Archive for December 2, 2019

During protests, Iran Guards said to massacre up to 100 people hiding in marsh

December 2, 2019

Source: During protests, Iran Guards said to massacre up to 100 people hiding in marsh | The Times of Israel

NY Times reports forces open fire without warning on demonstrators in city of Mahshahr and then machine gun those who fled to nearby marsh to take cover, tanks deployed in city

Illustrative: People walk past buildings that were burned during recent protests, in Shahriar, Iran, some 40 kilometers (25 miles) southwest of the capital, Tehran, Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019.  (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

Illustrative: People walk past buildings that were burned during recent protests, in Shahriar, Iran, some 40 kilometers (25 miles) southwest of the capital, Tehran, Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

During recent protests in Iran over fuel prices, Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps forces massacred between 40 to 100 mostly unarmed young men, when they opened fire with machine guns on a marsh near the city of Mahshahr where demonstrators had taken refuge, the New York Times reported Sunday.

The report comes a day after Iran disputed death tolls issued abroad for bloodshed that erupted during protests two weeks ago, after a rights group said over 160 demonstrators were killed across the country.

The demonstrations flared in mid-November, after the price of gasoline in the Islamic republic went up overnight by as much as 200 percent.

According the Times, it was able to gather testimony and evidence as Iran slowly lifted an almost complete internet blackout that had been imposed as the protests were brutally crushed. The internet was still off in Mahshahr in Iran’s southwest.

The New York Times said it had interviewed six residents of Mahshahr, including “a protest leader who had witnessed the violence; a reporter based in the city who works for Iranian media, and had investigated the violence but was banned from reporting it; and a nurse at the hospital where casualties were treated.”

Mahshahr is in a region with an ethnic Arab majority with a long history of opposition to the central government.

The witness described how the Revolutionary Guards deployed a large force to Mahshahr on Monday, Nov. 18, to crush the protests after demonstrators gained control of the city and roads leading to a nearby major industrial petrochemical complex.

The guard immediately opened fire on protesters manning one intersection, without giving warning and killed several people, residents said.

Peymaneh Shafi@peymaneh123

“ALL PARTIES” Reminds me of how disgusting the EU is getting its policies close to Hitler’s era with no shame @FedericaMog https://twitter.com/baghdadpostplus/status/1200788888580755456 

The Baghdad Post@BaghdadPostPlus

While rgm in #Iran& #Iraq are brutally killing protesters, @FedericaMog condemns “violence from all parties”& calls for “dialogue”#BaghdadPost #IraqProtests #saveIraqipeople #FreeIraq

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Peymaneh Shafi@peymaneh123

In Iran Mahshahr’s Naft Hospital: Iranian protesters morn their loved one who were shot directly by the regime’s criminal snipers! ! @FedericaMog

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Many of the protester then fled to take cover in a nearby marsh, where one of them, armed with a rifle, opened fire on the troops, who responded with machine gun fire, killing dozens, the report said.

Residents put the death toll between 40 and 100, saying the Guards put the dead on the back of a truck and took them away, while relatives took the wounded to a nearby hospital.

A nurse said many of the wounded had bullet wounds to the head and chest.

One protester, who said two of cousins were killed, described how families were given the bodies back five days later only after they had signed paperwork promising not to hold funerals or memorial services and not to give interviews to media.

He said they also had bullet wounds in the head and chest.

After the massacre, a gun battle erupted between the Guards and local residents, many of whom have guns kept for hunting, one witness said. the report quoted Iranian state media and witnesses saying that a senior Guards commander had been killed in a Mahshahr clash.

Internet footage also suggested that the Guards deployed tanks in the city.

Sara@saraghavamian

A crippling regime considers Iranians as its big threat and enemy.Last week regime performed full fledged war against unarmed people. Here you can see Tanks in Mahshahr. The internet still is off there, all we hear is that a bloody massacre took place in Mahshahr.

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Iran’s interior minister confirmed that the protesters had gotten control over Mahshahr and its roads in a televised interview last week, but the Iranian government did not respond to specific questions in recent days about the mass killings in the city, the report said.

Officials in Iran have yet to say how many people died in the ensuing violence that saw banks, petrol pumps and police stations set on fire.

The New York Times put the death toll across the country at between 180 and 450. The London-based human rights group Amnesty International said in a tweet on Friday that the crackdown claimed the lives of  at least 161 demonstrators.

But Iran’s deputy interior minister, Jamal Orf, disputed such figures.

“Statistics by international organizations on those killed in the recent incidents are not credible,” he was quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA.

Orf accused the sources that reported the figures of “exaggerating” them.

The prosecution service, he added, was set to announce the figures based on those it receives from the coroner’s office.

A poster of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei is held up as mourners attend a funeral procession of Revolutionary Guard member Morteza Ebrahimi who was killed during protests , while passing buildings which were damaged in Shahriar, Iran, Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

Prior to its latest tweet, Amnesty International said on Monday that 143 demonstrators had been killed in the crackdown, citing what it called “credible reports.”

The governments of the United States, France and Germany have condemned Iran over the bloodshed.

The unrest broke out on November 15, hours after it was announced that the price of gas would rise to 15,000 rials per liter (12 US cents) from 10,000 for the first 60 liters, and to 30,000 rials for any extra fuel bought after that each month.

