As recent anti-corruption and economic protests evolved into anti-government demonstrations in Iran, the government’s response to the civil unrest has grown more forceful. Over 450 people have been arrested in the last few days in Tehran alone, while at least 14 people, including one member of the security forces, have been killed in the protests that have stretched across the entire country.
Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei used his first public remarks about the protests to accuse the country’s enemies of sowing the unrest: “In recent days, enemies of Iran used different tools including cash, weapons, politics and intelligence apparatus to create troubles for the Islamic Republic.” Khamenei added he would address the whole nation “when the time is right.”
While Khamenei did not specify which enemies of the country were behind the protests, Ali Shamkhani, secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, named the United States, Britain, and Saudi Arabia during an interview.
Meanwhile, the head of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court, Musa Ghazanfarabadi, has publicly warned that arrested protesters could face the death penalty when their trials start:
Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency quoted Mousa Ghazanfarabadi on Tuesday as saying: “Obviously one of their charges can be Moharebeh,” or waging war against God. That’s a death penalty offense in Iran.
According to Iranian authorities, 90% of those who have been arrested are under 25 years old.