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Self-Exiled Iranians Protest At Tehran's Embassy In Tbilisi

Iranian clerics take part during a state-organized rally against antigovernment protests in the holly city of Qom on January 3.

TBILISI -- Dozens of self-exiled Iranian citizens who live in Georgia have rallied in front of the Iranian Embassy in Tbilisi, demanding the resignation of Iranian President Hassan Rohani.

The protesters on January 3 also demanded that Iranian authorities begin democratic reforms and guarantee freedom of religion.

Many Iranians living in Georgia say they are Christians who were forced to leave Iran because they were being persecuted by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).

One demonstrator, Ali Rusta, told RFE/RL that members of the IRGC openly threatened him with imprisonment and demanded that he renounce his Christian faith.

"I can freely attend a church here now" in Tbilisi, Rusta said.

In Iran, at least 22 people have been killed in a wave of antigovernment demonstrations that began December 28 in dozens of towns and cities across the country, including Tehran.

The deputy governor of Tehran, Ali Asgar Naserbakht, said on January 2 that more than 450 demonstrators had been arrested in the Iranian capital.