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10 dead as anti-government protests spread across Iran.

 
Ten people were confirmed dead across Iran Monday, as a wave of anti-government protests that began last week showed no sign of letting up, forcing President Hassan Rowhani and his government to address demonstrators’ demands.

“The problems of the people are not simply economic in nature. They’re also demanding more freedoms,” said Rowhani, in an indirect slam on regime hardliners who oppose his attempts to push through political and cultural reforms, during an emergency security summit.

“This government does not have everything under its control,” said Rowhani, referring to the fact that final authority on many key matters rests with conservative clerics who hold key levers of power.

He added that it would be a mistake to view the protests as merely a foreign conspiracy.

State television had confirmed the 10 deaths before the summit. They were reported in several cities, including Dorud and Tuyserkan in the west, Iseh in the south and central Shahin Shahr.

In a separate report, Iranian lawmaker Hojatollah Khademi told the Ilna news agency that there had been two deaths in Iseh overnight. It’s not clear if those are the same two deaths reported elsewhere.

The politician also reported arrests and injuries, with some of those detained discovered with guns, munitions and explosives.

Some unconfirmed reports on social media have stated that the city was also briefly occupied by anti-government protesters. There were also unconfirmed reports of two further deaths in Dorud on Saturday.

Since Thursday, masses of Iranians have taken to the streets to air their grievances – including the high cost of living, unemployment and Tehran’s Middle East policies. Others have targeted the country’s religious establishment.

Tehran dismisses such protests as a conspiracy led by Iran’s international opponents such as the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia.

“Using social networks, they try to poison the thoughts of our young,” said Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Movahedi-Kermani, a member of the Assembly of Experts, at Friday prayers in Tehran.

US President Donald Trump has used the protests to repeatedly bash the Iranian government and warned it against any human rights abuses, building on his crusade against the 2015 nuclear deal that Iran signed with world powers under Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama.

“Iran is failing at every level despite the terrible deal made with them by the Obama Administration,” he wrote, adding that the Iranian people were “hungry for food & for freedom.”

Despite an appeal by Rowhani on Sunday for the protesters to act peacefully – and during which he supported their right to express their opinions – witnesses reported violence across the country.

Police reportedly used water cannon and tear gas to break up protests in multiple cities, including Tehran. Some demonstrators also turned violent, setting cars on fire and attacking police stations.

Nonetheless, internet users reported that social media was up and running again, a day after authorities shut down services like Telegram and Instagram, which have been used by some demonstrators to organize gatherings.

People taking to those networks discounted comments by Rowhani and his interior minister, in which the officials beseeched citizens to forgo violence and express their dissatisfaction through legal means.

Many said they could not see any situation in which the Interior Ministry would approve gatherings to protest government policy.

According to unconfirmed reports circulated online, between 100 and 800 people have been detained amid the protests.
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