Death toll grows in Iranian protest crackdown

Death toll grows in Iranian protest crackdown
Iranian students scuffle with police at the University of Tehran during a demonstration on Saturday driven by anger over economic problems, in the capital Tehran. At least 12 people are now believed to be dead after four days of violent protests in Iran. (Getty Images)

As unrest continues to grow in Iran, at least 12 people are now believed to be dead after four days of violent protests.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani appealed for calm on Sunday, and attempted to downplay the significance of the protests during a television address on Monday. Still, Iranian state media was forced to concede that the Sunday night protests were the bloodiest yet, as at least 10 protesters were killed during the course of uprisings across the country.

In his statement, Rouhani called upon the Iranian people to help quell the demonstrations, saying, “Criticism and protest are an opportunity, not a threat. The nation will themselves respond to the rioters and lawbreakers. Our nation will deal with this minority who chant slogans against the law and people’s wishes, and insult the sancities and values of the revolution.”

According to AFP, six of the deaths occurred in the small western town of Tuyserkan after police fired shots at protesters. Two more were reported dead in the southwestern town of Izeh.

The protests show no immediate signs of slowing down, as anonymous social media users in Iran have continued to post calls for protests across the country.

The Iranian people are protesting a variety of issues, including government corruption, poor economic conditions, and the treatment of women in the Islamic republic. At Rouhani’s instigation, counter protests have arisen in support of the government, and clashes between protesters and counterprotesters have at times grown violent.

President Donald Trump continued to tweet his support for the protesters on Monday morning.