Iran rocked by new protests as economy heads for collapse

Iranian protesters chant slogans during a demonstration in central Tehran on June 25. (File Photo: AFP)
Updated 01 August 2018
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Iran rocked by new protests as economy heads for collapse

  • Hundreds chant “death to the dictator" at industrial complex
  • Rial plunges ahead of US sanctions

LONDON: Iran faced fresh warnings over human rights abuses on Tuesday as its economic crisis worsened and hundreds of protesters took to the streets.
Demonstrations spread to the historic city of Isfahan, with protesters demanding an end to the Iranian regime's costly interference in the affairs of neighboring countries in the region.
At least 29 people have been arrested on vague charges of “economic disruption,” and some face the death penalty.
Signs of further unrest emerged on Tuesday as shopkeepers and other workers went on strike in protest at the decline of Iran’s currency.
“In recent weeks and months we’ve had many protests,” Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, spokesman for the Oslo-based Iran Human Rights group, told Arab News. “Human rights are suffering … and every day they suffer more. Iran is amongst the biggest violators of human rights in the world today.”
He said the recent arrests were unlikely to have targeted the corrupt officials who occupy the “inner circles” of Iranian public life. The arrests serve two purposes, he said — to suggest the Iranian government is acting to stamp out “huge corruption,” and to instill fear in the public. “There are people who have been executed for economic corruption. But … the trials are not public so nobody knows that what the authorities are claiming is true.
“From the authorities’ view, these death sentences are more important as instruments of intimidation and spreading fear. If they really want to go after the corruption, they will be in deep trouble because the corruption is at the highest levels.”
Harvard scholar and Iranian affairs expert Dr. Majid Rafizadeh also said the reasons for Iran’s economic crises go to the top of government. “The Iranian regime’s financial corruption, misuse of public funds, the widespread banking crisis, and the hemorrhaging of billions of dollars … on militia and terror groups are among the major reasons behind the present currency and economic crises,” he said.
Protests in Isfahan In Isfahan, striking shopkeepers, farmers and truck drivers were joined by other citizens in the Amir-Kabir industrial complex in New Shapur, according to Iranian activists.
Video footage showed hundreds of protesters shouting: “No to Gaza, no to Lebanon, my soul is Iran’s redemption.” The slogan refers to Tehran’s costly military adventures in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, at the expense of the domestic economy.



Amiry-Moghaddam urged the world to do more to address the human rights situation, which he said was a result of a regime looking to cling on to power. “The main reason for people suffering is the regime: There is a lack of accountability and huge corruption … and use of violence to keep power.”
The slogan has been repeated at a series of protests that started at the end of last year. It refers to the regime’s expenditure on the regional military interventions instead of using the funds to tackle the country’s economic woes. 
In December and January widespread protests against economic conditions shook the country. At least 25 protesters were killed and nearly 5,000 arrested in a brutal response by the security forces. 
Last month, protesters clashed with police outside parliament in Tehran in three days of protests sparked by the plunging rial.
On June 25, a strike shut down the stalls of the Grand Bazaar in Tehran and several other markets. 
Meanwhile, a truck drivers’ strike entered its eighth day in cities across the country, according to reports.
And railway workers in Tabriz, north-east Iran, protested on Monday after receiving no salary over the past four months, according to the Iranian Labour News Agency (ILNA).
It reported that the workers had cut off the railway route, which connects Tabriz with the rest of the provinces.
Activists on Tuesday continued to publish pictures showing an intense presence of security forces and police in Tehran.


UN chief proposes options to protect Palestinians, Israel says ‘no’

Updated 35 min 9 sec ago
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UN chief proposes options to protect Palestinians, Israel says ‘no’

  • Israel rejects report saying the protection should be against Palestinian leaders
  • The UN chief stressed that for each of the options, cooperation by Israel and the Palestinians would be necessary

UNITED NATIONS: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday presented four options aimed at boosting the protection of Palestinians in Israeli-occupied territories, from sending UN rights monitors and unarmed observers to deploying a military or police force under UN mandate.

But the report has been rejected by the Israelis.

Israel’s UN Ambassador Danny Danon said in a statement late Friday that “the only protection the Palestinian people need is from their own leadership.”
“Instead of suggesting ways to protect the Palestinian people from Israel, the UN should instead hold the Palestinian leadership accountable for continually endangering its own people,” Danon said.
“The report’s suggestions will only enable the Palestinians’ continued rejectionism.”
The proposals were contained in a report requested by the General Assembly in response to a surge of violence in Gaza, where 171 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since late March.
The UN chief stressed that for each of the options, cooperation by Israel and the Palestinians would be necessary. It remained unlikely however that Israel would agree to the proposals.
In the 14-page report, Guterres proposed:
• Providing a “more robust UN presence on the ground” with rights monitors and political officers to report on the situation.
• Pouring in more UN humanitarian and development aid to “ensure the well-being of the population.”
• Creating a civilian observer mission that would be present in sensitive areas such as checkpoints and near Israeli settlements, with a mandate to report on protection issues.
• Deploying an armed military or police force, under a UN mandate, to provide physical protection to Palestinian civilians.
A UN mandate for a protection force would require a decision from the Security Council, where the United States could use its veto power to block a measure opposed by Israel.
A small European-staffed observer mission was deployed in the West Bank city of Hebron in 1994, but Israel has since rejected calls for an international presence in flashpoint areas.
In the report, Guterres said the United Nations was already undertaking many protection initiatives but that “these measures fall short” of the concerns raised in a General Assembly resolution adopted in June.
In that measure, the 193-nation assembly condemned Israel for Palestinian deaths in Gaza and tasked Guterres with the drafting of proposals for “an international protection mechanism” for the Palestinians.
Guterres argued that a political solution to the conflict was needed to address the safety of Palestinians but that “until such a solution is achieved, member-states may further explore all practical and feasible measures that will significantly improve the protection of the Palestinian civilian population.”
“Such measures would also improve the security of Israeli civilians.”
On Friday, Israeli troops shot dead two Palestinians taking part in protests along the Gaza border and 270 other Palestinians were wounded.
Israel has defended its use of live ammunition in Gaza by invoking its right to self-defense. One Israeli soldier was shot dead by a Palestinian sniper in July.
“The targeting of civilians, particularly children, is unacceptable,” Guterres said in the report, adding that “those responsible for violations of international humanitarian law must be held accountable.”
UN efforts to ensure the well-being of Palestinians must strengthened, he added, singling out the funding crisis at the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA as being “of particular concern.”
UNRWA is facing a major budget shortfall after President Donald Trump’s administration decided to withhold its contribution to the agency.
The report released to all UN member-states comes amid a vacuum in Middle East peace efforts as European and other big powers await a peace plan from the Trump administration that has been under discussion for months.
UN diplomats have recently begun questioning whether the US peace plan will ever materialize.
The United Nations has warned that a new war could explode in Gaza.
Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza, including its Hamas rulers, have fought three wars since 2008.