Iranian government must promptly launch an effective and independent investigation into the killings and other reports of excessive or unnecessary force, and bring all those responsible for human rights violations to justice,” Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s research and advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa, said in a statement on Jan. 4.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council in what she said was a bid to “amplify” the message of the anti-government protesters, while Russia said such a meeting would be “harmful and destructive.”
“The UN must speak out” in support of the protesters, Haley said. “This is a matter of fundamental human rights for the Iranian people, but it is also a matter of international peace and security.”
Speaking just hours before the UN meeting in New York on Jan. 5, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov chided the United States for calling the meeting, saying “the United States continues to pursue the policy of open and covert intervention in the internal affairs of other nations, doing it shamelessly and blatantly.”