Anti-regime protests in Iran erupted again Tuesday, prompting a crackdown by government forces that left nine more people dead, according to Iranian state media.
The widespread unrest stretched into a sixth day, as demonstrators across the country continued to denounce Iran’s clerical regime and its economic and foreign policies. With at least 20 people killed and hundreds more arrested over the weekend, the uprising has become the biggest challenge to the Iranian regime since 2009, when mass protests shook Tehran after a disputed presidential election.
What began Thursday as scattered protests over Iran’s faltering economy has morphed into a countrywide uprising against the regime’s corruption and foreign interventions, which many Iranians see as the root causes of the country’s economic problems. Breaking a political taboo in Iran, demonstrators have called on Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to step down and for the end of the Islamic Republic.
Unlike the 2009 protests, the latest uprising began spontaneously and without direction from opposition leaders, many of whom remain under house arrest. The demonstrations have also extended far beyond Tehran, Iran’s capital and cultural center of gravity, to smaller, conservative cities throughout the country, indicating widespread dissatisfaction with the regime. (RELATED: Iran Protesters Remain Defiant As Regime Warns They Will ‘Pay The Price’ For Unrest)
Six people were killed Tuesday during an attack on a police station in the town of Qahdarijan in central Iran, reports Bloomberg, citing state media reports. The clashes were sparked by demonstrators who tried to steal weapons from the police station, state media said.
An 11-year-old boy and a 20-year-old man were killed in the town of Khomeinishahr, and a member of the Iran’s Revolutionary Guard was killed in the town of Najafabad, according to state television.
Reacting to the unrest Tuesday, Khamenei said Iran’s “enemies” were inciting the protesters.
“In recent days, enemies of Iran used different tools including cash, weapons, politics and intelligence apparatus to create troubles for the Islamic Republic,” he said in statement, according to Reuters. (RELATED: Trump Blasts ‘Failing’ Iran Calls For Major Change)
Through Khamenei has not yet addressed the uprising in a speech, other regime leaders have indicated that the government will continue to come down harshly on the protesters. Musa Ghazanfarabadi, head of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court, warned Tuesday that those arrested would face tough punishment.
“Obviously one of their charges can be Moharebeh,” he said, meaning “war against God,” a death penalty offense in Iran.
Despite threats of a crackdown, protesters continue to defy the clerical regime. Demonstrators assembled in Tehran and several provincial cities Monday, where they chanted “Death to the dictator!” — referring to Khamenei — and called on government security forces to join the uprising.
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