Brief on Iran

Brief on Iran (BOI – 293)

Brief on Iran
Written by OIAC

#IranProtests continue

U.S. says Iran “could have murdered over a thousand” citizens during protests
CBS news, December 5, 2019

After receiving 32,000 videos of the recent protests in Iran, the United States said Thursday that the government there has committed “gross human rights violations” that may have left over a thousand citizens dead and thousands more imprisoned since the unrest began in mid-November.

Iran’s government has admitted to only a handful of deaths.
“As the truth is trickling out of Iran, it appears the regime could have murdered over a thousand citizens,” including at least a dozen children, said Brian Hook, the State Department’s special representative for Iran. At least 7,000 protesters have been detained in prison. But, he said, “we cannot be certain because the regime blocks information.”

Earlier this week, Amnesty International estimated “at least 208” have been killed in the demonstrations, citing information the group has gathered.

The government has been trying to cover up the unrest, which is the worst the country has seen since 2009 when election results were disputed. During the protests, it shut down the internet nationwide — an unprecedented move that left the outside world largely in the dark. Virtually all foreign media, including CBS News, have been banned from traveling to Iran to cover the protests.

Amid the unrest last month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on the Iranian people to “send us their videos, photos and information documenting the regime’s crackdown on protesters” so the U.S. can “expose and sanction the abuses.”

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Europeans Step Up Pressure on Iran Over Nuclear Violations
France, Britain and Germany will trigger a dispute mechanism if Tehran continues its prohibited moves away from the nuclear deal, diplomats say
WSJ, Dec 6, 2019

VIENNA—European powers will take the first step towards re-imposing international sanctions on Iran in the coming weeks if Tehran further violates the 2015 nuclear deal, diplomats said.

The warning, an escalation of European pressure on Iran, puts the two sides on a collision course. A conflict is likely in early January, when Iran is set to announce fresh steps to breach the deal. Iranian officials say their moves respond to Europe’s failure to protect them from the impact of withering sanctions the U.S. imposed after President…

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US suspects Iran is behind increasingly sophisticated rocket attacks on US bases in Iraq
CNN, Dec 9, 2019

Washington (CNN)The US government believes that Iran is behind a series of increasingly sophisticated rocket attacks on joint US-Iraq military facilities in Iraq, several US officials tell CNN. The attacks have taken place as the US has grown increasingly concerned that Iran may be planning new provocations against US troops and interests in the region.

The US military strongly believes Iranian-backed groups inside Iraq are responsible according to a US official with direct knowledge of the recent incidents. There have been nine rocket attacks on or in the vicinity of Iraqi facilities that host US troops in the last five weeks with the most recent one taking place on Monday.

“We take these incidents seriously as do our Iraqi Security Forces partners, who are investigating these events. We have made clear that attacks on US. and Coalition personnel and facilities will not be tolerated and we retain the right to defend ourselves. US forces operate in Iraq at the invitation of the government of Iraq to support Iraqi forces against ISIS,” Pentagon spokesperson Cdr. Sean Robertson told CNN in a statement.

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said Saturday that “there have been reports in the public space about rockets being fired at American forces on bases in Iraq.”
“So we’ve seen a little bit of an uptick there. And that’s, again, another indicator for us of Iran reaching out,” he continued, speaking at an event hosted by the Reagan National Defense Forum in California.

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Iranian Regime’s Officials Acknowledge the Mass Killings of Protesters
Iran Focus, December 7, 2019

One after another, Iranian officials acknowledge that their security forces shot and killed innocent people during the bloody crackdown on recent protests.
On December 6, 2019 during the Friday prayer in the city of Asalam, north of Iran, Mohammad Javad Bagheri, the imam of Friday prayer and supreme leaders’ representative, called the protesters “thugs”, confessed that “so many” had been shot and killed in the protests and many of those killed were even “bystanders”.

“In the past few weeks you witnessed the chaos and anarchy that was created under the pretext of gasoline price hike, we are still suffering the consequences of that event, see how many people have lost their lives because of that, well, you see, in the midst of fighting no cookies are distributed, there would be shootings and bullets, and even if you are impartial and bystander, but go into the scene, it is possible that one of those bullets hits you, as it was the case with so many people who were killed, many of those who were killed might have been bystanders. Somebody was telling me that while he was hospitalized in a hospital in Tehran there was a nurse who was standing by the window of the room to film the street outside and she was hit by a bullet right in the middle of her forehead.” Bagheri said in the Friday prayer.

