The toll in the anti-government demonstrations in Iran increased to 14 on Tuesday, with the death of a member of the country’s security forces, Reuters reported. Police have arrested more than 450 protesters in Tehran over the past three days.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Tuesday claimed “enemies” of the country had stirred unrest, the Tehran Times reported. The anti-government protests sought to “cause harm to the Islamic system” in the country, he said.
“The enemies of Iran have united with all the tools they have, including money and weapons, to cause harm to the Islamic system,” Khamenei said during a meeting with families of those who died in the first Iran-Iraq war. However, he indicated that he would make a specific statement on the protests only “at the right time”.
Hojjatoleslam Mousa Qazanfarabadi, the chief of Tehran’s Revolutionary Tribunal court, told the Tasnim news agency that rioters arrested after the first three days of unrest, which began December 28, would receive harsh punishment. Qazanfarabadi said those arrested would receive exemplary punishment because they had continued violence after the Interior Ministry’s ban on protest gatherings.
Qazanfarabadi’s warning came after Iran’s Chief Justice Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli Larijani ordered security personnel to deal with rioters firmly.
Government spokesperson Mohammad Baqer Nobakht adopted a more conciliatory tone, Reuters reported. “People have the rights to protest but there is a difference between a demonstration and riots,” he said. “Even those who are confronting the rioters should act within the framework of law”.