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1:15, 15 January 2018

In Iran, Protester ‘Suicides’ Stir Anger and Calls for Accountability


In Iran, Protester ‘Suicides’ Stir Anger and Calls for Accountability

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TEHRAN — Two of the detained young men killed themselves, and yet another was a terrorist who died in a clash with safety forces, Iran’s government officials have declared with finality. But in an extraordinary show of audacity, several Iranians, including a number of lawmakers and a leading entertainment star, have assailed such conclusions.

The three young men have been amongst a lot more than two dozen Iranians who died in the wave of antigovernment protests that swept the nation a few weeks ago, the most serious unrest to confront the Islamic republic’s political-religious hierarchy in nearly a decade.

The men’s personal stories that have considering that emerged have struck a nerve among many Iranians, who see glaring contradictions in the official accounts of the facts.

Their push for additional investigation, like a parliamentary demand for an inquiry into the prison deaths, suggests that whilst the protests have largely subsided, the fallout in Iran could be just beginning.

“This news of so-called suicides is creating men and women angry they demand answers,” said Farshad Ghorbanpour, an analyst close to the government of President Hassan Rouhani.

It is unclear whether or not the anger signals a potent new complication for Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who as Iran’s supreme leader was a target of some of the protests, which started over financial grievances and speedily broadened.

But the willingness by members of mainstream Iranian society to publicly repudiate the narrative of the best judicial authorities is uncommon in this country of 80 million, exactly where such behavior can be risky and invite retribution.

Iran’s judicial authorities, in an update on Sunday about the aftermath of the protests and government response, said a total of 25 individuals had died and practically 4,000 had been arrested. They also said that hundreds had been released, which includes 500 in Tehran.

The national prosecutor, Gholam Hossein Mohseni-Ejei, stated at a news conference in Tehran that “none of the bullets” identified in those killed had matched types used by Iran’s law enforcement officers and military. These who died in detention, he stated, had “committed suicide.”

President Rouhani, who has defended the proper of peaceful protest, on Sunday appeared to lend support to the doubters of such claims.

He extended his rebukes of hard-liners more than the protests following an influential Friday Prayer leader referred to as the protesters “garbage.” The prayer leader, Kazem Sadighi, later retracted his words.

Mr. Rouhani known as upon the establishment to listen to the protesters, not demean them.

“We can not contact everyone who takes to the streets dirt and dust, cow, sheep or trash,” he said in a speech broadcast on state tv. “What manner of speaking is this? Why do we insult? Why do we treat our society impolitely?”

Even though acknowledging that some men and women exploited protester anger to stoke mayhem, Mr. Rouhani stated, “it takes place everywhere.”

On Saturday the authorities lifted a ban on the well-known telephone messaging app Telegram, which is utilised by much more than 40 million Iranians. Its use had been suppressed by Iran’s National Safety Council to cease the spreading of news about the protests. Mr. Rouhani, who as president officially heads the council, mentioned on Sunday that “blocking is not a remedy.”

Telegram customers swiftly began to share skepticism about the judiciary accounts of the prison deaths.

One particular of the dead, Vahid Heidari, a street peddler, had been trying to make a living in Arak, a city in central Iran. He was arrested on New Year’s Eve for the duration of the protests. The judicial authorities insist that he was seized for possession of drugs. A lawyer for his loved ones, Mohammad Najafi, denies this.

Riot police officers in Tehran prevented university students from joining other protesters last month.CreditRelated Press

The local prosecutor for the city, Abbas Qassemi, told the Mizan news agency, which is affiliated with the judiciary, that video footage showed Mr. Heidari stabbing himself with a knife. But the video was never ever released and Mr. Qassemi did not clarify how Mr. Heidari had possessed a knife in his cell.

In Tehran’s Evin Prison, Sina Ghanbari, 23, a student, hanged himself in a bathroom on Jan. 6, the judicial authorities say. He had been held with other protesters, but it has not been produced clear whether or not he had also protested.

A group of lawmakers on Sunday called for an investigation into the deaths of each guys, the semiofficial ISNA news agency reported. The members of Parliament say an inquiry is needed simply because “relatives and eyewitnesses” have questioned the official claims that the two killed themselves.

“Why is a young student, who goes for the first time to the streets to raise his voice, placed in an overcrowded prison cell?” Isa Saharkhiz, a political activist who has spent many stints in Evin Prison, mentioned in reference to Mr. Ghanbari.

He mentioned that panic and threats could make any inmate scared, but he was suspicious more than the suicide claim. “There is so much visitors in these latrines, it nearly appears not possible for any detainee to go inside the latrines and hang himself,” Mr. Saharkhiz mentioned. “This should be investigated.”

Throughout the final major nationwide protests, in 2009, the deaths of 3 males in a makeshift detention camp led to an official investigation, ordered by Ayatollah Khamenei. Twelve officers and guards have been convicted of getting played a part, but it has never been clear no matter whether they all served prison time.

Skepticism about the official version of fatalities in the a lot more recent protests was fueled additional on Sunday when an Iranian celebrity actress, Bahare Rahnama, who stars in films and shows on state tv, posted a series of messages on Twitter.

A former restaurant delivery boy she knew well, who had turned up dead in the city of Sanandaj, was described by the judicial authorities as a terrorist.

“He was neither an outlaw, nor unsafe, nor rebellious, he didn’t deserve this, I have no doubt,” Ms. Rahnama wrote in Persian.

The man, Saru Ghahremani, 24, an Iranian-Kurd, was arrested on Jan. 1 right after he had gone out to protest, activists said.

A group of activists recognized as the Committee Investigating the ’96 Protests (in Iran’s calendar, the year is 1396), stated in a Twitter message by a member that Mr. Ghahremani’s body had been delivered to his parents 11 days later. “The parents of this martyr had been taken by the ambulance containing his corpse to the Mahmoudieh graveyard, exactly where he was buried with no other family members present,” the message read.

The ’96 Protests Committee also mentioned via Twitter that Mr. Ghahremani had when been arrested at age 18, more than unspecified “political and safety accusations,” and had spent 18 months in prison.

The governor of Sanandaj, Mohammad Ebrahim Zarei, said that Mr. Ghahremani had been linked with a “terror group” and had been killed in a clash with law enforcement agents, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

Ms. Rahnama, whose Twitter messages contradicted the Sanandaj governor, deleted some of them, following receiving thousands of likes and retweets.

The actress, who could not be reached for comment, later tweeted that she had been asked by the Sanandaj governor’s office “not to spread false rumors.”

A single of the messages she kept up integrated a portrait of her and Mr. Ghahremani.

She also insisted that it was unimaginable that Mr. Ghahremani had accomplished something incorrect.

“This kid was neither political nor a protester, nor a rebel, nor an outlaw, he had easy but huge wishes for himself: like generating his mother happy!” she wrote. “Why need to he be killed?”

A version of this post seems in print on of the New York edition with the headline: New Protest Fallout as Iranians Dispute Party Line in three Deaths. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

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Published at Mon, 15 Jan 2018 00:32:52 +0000


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