Iranian protesters attack police stations, raise stakes in unrest

People protest in Tehran
People protest in Tehran, Iran December 30, 2017 in this picture obtained from social media. REUTERS.

January 2, 2018

By Michael Georgy

DUBAI (Reuters) – Iranian protesters attacked police stations late into the night on Monday, news agency and social media reports said, as security forces struggled to contain the boldest challenge to the clerical leadership since unrest in 2009.

Videos on social media showed an intense clash in the central town of Qahderijan between security forces and protesters who were trying to occupy a police station, which was partially set ablaze. There were unconfirmed reports of several casualties among demonstrators.

In the western city of Kermanshah, protesters set fire to a traffic police post, but no one was hurt in the incident, Mehr news agency said.

Demonstrations continued for a fifth day. Some 13 people were reported killed on Sunday in the worst wave of unrest since crowds took to the streets in 2009 to condemn the re-election of then-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The protests have put pressure on the clerical leaders in power since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. President Hassan Rouhani made a televised call for calm on Sunday, saying Iranians had the right to criticize but must not cause unrest.

In the central city of Najafabad, a demonstrator opened fire on police with a hunting rifle, killing one and wounding three others, state television said.

Earlier, state TV said armed demonstrators on Sunday had tried to seize police and military bases but were stopped by “strong resistance from security forces.” It gave no further details and there was no independent confirmation.

State TV had reported that 10 people were killed in protests on Sunday. On Monday, that death toll rose when the deputy governor of the western Hamadan Province, Saeed Shahrokhi, told ISNA news agency that another three protesters were killed on Sunday in the city of Tuyserkan.

“NO TOLERANCE”

Hundreds have been arrested, according to officials and social media. Online video showed police in the capital Tehran firing water cannon to disperse demonstrators, in footage said to have been filmed on Sunday.

Protests against economic hardships and alleged corruption erupted in Iran’s second city of Mashhad on Thursday and escalated across the country into calls for the religious establishment to step down.

Some of the anger was directed at Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, breaking a taboo surrounding the man who has been supreme leader of Iran since 1989.

Video posted on social media showed crowds of people walking through the streets, some chanting “Death to the dictator!” Reuters was not immediately able to verify the footage. The Fars news agency reported “scattered groups” of protesters in Tehran on Monday and said a ringleader had been arrested.

“The government will show no tolerance for those who damage public property, violate public order and create unrest in society,” Rouhani said in his address on Sunday.

Unsigned statements on social media urged Iranians to continue to demonstrate in 50 towns and cities.

The government said it was temporarily restricting access to the Telegram messaging app and Instagram. There were reports that internet mobile access was blocked in some areas.

TRUMP, NETANYAHU VOICE SUPPORT

Iran is a major OPEC oil producer and regional power deeply involved in Syria and Iraq as part of a battle for influence with rival Saudi Arabia. Many Iranians resent those foreign interventions, and want their leaders to create jobs at home, where youth unemployment reached 28.8 percent last year.

Among reported fatalities, two people were shot dead in the southwestern town of Izeh on Sunday and several others were injured, ILNA news agency quoted a member of parliament as saying.

“I do not know whether yesterday’s shooting was done by rally participants or the police and this issue is being investigated,” Hedayatollah Khademi was quoted as saying.

Regional governor Mostafa Samali told Fars that only one person was killed in an incident unrelated to the protests, and the suspected shooter had been arrested.

Almost nine years since the “Green movement” reformist protests were crushed by the state, Iran’s adversaries voiced their support for the resurgence of anti-government sentiment.

U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted: “The great Iranian people have been repressed for many years. They are hungry for food & for freedom. Along with human rights, the wealth of Iran is being looted. TIME FOR CHANGE!”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the “brave Iranians” taking to streets to protest a regime that “wastes tens of billions of dollars spreading hate”.

“I wish the Iranian people success in their noble quest for freedom,” he said in a video posted on his Facebook page.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel urged “all sides (to) refrain from violent actions”.

(Reporting by Dubai newsroom; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg, Robin Pomeroy and David Gregorio)

  • NotSure

    I wish them all the luck and tactfulness to rid the world of the Ayatollah, more importantly themselves. Good luck and if their successful, let them be wise with what they chose to replace it with.

  • notwar

    They stopped screaming “Death to America” because they are afraid of Trump.
    MAGA,

  • landy fincannon

    So, is there a foreign insurgency involved here?

  • billy roche

    Note the “brave” comment by the German Foreign Minister.

  • 101st Screaming Eagle

    Reagan cleaned up a lot of poop over there using his “access to might” without letting media know and Bush came into office as these top dogs were eliminated and Ayatollah slid into leadership and since then nobody’s had the gonads to take him out. (A real life Darth Vader)

  • 101st Screaming Eagle

    Am I the only one?

    101st Screaming Eagle • 11 minutes ago
    Hold on, this is waiting to be approved by OAN.

  • iwontell

    ATTENTION IRANIANS……Get rid of your GOV MORONS and “live free”………..
    Time for a Revolution like America had in 1776………..it WORKED.

  • Marc S.

    Thanks Hussein Obama!

  • 210’s

    We won’t see any anti terrorism protests like this. If they were opposed to it we would, look, they’re standing up to what they think is wrong right now and it’s not terrorism or the islamic influence that drives it.

  • Javanne

    Regarding the 10 who died, one of two things happened. Either their deaths were the result of human rights violations committed by the ayatollahs, in which case, I would ask Trump, who said he was watching for them, “the mullahs have crossed your line. What are you going to do about it?” or the police stations really were attacked by armed fighters. In that case, it is reasonable to assume there are a lot more of them, and we should be providing all assistance (such as arms and intelligence as to where high-value targets might be) possible to them. I’m sure the Israelis and threatened Sunni Arabs like the Saudis would be more than happy to help (if they aren’t already). This is a golden opportunity to push things to where the evil regime falls that should not be missed.

    • Puddintame

      What would you have President Trump do? Putting our military on Iranian soil would be a grave mistake.

      • iwontell

        He’s NEVER said anything about putting troupes there……..there many way to make it miserable in IRAN……….for free.,

  • CCTexas

    Stand up Iran, stand up and rid yourself s of the Ayatollah who is a pig among pigs. Your freedom, your prosperity, the future of your sons and daughters rest in your hands today and tomorrow. Stand against the destruction of your country!

    • iwontell

      YEP he’s the CHIEF PIG……….”FIX” the problem whatever that means…….,hee-hee

  • Tom Horn

    The Ayatollah is a perverted Satanist

    • Tom Horn

      Hit the delete button on this Ayatollah pig.

    • iwontell

      FIX THE PROBLEM……..CUT OFF HIS “AIR SUPPLY”…………haha

    • iwontell

      Well at least a “donkey lover”……amusing there’s rioting going on……next step is CLEAN HOUSE.