Iran: Rouhani promises people “completely free to express criticism,” then security forces murder 12 people

“Twelve dead in Iran as security forces are accused of opening fire on protesters after President Rouhani said people were ‘completely free to express their criticism,’” by Chris Pleasance, MailOnline, January 1, 2018:

At least 12 people have been killed and multiple others wounded during a fourth night of unrest in Iran.

Iranian state TV reported the figure Monday, saying security forces repelled ‘armed protesters’ who tried to take over police stations and military bases.

Two people were shot dead in the southwestern town of Izeh while another two died in Dorud after being run over by a stolen fire truck, local news agencies reported.

Elsewhere there were unconfirmed reports that three people were shot dead after security forces opened fire on protesters in Isfahan.

Video purportedly filmed in the city shows dozens of marchers on the streets as vehicles burn around them before what sounds like gunshots are heard.

The deaths in Izeh were confirmed by local politician Hedayatollah Khademi, who said it was unclear whether they were killed by police or other demonstrators.

‘The governor said it (the gunfire) was unlikely to be by police as they were not supposed to open fire,’ he said.

The shooting in Isfahan was reported by several prominent Twitter personalities including Amichai Stein, foreign affairs correspondent for the Israeli public broadcasting corporation, but could not be independently verified.

Elsewhere police used tear gas and water cannon to disperse a small protest in Tehran’s Enghelab Square on Sunday evening.

Protesters in the small northwestern town of Takestan torched a school for clergy and government buildings, the ILNA news agency said, while the state broadcaster said 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 on mobile Internet and popular social media sites including Telegram and Instagram.

The protests began as demonstrations against economic conditions in second city Mashhad on Thursday but quickly turned against the Islamic regime as a whole, with thousands marching in towns across Iran to chants of ‘Death to the dictator’.

‘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 wrote 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!’…

Source: Jihad Watch