The Spokesman for the Guardian Council Abbasali Kadkhodaei has defended the brutal crackdown in the recent wave of nationwide protests in October and November, which left at least 300 people dead and scores of others injured.
Mr. Kadkhodaei has described the actions of anti-riot police, security forces, and the Basij (volunteer) units as “legal” and “appropriate.”
Kadkhodaei made the comments on December 25 in an interview with France 24, a French state-owned international news television network based in Paris.
“Protests over the high cost of living, the price of goods and the economy can happen in any country, including those we have seen recently in France and Iraq,” Kadkhodaei said. “The Islamic Republic has always listened to those who peacefully express their grievances.”
“Officials must also address the legitimate concerns of the public,” he added. “However, the police and security forces must confront agitators who storm government buildings and vandalize public and private properties. Incidents could happen in these types of situations.”
Asked if the authorities’ use of extreme force to crush the protesters was justified, Kadkhodaei said: “Unfortunately, many who live outside Iran mischaracterize the events in the country. Our people do not always agree with how foreign sources analyze what happens in Iran. The Islamic Republic has always provided accurate information and irrefutable proof, including documents to support every action it has ever taken. Evidence shows that they [police] acted legally and appropriately.”
Asked why the government shut down the internet during the protests, Kadkhodaei explained: “Authorities must do their utmost to stop terrorists in their tracks. They must cut off all access to terrorists. However, I said from the outset that we must separate those with legitimate concerns over their livelihood from the agitators and terrorists.”
The Iranian authorities have been reluctant to release the exact number of people who died during the recent unrest. They have issued no permit for any peaceful civil disobedience or public protests anywhere in the country.
According to Amnesty International, security forces have arrested several family members of victims of the protests in the past three weeks. Relatives of Pooya Bakhtiari, a 26-year-old man who was shot in the head and killed during street protests in Tehran on November 18, were arrested after trying to hold a mourning ceremony marking the 40th day of his passing as is the tradition in the Shia Muslim faith.
[Translated from Persian by Fardine Hamidi]