by WorldTribune Staff, December 26, 2019
Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei personally directed the violent crackdown on anti-government protests which, some estimates say, resulted in more than 1,500 deaths, a report said.
Reuters on Dec. 23 reported that Khamenei, who has the final say on political and religious affairs in Iran, “raised his voice and expressed criticism of the handling of the unrest” to President Hassan Rohani, cabinet members, and other senior officials assembled at the supreme leader’s fortified official residence on Nov. 17, two days after the protests began.
“The Islamic Republic is in danger. Do whatever it takes to end it. You have my order,” Khamenei said at the meeting, Reuters reported, citing a source “close to” Khamenei’s “inner circle.”
Khamenei warned the officials at the meeting they would be held responsible if the unrest did not stop, the report said.
Internet access was shut down all over the country for days at the height of the unrest, but images were smuggled out of fatalities and scenes of violence.
Khamenei’s regime ordered another wave of Internet outages on Dec. 19, a day before commemorations were called for on social media for those killed in last month’s demonstrations.
The cut came on the orders of security bodies, the ILNA news agency said, citing what it called an informed source at Iran’s information and communications technology ministry.
“This restriction on Internet access solely includes international traffic of mobile phone lines,” the source was quoted as saying.
It also excluded what the source called “internal traffic”, indicating only domestic websites would be accessible.
ILNA said international connections would be limited in the provinces of Alborz, Fars, Kurdistan and Zanjan, and that this was likely to be increased to include others.
The protests which began on Nov. 15 after Iran raised gas prices escalated into broader anti-government demonstrations, including calls for the country’s clerical leadership to step down.
Reuters quoted “three Iranian Interior Ministry officials” as confirming a death toll of about 1,500 during less than two weeks of the November unrest.
The head of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, Alireza Zarifian Yeganeh, on Dec. 23 dismissed the Reuters report as “false propaganda” and “based on a set of premeditated psychological warfare and lack credibility,” according to Iran’s Press TV.
Iranian officials have blamed the protests, which reportedly occurred in more than 100 cities, on “thugs” connected to enemies abroad including the United States, Israel, and Saudi Arabia.