DUBAI, Dec 3 (Reuters) – Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi hailed the Islamic Republic of Iran on Saturday as a guarantor of rights and freedoms and blamed the ruling regime for its crackdown on anti-government protests that the U.N. said had killed more than 300 people.
At the same time, a senior state security agency said that 200 people, including members of the security forces, had lost their lives in the unrest, which is significantly higher than the number of international organizations and human rights organizations.
The protests, now in their third month, were sparked by the death of 22-year-old Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini in police custody, which enforced strict mandatory hijab rules.
The protests turned into a popular uprising by angry Iranians from all walks of life, posing one of the boldest challenges to the clerical leadership since the 1979 revolution.
Meanwhile, a video has surfaced on social media showing authorities demolishing the home of the family of Elnaz Rekabi, a mountaineer who took part in an international competition in October without a hijab. Rekabi later did so unintentionally, but was widely believed to have supported the protests. more
The state media reported on Saturday, according to the chairman of the court of Zanjan region in the north-west of the country, that the decision to demolish the villa was issued four months ago, because the family could not get a construction permit.
Unfazed by their brutal repression, the protesters raised slogans against Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and repeatedly demanded the end of the Islamic government.
Social media footage showed new protests on Saturday in some parts of Tehran, including the eastern Haft Houze area, where protesters could be heard chanting “The murderer Khamenei must be executed.” Reuters could not immediately confirm the footage.
Officials blame foreign enemies, including the United States, Saudi Arabia and Israel, for the insurgency.
“Iran has the most advanced constitution in the world” because it “marries ideals with democracy,” Raisi said in his speech to parliament members, citing an unidentified African lawmaker.
“The Constitution guarantees (the existence of) the Islamic system,” he said, adding that “it also guarantees fundamental rights and legal freedoms.”
“Mizan” news agency quoted the State Security Council of the Ministry of Internal Affairs as saying that 200 people lost their lives in the recent “riots”.
On Monday, according to Amirali Hojizoda, a senior commander of the Revolutionary Guards, it was said that 300 people, including security forces, were killed in the recent unrest.
Javad Rahmon, the UN-appointed independent expert on Iran, said on Tuesday that more than 300 people, including more than 40 children, had been killed in the protests.
The rights group HRANA said 469 protesters had been killed as of Friday, 64 of them minors. It is said that 61 government security forces were also killed. About 18,210 protesters have been arrested.
A leading cleric of the Baloch Sunni Muslims, Malawi Abdulhamid, called for an end to the suppression of protests through arrests and killings and holding a referendum to change the Iranian government.
“People’s protest showed that the politics of the last 43 years has reached a dead end,” he said at the end of November.
[email protected]edited by William McLean and Louise Heavens
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