New protests were held in Iran overnight, local media said yesterday, despite Iranian President Hassan Rouhani calling for calm and vowing more “space for criticism” in a bid to head off days of unrest.
Rouhani on Sunday night finally broke his silence about the protests that mark the biggest test for the regime since mass demonstrations in 2009.
Police used tear gas and water cannon to disperse a small protest in Tehran’s Enghelab Square on Sunday evening, unverified social media videos show.
Protesters in the small northwestern town of Takestan torched a school for clergy and government buildings, the Iranian Labor News Agency said, while the state broadcaster said that two people had died in Dorud after crashing a stolen fire engine.
There were also reports of protests in the cities of Izeh (southwest), Kermanshah and Khorramabad (west), Shahinshahr (northwest) and Zanjan (north).
Verifying reports remained challenging due to travel restrictions and sporadic blocks of mobile Internet and popular social media sites including Telegram and Instagram.
“The people are absolutely free in expressing their criticisms and even protests,” Rouhani said in a message on the state broadcaster. “But criticism is different to violence and destroying public property.”
He sought a conciliatory tone, saying that government bodies “should provide space for legal criticism and protest” and calling for greater transparency and a more balanced media.
US President Donald Trump said the “big protests” showed people “were getting wise as to how their money and wealth is being stolen and squandered on terrorism.”
“Looks like they will not take it any longer,” he said on Twitter.
In a later tweet, Trump accused Iran of “numerous violations of human rights” and commented on the disruption to social media, saying it “has now closed down the Internet so that peaceful demonstrators cannot communicate. Not good!”
“This man who today in America wants to sympathize with our people has forgotten that a few months ago he called the nation of Iran terrorist. This person whose whole being is against the nation of Iran has no right to feel pity for the people of Iran,” Rouhani said in response.
After initial silence, state media on Sunday began showing some footage, focusing on young men attacking banks and vehicles, an attack on a town hall in Tehran and images of a man burning the Iranian flag.
Two hundred people were reported to have been arrested in Saturday night’s unrest in the capital.
There have been reminders of the continued support for the regime among conservative sections of society, with pro-regime students staging sizable counter-demonstrations at the University of Tehran over the weekend.
Rouhani came to power in 2013 promising to mend the economy and ease social tensions, but anger over high living costs and a 12 percent unemployment rate have left many feeling that progress is too slow.
“Rouhani has run an austerity budget since 2013 with the idea that it’s a tough, but necessary pill to swallow to manage inflation and currency problems and try to improve Iran’s attractiveness for investment, but choosing years of austerity immediately after a very tough period of sanctions is bound to test people’s patience,” Europe-Iran Forum founder Esfandyar Batmanghelidj said.
Police have so far taken a relatively soft approach to the unrest. They deny shooting two men killed in Dorud on Saturday night.
EVOLVING SITUATION: Of the latest cases, 23 percent were found to be asymptomatic, but the coronavirus strain in Da Nang is more contagious, authorities said A COVID-19 outbreak that began in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang more than a week ago has spread to at least four city factories with a combined workforce of about 3,700, state media reported yesterday. Four cases were found at the plants in different industrial parks in the central city that collectively employ 77,000 people, the Lao Dong newspaper said. Vietnam, praised widely for its decisive measures to combat the novel coronavirus since it first appeared in late January, is battling new clusters of infection having gone for more than three months without detecting any domestic transmissions. Authorities yesterday reported one new
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged
A cat that went missing on a family holiday on the shores of Loch Lomond, Scotland, has been identified 12 years later. Tortoiseshell-and-white Georgie spent October half term in 2008 with her owners at the Rowardennan campsite, but vanished as they were due to return home to Greater Manchester, England. After a search of the site the Davies family departed without Georgie, hoping the three-year-old microchipped feline would be located by someone. Over the intervening 12 years, she remained close to the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park site, being fed and cared for by campsite staff and holidaymakers. After the COVID-19 pandemic hit and lockdown
Three Micronesian sailors stranded on a remote Pacific island have been found alive and well after a rescue team spotted their giant SOS message written into the sand on a beach. Australian and US military aircraft found the three men on tiny Pikelot island, nearly 200km west of where they had set off. Rescuers said that the men were “in good condition” with no significant injuries. The men had been missing for three days after their 7m skiff ran out of fuel and strayed off course. Authorities in the US territory of Guam raised the alarm on Saturday after the men failed to complete