Iran TV silences anti-regime stadium chants

Heavy reporting restrictions and reports of mobile Internet black-outs in affected areas have made it difficult to verify claims by the authorities and on social media. (File Photo: AFP)
Updated 12 August 2018

Iran TV silences anti-regime stadium chants

  • Mobile phone footage shared widely on social media showed thousands of fans in Tehran’s Azadi stadium chanting “Death to the dictator”
  • Regime fears mass protest, analyst tells Arab News

LONDON: Iranian TV turned down the volume on anti-government slogans chanted during a football match amid widespread public protests over the economy and Tehran’s foreign interventions.

Videos on social media showed thousands of fans in Tehran’s Azadi stadium chanting “death to the dictator.” But state broadcaster IRIB muted the sound and avoided images of the crowd in its broadcast of the match. 

One Twitter user said: “Yesterday, when the football was being shown, the sound in the stadium was turned down to such a level that one would think they were playing in an alleyway.”

“They turned down the volume so no one could hear the slogans,” wrote another.

IRIB’s football commentators blamed “network disruption” for the low volume, without giving details.

Alireza Nader, an independent Iran scholar based in Washington, said Tehran was trying to avoid acknowledging the extent of public protests in the country.

“The regime doesn’t want to know that there is a mass opposition movement in Iran. These images prove it,” he told Arab News.


US sanctions

Protests have rocked major cities across Iran — including Tehran, Isfahan, Shiraz and Mashhad — amid mounting anger over the country’s economy and political system.

They coincide with a new wave of US sanctions on Iran, the first phase of which was introduced on Tuesday, and involves blocks on financial transactions and imports of raw materials among other measures.

It emerged on Saturday that Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider Abadi is to visit Iran next week to discuss economic affairs in the wake of the new sanctions. 

Abadi, who will also visit Turkey, said earlier that Iraq would comply with the sanctions but said they were a “strategic error.” 

UN chief proposes options to protect Palestinians

Updated 18 August 2018

UN chief proposes options to protect Palestinians

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.
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.