Two weeks after widespread anti-regime protests began in Iran, the security and intelligence forces of the Islamic Republic are still busy arresting more "suspects".
The commander of security forces in the western part of Tehran Province announced on Thursday, November 28 that thirty more people have been arrested in towns west of Tehran.
"The security forces have detained thirty principal elements behind the recent 'riots' in the western part of Tehran province," said West Tehran police chief, Mohsen Khancharli.
Echoing the Islamic Republic Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's terminology, the authorities in Iran refer to the recent protests and demonstrators as "riots" and "insurgents," respectively.
An overnight threefold increase in gasoline prices on Friday, November 15 triggered a series of protests that soon turned into anti-regime demonstrations in more than 100 cities across Iran.
The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) general Mohsen Khancharli insisted Thursday that identifying and arresting "principal elements" behind the recent protests are on a priority for the Police.
"Following a widespread intelligence operation, the security forces succeeded in identifying the leaders of the recent riots," Khancharli maintained, adding, "After coordination with the judicial authorities, special units raided thirty of the insurgents' hideouts, and arrested them in separate operations."
Meanwhile, Khancharli claimed that the detainees had confessed to being involved in sabotage and attacks on security forces.
Furthermore, Khancharli cited the residents of West Tehran as saying that none of the detainees had been native to the region.
In the meantime, another IRGC General and Chief of Police in the province of Isfahan, central Iran, reported last Thursday that his forces had arrested seven more people, suspected as being the leaders of the recent "riots."
Referring to a "series of complicated police and intelligence operations", IRGC General Mehdi Ma'soum Beigi also maintained, "The seven suspects captured in Isfahan have admitted their involvement in systematically setting public properties on fire, attacking police forces, and endangering people's lives and assets."
Hundreds of miles south of Isfahan, in the southern province of Fars, the IRGC General and local police chief, Roham Bakhsh Habibi had a similar report.
"The security forces have arrested nine principal elements of the recent 'riots' who were connected to foreign and 'hostile' networks," Habibi said, proudly reporting that they had all confessed to their "crimes."
More than two weeks after widespread the start of anti-regime demonstrations the authorities have so far refrained from revealing the exact number of the victims killed during the protests.
Moreover, it is not yet clear how many of those arrested have access to legal counsel, since the government can deny they are in custody.
"Iranian authorities are deliberately covering up the scale of the mass crackdown against protesters," Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Wednesday, November 27, adding, the government should immediately announce the number of deaths, arrests, and detentions from the recent protests and permit an independent inquiry into alleged abuses.
According to HRW, human rights groups estimate that more than 140 people were killed and that security forces arrested up to 7,000 people in protests that broke out on the evening of November 15, 2019 and spread to more than 100 locations across Iran. On November 16, authorities shut down the internet, which has not fully been restored. Mobile internet access is still particularly scarce. In 2019, according to the Communications Regulatory Authority of Iran, some 62 million people were using the internet on their mobile phones.
Disregarding international criticism against mistreatment of protesters, a guest speaker in a program aired by Iran's state-run television last Tuesday suggested that those who were arrested in the recent anti-government protests must be punished by amputating their hands and feet in public and being exiled to teach a lesson to others.
Abolfazl Bahrampour who was introduced as a "religious expert" made his notorious remarks on state-run monopolized television (IRIB).
The head of the IRIB is directly appointed by the Islamic Republic Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and is only accountable to him.