Iran’s economy has been battered since last year, when President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the United States from a 2015 nuclear agreement and reimposed crippling sanctions on the Islamic republic.

The government in Tehran said proceeds from the fuel price hike would go to the most needy people in the country.

Iranian protesters gather around a fire during a demonstration against an increase in gasoline prices in the capital Tehran, on November 16, 2019. (AFP)

According to IRNA, the payments have since been made in three installations between November 18 and 23.

This week an Iranian lawmaker said authorities arrested more than 7,000 people in the wake of the protests.

 

Trump and Netanyahu discuss ‘threat from Iran’ in second call in weeks

December 2, 2019

Source: Trump and Netanyahu discuss ‘threat from Iran’ in second call in weeks | The Times of Israel

Terse statement from White House says leaders also talk about ‘other critical bilateral and regional issues,’ but gives no details

US President Donald Trump, right, and visiting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu walk along the Colonnade of the White House in Washington, March 25, 2019. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

US President Donald Trump, right, and visiting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu walk along the Colonnade of the White House in Washington, March 25, 2019. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

US President Donald Trump spoke Sunday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with the two leaders focusing talks on “the threat from Iran,” the White House said.

“The leaders discussed the threat from Iran, as well as other critical bilateral and regional issues,” a terse statement said late Sunday.

There was no immediate readout on the call from Israel.

The two last spoke on November 19, when Netanyahu thanked the president for Washington’s decision to repudiate a State Department legal opinion that said West Bank settlements were illegal.

Though Netanyahu and Trump were once close allies who touted their friendship to their respective bases, ties between the two have been seen as cooling in recent months as the Israeli premier has struggled to cling to power.

Netanyahu has also reportedly become uneasy with what he perceives as Trump’s unwillingness to stand up to Iranian aggression.

The two leaders will both be in London later this week at a NATO summit. While Netanyahu is reportedly planning on meeting several European heads of state, no plans for a sit down with Trump have been announced.

The call came hours after Netanyahu lambasted European nations for seeking to circumvent circumvent US sanctions on Iran.

“While the Iranian regime is killing its own people, European countries rush to support that very murderous regime,” Netanyahu said in a video released Sunday, castigating the six new European members of the INSTEX barter mechanism.

In a separate statement, Israel’s Foreign Ministry said “Belgium, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden could not have picked worse timing. The hundreds of innocent Iranians murdered during the latest round of protests are rolling in their graves.”

Protests broke out across sanctions-hit Iran on November 15, hours after a sharp fuel price hike was announced.

Iraqi anti-government protesters burn an Iranian flag during protests in Baghdad, Iraq, November 29, 2019. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

Reports of deaths and arrests emerged as security forces were deployed to rein in demonstrations which turned violent in some areas, with dozens of banks, gas stations and police stations torched.

The London-based human rights group Amnesty International has said that 161 demonstrators were killed.

Late Sunday, the New York Times reported that Guards forces had massacred up to 100 people hiding in a marsh in a single incident.

A 2015 international agreement set out restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of Western sanctions. The deal was opposed by Israel, which argued that Iran’s regime would find ways to violate the agreement, and would use the breathing room to expand its ballistic missile program and support for terror groups throughout the region.

Last year, the US unilaterally withdrew from the deal and reinstated crippling sanctions against Tehran. The INSTEX system is designed to sidestep the sanctions and keep the deal afloat.

Aman exchanges Iranian Rials for US Dollars at an exchange shop in the Iranian capital, Tehran, on August 8, 2018. (AFP Photo/Atta Kenare/File)

Israel has praised the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign against the Islamic Republic. But Netanyahu lamented on Sunday that European nations were in a “rush to appease” Tehran.

Pointing to mass protests against Iran-backed regimes and groups throughout the region, from Iraq to Lebanon to Iran itself, Netanyahu said the people of the region were “fed up. They’re fed up with corruption. They’re fed up with failing economies. They’re fed [up] with the siphoning off of their treasure and their lives to Iran’s wars of aggression in the region.

“And while the people of the Middle East bravely stand up to Iran and its henchmen, here’s the absurd thing: While all of this is happening, countries in Europe are working to bypass US sanctions against Iran…. While Iran bombs Saudi Arabia’s oil installations, while Iran rushes to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons, European countries rush to appease Iran with even more concessions.”

In an apparent reference to World War II, the Israeli leader added: “These European countries should be ashamed of themselves. Have they learned nothing from history? Well, apparently not.

“They are enabling a fanatic terrorist state to develop nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, thereby bringing disaster to themselves and upon everyone else.”

The Paris-based INSTEX functions as a clearing house allowing Iran to continue to sell oil and import other products or services in exchange. The system has not yet enabled any transactions.

Iran has gradually increased enrichment and the stockpiling of nuclear material in contravention of the 2005 agreement, as a means of pressuring Europe to bolster the INSTEX system. European countries have expressed alarm at Iran’s moves, but say they remain committed to the nuclear accord.

The accession of the six new members “further strengthens INSTEX and demonstrates European efforts to facilitate legitimate trade between Europe and Iran,” France, Germany, and Britain said.

It represents “a clear expression of our continuing commitment to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” — the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal — the trio added.

They insisted Iran must return to full compliance with its commitments under the deal “without delay.”