by WorldTribune Staff, January 17, 2018
At least 50 people have been killed, including five by torture, and 8,000 have been arrested since anti-government protests erupted in Iran late last month, an opposition group said.
The National Council of Resistance of Iran, based in Europe, said protests have spread to 130 cities.
The council on Jan. 16 released a list of five protesters it said were tortured to death by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its various security units.
One was identified as Kianoush Zandi, a graduate of the University of Sanandaj. The council said Zandi disappeared on Jan. 4. His body was returned to the family on Jan. 14 by Sanandaj intelligence.
“The intelligence henchmen told the martyr’s family that he was killed in the demonstrations,” the council said. “But the signs of torture on the body of Kianoush exposes the regime’s intelligence henchmen.”
The body of another youth, Mohammed Nassiri, was returned to his family with a statement that he had committed suicide.
“The shroud of secrecy and lack of transparency over what happened to these detainees is alarming. Instead of rushing to the judgment that they committed suicide, the authorities must immediately launch an independent, impartial and transparent investigation, including independent autopsies,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Amnesty International’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa.
Jim Phillips, a Middle East analyst at The Heritage Foundation, said U.S. allies have remained silent on the protests because they are intent on maintaining the 2015 Iran nuclear deal struck by the Obama administration, which includes significant trade benefits for them.
“While President Trump has been very vocal on the plight of Iranian protesters, many other Western leaders have turned a blind eye to the protests, fearful of alienating an Iranian regime that they hope to appease,” Phillips said. “Many European and Asian allies seek to preserve the nuclear deal with Iran in order to maintain a business-as-usual relationship with the Islamist dictatorship in Teheran. They are fearful that if they admit that the regime represses its own people, then they will be asked to do something about it that could diminish trade with Iran.”
In a statement on Jan. 12, Trump said: “We are also supporting the brave Iranian citizens who are demanding change from a corrupt regime that wastes the Iranian people’s money on weapons systems at home and terrorism abroad. And crucially, we are calling on all nations to lend similar support to the Iranian people, who are suffering under a regime that is stifling basic freedoms and denying its citizens the opportunity to build better lives for their families – an opportunity that is every human being’s God-given right.”