Rouhani Calls for Release of ‘Innocent’ Protesters
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has called on authorities to release people arrested during recent price-hike protests who were not carrying weapons. “Religious and Islamic clemency should be shown [to] those innocent people who protested against gasoline price hikes and were not armed…,” he said Wednesday during a speech broadcast on television. The Islamic Republic has come under harsh international criticism for the way it handled street demonstrations that broke out on November 15 following a surprise announcement that gasoline subsidies had been curtailed and prices had gone up by a minimum of 50% and even 300% at the pumps. Rights groups say that hundreds of people were killed during the unrest and thousands more were detained. On Tuesday, Iran acknowledged for the first time that its security forces had killed an unspecified number of protesters, accusing them of carrying weapons, including firearms. The regime insists that the unrest was orchestrated by the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia.