Iranian security forces clash with students at bus crash protest

In recent months, Iran has experienced demonstrations in different cities. (File photo: Reuters)
Updated 31 December 2018

Iranian security forces clash with students at bus crash protest

  • Rouhani has ordered an investigation into the accident at Tehran’s Azad University that killed 10 students last week

LONDON: Security forces clashed with students in Iran on Monday in the third day of protests over a deadly bus crash, online videos showed, adding to officials’ fears that rising public unrest could threaten national security.
President Hassan Rouhani has ordered an investigation into the accident at Tehran’s Azad University that killed 10 students last week. Students have protested over the aging transport fleet and lack of accountability from the authorities.
A video on Twitter showed students at a campus in Tehran chanting slogans and demanding the resignation of the chairman of the university’s board of trustees, Ali Akbar Velayati, an aide to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Reuters could not immediately verify the authenticity of the videos.
Tehran’s deputy governor, Abdolazim Rezaie, was quoted as saying by the ISNA news agency that the protests were illegal as no permit had been issued for any gathering. He said the police had full control of the streets and no arrests had been made.
In recent months, Iran has experienced demonstrations in different cities as factory workers, teachers, truck drivers and farmers protested against economic hardship and corruption.
Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani, the chief of Iran’s hard-line judiciary, warned on Monday of a possible repeat of the 2009 protests, Iran’s biggest unrest in the last two decades.
“The workers and students have legitimate demands ... but they should be vigilant not to advance the enemies’ goals,” Larijani was quoted as saying by the Tasnim news agency.
US President Donald Trump reimposed sanctions on Iran earlier this year after pulling out of a 2015 nuclear deal, helping to depress the value of the rial and boosting annual inflation fourfold to nearly 40 percent in November.


French FM holds Iraq talks on Daesh prisoners in Syria

Updated 40 min 30 sec ago

French FM holds Iraq talks on Daesh prisoners in Syria

  • One of the issues is Iraq’s use of death penalty, which is outlawed throughout EU
  • Several EU countries sent technical missions to Baghdad to assess the situation

BAGHDAD: France’s top diplomat held talks in Baghdad on Thursday about transferring foreign militants from northern Syria, where a Turkish offensive has triggered fears of mass jailbreaks, to be tried in Iraq.
European governments are worried that the Turkish operation will allow the escape of some of the 12,000 suspected Daesh group fighters — including thousands of foreigners — held by Syrian Kurds.
The issue was top of the agenda for French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian in his talks with his Iraqi counterpart Mohammed Ali Al-Hakim, President Barham Saleh and Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi.
“We need to work things out with the Iraqi authorities so that we can find a way to have a judicial mechanism that is able to judge all these fighters, including obviously the French fighters,” Le Drian told French TV channel BFM on Wednesday.
The aim is for foreign militants to be tried in Iraqi courts while upholding certain principles of justice and respect for human rights, a French diplomatic source said.
One issue will be Iraq’s use of the death penalty, which is outlawed throughout the EU.
Belgium, Britain, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden sent officials on a technical mission to Baghdad this week to assess the situation.
“There are talks between the Americans, the British, French and Iraqis about funding the construction of prisons,” Hisham Al-Hashemi, an Iraqi expert on Daesh, told AFP.
Hundreds of foreigners have been sentenced to death or life imprisonment in Iraq for belonging to Daesh.
Eleven French militants handed over to Iraqi authorities early this year by US-backed Kurdish forces in Syria were sentenced to death by a court in Baghdad.
In April, Iraq offered to try foreign Daesh suspects in exchange for operational costs.
One Iraqi official said Baghdad had requested $2 billion to put the suspects on trial.
Turkey on Monday accused Kurdish forces of deliberately releasing Daesh prisoners held at a prison in the Syrian border town of Tal Abyad “in an attempt to fuel chaos in the area.”
Kurdish officials claimed that Turkish bombardments had allowed nearly 800 relatives of foreign Daesh fighters to escape from a camp for the displaced.
According to the Kurdish administration, there are around 12,000 suspected Daesh fighters in the custody of Kurdish security forces across northeastern Syria.
At least 2,500 of them are non-Iraqi foreigners of more than 50 different nationalities. Tunisia is thought to have the biggest contingent.
Officials in Paris say 60 to 70 French nationals are among those held.
The rest are around 4,000 Syrians and roughly the same number of Iraqis.
The fighters, who were detained mostly in the course of operations led by Kurdish forces and backed by the US-led coalition against Daesh, are detained in at least seven facilities.
Western governments such as France have been reluctant to take them back, for lack of a clear legal framework and fears of a public backlash.
Le Drian said Wednesday that the security of Kurdish-run prisons holding suspected militants in northern Syria was “currently” not threatened by the Turkish military operation.