Iran’s Supreme Leader yesterday accused the country’s enemies of stirring unrest as the death toll from growing anti-government protests rose to 21.
More amateur footage of the demonstrations has surfaced. Several were released by FreedomMessenger, which describes itself as an “independent Iranian news agency seeking complete change of the Iranian regime by reporting on the human rights situation in Iran.”
One video showed an attack on a police station in Qahderijan, in the centre of the country, where six protesters were killed.
Another showed protesters marching through Tehran, chanting “Death to the dictator.”
At least 21 people have died and hundreds have been arrested since the demonstrations started last week over rising food prices.
They have since grown into the biggest challenge to Iran’s clerical leadership in eight years.
State television reported that protesters who set fire to four mosques in villages in Savadkuh County in northern Iran on Monday had been arrested.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei blamed the unrest on Iran’s enemies, without naming them.
“All those who are at odds with the Islamic Republic have used various means, including money, weapons, politics and intelligence apparatus, to create troubles for the Islamic system, the Islamic Republic and the Islamic Revolution,” he said in his first public reaction since the demonstrations began.
He did not mention any enemies by name but Ali Shamkhani, Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, said the United States, Britain and Saudi Arabia were behind the riots.
On Twitter, US President Donald Trump, who has been tweeting daily in support of the protesters, said yesterday: “The people of Iran are finally acting against the brutal and corrupt Iranian regime… The U.S. is watching!”
More than 450 protesters were arrested in the capital in the last three days, Tehran’s deputy provincial governor said, and hundreds of others were detained around the country, with judicial officials saying they would be severely punished.
The government said 90 percent of the detainees were under 25 years old, signalling frustration among youths over the country’s economic situation and lack of social freedoms.