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Iranian Authorities Continue to Arrest Demonstrators

Iranian Authorities Continue to Arrest Demonstrators

Monday, 2 December, 2019 - 08:45
People protest against increased gas price, on a highway in Tehran, Iran November 16, 2019. Nazanin Tabatabaee/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS

Iran’s security services continued arresting demonstrators despite existing controversy over deaths caused by their usage of excessive force.

In light of the contention, Revolutionary Guards commander Mohammad Reza Yazdi announced opening an investigation into shootings and the possibility of “innocent people having been targeted.”

Walking back from an earlier harsher statement, Yazdi, who is in charge of security in Tehran, has admitted that some protesters may have been "wrongly targeted and killed" by security forces.

He said due to the chaotic situation "it is not currently possible to confirm or refute such reports with any degree of certainty."

Yazdi's remarks followed reports that said many of those killed during the protest had been shot in the head or chest, showing an intention to kill. However, Yazdi claimed that some protesters were shot from behind by fellow protesters but was not able to substantiate his claim.

Meanwhile, some government officials such as presidential aide Hesamoddin Ashna, who had previously branded all protesters as thugs and demanded severe punishment for them, is now saying not all protesters were "rioters." He said that "innocent people have been shot to death."

Critics have said on social media that it was too late for such remarks by officials who have already made harsh statements against protesters.

Iranian authorities have not released an official toll on the number of dead and detained, but official IRNA reports showed that the arrests continued in the provinces of Tehran, Fars, East Azerbaijan and Hormozgan between Friday and Sunday.

Some opposition websites, such as Kalemeh, have reported that over 150 protesters shot dead have been buried in only one cemetery in Tehran. Other reports say over 100 bodies of those shot to death were taken away from a medical center in Shahryar near Tehran.

In another development, a number of Iranian artists, mainly filmmakers, have issued a statement in condemnation of the government's violent suppression of the protest. The artists' statement also came following two weeks of silence which was harshly criticized by Iranians on social media.

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