While the representative of the supreme leader Ali Khamenei, confesses that “so many” bystanders were killed, on Tuesday, December 3, 2019, the regime’s officials acknowledged that security forces used firearms to crack down the demonstrations. A report on state television on Tuesday said that some of the protesters killed in the crackdown were “rioters who had attacked sensitive or military centers with firearms,” and described how the armed forces had “deftly and vigilantly” fought back against “hostile groups”.

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Iran cutting off its Internet wasn’t a show of strength. It was a sign of panic.
A government’s approach to online access says a lot about what it considers most threatening.
The Washington Dec 9, 2019; by Josephine Wolff

Blacking out the Internet has become a popular tactic for governments hoping to quell internal rebellion and protest. In the past year alone, there have been more than 100 shutdowns in 29 countries,

including Zimbabwe, Kazakhstan, Sudan and Ethiopia, according to the digital rights group Access Now. In August, the Indian government shut off Internet and phone service to Kashmir after revoking the region’s autonomy. Last month, Iran, too, imposed a blackout after protests erupted over a significant hike in gas prices. The government shut down Internet and wireless data services for five days as it violently quelled demonstrations, killing at least 180 people.

Shutting off the Internet seems drastic. And it is — but not as a means for controlling what information reaches the citizens of the country being disconnected. What happened when Iran pulled the plug is telling: The shutdown appeared to do little to quell the unrest or thwart efforts to coordinate demonstrations, which continued throughout the blackout. Authorities made no attempts to monitor who was saying what to whom, or how, or where people were learning about the protests.

What an Internet blackout really shows is that a government is panicked about how little control it has. It’s an act of last resort by officials desperate to keep information away from citizens, or desperate to prevent citizens from telling the world what’s happening.

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Dissident group claims Iran uprising and crackdown much bigger than reported
By Guy Taylor – The Washington Times –
Tuesday, November 26, 2019

An international Iranian dissident group says the recent protests in Iran, as well as the government’s severe crackdown on demonstrators, have been much wider in scope than initially reported.

While Iranian authorities claim the uprisings were quelled quickly and rights group say about 150 people died, the exiled National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) claimed Tuesday that more than 400 were actually killed during “anti-regime protests” that occurred in “some 176 cities throughout the country.”
The group, which says it has a wide network of informants inside Iran, asserted in a report circulated by its offices in Washington Tuesday that demonstrations began with slogans condemning a government hike in fuel prices, but quickly spread into widespread demands for the total overthrow of the ruling regime in Tehran.

“It did not take long,” the NCRI report claimed, “for the slogans to morph into calls
for rejection of the regime in its entirety.”
“People chanted slogans against the regime’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani, while attacking centers of suppression, theft and particularly those affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC),” the report said. “Many of the buildings were torched and sustained serious damages.”

NCRI Deputy Director Alireza Jafarzadeh told The Washington Times in an email that demonstrators were “chanting ‘death to Rouhani,’ ‘death to Khamenei,’” in a manner that “clearly shows the society’s rage and explosive state and that the Iranian people demand regime change.”

“The recent uprising showed that change is attainable, and the people are ready to pay the price to make it happen,” Mr. Jafarzadeh said. “The world must recognize the right of the Iranian people to change the regime and establish a democratic, pluralistic, and non-nuclear republic in Iran.” The NCRI report also claimed at least 4,000 protesters were injured and at least 10,000 have been arrested by Iranian authorities.

The assertions by the group, which has long called for regime change in Tehran and is widely seen to have allies in the Trump administration backing the administration’s current “maximum pressure campaign” against Iran’s government, came a day after Amnesty International said at least 143 people have been killed in a crackdown against on the protests since Nov. 15.

The Associated Press reported that the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard threatened the U.S. and its allies Monday as he addressed a pro-government demonstration attended by tens of thousands of people denouncing the recent violent protests, which the news agency described as being driven by a fuel price hike.

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