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Iran: Former MP Accuses Senior Officials of Ignoring Pleas to Stop Crackdown on Protests

Iran: Former MP Accuses Senior Officials of Ignoring Pleas to Stop Crackdown on Protests

Tuesday, 6 April, 2021 - 09:30
People protest against increased gas price, on a highway in Tehran, Iran November 16, 2019. (Reuters)

A video interview with former Iranian MP Mahmoud Sadeghi revived talks about the Iranian authorities’ crackdown on the popular protests that swept the county in 2019 over the hike of petrol prices.

The interview revealed details of a closed-door meeting between deputies in the former parliament and senior officials in the security services, including the Secretary-General of the Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani. Sadeghi said that the senior security officials have ignored calls to stop the killing of protesters.

Iran witnessed massive protests in mid-November 2019 in wake of the government’s sudden decision to raise gasoline prices by 300 percent.

The protests began in the outskirts of the oil city of Ahvaz, in the southwest of Iran, before spreading across the country, prompting the authorities to cut off internet service and use live ammunition to disperse the demonstrators.

Minister of Interior Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli said in an interview last summer that about 230 people died in the protests, adding that some were killed by unlicensed weapons.

Sadeghi said that the security officials responded by “no” when he asked them during that meeting about whether the authorities found evidence on the role of Iranian opposition groups and parties in the protests and strikes.

“They definitely didn’t find anything; all of the protesters were civilians…,” the former MP told the interview, adding: “I told Mr. Shamkhani at the time: What would you do if the people did not withdraw? Would you kill them? Shamkhani replied: “We will strike.”

In the first official response to Sadeghi’s statements, the General Secretariat of the Supreme Council for National Security hinted at prosecuting the former deputy, saying his account was “false” and “unrealistic.”

The new information revealed by Sadeghi come a month after Shamkhani made controversial remarks in an interview with the state ISNA news agency, blaming the administration of President Hassan Rouhani for “mismanagement” and “lack of coordination” in implementing the decision to raise the fuel prices.

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