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Iran's Interior Minister Downplays Recent Protests

Iranian Interior Minister - Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli. File photo

Islamic Republic’s Minister of Interior says most of the recent protests across Iran have been triggered by resentment over jobs and livelihood related issues.

“Only 3,800 people participated in protest demonstrations in 27 cities during past three weeks,” Abdor-Reza Rahmani Fazli claimed. His claim about the numbers cannot be independently verified but seems too low based on reports and images received during the protests.

Also, saying that most protests were for economic reasons ignores the fact that people were shouting clear political slogans for the regime to be go away.

Speaking to the government’s official daily, Iran, Tuesday, August 21, Rahmani Fazli also maintained that a 26-year old protester, who died in a protest rally in city of Karaj, west of Tehran, was shot and killed by an AK-47 (Kalashnikov).

The conservative Minister noted that Iranian police forces do not carry Kalashnikovs.

The huge crowd of protesters in Shiraz on August 2 refutes some of the claims made by the interior minister.
The huge crowd of protesters in Shiraz on August 2 refutes some of the claims made by the interior minister.

However, he preferred to ignore the fact that forces of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) are all armed with AK-47s and assist security units to suppress protest rallies.

Rahmani Fazli’s comments are published at a time when a judicial investigation is underway to determine how the 26-year-old shopkeeper, Reza Owtadi died from a bullet wound during a protest rally in city of Karaj, near Tehran on August 3, 2018.

As a rule, the Islamic Republic’s authorities blame the deaths of protesters on “foreign hostile elements” embedded in demonstrations or lurking outside rallies.

Furthermore, Rahmani Fazli insisted that the calls for protest rallies held during past three weeks were much more substantial than the ones that broke out on December 28, spread to more than 100 cities and kept momentum until January 11.

“Hostile media and some foreign political figures had widely promoted the recent protests, two-three months in advance,” Rahmani Fazli maintained.

Despite "all propaganda", the Minister claimed, “Only twenty to 500 people joined each protest rally held in 27 cities in thirteen different provinces.”

Based on the Islamic Republic’s Constitution, people are free to hold peaceful protest rallies, provided receiving a license from the country’s Interior Ministry. Nevertheless, such licenses have never been issued and all protest rallies are forcefully suppressed.

Earlier on Thursday, August 2, Rahmani Fazli had also stressed that “enemies” are attempting to create social crises in Iran, but an assembly attended by 200 cannot change the situation.

Joining the chorus of the country’s officials accusing “foreign enemies” of provoking resentment in Iran, the 59-year old Minister also insisted, “The United States and other enemies know very well that they cannot contain Iran’s power, as a result they want to create division inside the country in order to achieve their malicious goals.”

Referring to the compilation of an “Intelligence Atlas”, Rahmani Fazli claimed that all centers provoking crises and the individuals behind promoting protest and unrest in the country have been identified.

In Tehran and other large cities, Rahmani Fazli noted, “All thugs are known by the authorities and [during an unrest], they are ordered to stay home for two-three days.”

According to the minister, whoever attends more than five rallies is recognized as an activist deserved to be placed behind bars.

“All elements who frequent different rallies in Iran have been identified,” the Interior Minister insisted.