Anti-government protesters killed in Iran

An Iranian woman raises her fist amid the smoke of tear gas at the University of Tehran during a protest driven by anger over economic problems, in the capital Tehran on December 30, 2017.(AFP PHOTO / STR)

Officials confirmed that two anti-government demonstrators are dead in the western Iran city of Dorud but they deny that police fired fatal shots Saturday night as anti-government protests in Iran continued into a fourth day.

Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya network reported that three Iranian protesters were shot dead by the Revolutionary Guards at a Saturday night demonstration in central Iran.

Demonstrations began on Thursday and thousands have taken to the streets in cities over the weekend, with many protesters calling for the removal of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Videos posted on Twitter by the New-York based Center for Human Rights in Iran appeared to show police in riot gear clashing with protesters outside the gates to the Tehran University.

A second video showed smoke-shrouded streets, purportedly from tear gas, in the same area.

About 80 people were arrested in the city of Arak, said Chief Justice Hojatoleslam Ghassem Abdollahi, of the General Court of the Markazi Province.

People have turned out onto the streets in the Islamic Republic, where religious fundamentalists wield significant power despite a republican political system.

Although the powers of the elected president are limited by those of unelected Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who outranks him, the scale of moderate President Hassan Rouhani’s May election victory with more than 57 percent of the vote gave the pro-reform camp its strongest mandate in at least 12 years to seek the sort of change that hardliners have thwarted for decades.

Iranians began protesting on Thursday in the second city of Masshad, rallying against high prices. The rallies have since spread to other cities, and are gaining momentum as the largest protests in nearly a decade.

Rouhani pledged to open Iran to the world and deliver freedoms its people have yearned for, throwing down a defiant challenge to his hard line opponents after securing a decisive re-election for a second term.

Rouhani, long known as a cautious and mild-mannered establishment insider, reinvented himself as a bold champion of reform during the election campaign, which culminated in victory with more than 57 percent of the vote.

Habibollah Khojastehpour, deputy governor of Lorestan, said foreign agents were responsible for the deaths.

“No shots were fired by the police and security forces. We have found evidence of enemies of the revolution, [Sunni militant] groups and foreign agents in this clash,” according to the semi-official Mehr News.

Tehran’s prosecutor Ja’fari Dolatabadi said several detainees were arrested in recent riots and he claimed that “America is behind those moves.”

Dolatabadi said, “some people are struggling to shatter the security of the country by attacking mosques, gas stations, public places, exterminating and destroying public property.”


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